Mom’s Navajo Tacos and Indian Fry Bread

March 22, 2018  ·  Published March 1, 2017

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Homemade Fry Bread and 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 Fry Bread Tacos.

With this recipe, you get tender Indian fry bread layered with a seasoned ground beef filling, followed by lots of veggies (think: taco salad), cheese and sour cream. Then olives if you’ve got them.

A homemade fry bread is layered with Navajo taco filling including seasoned ground beef, kidney beans, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, cheese and sour cream. It's set on a single serve white plate over a brown wooden surface.

Homemade Indian Fry Bread 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 who 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 Navajo fry bread taco 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 Navajo tacos, 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 recipe — that’s the key to this taco recipe.

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 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.

Seven homemade fry bread cooling on a paper towel set over a baking sheet.

Indian Fry Bread Ingredients

For the Navajo fry bread, you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Rapid rise or active dry yeast
  • Salt
  • Warm milk
  • Butter (or shortening)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Navajo Tacos 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

Two servings of Navajo tacos shown here.

How to Make Fry Bread

  • Whisk together dry ingredients.
  • Separately mix melted butter and warm milk.
  • Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir until mixture comes together.
  • Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Heat 1 inch of oil in a pot to 350 – 360 degrees.
  • Divide dough into 8 equal pieces and roll to about 6-inches.
  • Cook one a time in oil until golden brown on each side.
  • Remove from oil and drain.

How to Make Navajo Tacos

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

Can I Make These Ahead of Time?

Unfortunately, the Indian fry bread can’t be prepped in advance. It’s best fresh out of the oil, and leftovers aren’t that great. However, you can certainly make the taco filling ahead of time and reheat it a day or two later.

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. If you find a way to eat these gracefully with your hands, please let me know!

Fresh made fry bread draining over white paper towels.

Tips for the Best Navajo Tacos

  • If using leftover chili as the fry bread taco filling, just rewarm it and be sure to use a slotted spoon to drain of excess liquid before you add it to your fry bread.
  • 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 makes a big difference in how the Indian fry bread turns out!
  • You can also serve the fry bread for dessert — simply top with honey butter (or I bet cinnamon sugar would work too!).

More Taco Recipes You’ll Love:

5 from 24 votes

Mom’s Navajo Tacos and Indian Fry Bread

Homemade Fry Bread and 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 so. 
Soft and tender fry bread is topped with a hearty, seasoned ground beef mixture and finished with lots of fresh taco toppings. Deeeelicious!
Servings: 6
Prep20 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes


  • 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

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

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


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 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 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 5 - 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 filling.*


  • If using leftover chili as the fry bread taco filling, just rewarm it and be sure to use a slotted spoon to drain of excess liquid before you add it to your fry bread.
  • *You can also serve the fry bread for dessert — simply top with honey butter (or I bet cinnamon sugar would work too!).
  • Recipe source: Cooking Classy


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  • Angela Andersen

    OMG! These are caucasian versions of Navajo Tacos! I say, Hahaha, you have the recipe, all wrong! My grandmother, was full blooded Navajo, and my parents had their own Mexican and Navajo restaurant! Called, Dine’ Cafe. From 1976, until 1993, in Kearns, Utah. Beloved by their customers, for the fresh and genuine food, and consistancy! And my mom, kneaded the dough, and patted it out by hand, made 200 tortillas a day, even with her arthritis in her hands! Not a Cuisinart or bread dough machine! The real deal!

    • Leonardo Montoya

      Not only are you a loudmouth elitist looking for attention, but a feckless luddite for bemoaning the usage of machines when they are not only efficient on larger scales – but help the physically handicapped with the daily grind that is kitchen work. Considering your mama with arthritis, I would have suspected you be more aware of the latter.

    • Steven grinde

      Lived in NM for years and ate a lot of these. This recipe is good and about the only thing I would change is the kidney beans for good old pinto beans instead. I also add fresh made guacamole.!

  • Jim Dopkus

    A bread machine makes it much easier because it not only mixes the dough, but kneads it also.

  • Lanette Hastey

    Excellent recipe. Easier than I thought it would be. Everyone wants it again soon! Thank you so much.

  • Donna A Pollock

    I like your recipe the best. I looked at all the others and they looked ok but for some reason your recipe stood out, so I made your recipe. WOW, did they ever turn out great. I had to make extra because my sons love these things but we had a guest that night and each person had 4……yes they did. They said they were so good they couldn’t stop eating them. I had all the fixin’s for the topping and I just used Costco hamburger and seasoned it well with everything including several kinds of chilies I’m growing in my garden. They were truly so good.

  • Jean P.

    These are the best, better than state fair. The little bit of yeast takes them to another level. Just forget not being authentic. Made the extras with cinnamon sugar and honey for dessert. Yum!

  • fran

    I am not a purist: I used frozen fry bread I found on Amazon, and it was really good, IMHO. I love your recipe for the filling. I’m curious, though, why you say it isn’t “healthy.” Sure, eating too much beef isn’t good, but here and there I don’t think it’s all that bad for you. Also, the recipe used lean beef, and you drain off the fat. Surprising how much there was. Other than that, the recipe calls for a lot of veg. I treated myself with some sour cream but avoided the cheese. I haven’t been able to go to the Southwest, so this recipe has made me more patient. Thanks!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      The fried bread just probably isn’t very healthy :). So glad you enjoyed the filling!

  • Dorothy Dice

    But no yeast in it. We don’t use yeast in our fry bread. That’s a different bread.

  • Dorothy Dice

    Coming from an actual Dinè (Navajo), WELL DONE! This is how some do it.