Mom’s Navajo Tacos and Indian Fry Bread


I will always love Navajo Tacos. I’ve eaten them ever since I can remember. My mom makes the best Navajo Tacos ever (Navajo taco topping anyway =). She would cheat a little and use frozen Rhodes Rolls dough for the fry bread portion, which was also delicious but nothing compares to homemade Navajo fry bread. If you want to use frozen roll dough, all you have to do is fully thaw and rise the dough (according to directions on package) then fry it and top with the Navajo taco topping. This recipe I created for the fry bread really is incredibly simple though, you can basically make it in the time it takes just to prepare the roll dough for thawing.
I decided to use two leavening agents for the fry bread because I wanted the slight flavor yeast gives without having to have it rise for hours, but if you don’t have yeast on hand you could just add another teaspoon of baking powder.
I would highly recommend you make 1 1/2 (or double) the recipe listed so you have left over fry bread to warm and serve with honey butter. I love this meal because you get dinner and an incredible dessert with the left over fry bread.
My mom’s recipe uses a few things not found in your traditional Navajo taco filling that I think are excellent improvements, basically musts. Many recipes don’t have beans or canned tomatoes or even seasonings. My mom would use taco seasoning but I basically just added my own because I don’t buy taco seasoning often. Also, I like to add more traditional Mexican foods like salsa, Mexican hot sauce, cilantro and avocados.
Another great Navajo Taco filling is left over chili (it doesn’t have to be my chili recipe, any good ground beef chili would be great =). Use a slotted spoon when serving it so you don’t make the fry bread soggy. If you haven’t ever had Navajo Fry Bread (aka Indian Fry Bread) or Navajo tacos, then I’m telling you now is the time to try it! A pillow-y, soft center is encased by a lightly crisp, chewy, perfectly fried and golden exterior then its generously topped with a browned beef, deliciously flavorful taco filling and then it’s garnished with more toppings that perfectly compliment and blend all the flavors. It is definitely a satisfying taco. Yum yum YUM! Enjoy!

Who knows why I can’t dollop sour cream in the center, we’ll just say I meant to do that =)

So good with honey or honey butter…

Mom’s Navajo Tacos and Indian Fry Bread

Yield: 8 tacos

Mom’s Navajo Tacos and Indian Fry Bread


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • For serving
  • Navajo Fry Bread, recipe follows
  • Romaine or Iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese (I use a combo of both), grated
  • Roma tomatoes, diced
  • sour cream
  • Other optional toppings I sometimes add
  • black olives, sliced
  • avocados, diced
  • fresh salsa
  • hot sauce (you could add cayenne pepper to the taco filling as well)
  • cilantro, chopped
  • Navajo Fry Bread
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 - 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
  • 1 Tbsp butter or shortening, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (sometimes I use half olive oil)


  • Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, crumble beef into oil, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up beef when stirring, until beef has browned and cooked through. Drain fat from beef and return to skillet (my mom doesn't drain the fat, she says it gives it more flavor so you can leave it if you'd like). Stir in garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, kidney beans, canned diced tomatoes and green chilis then season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, spoon mixture over Navajo Fry bread, then top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream (and any of the other optional toppings listed). Serve immediately.
  • Navajo Fry Bread
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, yeast and salt. Whisk melted butter into warm milk and pour milk mixture into dry ingredients. Stir until mixture comes together and forms a ball, dough should be slightly sticky and elastic so add an up to an additional 1/4 cup milk as needed. Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest 10 minutes. Heat 1 inch of oil in a large cast iron skillet to 350 - 360 degrees over stove top. Divide rested dough into 10 equal pieces. Working with floured hands and one piece of dough at a time (keep other pieces covered with plastic wrap), roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 5 - 6-inch circle and gently drop into hot oil, and cook until golden brown, then rotate and cook opposite side until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain onto a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels. Serve warm with Navajo Taco topping or for dessert, spread with honey butter.
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy


  • Terry Ann: I have been eating the Pomo version(one of our local tribes here in Mendocino County)of these for 32 years and I love them. Can not wait to try yours. They look wonderful and I want some now after reading your post. Love your blog. Thanks for giving me an idea for a dinner this weekend. August 21, 2012 at 4:12pm Reply

  • Kensey: Made these tonight with your version of scones- absolutely delish!! I ate way too much haha :) Adding these recipes to the rotation for sure! August 21, 2012 at 5:32pm Reply

  • Jaclyn: Kensey – that is so great to hear that you loved these! I always eat way too much of them too, it’s so hard not to =). Thanks so much for your comment! August 21, 2012 at 6:35pm Reply

  • Patricia @ ButterYum: Oooooo… I’ve had Indian fry bread, but never topped with a glorious concoction like this! Pinning :).
    August 21, 2012 at 7:19pm Reply

