Complete Guide To Making Fry Bread

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Fry bread is a recipe perfect for nearly any occasion, all thanks to its easy cooking process and rather cheap ingredients!

Fry bread is a type of flat dough bread. Its traditional recipe incorporates simple ingredients, namely flour, sugar, salt, lard, and water.

indian fry bread

By Lou Stejskal (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 licence)

The process of making Navajo fry bread is very similar to that of most bread, so it doesn’t require exceptional skill. However, as its name implies, it’s fried instead of baked.

Navajo fry bread is incredibly versatile. It can be eaten with sweet toppings, like sugar, butter, and honey. Fry bread is also perfect for savory dishes, especially Navajo tacos.

To enhance its versatility, the Navajo fry bread’s base recipe can be customized to suit your tastes – so long as a few key points are observed.

Ready to make your own? Before we jump into this Native American delicacy, let’s take a look at its origins and history.

The Beginning of Fry Bread

The original fry bread was created in 1864 by the Navajo tribe, after they were relocated to Bosque Redondo, New Mexico.

In their new land, the ground could not support their traditional vegetables and beans, and they had to make do with the shipments of food given to them by the U.S. government.

These shipments – namely flour, sugar, salt, and lard – would eventually become the essential ingredients of Navajo fry bread.

Despite its name, the Navajo fry bread has been adopted by other tribes. They are commonly seen in festivals, fairs, and shows that are held throughout the southwest.

The National Fry Bread Contest is an annual competition that aims to showcase and preserve Native American cultural heritage.

How to Make Fry Bread

This fry bread recipe is ideal for snacks at home or serving at a large party.

Since it doesn’t require a great number of ingredients, it’s also great for people who are on a tight budget. Let’s dive in!

fry bread recipe

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup of unbleached flour.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered milk.
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
  • 1/2 cup of water.
  • Vegetable oil for frying.

Procedure

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, powdered milk, and baking powder.
  2. Once mixed, pour the water over the flour mixture and stir the dough with a fork until it becomes sticky. You may notice your dough growing hard and clumpy at first but keep at it by pressing the fork against the sides of the bowl. You can stop mixing when you have a clump that can hold itself together.
  3. Flour your hands, then mix the dough. At this point, you can incorporate the excess flour, which wasn’t used earlier. There will also be smaller pieces of dough left behind in the bowl; include these as well. Make sure to mix the dough; do not knead. The outside should be floured well, while the inside should be sticky.
  4. Once you’ve included the rest of the flour and dough, reform the dough roughly into a ball.
  5. Cut the dough into four pieces.
  6. Stretch and shape each piece into disks. Don’t worry if they’re not being perfectly round; the final result will change in shape once it’s fried. Each disk should be about 5 to 7 inches in diameter.
  7. Heat at least an inch of vegetable oil in a large pot to about 350 degrees. You can test if your oil is hot enough by dropping a bit of the dough in and seeing if it bubbles. For a more reliable test, you can also use a cooking thermometer.
  8. When your oil is hot enough, take your first piece and dip it slowly into the oil. Don’t worry about splatters; it should only bubble slightly and not pop. The dough will float onto the surface of the oil. Press down on its surface with your spatula so that the top is submerged in the oil. After about three to four minutes, flip the bread and cook the other side.
  9. Place each piece on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

Storing Fry Bread

Like most kinds of bread, fry bread can be refrigerated. Your batch will keep well for about a week. To reheat fry bread, pop it into an oven for about 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

It can also be reheated in the microwave for about 30 seconds; make sure to reheat it with water to avoid it turning hard and gummy.

Fry bread is always best served freshly made. If you’re waiting on guests, you can pop it in an oven to keep it warm, at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for up to an hour.

If you’re planning to serve fry bread for an event, you can easily prepare the dough beforehand and fry it prior to the event. You can store fry bread dough in the fridge for about three days.

The dough can be kept in the freezer for up to three months without losing its flavor. Wrap it in airtight freezer bags and store it as usual. Just remember to thaw the final pieces on your countertop for at least an hour.

When they’re completely thawed, you can fry them as normal.

This video shows another example of a fry bread recipe.

How to Eat Fry Bread

Indian fry bread can be eaten in many different ways—and you don’t even need to wash a plate afterward!

Fry bread toppings have two main flavors: sweet and savory. With the right topping combinations, you could easily make your fry bread taste like different pastries, from donuts to cinnamon bread!

Here are some ways to eat your fry bread:

Honey Butter Spread

For those who want a quick, sugary fix, this topping combination is for you. Simply add a bit of butter and a generous dollop of honey on top.

Honey and butter make fry bread taste just like donuts—without all the added fats and sugar. If you don’t have honey in your pantry, you can easily swap it out with sugar.

Powdered Sugar

For another easy, faux-donut topping, powdered sugar will do the trick.

