Indian Tacos

Indian tacos AKA Navajo tacos are like tacos but made with Indian frybread (AKA Navajo frybread) in place of the tortilla. They are drop-dead delicious. (And pretty much drop-dead unhealthy due to the frying and the, uh … all the frying.)

They were invented in the 1860s by the Navajo after their “relocation” by the US government. “Relocation” seems like a nice word for it, but it was not nice. They were forced at gunpoint to walk 450 miles to an overcrowded internment camp. Rations of wheat flour, powdered milk, and lard were supplied. Indian Frybread was the result.

After a few years, this particular camp was abandoned – deemed a failure – and the remaining Navajo were allowed to walk back to their traditional territory and granted 3.5 million acres in which to resettle. The frybread came with them and is now a feature at not only in home kitchens, state fairs, and powwows,  it’s also the official bread of South Dakota! Similarly to a tortilla, frybread is served as an accompaniment to most meals but is often eaten on its own with honey for breakfast – I’m thinking kind of like a sopapilla.

Indian Taco Recipe

This frybread recipe makes the kind of frybread I had at the Oklahoma state fair. There are many regional variations so this might not be the exact frybread you’re thinking of but it’s real good. To make Indian Tacos, just make the frybread and serve topped with taco meat, cooked beans*, shredded cheese, tomato and lettuce, pickled jalapenos, sour cream, hot sauce, you know, whatever you put on a taco normally. I recommend eating with a knife and fork, though; these are huge and messy.


4.8 from 17 reviews
Indian Frybread and Indian Tacos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the Frybread:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • Additional ¼ cup flour for shaping
  • 2 cups oil for frying
  • For the Indian Tacos:
  • 4 cooked frybreads
  • Cooked pinto beans
  • Taco meat*
  • shredded cheese
  • lettuce, tomato, onion
  • hot sauce, pickled jalapenos
Instructions
  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Combine milk and water in a separate cup.
  2. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and stir with a fork to mix well. You will have a soft dough.
  3. Flour your countertop well with the remaining ¼ cup flour and coat your hands, too.
  4. Shape the dough into a cylinder and cut into 4 pieces.
  5. Pat each piece out into a circle about ⅓" thick (1 cm) and 6" across.
  6. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F and fry breads one at a time, for about 2 minutes on each side.
  7. Drain upright.
  8. Serve topped with beans, meat, cheese, and vegetables of your choice.
Notes
See recipe for crispy beef tacos (linked in post) for taco meat recipe

 

*Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see how to cook dried beans.

You might also be interested in puffy tacos!

Comments

  1. Nice one, Hilah, I’ve made these before. They’re really good but very different from flour tortillas. It’s amazing how many flavors you can get from the same basic ingredients. Side note, I just got the worse cramp in my leg watching this *about to walk it off*. Not cool, wth? lol

    • Thanks, Kendra! You’re right; it is amazing what the same ingredients, treated differently, will create. Thinking about chapatis and flour tortillas, too, or corn tortillas vs sopes. I guess it shows the human desire for diet diversity is ancient!

    • Kendra
      Hyland makes a product called Leg Cramps. It is homeopathic and it stops leg cramps almost instantly. Cheap too and harmless. CVS, Rite Aid GNC has it $7.00 you only use it when you get a leg cramp. I always have it onhand. A miracle!

  2. Well, shucks, pretty lady. I growed up in Montana, and the Crow Indians all think they invented Indian fry bread, aka Navajo fry bread, aka Crow fry bread. I hope this isn’t a reason for a war. Nations go to war for many reasons: Here’s some food war for you:
    http://youtu.be/e-yldqNkGfo

    • Ha! I’m sure we can all get along through the difficulties of deciding who has the rightful claim on frybread. Is Crow frybread different than this? People have told me it “has to have a hole in the center” – maybe that’s the Crow way?
      Thanks for the video – I hadn’t seen that. Love it!

      • Crow fry bread is the exact same, but with Crow fry bread, if you happen to be in Montana at the Annual Crow Fair Powwow, you get a ceremonial dance with fry bread! But you know what else, completely not too off topic?

        Stuffed flat breads! Indian – meaning from India – Aloo Paratha is a stuffed flat bread filled and rolled very flat. And in Central and South America, they also have a stuffed flat bread – pupusa! Try getting a smart alecky white bread kid to eat a pupusa. HAAH!
        “Is there Poo-poo in it?!”
        “Taste it and find out, my darling child!”

