Mom’s Navajo Tacos and Indian Fry Bread


Navajo tacos will forever and always be one of my favorite foods! Yes eating healthy is great and all but sometimes we need some all-out comfort food like these Navajo Tacos! I grew up on Navajo tacos, I was always so excited when my mom said we were having Navajo tacos for dinner (I was that annoying child that would ask my mom what was for dinner just as we were finishing lunch, or sometimes even they day before. I liked to know the menu). They’re just so incredibly delicious, you really need to try them for yourself and see!

I actually shared this recipe about 4 1/2 years ago when I first started blogging, but I make these probably once a month so I decided to update the photos. Another way I make these, besides the beef filling listed is just with leftover chili. They both work perfectly as long as you make this simple homemade Indian fry bread – that’s the key to this recipe. If using leftover chili just rewarm it and be sure to use a slotted spoon to drain of excess liquid before you add them to your fry bread.

Can we talk a little be more about that Indian fry bread? Oh myyyy goodness is it good and they are actually really easy to make. This recipe should give you a couple extra fry breads so you can serve them warm with honey butter for dessert. Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm!

Just imagine a pillowy-soft yet chewy center is encased by a lightly crisp, perfectly fried golden brown exterior then its generously topped with a deliciously flavorful, browned beef taco filling and all those classic southwestern toppings. Such a satisfying taco to say the least! Try them out and you’ll see why I’ve craved these as long as I can remember.


Mom’s Navajo Tacos and Indian Fry Bread

5 from 1 vote

Yield: About 5 - 6 servings


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup yellow onion , diced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, drained (or sometimes I used an 8 oz can of tomato sauce instead)
  • 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
  • Optional toppings - sliced black olives , diced avocado, chopped cilantro, salsa or hot sauce

Navajo Fry Bread

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp rapid rise or active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
  • 1 Tbsp butter or shortening , melted
  • Vegetable oil , for frying (sometimes I use half olive oil)


  1. 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 fry bread, then top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream (and any of the other optional toppings listed). Serve immediately.

Navajo Fry Bread

  1. 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 slightly forms a ball, dough should be fairly sticky (if needed you can add in a little more flour or a little more water to reach a good consistency but try not to overwork the dough). 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 8 equal pieces. Working with floured hands and one piece of dough at a time (keep other pieces covered with plastic wrap), pat dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 6-inch circle and gently drop into hot oil, and cook until golden brown, then flip 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.
  2. 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

    • Jane: Navajo is a Native American tribe in the South West United States. Other tribes call this Indian Tacos. March 4, 2017 at 9:59am 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

    • Erin Johnson: I grew up in New Mexico and ate these often True fry bread does not have yeast in it! However this scone recipe looks tasty! July 26, 2017 at 10:59am 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

    • Wil Bertram: I am so sorry to hear this. Please, people, NEVER move hot oil. Wait till it’s cooled down.
      I hope you healed well. August 21, 2017 at 12:01pm 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

    • Jann: I would love your recipe too please! Thanks so very much. March 2, 2017 at 4:16am Reply

    • Caitlin Gunville: Can I have your recipe? January 6, 2018 at 1:16pm Reply

    • Amanda: No yeast!!! That’s more my liking! January 27, 2018 at 8:17pm 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

    • Kassie Bowman: They won’t turn out the same August 20, 2017 at 8:55am 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

  • Paige: This is one of my favorite dinners! We make this all the time!

    Paige March 2, 2017 at 9:47am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad your family has enjoyed them Paige! March 4, 2017 at 8:40pm Reply

  • Melinda: I want to try these! Just curious how you dispose of your cooking oil? Thanks! March 2, 2017 at 10:08am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I let it cool completely and then put it in a sealable bottle and put it in the trash, some cities though actually recycle it (for biodiesel) so you can check in your area to see if you are able to do that and would like to. March 4, 2017 at 8:39pm Reply

    • Sam Eberhart: Some restaurants accept used cooking oil -they have large vats in their parking lots that are picked up by ?????. Just ask the manager for permission. December 13, 2017 at 7:03pm Reply

  • Kristin: I loved this recipe when I tried it. I’ve never eaten Navajo tacos except that one time, and this may sound dumb, but I’m not sure how you eat it! Do you pick up the whole thing like a tostada… all open-faced? Or do you fold it like a regular taco? Do you eat it with a knife and fork? I think the reason I haven’t made them is how cumbersome it was to eat it. I’d love any tips on the “proper” way to eat it! March 2, 2017 at 9:04pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yeah I probably should have mentioned that actually. They should be eaten using a knife and fork. With all those toppings half of it is bound to fall of it you try eating them by hand :). March 4, 2017 at 8:31pm Reply

  • Jane: Is there a meatless version for this recipe? March 3, 2017 at 5:32am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I would add another can of beans – black or pinto and I’d use both the tomato sauce and tomatoes. You could even add in some veggies as well. March 4, 2017 at 8:28pm Reply

    • Kassie Bowman: The White Mountain Apache people which are south of the Navajo reservation make frybread and beans and serve it in a similar way August 20, 2017 at 8:58am Reply

  • Julie: Your photos look beautiful with all those colorful toppings! What brand/type of thermometer do you use when you fry in oil? March 3, 2017 at 11:56am Reply

  • Sarah: I am into vegetables but I can’t help but crave for tacos. I think it is genius to partner it up with my favorite Indian fry bread.
    Your food photos are wonderful shot as well. Good blog! March 7, 2017 at 6:25am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Sarah! March 26, 2017 at 10:41pm Reply

  • ELLIE: I was taught to make these by a Navajo lady who used buttermilk. Milk is fine but I highly recommend the buttermilk April 8, 2017 at 5:50pm Reply

  • Shannon Fowler: How do you get the fry bread to be flatter? Mine all had a bubble of a sort in them? January 4, 2018 at 10:28pm Reply

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