Fry bread has a fraught history in our country. More than 150 years ago, the United States government forced Navajo tribes to move from Arizona to New Mexico. They were supplied with a variety of processed foods, like flour and lard. Fry bread, then, was born out of necessity, but over time it became very popular among Indigenous tribes.
Unsurprising, since fry bread is quick and easy (my version isn't yeast-risen). I love it topped with guac or a drizzle of queso sauce, but it's wonderful all on its own. My absolute favorite way to use it is as a combination crispy-fluffy base for tacos or tostadas: All you need is some simply seasoned ground beef, chopped red onion, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. With a splash of salsa and sour cream and you're good. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
Test Kitchen Notes
Featured in: A Step-By-Step Guide to Making Fry Bread. —The Editors
- Prep time 1 hour
- Cook time 20 minutes
- Makes 12 large fry breads
4 1/2 cups
(542 g) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons
(6 g) fine sea salt
plus 1 teaspoon (16 g) baking powder
(85 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups
(177 g) water
oil for frying
your favorite toppings: taco style, guac, queso, or all of the above!
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder to combine. Add the melted butter and water and mix on low speed until the mixture forms a smooth dough, 2-3 minutes.
- You can also mix the dough by hand—start by using a flexible spatula for 1-2 minutes and then switch to your hands once the mixture comes together. Knead for 4-6 minutes until smooth.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Lightly flour your work surface. Unwrap the dough and divide it into 12 even pieces. (I use my bench knife for this, but any knife works.)
- Heat about 4 inches of oil in a large, deep pot until it registers about 350°F (or you can tear off a little scrap of dough and toss it into the oil as a tester—if the dough immediately rises to the surface and has small bubbles all around it, you’re good to go).
- Working one piece at a time, roll out the dough into a round about 1/4 -1/3 inch thick. Pierce the center of each piece of dough with a paring knife. (Don’t worry, it just keeps the dough from forming one giant air bubble when you’re frying it later. You won’t even notice it.)
- Working in batches (sometimes I do it one at a time—they’re pretty big!), fry the dough until golden brown on both sides, 2-4 minutes per side. If large bubbles form in the dough, you can pierce them with the tip of a knife to remove the excess air.
- Remove the frybread from the oil and drain on a rack set over absorbent paper towels.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or with toppings. (I like to use them as a taco/tostada shell, filled with ground beef and tons of veggies!)