        • Ahahahaha!
          And that reminds me of an idea my buddy Jay at TheAimlessCook had, which was to split the frybreads open and stuff them. That would be like a pocket pita bread, I suppose. Seems like it would work, though!

      • Every Indian tribe, and each family within each tribe has their version of fry read with minor variations. It is like asking a group of Cajuns for their gumbo recipe or a group of Italians for their pasta sauce recipe. You get as many answers as you have people you ask. The hole in the middle varies by tribe. Some in Olahoma put the hole in, some don’t. And it has a meaning. But every tribe has a version of fry bread because they all got the same crappy rations of flour in the 1800′s. So there was a lot of simultaneous invention of the same thing. But most Indians I know don’t use milk because a huge majority of Indians have lactose intolerance.

      • Georjann says:

        Up here in North Western Ontario we(Ojibwe) make frybread the same way, although we call it “Bannock” sometimes adding an egg will make a more tender dough as well. When we make Indian Tacos to avoid a mess especially at pow wows or for small kids you can cut in pieces and place in foil bag with all the fixings and eat with fork. :)

        • Thanks, Georjann!
          I have heard Canadians call it bannock, but have not seen a recipe with an egg before! Seems like it would make it a better thing to put sugar and cinnamon or honey on, more like a funnel cake texture. Yum!

  3. This looks delicious. My wife and I were salivating while watching you put this together.

    Now, Mother Effingby may have a point, although my first two experiences were not Crow frybread. The first Indian frybread we tasted was Tohono O’odham frybread at the Mission San Xavier del Bac south of Tucson, Arizona. Later, during that same trip, we had Pueblo frybread at the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico.

  4. P.S. Have a great summer! Thanks for the show!

  5. Dyyyyyying. Like, dying.

  6. I used to make these all the time but as a dessert. Just fry the bread and top with some honey or Nutella. They are out of this world with Nutella.

  7. Patrick Soltis says:

    I’ve never had frybread, but my dad’s Central- and Southeast-European relatives used to make something that looked similar and was, if possible, even more of a menace to one’s health: langoş. The word is Hungarian and plural. They’re made from a yeast-raised dough that has mashed potatoes kneaded into it. After it rises it’s rolled out in circles and deep-fried, just as you did with the frybread. The finished langoş are slathered with melted butter and sour cream. I understand that they’re now popular as street food in Budapest. My only visit to Budapest was in 1999, and I didn’t see them then.

    • Holy Mackerel that sounds SO good. I imagine them being salty and buttery and… oh my. Must find recipe.

    • I think I had something like this at a Hungarian food cart in London. It was flat grilled bread with a variety of things rolled into the dough itself. Mine had beef and maybe some herbs? And they served it with hummus slathered on it, a handful of lettuce and rolled up. SO good.

  8. William says:

    You are # 1 (& not just cause it says so on your shoulder) you know I go for the Bison!

  9. Patrick Soltis says:

    Oops! As I look around the Internet, I find a consensus that “langoş” is not the correct spelling. It should be “lángos”. Apologies to all you people out there whose Hungarian is better than mine.

  10. Hey Hilah,For the milk in this did you use 2% or what? All I every have on hand is non-fat, you think that would be ok?thanks and keep your stove on!

  11. Thanks a lot Hilah! Steal my recipe and never mention where you got it from… haha, just joking’! Your website looks great, good job! We’re making my grandma “Muzzy’s Gumbo” today (pg. 21 of GiGi’s Yummy Cookbook). Okra season! Hope to see you guys soon.

    • Bwahaha! Gotcha!
      Thanks for watching, Uncle Mark! Sadly, we still haven’t gotten GiGi’s Yummy Cookbook to load right so I had to wing it on this one. Hope they’re as good as Nita’s! We do need to get that book though. The gumbo recipe is one I definitely want to steal. ;) We love okra ’round here!

  12. So. I just found your site because of your Chick-Fil-Gay recipe (love it, by the way, so excited to try it!) and then I click to the homepage and you have INDIAN TACOS right up top.. I’m pretty sure we are friends that just haven’t met each other yet. So, Hi friend. Nice to meet you! I’m glad I found your blog!

    • Hi Friend!
      Nice to meet you, too! Happy to hear we have the same taste in (potentially deadly) food. ;) Thanks for writing! I’m gonna go check out your site now, too!!!

