Indian Fry Bread or “Navajo Tacos” are crispy pillows of dough with a soft inside. Complete it by adding sweet or savory toppings!
What is Fry Bread?
This tasty main dish is also called Navajo Tacos. It originates from southwestern Native Americans as a result of being relocated from Arizona to New Mexico, and using cooking staples given to them from the government.
Over the years, Fry Bread has become a unique cultural symbol. They are also commonly referred to as Indian Fry Bread or Pop Overs. Lots of names for lots of goodness!
With its unique history, they are especially popular here in Arizona and in New Mexico. Source
The Fry Bread I’m sharing today is one we’ve used since I was little, passed on from my Grandma Luna and her mother, my Great Grandma Medina.
Indian Fry bread can be sweet or savory
Savory. Everyone in my family eats them a bit differently. We usually serve them up with cooked hamburger and beans, and let everyone add their own toppings: tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, salsa and guacamole.
You could even top them with a delicious, thick scoop of Chili.
Sweet. Others in my family pour honey over them, or slather on butter and jam. A few also like to add powdered sugar and just eat it as is.
Either way they are DELICIOUS!
How to Make Fry Bread
This recipe for Indian Fry Bread only requires FOUR ingredients! Chances are you probably already have them on hand, they are:
- Baking Powder
- Water (warm)
DOUGH. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Add hot water.
Mix with your hands until dough forms (dough should be a little sticky). Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
PREP. While dough is resting, add oil to a large sauce pan that is about 1-2 inches deep and heat on MED-HIGH heat (it should be about 350° when ready to fry).
DOUGH BALLS. Break off the pieces of dough into golf-ball sized balls (about 1.5” wide). Using a pastry roller or rolling pin, roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface to about 6-7 inches in diameter (the dough should be thin).
FRY + ENJOY. Fry each piece in hot oil until dough is golden brown and poofs up (about 20 seconds). Continue to fry on the other side, keeping it in the oil. Set on a paper towel lined plate to drain oil.
NOTE: As always, anything fried is best served fresh, so keep than in mind. 😉
TOPPINGS. To eat it like a Navajo Taco, check the recipe card below for instructions on making the taco toppings! Some of our favorite toppings include:
- meat + beans
- sour cream (or dressing like Cilantro Ranch or Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette)
- salsa (Black Bean and Corn Salsa, Salsa Verde or any other favorite!)
- guacamole (or sliced avocado)
- lettuce, tomatoes + olives (or Pico de Gallo)
If you want to keep things simple, enjoy it like many of those in my family and just add powdered sugar to it.
- Flat Fry Bread. To help your bread remain flat (instead of curling up on the edges and forming a bowl shape), cut a small slit in the center of each piece right before frying.
- Oil temperature. Make sure your oil stays at a consistent temperature. If the temp is too low, the bread will be tough. If it’s too hot, the outside will burn before the inside cooks through.
- Warm. Keep the fried bread warm in the oven (set at 200°F).
Elephant Ears v Fry Bread. Though similar, there is a difference:
- Fry bread is thick, about 6-8 inches in diameter and topped with anything from powdered sugar to beef taco ingredients.
- Elephant ears are thin, bubbly, about 10-16 in in diameter, and traditionally only topped with cinnamon and sugar.
I personally like adding hearty ingredients like hamburger and beans, and piling it high with all of the fixings. Top it off with some salsa, and it’s like heaven on a plate!
Make ahead of time
Fry bread is best when fresh, so we don’t recommend making it ahead of time. However, you can mix up the dough and store in the fridge or freezer until it’s time to fry.
Dough in the fridge. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or transfer dough to a Ziploc bag. Store for 1-2 days. Some bakers even recommend chilling the dough for a few hours before frying.
Dough in the freezer. Fry bread dough freezes well. Once your dough has been mixed, portion it into 3-inch balls and flash freeze.
To flash freeze:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
- Place dough balls ½ inch apart.
- Freeze for 3-5 hours.
- Once they’ve begun to freeze, place each ball into a separate plastic baggie.
- Place all the balls into an airtight, freezer-safe container.
- Label and store for up to 1 month.
Fry. When you’re ready to fry, remove the desired number of balls. Leave each ball in the baggie and thaw in the fridge overnight.
About 30 minutes before fry time, remove the dough from the baggie and let the dough come to room temperature. Fry according to recipe directions.
Here are our top tips for storing leftovers:
STORE cooked bread. Wrap the bread loosely in plastic wrap or an unsealed Ziploc bag. Store at room temperature for 1-2 days.
FREEZE cooked bread. Once the bread has cooled, pat each piece with a paper towel to remove any excess oil or water. Wrap each piece with plastic wrap and store in an airtight freezer container. Freeze for 3-4 months.
To reheat fry bread: Heat the oven to 350° F. Wrap each piece of fry bread in aluminum foil and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, throw it in the microwave.
For more Southwest recipes, check out:
- Homemade Flour Tortillas
- Taco Pie
- Cream Cheese and Chicken Taquitos
- Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
- Mexican Lasagna
- Steak Fajitas
- Carne Asada
Fry Bread Recipe
- 2 cups pinto beans soaked overnight
- 2-3 slices uncooked bacon chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- sour cream
- Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together and place in a medium bowl. Add hot water. Mix with your hands until dough forms (dough should be a little sticky). Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
- While dough is resting, add oil to a large sauce pan that is about 1-2 inches deep and heat on MED-HIGH heat (it should be about 350° when ready to fry).
- Break off the dough into golf-ball sized balls (about 1.5” wide).
- Using a pastry roller, roll dough onto a lightly floured surface to about 6-7 inches in diameter (the dough should be thin).
- Fry each piece in hot oil until dough is golden and poofs up (about 20 seconds). Fry on the other side, keeping it in the oil. Set on a paper towel lined plate to drain oil.
- Drain the beans, put them in a crock pot, and cover with water. Cook on low until tender (for 4-6 hours). 2 hours before beans are done, toss in 2-3 slices of chopped bacon. *You know beans are done when they start breaking up. You can also use beans from the can for an easier version.
- In the meantime. Cook up 1 lb of ground beef. Once beans are done, toss in hamburger.
- Spread beans over your fry bread and add desired toppings.