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How to Make Traditional Navajo Frybread

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
This is the traditional method of making Navajo frybread. Navajo frybread can be truly addicting, this recipe includes healthier tips, but for the most part, goes by the traditional methods including lard. Many families have their own recipe or variation, so it does vary. This is one particular version. Frybread is deepfried, much like a donut or a funnelcake. Its texture varies from chewy and fluffy, to crunchy and crisp. It's eaten as a snack, with sugar/salt/honey, or as a meal, such as Navajo/Indian tacos or burgers and is often eaten with all kinds of stew, especially mutton, venison, or corn stew.


  • at least 4 cups of Bluebird flour.
  • Lard (like Snowcap) or Crisco. You will need a lot.
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • hot tap water


  1. Start by mixing in the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  2. Put in about a teaspoon of salt, and about two tablespoons of baking powder. Navajo women usually used the palms of their hands as measuring devices, even today, hence the approximations.)
  3. Stir the dry ingredients together thoroughly.
  4. Add about 1 tablespoon of lard to the flour. Yes, add it to the flour.
  5. Blend the lard in with your hand, squeezing away the small bumps as much as possible. Distribute it as best as you can.
  6. You should have enough hot water to make the dough soft and malleable. It should be hot, but bearable to the skin. Have someone pour the water in for you. This step is important! While the water is being poured into the flour, use your dominant hand to squeeze the mixture, letting it ooze between your fingers. Let the dough mix itself. Do not try to knead it yet.
  7. Add enough water until all the flour is absorbed. It should be sticky, but not watery. Continue to squeeze it. There should be no pockets of dry flour. All of it should be absorbed.
  8. When the flour has finally been absorbed enough by the flour, start kneading it with your fist. Punch the dough. Fold it inwards from the edges over and over. Add flour or warm water when necessary, a little at a time, rotating the bowl as you knead.
  9. When you are finished, the dough should be pliable and elastic. There should be no bumps in the dough, which indicate pockets of flour. Cover it with a towel and let rise for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  10. After the allotted time, the dough will be elastic. It should not be the consistency of thick clay.
  11. Melt enough lard in the pan to allow the frybread to cook. It should not be too hot, or else the frybread will cook too fast and burn easy.
  12. Squeeze off a neat ball of dough and gently flatten it out with your fingers, rotating it in a circle, starting with the edges. Explaining how to flap the dough like a Navajo is a bit complicated, and takes practice, therefore I suggest you roll it out instead with a rolling pin.
  13. Roll it out into a neat circle, making sure the thickness is even. Thickness varies. The thinner the frybread, the crunchier it will be.
  14. When you have rolled it out enough, CAREFULLY place the rolled-out dough into the pan with your fingers. Do NOT DROP it into the pan, the hot oil will splash!
  15. Poke a hole in the center of the dough after you drop it in. Cook it until it is GOLDEN BROWN on either side. You will know if it's overcooked when it turns a darker brown color with black spots. Use a tined fork to turn it over. That's the Navajo way.
  16. Continue until you've used all the dough. Popular toppings include salt, honey, powdered sugar, etc. It's great for any meal.


  • Don't step too close to the pan full of hot oil, you could get burned if it splashes on you.
  • Use tongs to turn the frybread over, or a long handled fork with sharp tines.
  • Many Navajos swear that the flour in question MUST be Bluebird flour, or else it tastes odd. Bluebird flour is available on the reservation for a cheaper price; it's expensive elsewhere.
  • For fluffy frybread, add powdered milk when stirring the dry ingredients together.
  • Some people put blue corn flour in the flour mix.
  • You may also use two cups of whole-wheat flour in addition to the white flour.
  • Traditionally, there is a small hole stabbed in the middle of the dough as it is deepfrying, to let the evil spirits through.


  • Don't step too close to the pan full of hot oil, you could get burned if it splashes on you.
  • Frybread is addicting and delicious, but a single whole piece 10" in diameter contains as much calories as a super-sized Mcdonald's meal. Frybread was made by people who exercised a lot and could walk off all the calories, as it happened in the old days, with sheepherding and traveling places on foot. It's not good if you eat it a lot without exercising, it causes you to get fat.
  • Using cold water doesn't make good frybread. You will have a tough time making the dough.

Things You'll Need

  • a large bowl
  • a rolling pin (If you are unable to mold it by hand.)
  • a pan deep enough for deepfrying
  • something to turn the frybread with, like a skewered fork, or tongs.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Traditional Navajo Frybread. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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