  13. Thanks to Tumblr I discovered your blog through your Chick-Fil-Gay YouTube video. So I decided to check out your blog and I’m really digging it. I really like this recipe because it’s simple and I can easily convert it to vegetarian (I’m a vegetarian). I’m looking forward to more recipes.

    • Hi Robin!
      Yes, this is a great dish to convert to vegetarian. I have a vegetarian category on here, too, to save you some time looking around. I’m glad you found me. Thanks for writing!

  14. If you want to learn a bit more about how culturally significant Fry Bread is among the various nations of Native Americans… rent the movie “Smoke Signals” (1998) – the first ALL-Native American movie. There are a couple of segments about fry bread in that movie that are HILARIOUS. PS – I’ve never tried making it, but I’ll test out your recipe… all I need now is some elk, goat or buffalo meat…

    • Omigosh! That movie is on my “to watch” list. My boyfriend showed me a clip of it – the one with the HUGE frybread – and yeah, I was like “We need to watch this whole thing, STAT!”

  15. brilliant! the first thing i saw on your site was the Chik-fil-Gay sandwich; looks delicious, and i get to support something important, so that’s just icing. then i started watching a bunch of other videos; those all look delicious.
    unfortunately, i happen to be on juice fast this week, so i just sit in front of my computer looking at your food, and drinking juice. but come this sunday, something is getting made, and i know it’s gonna be good.

    P.S.: you remind me of Phoebe from Friends. if Friends were on HBO.

    • Hi Alixe!
      So glad you found me and thanks for looking around at the other recipes! I’m sure it’s torture right now. Or maybe it’s more like you get to escape into a fantasy world of solid food for a while. ;)
      Have fun on Sunday!
      P.S. I love Lisa Kudrow. Did you ever see her HBO show The Comeback? Holy shit. That was some brilliant acting.

  16. I love you Hilah! You’re recipes are easy and so good! Just the way I like it. Did the whole Indian taco thing from the frybread, to the refried beans and stuff and boyhowdy were they great! Made your Key Lime Pie for dessert and it was great having something cool and creamy after the spiciness of the tacos. Will be making the frybread again this weekend but this time for breakfast with honey! Thanks girlie!

  17. You are my new hero! I’ve always wanted to try Indian Tacos… Back up North, I always had them at county and state fairs and different festivals.
    Like the Chick-Fil-Gay sandwich, the frying always intimidates me! It’s so awesome you have a great video to go along with it! I’m crackin’ out the cast iron tomorrow!

    • Thank you! The Indian tacos are ridiculously easy and delicious. Hope you like them! The only thing to be careful of when frying is not to have the oil so deep that it overflows when you put your food in. You can see in this video, I got a little close for comfort at some points.
      Thanks for writing!

  18. Just found you this past weekend on our internet tv & you are spot on with the fried bread. I’ve made them recently & managed to make them way too thin. Will definitely be trying your thicker ones on the next go round.
    And could you not eat Indian Tacos every week? We made them one night & doused ‘em with chili & shredded cheese & sour cream. Heaven!
    We also sprinkled one hot from the Crisco bath with cinnamon sugar & it was as close to an elephant ear pastry as a girl can get without having to wear her state fair hair.

    • Awesome, Podec! Thanks for stopping by the website. I’m so happy that the tacos were a hit! I can not believe it took me 30 years to find out about Indian tacos, either. What a shame. ;)
      Can’t wait to hit the OK state fair in September and get an elephant ear.

  19. Amyeslate says:

    Hi, Hilah! Came across your frybread and Indian Taco recipe after seeing your ChikFilGay recipe. Takes me back to my days of employment with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. You could get frybread and tacos at their summer fairs and as treats when a family would sell them by the roadside for extra cash. They were fabulous, and I miss them. Now, armed with your recipe, I can now make ‘em myself! Thanks, chick!

  20. Dan The Man With The Master Plan says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe and making it look so easy. I’m totally going to try this at home if I can find a kettle big enough to load up with cooking oil. It looks really yummy. I’d love to try it the New Mexico way topped with chopped roasted green chiles. –By the way, I came across your site from watching the Chick-Fil-Gay recipe and its been spreading like wildfire on Facebook. The lgbtq people of the world would like to thank you for standing up to corporate homofobia and bigot bullshit and fighting back in such a quirky creative way. You’re really good lookin on TV btw, and you remind me of a young Gwenyth Paltrow. Muah! Kisses.

    • Hope you try this one, Dan my Man! I can’t wait to go back to Oklahoma and get one of the giant ones they have at the date fair.

