Native American Fry Bread

Native American Fry Bread Recipe courtesy of The Spruce East 

Native American fry breadPrep: 10 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes
Total: 16 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 loaves

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

  • Calories: 289
  • Fat: 19g
  • Carbs: 26g
  • Protein: 4g

Fry bread is a Native American bread that stretches back generations, particularly in the Navajo Nation with whom it originated. It’s enjoyed all over the U.S. and is easily found throughout the Southwest. There’s no need to go looking for it because it’s surprisingly quick and easy to make at home.

There are many recipes for fry bread, varying with the region and tribe. It may be made with yeast and cornmeal, and some recipes add shortening, lard, or another fat, or include an egg. This recipe is made with all-purpose flour and baking powder, creating a very simple fry bread with no extra fat or eggs.

Once you learn how easy it is to make from scratch and how delicious fry bread is, you’ll find lots of ways to enjoy it. Fry bread is an excellent choice to serve with a hearty stew or chili, and you can make fry bread tacos with seasoned ground beef and your favorite toppings. It’s also a tasty snack when served with honey, maple syrup, or fruit jam or preserves. This recipe makes four small fry bread loaves. It can easily be scaled up for a larger family.


  • 3 cups vegetable oil or shortening (enough for 1-inch depth, for frying)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk

Steps to Make It

  • Gather the ingredients.
  • In a deep, 10-inch cast-iron skillet or heavy saucepan, heat about 1 inch of oil to 350 F.
    If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer to attach to the pan, dip the handle end of a wooden spoon in the oil. The oil should bubble around it fairly steadily when it’s ready. The popcorn method is another option: Place a kernel of popcorn in the oil, and it will pop when the oil reaches 350 to 360 F.
  • Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix well to blend.
  • Add the milk and stir until the dough holds together.
  • Knead 3 or 4 times on a floured surface.
  • Divide the dough into 4 uniform pieces and shape each into a ball.
  • Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each ball of dough into a circle that’s about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Make a depression in the center of each round of dough (it will puff up while frying).
  • Carefully slide 1 or 2 pieces of dough into the hot oil. Fry for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.
  • Remove the fried dough to paper towels to drain.

How to Serve It

  • Sprinkle the fry bread with a little cinnamon and sugar.
  • Dust fry bread with powdered sugar and add a drizzle of honey or syrup.
  • Serve the bread as a taco salad base or with taco toppings (popularly called Navajo tacos). Be sure to make the circles of dough very thin for this use.
  • Cut hot fry bread into wedges and serve with salsa or a dipping sauce.


  • Be careful not to knead the dough too much because the bread will be hard and tough.
  • The dough is sticky but easy to work with; keep your hands and work surface well-floured.
  • Adjust the thickness of the dough for your use. For instance, when making tacos, start with a very thin dough (less than 1/4 inch). Press a deep indentation into the center to prevent it from turning into a ball.
  • Use your favorite type of oil for frying. Vegetable oil and shortening are popular options, canola oil is considered a little healthier, and lard is traditionally used by many Native Americans.