Navajo Tacos with Indian Fry Bread

5 from 6 votes

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It’s so easy to make these Navajo Tacos with Indian Fry Bread right in your own kitchen. The Southwestern staple tastes just like what you can get at local restaurants in Arizona and New Mexico.

Navajo Taco on a plate next to fry bread, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and olives.
Featured with this recipe
  1. What are Navajo Tacos?
  2. Substitutions for the Fry Bread Dough
  3. Toppings for Navajo Tacos
  4. Frequently Asked Questions About Navajo Tacos
  5. More Hearty Chili Recipes
  6. How to Make Navajo Tacos
  7. Navajo Tacos with Indian Fry Bread Recipe

No matter where you are—whether it’s a 4th of July party or a chili cook-off—you can find me eating a Navajo taco on a thick paper plate next to my siblings and friends. As a youth, we’d bring them to the park or just outside on the grass so we didn’t make a huge mess. And almost always, my favorite combination was chili and ground beef, but sometimes I would get one with just beef instead. I loved how perfectly spiced the meat was, how crisp the lettuce and tomatoes were when they got mixed in with everything else on the taco, and how creamy that sour cream tasted next to all that melted cheese!

Cutting into a Navajo Taco with a fork.

What are Navajo Tacos?

Basically, Navajo tacos are pillows of homemade fry bread, topped with your favorite taco toppings, like ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc. They’re super easy, filling and a fun alternative to Taco Tuesday. Here’s what you need:

For the Indian Fry Bread Dough:

  • Flour – 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • Salt – 2 teaspoons salt
  • Baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Dry Milk – ½ cup dry milk
  • Warm Water – 1 ½ cups or so
  • Vegetable oil or canola oil – for frying
Ingredients to make Fry Bread including flour, baking powder, salt, dry milk, water and oil.

For the Navajo Taco Toppings

  • Chili – We make a huge batch of our Easy Homemade Chili, use some for this recipe, then freeze the rest for later. You can use a can of your favorite chili for an easier dinner too.
  • Cheddar cheese – Do yourself a favor, and shred it from the block. The pre-shredded cheese is convenient but doesn’t melt as well and just doesn’t taste as good.
  • Lettuce – shredded
  • Sour cream – four tablespoons
  • Olives – optional
  • Salsa – optional
  • Tomatoes or Pico de gallo – optional
Fry bread next to toppings of cheddar cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, olives and chili to make Navajo Tacos.

Substitutions for the Fry Bread Dough

  • The base of a delicious Navajo taco recipe is our soft Homemade Fry Bread. This from scratch recipe is super easy and always turns out light, fluffy and delicious! Use the fry bread on for scones too! Top with honey and butter or cinnamon sugar. YUM!
  • If you’re pressed for time, use biscuit dough in place of fry bread dough. You know, the refrigerated dough in a can. You can use pre-made pizza dough too. Just flatten out the biscuit dough into round discs and then fry up in hot oil as directed in the recipe card below.
  • Frozen dough is another quick alternative to Navajo fry bread. I love using Rhode’s frozen dinner rolls because the dough balls the perfect size for mini Navajo tacos. Let them rise on a cookie sheet covered in plastic wrap, then form each piece of dough into flat discs, then fry just like you would a the biscuit dough or homemade dough.
Tearing a piece of Fry Bread.

Toppings for Navajo Tacos

This recipe is perfect for anyone who has little time but a big appetite! They’re really simple to throw together and so delicious. For toppings, I know some people like to use re-fried beans instead of chili. That’s not the way I was brought up, so I can’t in good faith encourage this sort of behavior. You can have refried beans AND chili, but never JUST re-fried beans. The chili is what makes them so good! So here are our favorite toppings for Navajo tacos, and of course add your own to the mix!

  • Refried beans (if you must)
  • Seasoned ground beef – brown in a large skillet in a little vegetable oil, then season with cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Or you can use your favorite taco seasoning.
  • Shredded chicken
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Green onions
  • Green pepper
  • Black Olives
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Paprika
  • Garlic
  • Sliced Avocado or Guacamole
Navajo Taco on a plate with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives and sour cream.

Frequently Asked Questions About Navajo Tacos

Are Navajo Tacos authentic?

Navajo tacos are just like a regular taco, except instead of using a corn or flour tortilla, you use the pillowy soft fry bread. They’re served open faced instead of folded.

How do you eat Navajo Tacos?

The best way to serve a Navajo Taco is on a sturdy plate and eaten with a knife and fork.

Why is it called “Navajo Taco”?

