Indian Fry Bread

Indian Fry Bread or “Navajo Tacos” are crispy pillows of dough with a soft inside. Complete it by adding sweet or savory toppings!

This delicious Fry Bread recipe is NO-FAIL! It’s a perfect dinner, topped with taco ingredients like Guacamole and Salsa, or a sweet dessert, sprinkled with powdered sugar!

Fry Bread topped with beef taco ingredients on a white plate.

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.

Fry bread dough in a mixing bowl, ready to roll.

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:

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • 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

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:

If you want to keep things simple, enjoy it like many of those in my family and just add powdered sugar to it.

Rolling Indian fry bread dough balls for frying.

Recipe tips

  • 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!

Frying up a Navajo Taco fry bread in oil.

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.

8 fry bread recipes stacked on a white plate.

storing info

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.

Fry bread served with meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, and sour cream.

For more Southwest recipes, check out:

Fry Bread Recipe

4.93 from 145 votes
Fry Bread or "Navajo Tacos" are crispy pillows of dough with a soft inside. Complete it by adding sweet or savory toppings!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 473 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna

Ingredients

Bread

Topping

  • 2 cups pinto beans soaked overnight
  • 2-3 slices uncooked bacon chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • lettuce
  • sour cream
  • tomatoes

Instructions
 

Bread

  • 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.

Toppings

  • 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.

Video

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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Comments:

  1. I’m going to make these tonight. You don’t add any taco seasoning to the ground beef? These look great!

  2. They are good with Wojapi, like the Native Americans do!! Wojapi is a cherry pudding the Lakota’s made!!!!!

  3. 5 stars
    I made these last week for my family and everyone loved them! We made Navajo tacos with 4 of them, and the final two we topped with some melted butter and cinnamon sugar. Will definitely be making these again!!

  4. 5 stars
    One of our favorite meals. The fry bread is so easy to make. If you dont want the tradiTional meat on top you can do powdered sugar or honey. Either way its so yUmmy!

  5. 5 stars
    we loved this fry bread!! it was so easy & soft. my kids loved it with honey or powdered sugar. Adding all the meat & toppings made it very filling & so delicious!!

  6. I would love to make this since my husband and I love Navajo Tacos. But he is on a no/low salt diet. I have no salt baking powder but is there a way that i can make without the salt or at least cut back on it?

    1. You can cut it out or cut it back for sure. It’s totally up to your preference 🙂 Enjoy!!

  7. 4 stars
    I will give it a 4 since i haven’t actually made it yet but it looks Right tO me. My mom married A native american fellow. A famous artist, by the way. We would have fry bread often. My mom would give Us a dime or a QuaRTeR (I hOnestly don’t remember since it’s been more than 6o years. Yikes!) while we were at pOw wows and i would come back with a fry brEad the size if my head! With powdered sugar. Oh so good and fresh. Im going to make this for my grown kids tomorrOw. Wish me lUck!

  8. 5 stars
    I only made the fry bread (i make different chili topping).
    i am from New Mexico and this fry bread tastes just like the fry bread we ate on the pueblos.
    thank you!!
    alot of other recipes add sugar for the taco and it never tasted authentic.
    thank you!!

  9. 5 stars
    I haven’t made these forever! Now I remember why I love them so much! Every one of my kids LOVED them! Will be making them again soon!

  10. 5 stars
    Wow…this fry bread is soft, airy, & so good!! My kids love it with honey or powdered sugar! It’s an easy recipe that can be used for so many meals!

  11. 4 stars
    There is something wrong with the ratio of the INGREDIENTS. As written the dough was too wet to handle. I had to work more flour into it before i could roll it out.

    1. 4 stars
      The ratio is definitely off. You could add a little at a time until the dough forms. I am navajo. Experience is a good teacher. It’s not supposed to be a sticky dough. It should pull away from the bowl. Mixing and kneading help to develop the gluten, which gives the dough a more workable texture. The more experienced bread makers dont use rolling pins, we shape it by hand. The oil should be hot enough to cook it in seconds to a golden brown, but not so hot that it burns. It will just soak up oil if sat longer than 10-15 seconds per side. Also, a lot of do season our beans. This is close, but not how I would it. Kudos for effort.

      1. I Fixed Ththis recipe for the InDian tacos. They tasted good but they Were a little sticky. I rolled them out TO 1/2 inch thick but they WERE a little dense. Is there something I can do differently so that they won’t be so dense?

