Indian Fry Bread

Think fry bread...think Arizona! The Navajo Nation is largely in Arizona, but it spills over into small parts of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico which, combined, do not make up the land mass of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. The concept of fry bread is thought to have begun with the Navajos, but it is also made in the State of Sonora, Mexico, and similar breads are made throughout the world.

Indian Fry Bread

Living in Arizona, I certainly get my fill of fry bread, but I never get tired of it. There are vendors at every carnival, rodeo, street fairs, and even in the small town of Sacaton in my county. The native Americans cook it in a park there. And you can get it topped any way you like or just eat it plain! Each completed fry bread may be topped with refried beans, chili, confectioners’ sugar or honey.

One of my favorite places to enjoy fry bread is in the parking lot at San Xavier Mission del Bac (White Dove of the Desert) Mission in Tucson. The bread is fried in large cast iron kettles over mesquite fires.


  • Air Fryer


  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or shortening*
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water or milk
  • Oil or shortening, for deep frying

* Mayonnaise can be substituted. It guarantees that the fry bread stays crunchy on the outside and does not get soggy.


  1. Measure dry ingredients into a deep mixing bowl. Add shortening and knead with hands until dough is in small pea-size pieces. Add warm, not hot, water or milk and knead with hands until dough is smooth and leaves sides of bowl. Knead at least 5 minutes.
  2. Cover with a clean dish towel, and place in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
  3. This is the secret for tender fry bread - kneading and resting.
  4. Lightly coat bottom of air fryer basket with olive oil. Set air fryer to 360 degrees F and allow it to preheat for about 3 minutes.
  5. Break off a golfball-size ball of dough and roll flat on a lightly floured surface. Brush top of rolled out pieces of dough with olive oil. Place dough pieces (2 or 3 at a time, so they aren't overlapping) into the basket of the air fryer (oiled side down) and brush top of dough with oil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes; then flip and cook about another 3 to 4 minutes (until puffy and golden brown).
  6. Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. As a meal, make a base of refried beans or thick red or green chili, then add diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and shredded cheese. This makes a complete meal. I oftentimes use well-drained Carne Adovada as the base.
  8. As a dessert, cover with honey or sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.If desired, the rounds may be folded over after topping and eaten that way. It’s really easier to eat them if they are folded in half, but it’s all a matter of preference.


The cooked fry bread can also be frozen and then simply reheated in the microwave.