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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    • Stacy Saunders

      Great recipe!!! I drive coast to coast and always stop in Lupton Az, or Twin Arrows Az and have a Navajo taco. Love them!!
      This recipe allowed me to show my family that couldn’t be with me in AZ just how great these really are.
      This recipe is spot on to the ones I’ve enjoyed in the Navajo Nation in Az. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Allison Richards

      This is such a great recipe; so easy to follow. However, if it is your first time making it allot yourself 2 hrs. I made a few mistakes but I figured it out. Everything was so yummy and very filling. My little sister who doesnt eat very much had seconds. My little brother who never finishes his food ate it all up.

    • Jill Williams

      You don’t roll out Navajo fry bread. For the best Navajo Fry Bread you flatten it with your hands.

    • Marlene

      I have never understood why one would use milk in this recipe?
      My mother’s recipe:
      Bluebird flour
      baking soda
      warm water…that is all. She made the best frybread in my family…putting all that other stuff tend to make it harder and a little more unyielding when using the hands to flatten it out, now that takes practice.

      • Jill Williams

        Your right a little warm water and hand shaped dough. They didn’t roll it out. My 5th Great Grandmother was a full blooded Navajo Indian.

    • Catina

      This is the best Navajo taco I have ever had. The recipe is so easy to fallow

      • Jaclyn

        Jaclyn Bell

        They will still be delicious. It only makes a small difference, maybe just add an extra pinch of baking powder.

      • Louie

        Navajo taco today 4 memorial day..I know how to make it…but I’m just looking 4 a deffernt way of making it ppl make Navajo taco deffernt ways ….happy memorial day…

      • Lyssa

        You cannot be serious?? Was your comment really necessary? Honestly, I’m fairly certain that there isn’t one single person who cares to hear about your vile, repulsive, offensive digestive/bathroom/bowel issues, and I know for a fact that there are a whole TON OF US who are incredibly disgusted by your vulgar comment. Stating something as filthy as what you did on A FOOD BLOGGERS SITE, nonetheless one that goes by the name, “Cooking Classy”, is just ignorant and immature.
        Grow up.