Do you ever get a hankering for something different, something yummy, something simple, but oh so good you'll immediately eat the first batch and then whip another? Oh, and it absolutely must be frugal, real food ingredients, easy, and be so scrumptious your picky eaters will ask for second. You do? Awesome, because I've got just that very recipe on how to make homemade Indian fry bread.
Be warned, you may want to make two batches at once or double the recipe.
I've heard rumors of Indian fry bread. How it makes the best tacos and puts those elephant ears at fairs to shame. But I'd never had it before. And what's a pioneering today mamma to do? Make up a batch of homemade Indian fry bread herself, that's what.
I went recipe hunting. Which let me tell you, there were many to choose from. My criteria was it had to be as close to traditional ingredients as I could find. A lot of recipes called for powdered milk, shortening (we do not use shortening at our home) and yeast.
Store bought yeast in the little packages has only been around since the 1940's, not what I'd call a traditional ingredient in this form. We don't use GMO and hydrogenated fats in our home, so any shortening recipes were kaput. Most folks don't make homemade powdered milk and I happen to like fresh ingredients. That took a lot of options off the farm table.
In fact, I didn't find a single recipe for homemade Indian fry bread that didn't need some tinkering or another, so I basically invented my own. I linked to the one I stayed the closest to below.
We've been doing our best to cook from our pantry. We went four weeks with only one grocery store run, excluding fresh milk. It's changed the way I cook and some of the meals I prepare. It was also great for our budget. I wanted to make tacos and we ended up going a vegetarian route to use up the fresh veggies from the garden. I made these homemade refried beans from our home shelled and canned beans, homemade salsa, a bit of cheese, homemade guacamole, and a bit of ranch dressing.
I wanted a savory fry bread for the tacos so I used some cornmeal with the flour. Traditionally, people could grow their own corn and make cornmeal easier than wheat. Cornmeal is a great way to stretch your flour and also what my grandmother used a lot of during the Great Depression. You'll want to catch our Building a Great Depression Era Pantry for more frugal tips.
Mix together the dry ingredients.
Add in the water just until the dough holds together.
Pour in a touch more water if it's too dry. You don't want to over stir or knead the fry bread dough. Let the dough rest for about a half hour.
Heat up your oil in a cast iron skillet. I'd heard tale you can tell if it's hot and ready to fry by putting a wooden spoon in the oil. If it bubbles you're ready to start cooking and it completely worked! Here's 3 other ways to test if your oil is hot enough.
Using your hands, pinch off a piece of dough and roll into a ball.
Flatten dough on a lightly floured counter and using your fingers, push, pull, and mold it into a lumpy circle. I love this because it looks old-fashioned and doesn't matter if I get it to a perfect thinness. Hear that pie crust and tortillas? Rustic is the new home bakers best friend.
Careful of grease splatters, add your dough to the oil. It should bubble when the dough hits the oil. Allow to fry for about 2 to 3 minutes until it starts to turn golden brown. Flip and allow to finish cooking.
Place on a plate with an absorbent towel and continue adding layers of freshly cooked fry bread.
Pile on your favorite toppings and dig in. I couldn't resist and ate one piece without toppings while the rest were cooking. It started out as one of those just a pinch things and then pretty soon I'd pinched the whole piece of fry bread right into my mouth. Ever have that happen? I can eat a whole cake a pinch at a time…
One of the things we all noticed was how filling this was. Usually, I'm a two kind of taco girl, but one homemade Indian fry bread taco completely filled me up.
The next day I still had toppings, but we'd inhaled all of the homemade Indian fry bread the night before.
I decided to make another batch, but this time, I wanted some homemade Indian Fry Bread for a sweet treat. Like drizzled in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon kind of treat. Don't those pockets of golden honey make you want to dive in face first? I could almost lick the computer screen staring at it, but totally wouldn't, because that would be gross.
I decided to use all flour and try some buttermilk, because buttermilk is my secret weapon to perfect baked goodness. Seriously, buttermilk does something magic to bread, biscuits, peach muffins, and homemade fry bread. Just trust me.
The second batch got to rest for about 5 hours… it was a busy day in the garden and they were going to be a snack but ended up being dinner… I so love a recipe that allows for busy forgetfulness. Because please tell me I'm not the only one who forgets things sitting on the counter?
Verdict, they were both amazing, as in declared by my husband, “Our new favorite recipe!” I couldn't tell that much of a difference between the two recipes in terms of overall softness, so if you don't have buttermilk I'd go ahead and use water, but the buttermilk did make them a bit lighter.
I also re-used the coconut oil and then drained it into a wide mouth Mason jar to use for frying again. I see no reason to toss out oil that's just had a bit of bread fried in it. I really wanted to fry them in lard, but I have to render more down when the pigs get butchered this Friday.
For my diary free peeps, you'll want to use this version.
Homemade Indian Fry Bread w/ Cornmeal
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- coconut oil or lard for frying
- Mix dry ingredients together. Add water and stir just until it comes together. If needed, add a few more Tablespoons of water. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
- Divide dough into 6 equal parts. Roll dough into ball. On a lightly floured surface smoosh dough flat and using fingers, shape into a rough circle. Place dough into hot oil and fry for approximately 2 to 3 minutes each side or until golden brown. Allow to drain on a plate with absorbent towel.
