Making Frybread

For many Native Americans, frybread links generation with generation and connects the present to the painful narrative of Native American history. Navajo frybread originated 144 years ago, when Native Americans living in Arizona were forced to relocate to New Mexico, onto land that could not easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans. To prevent the indigenous populations from starving, the government provided canned goods as well as white flour, along with processed sugar and lard—the makings of frybread.


Yields about 12 servings

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½-teaspoon salt
  • 1-tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 4 cups shortening for frying


  1. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir in 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water. Knead until soft but not sticky. Shape dough into balls about 3 inches in diameter. Flatten into patties 1/2 inch thick, and make a small hole in the center of each patty.
  2. Fry one at a time in 1 inch of hot shortening, turning to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Serve frybread as a Navajo Taco with seasoned taco meat, beans, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeno pepper, or shredded lettuce. On the other hand, keep it simple with and top it with powdered sugar.