Fried bread or fried dough has been around for many years. One of the most popular types of frybread here in the United States is the Indian Fry Bread or Native American Fry Bread, also known as Navajo Fry Bread. It is used for Navajo tacos.
If you are a fan of fried dough and easy recipes, then give this simple fry bread recipe a try. It is so easy to make with just a handful of ingredients. You can use it for Navajo tacos, or make a sweet breakfast variation, so many options. If I can do it, you can do it. Let’s get started!
Where did Indian Fry Bread come from?
This is traditional fry bread used by the Native Americans. This particular iteration was created in the 1860s by the Navajo Nation.
They were given flour, salt, baking powder, and lard by the US Government to sustain them on their forced Long Walk (300 miles) from Arizona to New Mexico.
I live in Arizona, about 4 miles from a Reservation. They have fry bread stands located throughout that particular reservation where they sell Navajo/Indian Tacos, although it isn’t a Navajo-specific reservation.
NOTE: In Utah and Southern Idaho, they call these scones.
Indian fry bread is so yummy!
Step 1: Gather the fry bread ingredients
In order to make traditional Native American or Indian fry bread, you need just a handful of easy to find ingredients:
- Baking powder
- Water – milk can be used as well, but it isn’t traditional. I always use filtered water, because my tap water is gross.
- Lard/Oil/Shortening – Sometimes a little bit of the fat is added to the dough as well.
- Oil for frying – Use your favorite type of frying oil.
- Wooden spoon or pastry blender
- Deep Pot
- Plate with paper towels
- Dough cutter or knife
- Candy thermometer
Step 2: How to make traditional Indian fry bread for Navajo Tacos
Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.
If you want to add a little fat to the dough itself (oil, shortening, lard) you can add it now to the dry ingredients and use a pastry blender or a fork to blend it in. But this is completely optional.
Next, add about 3/4 cup of water to the dry ingredients and mix it in. I like to use my pastry blender, but a wooden spoon works great.
Add more water as needed so the dough is just slightly sticky.
Next, add a bit of flour to your work surface and knead the dough for 3 to four minutes until it gets smooth. Add additional flour to keep it from sticking to your hands. But only a little at a time, we don’t want to add too much flour.
Once done, place a clean kitchen cloth over the dough and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours. It is important to let the gluten in the flour relax.
Step 3: Cut and roll the dough
Add enough cooking oil to a large pot so it is about 1 inch deep. Set the heat to medium. The desired frying temp is right around 350F/176 C.
While the oil is heating cut the dough into 6 to 8 pieces. I normally use my dough cutter, but you can certainly use something else to divide the dough.
Then shape the dough pieces into a ball and finally roll them out thin, pretty close to the same thickness as a tortilla. Maybe not quite as thin.
NOTE: A Sopapilla is very close to Indian Fry Bread, although traditionally those are square or rectangle and puffier than Navajo fry bread. Just one example of a similar recipe from another culture.
Step 4: Fry that bread dough
Time to fry up that dough. Once the oil has heated to the correct temp, gently drop one in, make sure it falls away from you in the oil.
Fry on each side for a few minutes until nice and golden brown. Then pick it up with tongs and allow the excess hot oil to drain off.
Place on a plate or pan lined with paper towels. And then fry up the rest of them. They should be crispy on the outside and a little soft on the inside. Depending on how thick you make them.
Now it is time to serve them.
How to make Navajo Tacos?
If you want to make Navajo Tacos you would use your favorite taco fillings or honestly the ingredients for a 7-layer dip would be used quite a bit, and place them right on top.
Usually, beans are used either whole beans or refried beans. Those would go on top first followed by other toppings like ground beef, lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes, black olives, etc.
Of course back in the 1860s they didn’t have all those extra toppings. These are sold all over the reservation near me, so good.
You can also find them at theme parks, and other places.
