Mom's Navajo Tacos and Indian Fry Bread

I will always love Navajo Tacos. I've eaten them ever since I can remember. My mom makes the best Navajo Tacos ever (Navajo taco topping anyway =). She would cheat a little and use frozen Rhodes Rolls dough for the fry bread portion, which was also delicious but nothing compares to homemade Navajo fry bread. If you want to use frozen roll dough, all you have to do is fully thaw and rise the dough (according to directions on package) then fry it and top with the Navajo taco topping. This recipe I created for the fry bread really is incredibly simple though, you can basically make it in the time it takes just to prepare the roll dough for thawing. 

I decided to use two leavening agents for the fry bread because I wanted the slight flavor yeast gives without having to have it rise for hours, but if you don't have yeast on hand you could just add another teaspoon of baking powder. 

I would highly recommend you make 1 1/2 (or double) the recipe listed so you have left over fry bread to warm and serve with honey butter. I love this meal because you get dinner and an incredible dessert with the left over fry bread.

My mom's recipe uses a few things not found in your traditional Navajo taco filling that I think are excellent improvements, basically musts. Many recipes don't have beans or canned tomatoes or even seasonings. My mom would use taco seasoning but I basically just added my own because I don't buy taco seasoning often. Also, I like to add more traditional Mexican foods like salsa, Mexican hot sauce, cilantro and avocados. 

Another great Navajo Taco filling is left over chili (it doesn't have to be my chili recipe, any good ground beef chili would be great =). Use a slotted spoon when serving it so you don't make the fry bread soggy. If you haven't ever had Navajo Fry Bread (aka Indian Fry Bread) or Navajo tacos, then I'm telling you now is the time to try it! A pillow-y, soft center is encased by a lightly crisp, chewy, perfectly fried and golden exterior then its generously topped with a browned beef, deliciously flavorful taco filling and then it's garnished with more toppings that perfectly compliment and blend all the flavors. It is definitely a satisfying taco. Yum yum YUM! Enjoy!

 Who knows why I can't dollop sour cream in the center, we'll just say I meant to do that =)

 So good with honey or honey butter...

Navajo Tacos

Yields about 8 tacos (adults usually eat 2 and the kids eat 1)


1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb lean ground beef

1/2 cup yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic finely minced

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, drained 

1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis

salt and pepper, to taste

For serving:

Navajo Fry Bread, recipe follows

Romaine or Iceberg lettuce, chopped

Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese (I use a combo of both), grated

Roma tomatoes, diced

sour cream

Other optional toppings I sometimes add:

black olives, sliced

avocados, diced

fresh salsa 

hot sauce (you could add cayenne pepper to the taco filling as well)

cilantro, chopped


Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, crumble beef into oil, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up beef when stirring, until beef has browned and cooked through. Drain fat from beef and return to skillet (my mom doesn't drain the fat, she says it gives it more flavor so you can leave it if you'd like). Stir in garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, kidney beans, canned diced tomatoes and green chilis then season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, spoon mixture over Navajo Fry bread, then top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream (and any of the other optional toppings listed). Serve immediately.

Navajo Fry Bread

Yields 8 (6 inch) fry breads


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 - 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)

1 Tbsp butter or shortening, melted

Vegetable oil, for frying (sometimes I use half olive oil)


In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, yeast and salt. Whisk melted butter into warm milk and pour milk mixture into dry ingredients. Stir until mixture comes together and forms a ball, dough should be slightly sticky and elastic so add an up to an additional 1/4 cup milk as needed. Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest 10 minutes. Heat 1 inch of oil in a large cast iron skillet to 350 - 360 degrees over stove top. Divide rested dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with floured hands and one piece of dough at a time, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 6 inch circle and gently drop into hot oil, and cook until golden brown 1-2 minutes per side (second side will cook faster). Remove from oil and drain onto a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels. Serve warm with Navajo Taco topping or for dessert, spread with honey butter.

Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

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