  • Shawn @ I Wash…You Dry: Love this! I seriously can’t wait for the State Fair so I can go and devour one! Looks like now I can make them at home too. YUM! August 21, 2012 at 8:59pm Reply

  • Tara: That looks so good. I am going to add it to my Mouth Watering Mondays post this Monday. Come on by to see it at Cheers, Tara August 22, 2012 at 7:50am Reply

  • Brittany: can’t wait to try this! August 22, 2012 at 9:22pm Reply

  • Sook: I love navajo tacos! This reminds me that I haven’t had them in quite a while! I used to make the bread at home too! I want to try your recipe as well! August 22, 2012 at 9:30pm Reply

  • Tessa: We used to have this track “mom” in college that would always invite the team over and makes fry bread. Love this stuff! August 22, 2012 at 11:35pm Reply

  • holly: what does navajo mean? August 22, 2012 at 11:37pm Reply

  • Jaclyn: Holly – technically, Navajo is the name given to a member of the American Indian people of New Mexico and Arizona, that is where the very first (Navajo Fry Bread) recipe originated from – the Navajo Indians so that’s why they are called Navajo Tacos and Navajo Fry Bread. August 23, 2012 at 10:21am Reply

  • Carissa Rasmussen: I can’t wait to try these! I love Fry Bread–adding these to my menu:) thanks August 25, 2012 at 4:04pm Reply

  • Jeanette Fitts: I was so excited to make these. 2 days ago, I made the fry bread and as I was pouring out the hot oil out of my pan, I slipped and fell, taking down the entire pan of scalding oil on me. I suffered 2nd degree burns on my left arm and leg and hyper-extended my right knee on the way down. However, when I left the burn unit and got home, I was a little hungry. So I grabbed a piece of the fry bread I finished before my disaster and BOY WAS IT GOOD! I may not be frying anything for a while, but when I do step back up to the plate, you bet your bottom dollar these are back on the menu. Yum! August 30, 2012 at 3:10pm Reply

  • Jaclyn: Jeanette – I’m so terribly sorry!!!! That is so horrible!!! I have to tell you I know just how you feel because I got third degree burns all over my stomach when I was 8 from dumping boiling pasta water all over myself (I went to drain it and could barely reach the sink and tipped it the wrong direction) but now I can use it as proof that I’ve been cooking since I could barely reach the counter =). A burn is seriously one of the most painful injuries! I wish I could do something for you! I feel partly responsible for such a terrible disaster. I hope you get well very soon, you are the sweetest person to be commenting in such a kind way that you are coming back and saying how good the fry bread was and that you’d be trying them again! We need more people like you in the world =). Again I’m so sorry! Thank you for your kind comment though. September 1, 2012 at 8:29pm Reply

  • Apoorva Sai: This Fry Bread recipe is a variety taste and simple homemade recipe. It is healthy recipe. September 6, 2012 at 4:19am Reply

  • mele: omg i love this recipe it is soo delicious and my kids love it thank you!!:) January 2, 2013 at 6:18pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: It was one of my favorites as a kids so I’m glad to hear your kids love it too =). Thanks for your comment! January 3, 2013 at 9:41pm Reply

  • Julie: This recipe is amazing the search for a good Indian taco recipie is over. Husbands ex used to make her own version for him and I had never heard of it. Finally yay he said this is so much better that hers HA! And thank you :) my kids loved it too. Having leftovers for lunch today yummy! February 15, 2013 at 12:58pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: That’s awesome Julie =)! I’m so glad they were enjoyed! These are one of my favs because I was raised on them. Thanks for your comment! February 21, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

  • Tashina: Hi, there is an easier way to make frybread if you would like me to give you the recipe. I am from the Navajo tribe and live in New Mexico. But there is no need to put yeast or milk in your recipe. March 9, 2013 at 11:40pm Reply

    • barbara: WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOUR RECIPE April 9, 2013 at 7:43pm Reply

      • avett: So would I! April 14, 2013 at 5:22am Reply

    • Elizabeth: I would love it too!!!! April 21, 2013 at 11:42pm Reply

    • sheila: I would like to see tashinas recipe also. my mom used to make frybread. she called them dough boys. I am going to try yours also. the addition of yeast sounds instresting January 31, 2014 at 6:29pm Reply

    • Blanca: Hello Tashina. I would live your recipe if you don’t mind. My daughter loves Indian Fry bread and she goes back to Hawaii in a couple of days. I would like for that to be our last meal together b4 she leaves. Thank you December 27, 2016 at 7:07pm Reply

  • avett: Has anyone tried baking these instead of frying? Thx. March 14, 2013 at 4:16pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I haven’t but I myself wondered how they’d turn out. They would definitely lack the delicious fried flavor =) but they’d be healthier if it could be pulled off somehow. March 16, 2013 at 8:39am Reply