  21. Hey Hilah
    I never heard of this kind of taco, man they are super. Thanks
    Johnny

  22. Texascowman says:

    I really enjoyed your video on fry bread. I spent part of three years in New Mexico on the different Indian reservations and tried a lot of fry bread, but the best I had was on the Zuni reservation south of Gallup.

  23. I command you to make a video on puffy tacos before the season is over. I recently discovered them and have not been the same since. Puffy tacos, puffy tacos!!!

  24. Delicious. I always wanted to make these and of course the meskwaki I live near by would never tell me their secret :p.
    Fun fact…meskwaki settlement is the only indian settlement in the united states.

    • Interesting, Jessi! I hope you try these and that they live up to your expectations. :) There’s a lot of ways to make them I’ve found out.

  25. hi hilah!
    loved ur indian taco recipe, i also tried ur veggie burger…those turned out to be really awesome!…loved it! :)

    • Thanks, Karan! I’m glad you enjoyed them.

      • Hello Hilah !
        I being a Indian guy(the asian indian :) )….”spicy” indian food is not my thing…it would be great if u come up wid some fantabolous indian recipes without all the “burn in hell” spice thing… :)
        Regards,
        Karan :)

        P.s : You have become a star in india !

        • Hi Karan!
          I have been meaning to do some Indian food on the show. We love it! Any particular requests?
          Thanks for writing! :)

          • Hello there! :)
            Well,
            For starters…Chicken Tikka
            I’ve had many variations of thia dish…be it the british(it’s their national dish! ), the original indian version…and even a chinese version of it ! Damn! :)
            So why don’t you give an American twist to it?
            I’m pretty sure a talented chef like you would come up wid something great ! :)
            Also,
            Check out Biryani…they say it’s one of the most complicated dish in the world…takes years to perfect it! Give it a shot! :)
            Regards,
            Karan :)

          • Thanks for those suggestions! :)

  26. I like your cooking style. Simple, minimal pots, pans, utensils used. Some of your meals though, could use a few more veggies to make them a little more healthy. Frozen vegetable blends offer an acceptable alternative to fresh, so for meals for 1 or 2, there is minimal waste. Stay away from canned vegetables as much as possible. Just a thought.

    Where were you 40 years ago when I was learning to make simple, quick meals? I had to use the, if it is from a box or seasoning packet, I can do this…

    • Hi Harold!
      I totally agree on the convenience and healthiness of keeping a few bags of frozen veggies on hand. I also try to avoid canned things generally. Thanks for writing! I’m happy to hear your thoughts any time. :)

  27. Hi Hilah,
    I just found you on youtube. Your recipe for frybread is great. I’m Hochunk from Wisconsin and the frybread recipe that I inherited from my female relatives is very similar to yours. We, meaning all North American first nations people, received government surplus foods (they’re called “commodity” foods) and adapted our traditional recipes accordingly. We’re still doing it today, as I prefer to use two parts non-bleached flour blended with one part mesquite flour, sometimes I even substitute some whole wheat flour, depending on my meal plans. I also use canola oil for frying. Keep up the good work!!

    • Thank you so much, Mel! :) It’s wonderful that you use traditional ingredients like mesquite flour. I had no idea anyone did. What is it like? I imagine it’s a little sweet.

  28. Hilah,
    Just want to shout Hey. I surely enjoy your real ness,for real.
    You crack me up. I love to cook too, and often my neighbors say wow that
    Dish you made yesterday was awesome. I always feed my neighbors the to be leftovers before they are leftovers. Love to cook. Enjoy your carefree manner. Glad I tuned in and will make it a habit.
    Got a great veggie pizza recipe I can make for my guy?
    He will eat egg and cheese just not animals.
    Thanks and see you soon.

    Squish. ( name is Trisha and my guy thinks I am petite so he nicknamed me “Squish”

    His name is Mike and he has a hairy behind so I nicknamed him “Furbutt”

  29. Any cooking video that has me thinking of this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLK5ZOjWaXE the entire time I’m watching it has got to be great! Can’t wait to make these!

    • Ha! I love that. Thanks, Rod. :)

      • I’ d hoped you’ d see the fun in it…Anyway, can’ t get these things out of my mind and was wondering about substituting Almond milk for the real moo-lk. Mom’ s on a low iodine diet and can’ t have milk/dairy except in very limited amounts. Any experience wth this sort of ingredient? If it works, it would,no doubt, be some kind of coup in the world of Navajo/hippie culinary fusion.