This is the best version if your sweet tooth is kicking in and you're saying give me the honey!
Homemade Indian Fry Bread with Buttermilk (adapted from the Pioneer Woman's recipe)
3 cups flour, your choice spelt, whole wheat, or organic all purpose. If using spelt flour increase to 3 and 3/4 cups
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
Coconut oil or lard fry frying
Mix dry ingredients together. Add in buttermilk and stir until just combined. Add water if needed. Let sit for up to 6 hours, but at least 30 minutes. Form into 6 balls of dough. On a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough ball with the palm of your hand. Form into a rustic circle. Fry in hot oil for about 2 to 3 minutes each side until golden brown. Dry on a plate lined with an absorbent towel.
Sprinkle with cinnamon, a touch of sugar if you want, and drizzle liberally with honey.
Have you ever made homemade Indian Fry Bread? What's your favorite way to top it?
I grew an Indian corn this year called Glass Gem Corn. It is just about done drying and I know exactly what I’m making with some of it. I’ll grind it and use it to make this! It sounds SO delicious. Thanks for the recipe. I can’t wait to try it! 🙂
I know that corn. I didn’t have room to plant it this year, but purchased some of the seed. I’d love to hear what you think of it once you’ve had a chance to cook with it. Was it as pretty as the picture from the seed company?
I have so wanted a recipe to use with taco fixin’s. However, I am allergic to corn. What could I substitute for the corn?
Love your website ideas and recipes.
I’d just use a bit more wheat flour. Most of the recipes I’ve found are flour, none of them have corn meal in them. I want to try this recipe BECAUSE of the corn meal added, it’s different.
We lived in New Mexico and purchased Indian Fry Bread on the roadside, dripping with honey! Now, a delicious healthy version to try! Love the idea of using it for tacos too. Thanks, Melissa!
Just a short comment. Melissa’s version with the added cornmeal is no more healthy then what you have been buying at say PowWows or roadsides. It the same ingredients. You can eat with honey, maple syrup, or make it into a taco.
I should say that corn lacks one amino acid to be a protein if you add beans, which are a protein, it would probably make the corn into a protein. Not sure of that though.
The first meal I ever cooked for my husband back when we were just dating-Ham and beans-side of fried potatoes, side of fry bread with whipped honey butter all over the top. I swear thats when he fell in love with me! Thats basically my recipe. It has been so long since I have made any shame on me! Thanks for the reminder!
Sharon E Coleman
great recipes! I can’t wait to try them
Could I use a sourdough starter with this?
Could I use whey instead of water or buttermilk? Would that make it too sour?
I have made the Navajo fry bread we make chili and fry the bread then add chili lettuce cheese sour cream salsa it makes a beautiful taco that tastes so good.
We love them with powdered sugar or homemade jam.
I noticed you avoid yeast. I recently learned I may be allergic to it and would like to eat pre-WW2 anyways. Are all of your recipes yeast free? I will keep looking through them. Thanks!
Not all of the recipes are yeast free, but I don’t use it in quick breads, fry breads, or muffins
Just made this…one plain and one with cinnamon and honey…Y U M!
Blessings in Christ!!!
Woo, ho, so glad you enjoyed them!
THANK YOU for sharing ! I’m trying Indian fry bread tonight and sour cream biscuit s for bteakfast
I love experimenting with different frybread recipes and cannot wait to try yours. The addition of corn meal is something I have considered for years, though never tried (though I will likely use mezarepa for added flavor). Frybread is something that is always a family treat and a staple at any good Powwow. My family typically goes for honey and cinnamon, and sometimes just powdered sugar, as a favored topping at Powwow.
I just wanted to say that, I am not sure what you you were looking for in an “old fashioned” recipe as frybread is fairly modern, in the grand scheme of things. It was something invented on the reservations as a way to use the government rations, and hence the powdered milk component.
How great and surprised to look through your recipes and see FryBread. I used to live in Carmel, California about 20 years ago. I started and belonged to the Monterey Bay Indian Council. A friend, Juan ComeCrudo band from Texas, and I made Fry Bread for fundraisers. It was totally fun and hard work. We only used Blue Bird flour and it is true that the oil, lard, or whatever shortening you use had to be really hot or the frybread would be too dense. We never used cornmeal but I can see how that might add to the crispiness. It truly made me want to make some. I am in my70’s now and live alone so I will have to have my som come by and pick some up.
I just thought I would share some history here. Wheat is not Native. Of course, corn is as are some peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, elderberry, persimmon, fig, amaranth, quinoa, papaya, pole beans, navy, pinto, concord grape, peanuts, cashews, vanilla, coffee, passion fruit, chocolate, strawberry(not all, cranberry, wild rice, sweet potatoes, blueberries, Pumpkin, avocados, sunflowers, agave, chai, and I could go on but I am sure you are over the naming of Native American roots, nuts, and veggies. What I started in this comment was to say that Fry Bread is not Native to the Americas. It started with the First Nations people being forced into camps some of which became reservations. Because most of the time these First Nations people were moved away from their homelands the Government gave them rations also known as government dole. The dole consisted of flour, lard, baking soda, and a few other items. The Native women being resourceful made fry bread.
This is so good! I used gluten free flour and cornmeal and it was delicious. Made tacos and the sweet treat with honey and cinnamon. Thank you so much for posting this.