Recipe: Indian Fry Bread

The exact roots of Indian Fry Bread and its traditions are unknown, but Sam’l P. Arnold – co-founder of Tesoro Cultural Center – believed it could not have been made prior to when the American Indians began trading with settlers. Once they were able to trade for metal kettles, frying became a common cooking technique for American Indians and it is believed that Indian Fry Bread was initially introduced to them in the form of German or Dutch donuts, called “oily cakes.”

(Photo: Tocabe, An American Indian Eatery)

The dough for Indian Fry Bread is formed into flat rectangles or discs and cooked in hot lard. The process is quick and easy, and the finished product is a marvelous treat! Make your own Indian Fry Bread at home using Holly Arnold Kinney’s recipe, or visit our friends at Tocabe for delicious Indian tacos.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 qt. tallow, lard or canola oil for deep-frying
  • 1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
  • ¾ c. water
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • Honey or cinnamon sugar, for serving

Heat the oil in a deep pot to 380°F.

Using an electric mixer, combine the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add ¾ cup of water and mix until a supple, uniform dough forms. Add more water, if needed.

Divide the dough into 4-6 equal portions, and form into rounds. Roll out each round onto a floured surface to a thickness of between ½ and ¼ inch. To try Pueblo-style* fry bread, use your finger to make a ¾ in. hole into the center of each piece of dough.

Carefully lower a piece of dough onto the hot oil; it should blister and puff up instantly. In the first few seconds of frying, use a spoon to pour the fat over the bread and make sure all surfaces fry immediately. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Allow a full minute between batches to bring the oil back up to temperature.

Once finished, consider dipping your fry bread into honey or sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on it. Whatever your pleasure, the most important thing about fry bread is that it must be eaten hot.

*Pueblo Indians traditionally make their fry bread with ¾ in. holes punched through their centers. They do this so the hot fat is able to flow through and cook the top surface of the bread, and it allows for easy removal once the bread is done.

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