Navajo Fry Bread

The time comes when all birds must leave the nest and fly on their own.  When I graduated college and started looking for a job, I decided that the farther I could soar from my hometown the better.   Sound familiar?  Be it a need for actual physical distance or merely emotional distance, I’m willing to bet that at one point in our lives we could all relate to that new found feeling of independence pulling us as far away as possible from where it all began.   As for myself, I wanted nothing more than to show all those around me that I had what it took to make it on my own.

That ever growing need for independence eventually landed me in Phoenix, AZ.  It was far from my childhood stomping grounds, completely different in every possible way from Wisconsin, and I had a cushion in the fact that my grandparents were living there in case I ever needed a familiar hand.

I went there to get away, but over the course of the time I was there, I found myself thoroughly appreciating the culture, beauty and heritage of my new home in the southwest.  Indian folklore is particularly strong in this area where active Hopi and Navajo tribes make their homes and still live on designated tribal lands.  The stories and history of the Indians are reflected throughout the southwest culture in everything from the street names, to the exquisite jewelry, to the architecture.

One memory that burns particularly bright in my mind was the first time I was introduced to Navajo Fry Bread.  While not difficult to make, it lends a certain authenticity to a southwest meal that causes you to reflect on the first people to live on this land, long before we took it over and forever changed it from it’s original state.  I made this version with sausage as it’s what I had in my freezer at the time, but you can just as easily substitute ground turkey, beef, or cubed chicken in it’s place.

To put together your own southwest feast, you’ll start out by putting together the ingredients for the fry bread.  Combine together some flour, milk, baking powder and salt and mix it up until just combined.  Don’t mix too much, just enough to get it good and incorporated.  Let it rest for about ten minutes.

While the dough is resting we’ll cook up the sausage topper.  Grab up a fry pan and cook your meat of choice on medium high heat for a minute or two to get it started and then add in a little garlic, onion, and cilantro.

Let the mixture finish cooking up and then turn the heat down to medium and add in a few southwest spices to get the juices flowin’.

Last up, you can add in a big ol’ spoonful of  tomato paste and a little water to make the meat a bit saucy.

Now it’s time to finish up the fry bread.  Rip off a piece from your dough ball and flatten it out nice and thin.

Heat up a couple cups of peanut or canola oil on medium high heat until good and steamy and then drop in your flattened bread dough.

Cook it on each side for about a minute or until golden brown and puffy.  Tell me that isn’t a thing of beauty.

Finish it off by grabbing a piece of your bread, topping it with a bit of the meat mixture, and then adding any additional toppings that suit your fancy.  We used tomatoes, spinach, cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

And just like that it’s time to sit back and appreciate a bite of southwest Indian culture right from the comfort of your own four walls.

Before I sign off, I wanted to announce that the winner of the Mommie Cooks apron is comment number 27, Michelle T!  Congratulations to Michelle and thank you all so much for the heartfelt comments.  Mommie Cooks readers rock!

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Navajo Fry Bread


For the Fry Bread:

2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Milk
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

For the Meat:

1 Pd Sausage (Can sub ground pork, turkey, or beef)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Bunch Cilantro, Chopped
1/2 Onion, Chopped
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Corriander
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Oil for frying


For the fry bread dough, mix together all the listed ingredients; the flour, milk, baking powder, and salt.

Allow the bread to rest for at least 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, grab a frying pan and start cooking up the meat for a minute or two.

Add to the meat the garlic, cilantro, and onion.

Cook the meat all the way through and then add in the cumin, chili powder, and oregano

Mix it up well and then add in the water and tomato paste

Stir it all together and turn the heat down to low to keep warm

Grab a clean frying pan and pour enough oil in the bottom to create about a 1" depth of oil. Turn the heat on medium high and allow it to heat up.

While the oil is heating, take your rested dough ball, rip of a chunk and roll it out thin with a rolling pin.

Drop the rolled bread into the hot oil and allow it to cook up for about a minute on each side or until gold brown.

Serve meat on top of bread along with additional desired toppings.

Navajo Fry Bread By Mommie Cooks on Foodista

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32 Responses to “Navajo Fry Bread”

  1. 1

    Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum — February 28, 2011 @ 7:33 am

    I have had this fry bread before, when I was doing a work/mission trip on a reservation in Montana. It was SO GOOD. We had it at a couple’s home, and they made it for us fresh (not from a restaurant or anything – it was authentic)! What a fun way to bring in a different cultural food into your kids’ lives.

  2. 2

    Chaplain Donna — February 28, 2011 @ 8:26 am

    A great story to go with a great recipe! The bread looks really good!

  3. 3

    LisaDay — February 28, 2011 @ 8:52 am

    We have a Native bread similar here, although the name escapes me at the moment. THe man who provided the recipe said if you were a rich Indian, you would add raisins to the bread. Plain, raisins, bread. Yum. This looks delicious.


  4. 4

    Susan — February 28, 2011 @ 10:41 am

    Love this – Looks amazing!

  5. 5

    Candace — February 28, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    You are my hero. :)

    One of my favorite things to eat when I lived in New Mexico years ago. I can taste it right now. It looks delicious!

  6. 6

    Mari's Cakes — February 28, 2011 @ 11:58 am

    This is something to sing for, something I would love to do this weekend.

  7. 7

    Jenna — February 28, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

    The flatbread looks sinfully delicious–and a lot easier than I expected! I’m thinking of making this with a simple dip sometime soon. They look like great party food.

