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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  • 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.