The first Navajo taco was created by a man named Lou Shepard, who worked for the tribe in the 1960s as manager of the Navajo Lodge, a tribally owned motel and restaurant located across the street from what is now the Navajo Education Center. It’s always served on the traditional fry bread.

READ MORE: Easy Ground Beef Recipes

More Hearty Chili Recipes

This dish is a complete meal all on its own. We rarely serve anything alongside our Navajo tacos, except a big ol’ napkin, and maybe some ice cream for dessert. Here are a few more hearty recipes guaranteed to fill you up!

How to Make Navajo Tacos

Navajo Taco on a plate with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives and sour cream.
5 from 6 votes
Navajo Tacos are easy to make and fun to eat! Pillowy fry bread piled with chili, cheese and your favorite toppings.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican/Spanish
Servings 4



Indian Fry Bread

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dry milk
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • oil vegetable oil or canola oil for frying

Navajo Taco Toppings


For the Indian Fry Bread

  • Heat oil to 375 degrees in a frying pan or electric skillet.
    Skillet with oil to fry Fry Bread.
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
    Mixing bowl with dry ingredients and water in the center to mix dough for Fry Bread.
  • Mix dough thoroughly, you may have to add more flour to get a soft dough consistency.
    Dough ball on floured surface to make Fry Bread.
  • Divide dough into 4 balls.
    Dough cut into four equal sections on a floured surface to make Fry Bread.
  • Roll each dough ball out on a floured surface making a thin circle.
    Rolling out a round circle of dough on a floured surface for Fry Bread.
  • Lift it like a pizza dough off the surface.
    Lifting a flattened piece of dough for Fry Bread.
  • Fry the dough in hot oil.
    When you see the dough turning a golden brown – about 20-30 seconds. Flip over and cook the other side. It's normal to see big bubbles in the dough.
    Remove from oil when both sides are a golden brown.
    Tongs lifting a piece of Fry Bread from a skillet with oil.
  • Drain off excess grease on a paper towel.
    Keep warm in oven (200 degrees) until ready to serve.
    Stack of Fry Bread on paper towels.

Navajo Taco Toppings

  • Prepare or heat chili. For an easy chili recipe, try our Cheater Chili.
    Pan and wooden spoon with homemade chili for Navajo Tacos.
  • Layer ¾ cup chili, ¼ cup cheese, ½ cup lettuce, 1 tablespoon sour cream, olives, and salsa on each piece of Homemade Fry Bread.
    Fry bread next to toppings of cheddar cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, olives and chili to make Navajo Tacos.
  • Serve on a sturdy plate!
    Plate with a Navajo Taco topped with chili, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives and sour cream.


  • You can use Grands Biscuits dough or frozen roll dough (thawed) instead of the Homemade Fry Bread. Roll out the biscuits or dough into a thin circle.
  • Heat oil in a skillet to 375 degrees. Fry the dough for about 30 seconds on each side until golden brown.
  • Drain off the excess oil and or pat it off with a paper towel. Keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 553kcalCarbohydrates: 79gProtein: 22gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 1429mgPotassium: 956mgFiber: 4gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 1760IUVitamin C: 164.1mgCalcium: 486mgIron: 5.4mg

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About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

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5 from 6 votes

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  1. 5 stars
    I have always wanted to learn how to make Navajo tacos thanks so much for showing me all your tips now I can make them at home.

  2. 5 stars
    Looking at that chilli is making me so hungry!! This the perfect weekend dinner. I admit that I hadn’t heard of fry bread before now, yum!! I love the colours and textures too.

  3. 5 stars
    I am saving this recipe to make for our upcoming Tacos’ party. Five girls will make their Tacos recipes, their husbands will choose a winner. I am sure I will win with your recipe. Thanks!!!

  4. 5 stars
    A perfect take on tacos for our Taco Tuesday -my family’s favorite dinner night of the week! SO FRESH and delicious.

    1. We haven’t made fry bread with a GF dough before but I am sure you can just substitute the flour with a GF flour. Just keep checking for consistency when using GF flour. Hope this helps!

  5. If you have a fry bread recipe why don’t you include it with the recipe, instead we get this is somewhat embarrassing, because there is no recipe.

  6. I got a similar recipe from the blog You wash and I’ll dry. She puts a spicy sour cream on her version and it really makes these AWESOME!!! We eat Navajo tacos very often, so delicious!!

  7. Help! Quick question. I have the “flaky” rendition of the Grands biscuits in my fridge. Will that work or is there a specific “style” of Grands biscuits that I need to use?

  8. I’ve made these before using Rhode’s frozen roles. You defrost them in the refrigerator… flatten out… and fry. YUM! 🙂