  8. 8

    Laura in Cancun — February 28, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

    That looks INCREDIBLE!!!

  9. 9

    Ma What's For Dinner — February 28, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try this. Now I have a reason too. Thanks!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the new look. It’s awesome. Happy Birthday Mommie Cooks! SO excited.

  10. 10

    Claire @ Claire K Creations — February 28, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

    Just the name sounds good let alone the look of it. I’m going to have to give fry bread a go very soon. Yum!

  11. 11

    5 Star Foodie — February 28, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

    I absolutely love fry bread, so good with that meat mixture topping too!

  12. 12

    Julie — February 28, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

    In new here…you didn’t forget the beans on purpose did you? The frybread recipe looks authentic but I’ve always known it with a chili style topping instead of straight meat. It is definitely a keeper though however you make it.

  13. 13

    rebecca — February 28, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

    so cool I had these for the first time recently at an Indian pow wow in Tanglewood yummy I am scared to make it as burn myself frying he he fun post Julie

  14. 14

    Shelby — March 1, 2011 @ 4:08 am

    I’m glad your flight to AZ turned out so well! I left home for a while but ended back there until last year when, as an almost 50 year old, I relocated with my husband for work! Now I have left my family and children behind. Exciting for the new life but I do miss them!

    Your bread looks yummy! I will have to make this sometime. Grumpy’s not big on this kind of thing, but he does tolerate it sometimes when I need to fulfill my cravings. ;o) I tend to think he would like the fried bread part though!

  15. 15

    Amanda — March 1, 2011 @ 7:38 am

    Wow that looks so good and reminds me of when I lived in Nevada! I’m bookmarking this 😉

  16. 16

    Kristen — March 1, 2011 @ 8:49 am

    I adore Navajo tacos. In fact, it was one of the things I missed most about AZ during the twenty years I spent away (you just cannot get anything like them in Seattle!). Now that I am back, they are regularly on the menu! Yours look wonderful.

  17. 17

    Katerina — March 1, 2011 @ 11:05 am

    I haven’t heard of that bread but with all these goodies on top of it I woudl eat it in a minute!

  18. 18

    Maranda — March 1, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

    This looks DE-licious! Wow! You amaze me more and more with every recipe!

  19. 19

    Rach — March 1, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

    So cool! And looks incredibly delicious!

  20. 20

    Beth (OMG! Yummy) — March 1, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    Julie – consider this a double comment. Congrats on your one-year blogiversary! I am so impressed with what you have accomplished. I just had my one year anniversary and was/am proud of what I’ve accomplished but it pales compared to what you and IndianSimmer have done in just a year! Wow.

    As for Navajo Fry Bread. We have a rental home in Scottsdale, north of Phoenix and have grown to love the area. In particular, there is a little general store in Cave Creek, that sells Navajo Fry bread coated with cinnamon/sugar. OMG!, it is yummy – really. Never even thought of it for a savory meal. What a great idea!

    Are you going to BlogHerFood? I hope so. I can’t wait to meet you in person.

  21. 21

    Joey @ Big Teeth & Clouds — March 1, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

    Looks so yummy. Unfortunately, even looking at it makes me reach for the Tums. My poor belly!

  22. 22

    Anna Johnston — March 2, 2011 @ 1:37 am

    The bread really sounds incredible Julie., I’ve not had it before, so I’d love to make this up.

  23. 23

    Renee — March 2, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    Wondering what kind of sausage you used? And do you freeze your Cilantro and Garlic? ….looks like small frozen pellets perhaps in the one picture. Care to share this technique used to make the pellets?? What a time saver!

  24. 24

    grace — March 2, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

    i knew that this existed and it’s always lingered in the back of my mind as something i’d love to try, but the opportunity just hasn’t come up! great post–i’m very nearly inspired to brave the hot oil and make my own. :)

  25. 25

    Lin Ann — March 3, 2011 @ 6:37 am

    This is a great story and recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  26. 26

    Wishing I was in the New Mexico Sun | A New Kind of Normal — March 3, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    […] Navajo Fry Bread […]

  27. 27

    Jenn Erickson/Rook No. 17 — March 10, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

    I am so excited to try your recipe! I have fond memories of eating fry bread when my family used to visit the Pueblos of the Southwest on our cross-country vacations.

  28. 28

    Roz — March 11, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

    Looks delicious! I miss this kind of cuisine from the old days when I lived in Arizona! Brings back wonderful memories! Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a sweet comment last week!

  29. 29

    Nabeel's Cosmos — March 12, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

    I like the sound of Fried bread .. we fry it too, but not the regular bread (the ones used for breakfast) … we actually make it and then fry it in oil. The final thing is called a “paratha”

  30. 30

    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — March 13, 2011 @ 6:57 am

    I’m no alien to fried bread, we Indian have many many scrumptious fried breads and I try my best to avoid making it and here I’m totally drooling. Looks so good, I need fried bread and meat.

  31. 31

    Katy — October 31, 2011 @ 10:13 am

    YUMMY! I have fried many things but never bread. I can’t wait to try it.

  32. 32

    Navajo (Dine) Girl — November 7, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    There is a story behind the Navajo frybread. It’s painful and about our cultural suffrage.
    Today, we make it joyfully with our children and I’m happy to see that you’re sharing it with the world.
    Thank you.

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