Indian Fry Bread

Delicious Homemade Fry Bread—aka “Navajo Tacos” or “Indian Bread”—pillows of dough, fried until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Make it a meal by adding sweet or savory toppings!

Fry Bread is one of those novelties that I don’t make very frequently, but when I do, it’s a real treat! I don’t love fried foods (they make such a mess of the kitchen) but it’s worth it for certain things, like homemade donuts, funnel cake, or this fry bread.

Indian Fry Bread close up pic

What is Indian Fry Bread/Navajo fry bread?

Have you ever had Indian Fry Bread before? It’s also known as a “Navajo Taco,” but we typically just call it “Fry Bread.” We’ve also called them “Pop Overs” too – lots of names for lots of goodness!

If you haven’t had these before, I highly recommend giving them a try. They are amazing!! The recipe I’m sharing today is one we’ve used since I can remember. My mom has been making them ever since I was little, and I’m pretty sure it was a recipe that Grandma Luna had taught her decades earlier.

Everyone in my family eats them a bit different. We usually serve them up with hamburger and beans and let everyone add their own toppings like tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, cheese and olives.

Others in my family pour honey over them and a few also like to add powdered sugar and just eat it as is.

Are elephant ears the same as fry bread? Though similar, there is a difference. Fry breads are thick, about 6-8 inches in diameter and topped with anything from powdered sugar to beef tacos. Whereas elephant ears are thin, bubbly, about 10-16 inches in diameter and traditionally only topped with cinnamon and sugar.

Fry Bread dough being rolled with a rolling pin

How to Make Fried Bread

This recipe for Indian fry bread only requires FOUR ingredients! And chances are you probably already have all of these on hand.

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Water (warm)

MAKING DOUGH BALLS. All you have to do is combine the dry ingredients and add the warm water.

Mix with your hands until it forms a dough – it should NOT be too sticky. Let the dough sit for 5 minutes. Break off the dough into golf ball sized balls (or even a little bit bigger if you like bigger fry bread).

ROLL OUT& FRY. Roll the dough balls into ½-inch thick circles that are about 6 inches in diameter, and fry each piece in a sauce pan. Make sure the oil is 1-2 inches high in the pan.

Fry until dough is golden and poofs up, and then fry on the other side keeping it in the oil. Set on a paper towel to drain oil.

Fry bread recipe heating in oil

ToppinGs + Tips

TOPPINGS. If you want to eat it like a Navajo Taco and pile meat, beans, and other toppings on, check out the recipe card below for instructions on making the toppings! Some of our favorite toppings include:

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

  • To help your bread to remain flat, instead of curling up on the edges to form a bowl shape, tear a small slit in the center of each piece right before frying.
  • 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.
  • Keep the fried bread warm in the oven set at 200°F

Beans and meat for Fry bread recipe

STORING & FREEZING

Here are our top tips for storing fry bread:

  • Counter top at room temperature: Wrap the bread loosely in plastic wrap or an unsealed ziplock bag. Store for 1-2 days.
  • Freezer: Once the bread has cooled pat each piece with a paper towel to remove any excess oil or water. Wrap each piece with plastic and store in an airtight freezer safe container. Freeze for 3-4 months.
  • To reheat fry bread: heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap each piece of fry bread in aluminum foil and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. If you’re in a hurry you can throw it in the microwave.

As always, anything fried is best served fresh, so keep than in mind. 😉

Navajo fry bread with powdered sugar

MAKING ahead of time

Fry bread is one of those foods that are best freshly made, so we don’t recommend making them 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 ziplock 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, then place all the balls into an airtight freezer safe container. Label and store for up to 1 month.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.

Indian Fry Bread Recipe on gray plate

Personally, I like adding all the hearty ingredients like hamburger and beans and pile that baby up high with all the fixings. Top it off with some salsa, and it’s like heaven on a plate! Add some tomatoes and avocados too and you’ll definitely be in heaven!

For more recipes, check out:

Fry Bread Recipe

4.62 from 44 votes
Delicious Homemade Fry Bread - aka "Navajo Tacos" or "Indian Bread" - one of the best recipes you'll ever try! Pillows of dough fried until it's a little crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside. Make it sweet or savory!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 445 kcal
Author Lil' Luna

Ingredients

Bread

  • 2 c flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c warm water

Topping

  • 2 c pinto beans soaked overnight
  • 1 lb hamburger
  • lettuce
  • sour cream
  • tomatoes

Instructions
 

Bread

  • Combine dry ingredients and add warm water. Mix with your hands until dough forms. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Break off the dough into golf-ball sized balls (or even a tid bigger).
  • Roll dough into ½-inch thick circles that are about 6 inches in diameter.
  • Fry each piece in a medium sauce pan with hot oil (that is about 1-2 inches deep). Fry until dough is golden and poofs up, and then fry on the other side keeping it in the oil. Set on a paper towel to drain oil.

Topping

  • Put soaked beans in crock pot, 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 hamburger. Once beans are done, toss in hamburger.
  • Spread beans over your fry bread and add desired toppings.

Video

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About the Author

Kristyn Merkley

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!