Navajo Tacos (Indian Fry Bread)


Navajo Tacos, also known as Indian Tacos or Fry Bread Tacos, are a beloved culinary delight that combines Native American tradition with savory flavors and textures. This iconic dish originated among the Navajo people in the Southwestern United States and has since become a favorite across the country. In this article, we’ll delve into the rich history of Navajo Tacos, explore what makes them so special, and provide a delicious recipe for you to try at home.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Toppings of your choice (e.g., seasoned ground beef, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, sour cream)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Gradually add the warm water to the dry ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth, then divide it into 6 equal portions.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or deep fryer to 375°F (190°C).
  5. Roll each portion of dough into a ball, then flatten into a disk about 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Carefully place the dough disks into the hot oil, frying one at a time, until golden brown on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).
  7. Remove the fry bread from the oil and drain on paper towels.
  8. Once all the fry bread is cooked, assemble your Navajo Tacos by topping each piece of fry bread with your desired fillings.
  9. Serve immediately and enjoy the delicious flavors of this iconic dish!

Serving and Storage Tips for Navajo Tacos:

  1. Serve Immediately: Navajo Tacos are best enjoyed fresh and hot, straight from the fryer. The fry bread is at its crispiest and most delicious when served immediately after frying, so try to assemble and serve the tacos as soon as the bread is ready.
  2. Keep Toppings Separate: If you’re preparing a buffet-style meal or serving Navajo Tacos for a crowd, consider keeping the toppings separate from the fry bread until just before serving. This helps prevent the fry bread from becoming soggy and allows each person to customize their taco to their liking.
  3. Store Leftovers Properly: If you have leftover fry bread or toppings, store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. The fry bread can be reheated in a toaster oven or skillet to restore its crispiness, while toppings like meat, beans, and salsa can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  4. Freeze Fry Bread: Navajo fry bread freezes well, so if you find yourself with extra dough or cooked fry bread, consider freezing it for later use. Wrap individual pieces tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place them in a freezer bag or container. To reheat, simply thaw the fry bread in the refrigerator overnight and warm it in the oven or toaster oven until heated through.
  5. Get Creative with Leftovers: Don’t be afraid to get creative with leftover Navajo Taco ingredients! Use leftover fry bread as a base for other dishes like breakfast tacos or dessert nachos. Leftover toppings can be repurposed into salads, quesadillas, or stuffed peppers for a delicious and budget-friendly meal.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can ensure that your Navajo Tacos are always fresh, flavorful, and enjoyed to the fullest. Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or simply indulging in a homemade taco night, these tips will help you make the most of this iconic dish.

The History of Navajo Tacos: The origins of Navajo Tacos can be traced back to the forced relocation of Native American tribes, including the Navajo, in the 1860s, known as the Long Walk. During this time, the United States government provided rations to the displaced tribes, which often included ingredients like flour, lard, and baking powder. With these basic provisions, the Navajo people improvised and created fry bread, a simple yet versatile dough that could be fried and served with various toppings.

Over time, fry bread evolved into Navajo Tacos as indigenous communities incorporated traditional ingredients like beans, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa onto the crispy, golden-brown bread. This fusion of Native American and Hispanic culinary influences gave rise to a truly unique and flavorful dish that continues to be cherished today.

What Makes Navajo Tacos Special: Navajo Tacos are more than just a meal; they’re a celebration of culture, heritage, and community. Each element of this dish tells a story, from the pillowy softness of the fry bread to the savory toppings that reflect the diversity of Native American cuisine.

One of the defining characteristics of Navajo Tacos is the fry bread itself. Made from a simple mixture of flour, salt, baking powder, and water, the dough is kneaded and shaped before being fried until golden and crispy. The result is a light and airy bread with a delicate crunch—a perfect canvas for the vibrant flavors that adorn it.

Another aspect that sets Navajo Tacos apart is the versatility of the toppings. While traditional toppings may include seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken, modern variations often feature vegetarian options like beans or grilled vegetables. Topped with a generous dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese, and a drizzle of salsa, each bite is a symphony of textures and tastes that will leave your taste buds tingling.


  1. What are Navajo Tacos? Navajo Tacos, also known as Indian Tacos or Fry Bread Tacos, are a traditional Native American dish consisting of fry bread topped with savory ingredients like seasoned meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa.
  2. What is fry bread? Fry bread is a type of bread made from simple ingredients like flour, baking powder, salt, and water. The dough is fried until golden and crispy, resulting in a light and airy bread with a delicate crunch.
  3. What toppings are typically served on Navajo Tacos? Traditional toppings for Navajo Tacos include seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream. However, toppings can vary based on personal preference and regional variations.
  4. Are Navajo Tacos gluten-free? Traditional Navajo Tacos are not gluten-free, as they are made with wheat flour. However, you can easily make gluten-free Navajo Tacos by using a gluten-free flour blend or alternative flours like rice flour or cornmeal.
  5. Can I make Navajo Tacos vegetarian or vegan? Yes, Navajo Tacos can easily be made vegetarian or vegan by substituting meat with plant-based proteins like beans, tofu, or tempeh, and using dairy-free cheese and sour cream alternatives.
  6. How do you pronounce “Navajo”? “Navajo” is pronounced “nah-vuh-ho.”
  7. Are Navajo Tacos spicy? The level of spiciness in Navajo Tacos can vary depending on the seasoning used in the meat and salsa. While some versions may be mild, others may have a bit of heat. You can adjust the spiciness to your liking by choosing mild or spicy ingredients.
  8. Can I make Navajo Tacos ahead of time? While fry bread is best served fresh and hot, you can prepare the toppings ahead of time and assemble the tacos just before serving to minimize prep time. Leftover fry bread can be reheated in the oven or toaster oven to restore its crispiness.
  9. Are Navajo Tacos healthy? Navajo Tacos can be a balanced and nutritious meal when made with lean proteins, plenty of vegetables, and whole grain fry bread. However, like any dish, the healthiness of Navajo Tacos depends on the ingredients and portion sizes used.
  10. Where can I try Navajo Tacos? Navajo Tacos can be found at Native American restaurants, food festivals, and cultural events throughout the Southwestern United States and beyond. You can also make them at home using a simple recipe and basic ingredients.


Navajo Tacos are more than just a meal; they’re a symbol of resilience, creativity, and cultural pride. By exploring the history and flavors of this beloved dish, we not only satisfy our appetites but also pay homage to the indigenous communities who created it. Whether enjoyed at a powwow, a family gathering, or in the comfort of your own home, Navajo Tacos are sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds and your heart.

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