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 144 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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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 😥❤️.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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