        1. They shouldn’t be too sticky & they are a little on the dense side. Not sure what to do to make them less dense. If you add less flour, they will be more sticky & hard to roll out. Maybe they can be thinner?

    1. They are thicker, not a thin bread, but you could try adding a little more water & see if that helps.

    2. The ads/videos on this site are ridiculous….you are unable to even read the recipe…its absolutely ridiculous. Why have a website when your not even able to read as your getting bombarded from every corner of the screen. MOVIN ON!!

      1. Sorry to hear this is a bother to you. Ads on our site help bring revenue which enables us to be able to continue to provide free content and recipes for our readers. We hope you may reconsider and try a recipe or two, but understand if this isn’t for you. Thanks!

  12. I think as others said not enough flour. To sticky. I will make them next time with 21/2 to 3 cups flower. Then add flour as needed to finish after sitting for 30 minutes. I did make these and had to add flour to make the product workable. I have also read that not to knead this dough A LOT (like bread dough with yeast)as it can make it more chewy. I used all purpose flour next time I will use bread flour also see if there is much difference.
    Did make navajo tacos tonight and everyone liked them. made some extra fry6 breads for tomorrow and added some SUGAR to the dough. These will be for snacking tomorrow. I know these are best eating fresh so see how they hold up overnight.

  13. 5 stars
    JusT made THIS. I was looking for a recipe my mom called hoecake when i was growing up.
    she said she just mixed flour & water & fried it in bacon grease. I followed your recipe but added baking soda since i’m Out of baking powder. TURNED OUT PERFECT-very much like my mom’s hoecake. i will be trying this as navajo tacos & a sweet treat as well-also with molasses. yum!
    sorry for allcaps-won’t let me change whether i have caplocks on or off!

  14. 5 stars
    Try it as bread for cold roast beef sandwiches. Traditionally it would be eaten with left over mutton while herding sheep. Its called a sheep herders sandwich. My mom served them at our restaurant in 4 corners area of Utah. So so good with warm bread, you’ll never want just a plain ol’ cold beef sandwich again.

  15. 5 stars
    I made this for the first time and my family loved it ! It was easy ! And I will make this again @

  16. 5 stars
    I love Indian bread. On this recipe it doesn’t say if it is self rising flour or all purpose, could you please let me know what one to use? Thank you.

  17. 5 stars
    Some don’t realize or know to flour their hands prior to making the balls. May want to add that! Awesome simple recipe! My whole family loved it! I’m making more this morning with powdered sugar! Thanks for the recipe!

  18. 5 stars
    Such a fun new idea for Taco night!! My daughter requests these all the time! Make sure to save one to dip in cinnamon and sugar!

  19. 5 stars
    We make these (Navajo tacos to us) almost weekly! This recipe is so much easier and faster than trying to whip up bread dough go fry! So yummy!

  20. Love this – is pretty much the recipe that I have used for our large family get togethers – but on a larger tripled recipe for a large group. Seeing some of the comments – I think some do not understand the feel of the dough – not to sticky, not to dry. I never roll mine out but rather use my floured hands to pat them out. My daughter-in-law of spanish descent makes them from my recipe, but as she is used to making fresh tortillas – she always rolls them out and over works them making them thick and hard. But the family still loves them!!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks so much for sharing your tips on the feel of the dough. That is so helpful! Thanks for trying it!

  21. 5 stars
    Super ez!
    Came out perfect!
    Went with the poke, prod & stretch method in leu of using a rolling pin.

  22. 5 stars
    Is there any way to make this gluten free? I remember making this when my kids were small, all grown and gone now. I now after all these years can no longer have gluten. Big change is all I can say

    1. You can use one of a variety of brands of flour substitutes. I don’t know if you have a brand that you like more than others but you can experiment with different types of gluten-free flours to see which one tastes the best to you. Some gluten-free flours are almond based, rice based, bean based, etc. so the taste and texture will be a little different than regular flour. I would probably try Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour as a substitute first to see how you like it. Hope this helps!

  23. have you tried rolling it out thinner, putting burger, cheese, and beans on it, close it over, like a half moon, seal then fry? then top with lettuce…

    1. You could try substituting almond flour or Bob’s 1 to 1 flour. The taste might be slightly different because of the type of flour you are using but I think it’s worth trying out. Let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear!

