Fry Bread

disks of fry bread on a cooling rack

Today, I get to share the best bread ever that I made with Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili the other night! If you’ve never heard of fry bread, it’s a Native American flatbread, that is quickly fried in oil where the inside fluffs up and the outside becomes a crisp golden brown. It lightly crunches in a OMG-this-is-incredible way when you bite into it, just before the soft, pillowy inside melts onto your tongue. While it frequently shows up next to my bowls of chili, we’ll talk later about another highly recommended place for fry bread in your life.

What a perfect day to talk about warm, golden bread. It’s a day off for me today, which I appreciate after a semi-late night at the shop last night. In the off-season, we host monthly dinners where local chefs come and cook for a group of 16 guests. It’s very intimate and casual with lots of wine and delicious food. We did this last night with the amazing chef, Emily Cohill, from Trio.

I am so grateful for these events, for the opportunity to engage with super talented chefs and get to know new people in our community. Last night, as I was washing dishes in the back, I had a truly pleasant moment of happily listening to our guests enjoy the wonderful food and good conversation with people who were strangers 30 minutes prior; just taking time out and breaking bread. See, it all comes full circle back to the fry bread.

making an edible pillow with your bare hands

If there is anything worth dealing with a pan of hot oil in your kitchen for, it’s this bread. And maybe this. If you’ve never made bread from scratch before, sorry, you are missing out! The process of making a ball of dough by hand and turning it into a tempting pile of crisp-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside little bread disks, perfect for dipping or loading up with more yummy things… Guys, let’s just begin.

We’ll start with some all purpose flour, baking powder, and dry milk in a bowl. Dry milk? Yes – Carnation brand is what I use. Please don’t try to leave it out – it’s essential to fry bread and is what makes it soft and drool-worthy. Take your clean two hands and blend some cold butter and shortening into the flour. My time-tested approved method to accomplish this is to grab fistfuls of butter/shortening/flour then make the universal sign for money with your fingers. Like, rubbing your thumbs and fingers together, mushing the butter/shortening/flour together and pushing it out of your fists. Like this:

Once the flour is thoroughly studded with flecks of the butter/shortening fattiness, add water. Slowly pour it in with one hand while you stir with the other, until the dough forms a ball. Note: your hand will look like a monster, and it will feel like a mess, just be ok with it. Flip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth – 1 to 2 minutes. Then you can let it rest for about an hour, heat up some oil, and roll out your little disks:

rolling out dough for fry bread on a cutting board

And fry them up:

fry bread, frying in oil

Approximately 4 minutes later, season with salt and serve:

disks of fry bread on a cooling rack

Joey and I love, love this bread with chili but a very traditional way of enjoying these tasty puffs are as tacos. Mmmm hmmm, that’s correct – fold a golden fried pocket of bread around seasoned ground beef, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and cheese. Be kind to yourself, live your best carbohydrate life, break fried bread with people you love.

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Fry Bread

disks of fry bread on a cooling rack

Soft and tender on the inside, crisp and salted on the outside. Fry Bread is *the perfect* thing to dip in chili or to serve as the base for tacos!

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 pieces of bread 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 3 T dry milk (I use Carnation brand, you can find it in the baking aisle)
  • 2 t salt, plus more for finishing
  • 3 T cold butter, cubed
  • 3 T cold shortening
  • 3/4 C water
  • 2 C of vegetable or canola oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, dry milk, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter and shortening to the bowl and mix with your hands by grabbing fistfuls of butter/shortening/flour and rub your thumbs and fingers together, like you’re making the sign for money, pushing the mixture out of your fists.
  3. Once all of the butter and shortening is broken up and well distributed throughout the flour, slowly pour in the water while stirring the mixture with your other hand. Once the dough comes together as a messy ball, you can stop pouring. If you need more water, add some, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two until it’s a smooth ball. Cover the ball with a towel and let it rest for an hour.
  5. Heat the oil in a 10″ or 12″ cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. If you have a thermometer, you’re aiming for about 350. If you don’t have a thermometer, just make sure the oil is shimmering and you can test it by pinching off a piece of bread and making sure it quickly sizzles.
  6. While the oil is heating, divide your ball of dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a disk about 1/8″ thick.
  7. Carefully lay disks of dough into the hot oil and fry until they puff up and are golden brown on the first side, then flip until golden brown on the other side. Remove the bread to a wire rack to cool and season with a pinch of salt. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Notes

I’ve made this recipe with all shortening before, but I prefer the flavor of butter + shortening.

My “money sign” method of mixing the dough produces the flakiest bread. If you prefer to use a pastry cutter, do that.

You can freeze the fry breads but they will be much denser and not quite as light/flaky when you reheat them. To reheat, place on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes, until warm.

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