Three of the top Native American chefs in the business—Lois Ellen Frank, Walter Whitewater and Ramona Horsechief—have provided fry bread recipes for you to try at home.
Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater, of Red Mesa Cuisine, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, offer up a more health-conscious fry bread recipe—a bread cooked without frying. And, from the Oklahoma kitchen of 2016’s Indian Taco World Champion, Ramona Horsechief, step-by-step directions for an award-winning and irresistible, indulgent fry bread recipe.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing toppings for your Indian taco. Start with one of these fry bread recipes and some of your favorite toppings, then layer your way to tasty perfection.
No-fry Fry Bread Recipe
—from the recipe books of Red Mesa Cuisine
4 cups organic unbleached or whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ cup warm water
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually stir in the water to form a soft and pliable dough that doesn’t stick to the bowl. Knead the dough on a lightly floured wooden breadboard or cutting board for four minutes, folding the outer edges of the dough toward the center.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow it to rise. Use a rolling pin or your hands to shape the dough into 12 small, equally sized circles about a quarter-inch in width. On a lightly floured surface, roll or stretch out the dough circles to approximately 8-10 inches in diameter.
Heat a cast iron skillet or open flame grill until very hot. Place the shaped dough circle into the pan or over the open flame and cook for approximately two to three minutes on each side until brown; continue cooking an additional two to three minutes until bread is cooked thoroughly through the middle.
If you are cooking these breads over an open flame or on a grill, cook until the dough starts to turn golden brown and puffs a little. Turn and continue cooking and turning until both sides have brown spots and the dough is thoroughly cooked. Repeat this process with each piece of dough. Keep cooked breads warm between two clean kitchen towels.
Serve immediately with your favorite toppings. These breads can be used with any recipe that calls for fry bread, or served with any meal. Makes 12 breads.
“I always use my hands, which makes for slightly uneven breads, but everyone will know they were hand-made, and I think that gives each bread a little more character,” Chef Lois Ellen Frank, Kiowa.
Award-Winning Fry Bread Recipe
—from the recipe books of Ramona Horsechief
4 ½ cups self-rising flour
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
Warm water, 1/8 cup at a time
Pour half of a five-pound bag of flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt, and 1/8-cup warm water.
Mix the dough to a sticky consistency, adding water as needed. When you shake the bowl, the dough should move, and the top of the dough should have a little bit of a shine to it. Lightly sprinkle a dusting of flour over the top of the dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes. The dough will rise and become soft.
Pour cooking oil into a large, deep pan and heat to 350 to 375 degrees. Oil should be at least two inches deep. Set out a bowl of flour and clear a workspace that is lightly dusted with flour. Pinch off a small piece of dough and pat out on your workspace. Work the dough back and forth and in a circular motion to form a circle that is six to eight inches in diameter. Poke a hole in the middle of the frybread to ensure the center gets cooked.
Carefully place the dough into the hot oil. The frybread should spread out and puff up while cooking. Cook approximately four minutes on each side. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain. Allow to sit for a few minutes then transfer to serving bowl. Makes approximately 15 fry breads.
Some of Chef Ramona Horsechief’s favorite Indian taco toppings include seasoned ground beef, pinto beans, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, sour cream, and salsa. Layer in order given.
“Practice makes perfect—don’t get frustrated. Frybread rocks,” said Chef Ramona Horsechief, Pawnee and Cherokee.
Fry Bread Rules
Don’t use water that is too hot or too cold. Either can cause the dough to be too sticky.
Don’t over-knead dough. Over-working causes the gluten to break down and results in tough, chewy bread.
Don’t under- or over-heat oil. Oil that is not hot enough will not allow the dough to achieve a crisp, golden texture and the bread will be soggy and doughy. Oil that is too hot will smoke and burn and result in bread that is overdone on the outside and undercooked inside. Test by dropping a very small piece of dough into the oil—if it sizzles, it’s ready.
Ideal temperature for oil is 350 to 375 degrees.
Always place dough into the oil gently to prevent splashing.