Just layer it on top of your fry bread like you would a donut!

Cinnamon and Sugar

Cinnamon and sugar are another sweet but healthy way to get your sweet tooth fix. Just sprinkle a thin layer of both on the bread.

This topping combination makes it taste shockingly like cinnamon bread. You can also mix cinnamon, sugar, and butter for a cinnamon butter spread.

fry bread

By Stacy Spensley (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 licence)

All by Itself

Even without toppings, fry bread is excellent by itself, straight out of the fryer.

The bite-sized pieces are great for when you want a quick, filling snack, and they’re pretty tasty too!

Taco Recipe

Of course, when it comes to fry bread, tacos are just around the corner. Fry bread tacos can be served at parties or used to sate a late-night crave, as they require very little time to make.

The following fry bread recipe can be easily modified to suit whatever ingredients you currently have in your pantry.

Just mix and match, and you’ll have a fry bread taco!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of oil.
  • Half a yellow onion, diced.
  • 1 pound of ground beef.
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder.
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • 1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper.
  • 1/8 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder.
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained.
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can of petite diced tomatoes, drained.
  • 1 (4 oz.) can of diced green chilies.

Method

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for two to three minutes.
  2. Add the meat and cook until the onions have turned brown.
  3. Once the meat is fully cooked, add the spices, beans, tomatoes, and chillies. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Stir to mix, then cover.
  4. Let simmer for ten minutes.
  5. You’re done! Enjoy your filling of Navajo tacos.
fry bread tacos

By jeffreyw (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 licence)

For some variation, you can place additional toppings on your tacos. Here are some excellent ideas:

  • Sour cream.
  • Diced tomatoes.
  • Cheese, shredded or sauce.
  • Sliced avocado or guacamole.
  • Black olives.
  • Cilantro.

Italian Twist

While fry bread is already versatile on its own, there are more possibilities to explore in the base ingredients.

This recipe puts an Italian twist on the traditional Navajo fry bread, using garlic bread that is shaped like fry bread.

If the base recipe wasn’t to your liking, now you can bring it into a new culinary genre!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour.
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
  • 4 teaspoon of dried Italian herb blend.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • 1 cup of warm water.
  • Olive oil, for frying.

Method

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, herb blend, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add in the warm water, and mix the dough until soft. It will start out sticky; stop mixing when it has lost most of its stickiness. The consistency may be a little off; add more flour and water as needed.
  2. Roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness and cut out circles (using a cutter or the rim of a glass). This recipe will yield roughly ten pieces, four inches in diameter.
  3. Add oil to the heavy skillet, so that it’s about an inch deep. Once the oil is hot, add in each bread piece.
  4. Fry each side for about two to three minutes, or until the side has browned. Then, flip the bread to the other side.
  5. Place the bread on a table napkin to soak up the excess oil.
  6. And you’re done!

Here’s a video showing other recipes you can make with fry bread.

Can You Make Fry Bread in a Bread Machine?

Fry bread is just one of those dishes that are great for a snack. Sometimes you want a few pieces quickly as a snack!

Thankfully, you could pop in the ingredients in a bread maker, have the bread maker do all the heavy lifting, and all you have to do is fry it in a pan. Then just top it with some honey and butter, or go savory and make tacos!

Here is a recipe for fry bread based off What’s Cooking America. Its instructions and ingredients are made specifically with a bread maker in mind.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/8 cups of room temperature water.
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter or margarine.
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons of salt.
  • 4 cups of bread flour.
  • 2 tablespoons of dry milk.
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast.

Method

  1. Choose any bread mix setting. White bread mix is a good default option, but you can also pick a light wheat setting if necessary.
  2. Assemble the mix according to the instructions of your bread maker.
  3. Set the machine to the dough cycle. Alternatively, you can determine when your dough has risen by referring to your bread maker’s manual. Set a timer to remove the dough five minutes before your bread machine begins the baking stage.
  4. Once removed from the bread maker, pat the dough until it is half-an-inch-thick.
  5. Slice the dough into wedges. Place them on the counter with enough space in between and let them rise. They should double in size, within about half an hour.
  6. After the dough has risen, prepare a pan of hot oil to deep-fry your bread.
  7. Slip the dough into the oil, and turn when the side has browned.
  8. Let the oil drain from each bread piece on a paper towel.
indian fry bread

By John Pozniak (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 licence)

Navajo fry bread is a great, versatile recipe that is perfect for nearly any meal.

Whether you need a quick snack or a large party meal, these recipes have your back, with a level of uniqueness that’s sure to fit anyone’s palette.

Hopefully, this has helped you create your own Navajo fry bread. Mix and match the toppings, try it savory or sweet, and enjoy cooking!


What’s your favorite thing to eat with fry bread?

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