Navajo Tacos

Published May 3, 2023. Updated July 27, 2023

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Navajo Tacos are made of tender homemade fry bread that are layered with a seasoned ground beef and bean filling, crisp lettuce, rich cheese, juicy tomatoes, and creamy sour cream. They are truly one of the ultimate comfort foods!

Homemade navajo taco on a plate. Made with homemade fry bread, ground beef and bean filling, lettuce, tomatoes, olives and sour cream.

Our Favorite Navajo Tacos!

Think piled high taco salad but even better! These are a Southwestern classic.

Just imagine a pillowy soft yet chewy center encased by a lightly crisp, perfectly fried golden brown exterior. Then it’s generously topped with a deeply flavorful browned beef taco filling and all those vibrantly colorful toppings that have a pleasant complementary blend of textures.

People of all ages love them! They are such a simply satisfying taco to say the least.

Try them soon and you’ll see why our family has craved them as long as we can remember!

Ingredients needed to make Navajo tacos recipe.

Navajo Tacos Recipe Ingredients

For the Navajo taco filling, you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Ground Beef
  • Spices (chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper)
  • Kidney beans
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced green chilis
  • Fry bread ingredients, recipe here

Continued steps showing how to deep fry Navajo fry bread.

How to Make Navajo Tacos

  1. Saute onion and garlic in skillet.
  2. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook and break up, until browned.
  3. Drain fat. Stir in spices, kidney beans, canned diced tomatoes and green chilis.
  4. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve over Navajo fry bread with toppings.

Six steps showing how to make navajo taco filling and layer onto fry bread.

Possible Variations

  • My mom used to use a shortcut route for fry bread. She opted to use frozen dinner roll dough (such as Rhode’s Rolls) to make the fry bread. I would say this homemade fry bread recipe included is unbelievably easy and you don’t have to wait hours for dough to thaw and rise, but there’s also no shame in using store-bought dough to skip a step.
  • Another way you can make Navajo tacos, besides using the beef filling listed is just with leftover chili. You just want to use a slotted spoon to strain away excess broth when serving so they fry bread doesn’t get soggy.
  • Rather than using the spices listed you could sub a store-bought or homemade taco seasoning blend. Just add to taste.

Fry bread tacos.

Can I Make These Ahead of Time?

For best taste and texture I recommend making the fry bread within a few hours of serving.

The taco filling can be made a day or two ahead of time, stored in the fridge, then be reheated when ready to serve.

How Do You Eat Navajo Tacos?

These tacos are quite messy so it’s best to eat them with a knife and fork, kind of like an open-faced taco or a taco salad. If you find a way to eat these mess-free with your hands let us know. :)

Three navajo tacos shown on plates from above.

Tips for the Best Navajo Tacos

  • When making the fry bread, it’s very important that you cover the dough with plastic wrap when you let it rest. It’s a small detail, but it keeps the fry bread dough from drying out.
  • Be careful not to overwork the fry bread dough for a tender and fluffy end result.
  • If you want fluffier fry bread shape the dough with your hands rather than rolling out with a rolling pin.
  • Don’t skip simmer time for the filling. This allows time for the flavors to develop and meld together.
  • You don’t have to use all the toppings listed but I’d recommend the filling and the cheese at a bare minimum.

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Homemade navajo taco on a plate. Made with homemade fry bread, ground beef and bean filling, lettuce, tomatoes, olives and sour cream.
5 from 26 votes

Navajo Tacos

Made of tender homemade fry bread that are layered with a seasoned ground beef and bean filling, crisp lettuce, rich cheese, juicy tomatoes, and creamy sour cream. They are truly one of the ultimate comfort foods!
Servings: 6
Prep20 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes


Navajo Fry Bread, recipe here

    For serving

    • Romaine or Iceberg lettuce, chopped
    • Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
    • Roma tomatoes, diced
    • Sour cream
    • Sliced black olives and chopped cilantro (optional)


    Navajo Taco Filling

    • Heat olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute 2 minutes, add garlic and saute 20 seconds. Scoot mixture to the side then crumble beef into skillet. 
    • Season with salt and pepper 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. 
    • Stir in chili powder, cumin, paprika, kidney beans, canned diced tomatoes and green chilis then season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. 
    • Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes (if you used the tomato sauce you can add in a few tbsp of water to thin a little if needed). 
    • Using a slotted spoon, spoon mixture over prepared fry bread, then top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream (and any of the other optional toppings listed). Serve immediately.


    • *If you want a less juicy filling you can drain the canned tomatoes.
    • *An 8 oz. can of tomato sauce can be used in place of canned tomatoes in a pinch.


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    • Danielle

      Loved this highly adaptable recipe. I had to sub black beans and rotel because it was what I had on hand. Also added more ground beef and used the leftover filling the next day for some yummy quesadillas. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jo Kruszka

      Can you air fry these or bake the fry bread rather than frying in a plan with oil.

      • Jaclyn

        Jaclyn Bell

        Unfortunately I don’t think they’d work out very well in an air fryer or baking.

    • Jeni

      I have to ask if this what you called fry bread is similar or the same idea as Bannock? Not sure if that is the Canadian version but up here North in north country we call it bannock? But no yeast… no yeast in a bannock. Can have the fat; in fact, I recommend it! Can add sugar or salt too and even the baking powder… However, the basic version which some state is the best way, but I may be guessing here but all the same I am guessing it was more the poor man’s version when times were a tough going… not so much anybody was against butter or whatever just there weren’t any around to throw in when times were lean. I have never seen bannock look so good though and so fluffy and all tasty browned like that. I have to try it as I have had plenty of the poor mans bannock and yours looks tastier. I’ve not had it with taco toppings either–that’s fascinating…

      • Marvis Darryl Brooks

        The recipe for Bannock that I read sounded closer to biscuits

    • Melinda

      I’ve spent time with the Navajo on the reservation in Arizona and I’ve seen them tear the fry bread into pieces before putting taco fixings on top. Makes it much easier to eat with a fork and you don’t have to try and cut them.

    • Bets

      Excellent recipe if you haven’t been taught how to make fry bread by someone who mixes and shape them by hand. It isn’t something easily described by or learned from written instructions. There is a difference that takes them over-the-top. However, these are good and few people have the opportunity to receive hands on instructions. I was taught by a Ute lady and there are slight differences between those and Navaho fry bread, but both are amazing.