  • Jessica: My mom made these growing up always loved them. We use pinto beans and a pound original bob evans breakfast sausage for filling. March 21, 2013 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Linda: Can you use self-rising flour for the fry bread? April 23, 2013 at 10:43am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think that would be fine, then just omit both leavening agents (the baking powder and yeast). April 25, 2013 at 7:08pm Reply

  • Linda: One more comment: My Granny was Cherokee, and she used to make fried bread with cornmeal. I love, love, loved it! April 23, 2013 at 10:45am Reply

    • Jaclyn: That sounds amazing, I’m going to have to try it that way sometime soon. Thanks for the tip! April 25, 2013 at 7:05pm Reply

  • Indian Fry Bread |: […] Here’s the recipe I found from […] May 15, 2013 at 7:00am Reply

  • Katie: I’m about to cook this, and reading over the recipe for the bread, is says “the dough should be slightly sticky and elastic so add an additional 1/4 cup milk as needed”. I’m not a very good cook. But if its sticky shouldn’t I be adding more flour and not milk? Help!!

    Thanks May 15, 2013 at 3:34pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Sorry Katie, I know that does sound confusing but with this it was to add more milk to make it more sticky if needed rather than flour. You want it to be sticky and elastic so add more milk if needed to get that consistency. May 16, 2013 at 10:08pm Reply

  • Navajo frybread / Pão frito Navajo | Mangia che te fa bene: […] A receita veio daqui. […] June 25, 2013 at 4:45am Reply

  • deana: We have these all the time, My Great Grandmother was Cherokee and it was a treat when she made these for me and all my cousins. When I do them I also eat them with Honeybutter, cinnamon and sugar and we Call these Indian Tacos. Here in Texas they are famous at our State Fairs and others that are around us. June 29, 2013 at 11:29am Reply

  • Wapaq: Hi thanks for the taco filling recipe! Now I have an idea on what to put on my frybread. My mom always made frybread when I was little and she used kifir for it. I just use flour, water, salt, and baking soda. August 11, 2013 at 7:45am Reply

  • Pixeltrash: This has become our favorite recipe for tacos. I don’t always make your filling, but the fry bread it to die for! LOVE it. So, thank you for sharing! September 19, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • Jaclyn: That’s great to hear! Thanks for your comment! September 19, 2013 at 10:55am Reply

  • CMcCloy: Love it. Your recipe is exactly how I make these. A friend of mine from Albuquerque gave me the recipe back in the early 90’s when we met in NC. When I made some for my then fiance’, he ate many. They are a staple in our house. My son loves them and wants them all the time. Thanks for sharing. January 12, 2014 at 6:15pm Reply

  • Susan: I love this recipe, esp. because it is not sweet. I’ve had Indian tacos out, and like them, but always wanted the bread not to be so sweet. This is a perfect recipe, and you can sweeten it up with toppings. We’re having Indian Tacos for dinner tonight and for dessert, the same Indian frybread with blueberries and whipped cream June 15, 2014 at 12:49pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Mmm sounds delish! Can I come over? :) June 19, 2014 at 11:46pm Reply

  • Cheryl: I made these tonight. They were delicious! I even used white whole wheat flour instead and they still turned out fantastic. I will be making these again. July 2, 2014 at 8:59pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for your comment Cheryl! Glad you liked them! July 14, 2014 at 10:45pm Reply

  • » Navaho Tacos: […] is how it was for me the other day when I saw this recipe for Navaho Tacos on a site called Cooking Classy.  Actually I have seen several versions of this through the years, but for some reason […] July 3, 2014 at 7:57am Reply

  • CSC: I am not sure that this is an issue or not, but someone is using your pictures of this recipe for their “Cherokee Fry Bread” on Just A Pinch.|c3zQuZ0uzS_mZzc6FEFqDg

    The recipe itself is different, but it’s obviously an edited version of your photograph. She may have permission, but I thought I’d check.

    I don’t go looking for these things, it just popped up right next to yours in some search results on Pinterest. June 25, 2016 at 2:38pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for the heads up! I have contacted them – this happens me all the time and irritates me so much! June 29, 2016 at 11:32am Reply

  • Cecilia: My son and I go to the indian pow wow several yrs ago. We had indian fry bread tacoes and frd bread with honey and strawberries. Now i have a recipe, going to try it out. June 28, 2016 at 3:44pm Reply

  • L j Cayene: For the very best fry bread …you must use Blue Bird flour..I live in Alaska and my brother mails me flour
    Can’t help it I am a fry bread snob and know what is best..we even have a drive up tent along I25hwy for fresh made fry bread..west of Allbuquerque..of course the food in New Mexico is southwest gourmet
    .Also fry in lard for best taste January 18, 2017 at 12:50am Reply

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