  24. 3 stars
    I need to know how much of each ingredient so that I know how many fry breads the recipe will make. I feel it is important to give complete directions

    1. The ingredient amounts are listed in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. They are
      2 c flour
      3/4 tsp salt
      3 tsp baking powder
      1 c warm water

      This amount of ingredients should make 6 fry breads. Hope this helps!

    1. I’m sorry it didn’t turn out the way you had hoped. Sometimes bread turns out tough when it is kneaded too much. Once you mix the ingredients together to form the dough let it sit for 5 minutes and then you can form it into the dough balls. Hope this helps!

  25. 5 stars
    Made my first Indian fry Bread ❤️ Instead of ground beef, I substituted it with ground turkey. It was still delish

    1. Ground turkey sounds like a great alternative to ground beef. I’m so glad it turned out well for you!

  26. One/third of my screen is adds. Several are distracting videos. Others change. They pop up in your text. I do not know whether to click for your links in fear that I will be linking to an ad site.
    Can’t stay.

  27. To anyone who has never made these….the dough is a fine recipe, but PLEASE take a tape measure and see what a1/2 an inch really looks like. Its MANY times thicker than these should be. If you look at the video you will see that they MIGHT be 1/16 of an inch, paper thin, by they time they are fried.

  28. I’ve tried this recipe twice and I like the bread. My dough is always really sticky. I use the exact amounts according to the recipe. Is there a way for it to be not so sticky?

    1. Weather and location really can affect baking, so you could try adding a little more flour in until it isn’t quite so sticky. You don’t want to use too much or the fry bread will be dense, but you could add it tablespoon at a time until it is a better consistency and see if that helps!

    2. Hi! I thought I followed the directions snd measurements correctly, but my dough is so sticky it will not form into balls. It’s sticks to everything. Any suggestions? Thank you!!!

      1. I would suggest adding in a little flour until the dough doesn’t feel so sticky. You don’t want too much flour, but weather/altitude/etc. can affect the amount of flour needed, so if you feel like it’s too sticky, add small amounts of flour (1-2 tbsp) at a time until you get a better consistency.

  29. 5 stars
    First time making it and we enjoyed it very much I’m making it again for tonight this is going to be a recipe that I make again and again

    1. This recipe is for about 6 servings…. but the number of fry breads depends on how large you make the bread. You could roll them out smaller and have a couple each or you could make them larger and only have one. Whatever your preference is!

  30. 5 stars
    Yummy! I’ve been told that the Dineh people (Navajo) make the hole in the center to let out the evil spirits. Also, they really like to use the Bluebird brand of flour if you can find it.

  31. 5 stars
    These look so good, however I have always been intimidated by frying. Given the importance of keeping the frying temperature consistent and not frying at too low or too high of a temp, can you advise me as to what the best temperature is for frying? Thank You in advance for your help!

    1. Frying can seem intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, it’s so fun! And so tasty! 🙂 I’d suggest heating the oil to the 350-365 degree range.

  32. 5 stars
    This turned out great and was pretty easy to put together ! Instead of bacon I put ham in and cooked in crockpot and I put a little bit of taco seasoning in my hamburger added salsa and cilantro and cheese ! Not a lettuce person but that’s what is good about this recipe you can add or take away

    1. Yes, you can definitely customize it a bit! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for sharing what you did!

  33. 5 stars
    These are delicious! We love making Navajo tacos. They are easy and always a favorite. So good with powder sugar or honey on the fry bread too!

  34. I do my fibroid differently although I understand this basic but I used to make 400 to 600 pieces of fry bread every year for my ceremonials. These are the ingredients that I use you should try it.
    Ingredients:
    1) Self-rising flour (Shawnee’s best)
    2) 1 tbsp sugar
    3) one can evaporated milk
    4) water
    5) oil

    I eyeball the amount of flour into a bowl bye how many I plan to make then I put one tablespoon of sugar in the flour then I eyeball the evaporated milk and water together into the meat and try to keep it half and half as best I can need my dough then I cover it and let it sit for 30 minutes and I come back I’ll roll them up into a ball handles at a time round them up into a circle and put a small dot in the middle not a finger dot but just a small Dot with a small opening to keep oil from seeking in bread and then I put it on the fire and cook to both sides of golden brown they usually come out very tasty and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Let’s just say I never had any complaints!

