Authentic Indian Tacos made with Indian Frybread are a meal that you are going to crave over and over. Light, airy, and puffy fry bread made in a skillet or fryer, filled with your favorite taco ingredients, or dusted with cinnamon and sugar and served with honey for a scrumptious dessert.
These Indian Fry Bread Tacos, also known as Navajo or Native American Fry Bread Tacos, come together super fast with only a few basic ingredients.
My Love of Indian Tacos
If you have never tried Indian Tacos made with Indian Fry Bread you are missing out big time! The first time I ever had one was when I lived in San Diego for a brief time in the late 1980s. A friend and I were at a festival in Balboa Park, and she ordered one from a vendor.
I had never heard of anything like it, but I am always game to try new things, so I gave it a whirl. Oh. My. Goodness. I loved it! But after moving back to Nebraska, I kind of forgot about them, that was until I met my friend, Candi in 1997. She was living here while her husband was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base.
Authentic Indian Fry Bread Recipe
Candi grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, where Indian Tacos are a staple at the Oklahoma State Fair. She is proud of her Native American heritage and has told me all kinds of stories over the years. She and I both started our blogs within a short time of one another back in 2011, and when she posted her recipe for Authentic Indian Fry Bread and how she grew up making and eating Indian Tacos, I added them to my list of things that I must make.
I am embarrassed at how long it took me to make them. But today, I will share them with you. I promise you, you will love them. We sure did!
A few years ago, Candi had to switch her lifestyle to a gluten-free one. She refused to give up her Indian Tacos, and thanks to her, you can enjoy her recipe for Gluten Free Indian Fry Bread, too!
What Exactly Is Indian Fry Bread?
In terms of bread making, Indian fry bread has to be one of the easiest to make. It is actually a classic flat bread and I guess you could say it is similar to a pita bread in a sense.
A Quick History Of Indian Fry Bread
Culturally speaking, fry bread exists in a weird space. On the one hand, it is celebrated and cherished by Indian tribes and served as a staple bread as well as offered at cultural celebrations like Pow Wows and Potlaches. However, the tribal significance of Indian fry bread is complicated.
The bread became a staple due to the fact that the US Government when it was moving tribes to reservations, supplied the tribes with the necessary ingredients. Those food subsidies were necessary since the tribes were moved to places where they couldn’t grow their former sustenance diets of corn, squash, and beans. So, from necessity, they created fry bread and it became a part of their regular diet in many different tribes across the US.
As a result, it is both celebrated but also sometimes criticized by Native Americans since it represents both survivals through ingenuity but also colonial oppression. History aside, the fact that it tastes great and can work for dessert or main course makes it a healing and nurturing food. Regardless of culture, or history, everyone loves fry bread!
Many Cultures Have Fry Bread Recipes
Although in the States, it is called Indian Fry Bread, Navajo Fry Bread or Native American Fry Bread, there are actually many variations of this recipe worldwide. From China to India, Africa, all across Europe, and not just North but also Central and South America, fry bread is a well-known flatbread that goes by many names, like “mekitsa” in Hungary or “vetkoek” in South Africa. Each culture has its own style of preparation and features a huge variety of fillings. So feel free to get creative!
I guess in this sense, fry bread is also a way to find a connection with cultures all over the world.
What Ingredients Are In Fry Bread?
Although there are different variations according to culture and tradition, my recipe calls for just a few ingredients, no yeast required:
- Flour – Regular flour works best, but you can get away with pastry flour too
- Baking Powder – The baking powder helps lighten the dough
- Buttermilk – The buttermilk not only helps the flavor but also helps the dough to leaven as well.
- Salt – Just a little bit of salt to help season it things a bit.
- Shortening – You can use oil or lard too, but I like shortening best for frying the bread since it is easy to use.
How to Make Indian Fry Bread
In just a few easy steps this Native American Fry Bread will be ready!
First, Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and buttermilk in a medium-sized bowl. Form a ball.