        • I think that would work. In my experience, all those non-dairy milks sub just fine for regular milk in baking anyway.

  30. Hi Hilah,
    I grew up on standing rock and Cheyenne river reservations in south Dakota. Can’t wait to try your recipe to see how it compares to the fry bread I’m used to. Btw no holes in Dakotan fry bread :) We used to hold school fundraisers and sell fry bread at basketball games ha

    Probably going to ask for your book for my birthday too

    Miranda

    • Hi Miranda!
      Thank you for chiming it here. I’m very curious to see how this recipe holds up to the one you grew up with. Hope it’s as good! :)

  31. Hey Hilah!

    My husband found you on Youtube and now we’re both totally addicted to your channel. I made this Indian Fry Bread hoping that it would taste like the kind I had when I visited a reservation when I was littly bitty. Well, it did and now we’re stuffed to the max on Indian Tacos. So filling! My hubby made his into a kind of pita and chowed down. Now we have this idea to make a batch once a week so he can take it for lunches when he’s cruising timber (He’s a forester). We love that you’re from Austin because you sound like us and shop at H.E.B. lol We from East Texas. Anyways, We truly enjoy you and thank you for teaching me all kinds of things already!

    Amanda

    • Hi Amanda!
      Hooray! Your note made me so happy. Yes I think these would make good portable and hearty lunches. :) Hope to hear from you again!
      -Hilah

  32. Hi Hilah,
    Thanks for making this video on how to make Indian Tacos. Im Native American & im engaged to a white guy. He has never tried Indian Tacos & i been looking how to make them when i came across your website. Indian Tacos are awesome one of the best food ever invented lol . Im definatly making some for him tonight for supper :)

  33. Loved the tacos at the okc state fairs,the only reason I went to the fair,going to make.

    • The first time I had one was at the OK state fair. They are so good, and definitely one reason we go. Hope you like these, Jenny!

  34. Remember watching this video last year hadn’t cooked really that much before and decided to make it, it was so good and it got me watching other foodie youtube videos and cooking more and more. Now changing career and off to culinary school in September, thanks for inspiring!

  35. Just wanted to chime in! Best way to eat frybread, if it’s not being loaded up with toppings, is with sugar or honey but it’s fine all by itself even.

    Also, don’t skimp on the milk when making these. I made them over and over and I always had them turn out tough and flat. Then a buddy of mine told me that it was probably the milk I was using. He said his Seminole grandmother always made them with buttermilk and cut butter or lard into the dough as well. I tried it and it was night and day. The butter/lard isn’t strictly necessary but I wouldn’t use less than whole milk myself.

  36. Eric Miller says:

    I’ve made your version before and they are awesome! I’m making them tonight for all of my family to eat :] and I’m pretty excited. They’re exactly how I remember tasting them from from when I was younger, keep hustling hilah!

  37. Hi! I came across this recipe via Pinterest and I never learned how to make Navajo style frybread. I am Cherokee from Oklahoma (my ancestors were forcibly removed from the east.. Grr..) and my mom uses ground beef in place of taco meat actually. Also, to make the frybread we do sometimes just use flour & water (haha no milk, too lactose intolerant) and it does taste pretty good like that actually. We don’t make our frybread thin and rounded, it is usually smaller and fluffy! I’m totally craving NDN tacos now! :)
    Have you ever gotten around to watching Smoke Signals? Funniest movie & has that native humor for sure!! :D

    • Hi Leigha!
      I’m so glad you found me. :) Thank you for sharing your family’s way of making this. It’s so interesting how one basic recipe can have numerous incarnations.
      And thanks for the reminder about Smoke Signals!

  38. Thanks for the recipe. The creation of this dish seems to have come from a sad part of history. Good read.

  39. Hi, I was just curious as to what kind of oil you used? Corn? Vegetable? Peanut? Would anything work for this recipe? Thanks!

  40. Thanks for sharing this recipe for frybread. I’ve been wanting to make frybread ever since I saw the movie Smoke Signals and heard about it.

  41. The best Navajo taco I ever had was from old town in Albq. It had a spicy green sauce

  42. Well, I ate my first Indian Taco this past weekend at an Indian Festival or Native American Festival, since as a Cherokee spokesman pointed out, as one of the emcees, that they never lived in India, and that the term Indian came from Europeans who came here to the original home of the people native to this land before it became the United States….Native Americans. The Native American Taco was delicious!

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