  35. 5 stars
    I like making Indian fried bread Your recipe is so simple my daughter who doesnt like cooking can make it. Having fun with kids recipe adding jelly to it.

    1. I haven’t tried making these in the air fryer, but I suppose it could! You’ll have to let us know how they turn out if you do make it in the air fryer.

  36. 5 stars
    I haven’t tried this yet, but I see breakfast possibilities. How about putting cinnamon a sugar on it and teaming it with your coffee or tea. I also see it with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Or top it with Reuben fixings for a Reuben Sandwich (open face). You’ll miss the Rye bread, but will be just as good.

  37. 1st. Indian Taco (that is what they called them in Ok.) I had was at the Oklahoma City State Fair about 30 years ago and they where fantastic.
    The recipe was listed in the local paper and I have been making them ever since. They are so easy to make
    I do make up a batch of homemade chili and use that to put on my Fry Bread Tacos along with all the other toppings. ( I do make my chili a bit thicker when putting on Indian Tacos)
    Dang, now I’m craving for one. I just may have to put this on my menu for next week.
    Enjoy your day and have a wonderful weekend.

  38. 5 stars
    DELICIOUS 😋 and EASY My kids gave our tacos 🌮 a 10/10⭐️ Reminds us of our local favorite restaurant in our town! ❤️

  39. Oh my gosh, i forgot to lay my bread dough out this morning. I found this recipe and thought “how can I mess that up” 🙃 Well, im not sure what I did wrong. My finished product was a light golden brown. They wernt puffing up and turned out so hard we couldn’t chew them. Im sure this was my mistake. Just thought I would share. 😁

  40. 5 stars
    your recipe is the closest to what my grandma and mom used to make when I was growing up. I have already made this once and will continue to use your recipe. Thank you. If I had a way to post a picture I would..

  41. I would like to have the recipe so I can practice making it , iis there any way I could get a book about baking anyway?

  42. 5 stars
    Thank you for posting this! My six year old son who is allergic to most things can eat these just fine. We love them! ❤️❤️❤️

    1. It honestly depends on how big you make the bread, but I’d say 6-8 individual breads per batch/recipe.

  43. 5 stars
    Great and easy recipe! Figure 2 fry breads per person/3 for heavy eaters. I have teenage boys and they loved it all!! We experimented with the powdered sugar with the leftover frybreads and that was great too. Thanks for a fun recipe to add to our weekly favorites!

    1. You’re welcome! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the fry bread. It’s a favorite over here for sure! And that powdered sugar topping is so yummy, isn’t it?! 🙂

  44. 5 stars
    Just tried this! The easiest and best recipe for fry bread I have ever tried! It rolled out so well and looks delicious! I used organic artisan bread flour. Perfect. 😊Thank you!

  45. I’m going to try it as a pizza dough
    I love as is, but I have been searching for a long time to find a perfect pizza dough. I’ll be using olive oil with garlic to spread before topping, then bake.
    Wish me luck.

  46. Thank you for sharing your way to make fry bread I am looking forward to trying it I make pinto beans all the time but usually with a smoked ham hock in the instapot I will have to try them with hamburger or deer burger

    1. 5 stars
      I agree if it’s an Native American meal it should be recognized and given credit to where it was 1st created read the story 😥❤️.

  47. First try not as pretty as shown and a little tough, will try again and hope for better results, nothing like my mother used to make but will try again.

    1. Thanks for giving the recipe a try! I’d say start with less flour and then add more as needed. Sometimes too much flour can result in tough dough.

  48. It’s amazing how adding a name like the one here draws a crowd of wows on this recipe that I’ve enjoyed all my life. My NATIVE AMERICAN friends can’t recall such a meal. Except for a couple of changes, my family loves this quick meal, as we use raw pizza dough from my local grocer, rolling it out and frying it up then adding our own individual favorite toppings. Everyone, enjoy!

  49. Every tribe has their own recipe for frybreads. This is the Navajo tribe frybread recipe. Looks great. Also just wanted to say thank you for not making the title of “Indian” as a Native American myself…we don’t like the term Indian. Indians are from India. We’re from America, that’s why we’re called Native American.

  50. 5 stars
    Thank You Lil Luna for sharing I love learning about how my NA family lived but wished I learned in my early years so I could have taught my children, thank you I’m going to make this my mouth was getting watery just watching lol.