Next, Divide the dough ball into 4 even-sized smaller balls. Turn each ball out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out. The dough should be fairly thick.
Finally, in a skillet over medium-high heat, melt shortening. When the oil has reached 350 degrees F, place the flattened dough in a skillet and fry until golden. (approximately 3 minutes)
Flip over and fry for another 3 minutes or until the other side is golden brown.
Place on a paper towel and drain off any excess grease.
Indian Fry Bread Tacos
So, what are Indian Tacos made of? My recipe pays respect to truly traditional Native American ingredients like beans specifically. If you visit any Native restaurants then you will probably find a wide array of fry bread taco options, like bison or venison fry bread tacos for example. If you are in New Mexico then don’t be surprised if you think a sopapilla is exactly like a fry bread taco, you are correct. Different name, same basic idea.
Just like a corn flour taco shell, the sky is the limit for what you can stuff into a fry bread taco. Meat, veggies, even fruit all work wonderfully depending on whether you want a sweet or a savory option.
Ingredients in my Indian Taco Recipe
I followed Candi’s lead and made them how she does, and I can attest that her Indian fried tacos tasted exactly as I remembered them from way back in the 1980s.
- prepared Indian fry bread
- Ranch Style Beans
- onion, I used green (it was what I had on hand)
The kids added some shredded cheese to theirs, but I was perfectly content without it. Make them your own! Just layer the ingredients onto the fry bread and you have yourself a Navajo Taco!
These Ranch Style Beans were spot on for achieving the flavor that I remembered! I have seen them in the store, but I had never purchased them. They are seasoned perfectly! Just warm them in the microwave and spoon them on!
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Sweet Or Savory Fry Bread Tacos
The cool thing about fry bread is how versatile it is. You can sweeten it up with sugar and fill it with fruit for a delicious dessert that will remind you of a fruit-filled donut. We loved them dusted with cinnamon and sugar, then drizzled with honey, like my friend Candi suggested.
Or, you can fill it with lettuce, cheese, beans, meat, or any other roast veggies to enjoy as a savory main course. Because the bread itself is pretty soft and chewy, it holds up well to holding ingredients where other types of bread might become a soggy mess.
I like using beans in this recipe, and you might find my post on “how to make a can of refried beans taste like a restaurant” helpful.
A Substitute For Buttermilk In Fry Bread Recipes
If you can’t find or don’t like using buttermilk, then there are buttermilk substitution options to use instead. Active culture yogurt will do the trick or even sour cream. You would use similar measures of either. In both cases, the sugars and active cultures will help raise the dough too, as well as add a bit of flavor.
Ideas For Taco Fillings To Use In Indian Fry Bread
I have some taco recipes that you can use for inspiration if you want to try other fillings besides the bean filling in this taco fry bread recipe.
- Baked Shredded Beef Taco
- Cilantro Lime Pork Cooked In A Slow Cooker
- Taco Salad
- Shredded beef burrito
Do yourself a favor and check out my friend, Candi’s food blog, The Devilish Dish, to enjoy all sorts of delicious recipes!
Let’s make some Indian Fry Bread Tacos!!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- shortening for frying
- To make the Indian Fry Bread: Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and buttermilk in a medium-sized bowl. Roll into a ball.
- Divide the dough ball into 4 even-sized pieces. Turn each ball out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out. The dough should be fairly thick.
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt shortening. When the oil has reached 350 degrees F place dough in skillet and fry until golden. (approximately 3 minutes)
- Flip over and fry for another 3 minutes or until the other side is golden brown.
- Place on a paper towel and drain off any excess grease.
- To make the Indian Tacos: Fill bread with warmed ranch style beans, lettuce, onion and tomatoes. Add on shredded cheese, sour cream and black olives if desired.
This will make 4 large pieces for Indian Taco bases. Can also be made into smaller pieces to serve with cinnamon/sugar and honey.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 282Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 626mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 8g
Please note that nutrition is not guaranteed accurate.