A sweet variation, and one of my favorite ways to eat the traditional Navajo Frybread, is to drizzle a little honey on it and then dust with powdered sugar.
You can put any of your favorite pancake or waffle toppings on it as well. Savory or sweet, it is up to you.
Can I use self-rising flour to make fry bread?
Yes! You can make fry bread for Navajo tacos with just self-rising flour and water. A fun simple recipe to make with just 2 ingredients, and of course, you still need the oil for frying.
How long does frybread last?
Frybread will last for a few days in a ziplock bag or an airtight container at room temperature. It is always best when freshly made, however. You can also wrap each one individually in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
Here are some other recipes you may like:
Indian Fry Bread
- Wooden spoon or pastry blender
- Deep pot
- Plate with paper towels
- Dough cutter or knife
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 Tbsp of baking powder
- 2 Tbsp of shortening, oil, or lard (optional, usually just flour, salt, baking powder, and water are used)
- 3/4 to 1 cup of water. Start with 3/4 cup.
- Oil shortening, or lard for frying (vegetable, canola, coconut, avocado, etc.)
- Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. If you want to add shortening, lard, or oil to the dough, add it in now, and use a pastry blender or fork to blend it with the flour.
- Add most of the water and blend it in to form a dough. The dough should be slightly sticky. Add the rest of the water as needed. Shouldn't need more than 1 cup.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for 3 to 4 minutes until smooth. Add a little flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
- Cover the dough with a clean cloth and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
- Pour oil into a large pot, enough for it to be about an inch deep. Set burner to medium and heat oil to 350 F/176 C
- Divide the dough into 6 to 8 pieces. Shape into a ball and then roll them out into a flat thin circle. Almost as thin as a tortilla.
- Fry one at a time in the oil for 2 to 3 minutes per side until nice and golden brown.
- Remove from oil with tongs, allow excess oil to drain into the pot. Then place on a paper towel-lined plate or sheet pan.
- Serve however you like. If you want to make Navajo tacos, put your favorite taco fillings on top kidney beans mixed with ground beef is classic, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, etc.
- For a sweet variety, drizzle honey, and add powdered sugar, or other pancake toppings.
Do you like the recipe? Please give it a rating and comment down below, I really appreciate it. Save the Pin to Pinterest! If you make it tag me on Instagram @inthekitchenwithmatt. Also, sign up for the newsletter so you won’t miss out on any of my new posts and recipes.
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When we were kids in AZ back in the 50’s my mom frequently made these, but the were call Doughgods. They were so delicious, warm and buttery . Thanks for your recipe, it’s just like hers was. Can’t wait.
That is awesome!! 🙂 You are very welcome! I live in AZ in Mesa. Love it here!
Thanks so much for a delicious and easy to follow recipe. I am using the fry bread and making gyros.
You are very welcome! 🙂
Im so glad I found your video. My first attempt at fry bread was a disaster…..well, it tasted ok, but some were too thick, and a couple turned out thin and easy to eat. The problem with just a recipe, as opposed to video is that all recipes said to fry until “golden” and that can vary greatly depending on what golden is to author. I watched your entire video, and am ready to give it another go! I will master fry bread no matter how many times I have to make it! Thanks so much! Debbi
You are very welcome, Debbi! Let me know how it turns out the next time you try it. 🙂 🙂
I am a sucker for good fry bread, and this recipe was perfection! So dang tasty and the perfect palette for Navajo Tacos!
So glad you like it! 🙂
I used to live in Arizona, too and LOVED the few occasions when I was treated to these incredible breads! I guess in some ways it’s similar to Naan, but so much better because the frying gives it a very unique flavor & texture! Cannot find these in Chicago. Thank you for the recipe! I’ve tried to recreate these myself without a recipe to reference (before the internet was widely used for recipes – lol I’m that old) and never had the same results. This recipe is fantastic!
So glad you like it, Betsy! Awesome you used to live in AZ!
This bread is sooooo good! Really easy to make, too!