No-Fry Frybread

Chefs Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater’s version of the Native American flatbread is pan-cooked to crisp-chewy perfection.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    1 hour 40 minutes


By Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater

Published on November 22, 2023

Frybread is both a beloved dish and complicated cultural symbol among Native American communities, particularly the Navajo Nation, with whom the dish is thought to have originated. After the U.S. government forcibly removed thousands of Navajo people from their homeland in New Mexico, these Native communities lost access to their traditional foods. Families had to subsist on the meager commodities the government provided, like flour and lard, and they invented frybread as a simple means of sustenance. Though the dish is traditionally fried, chefs Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater reimagined it as a dry-fried, pan-cooked recipe—with similarly chewy, puffed results. Also called "tortilla bread" by some members of the Pueblo tribes in New Mexico, this flatbread is a tasty accompaniment to hearty stews, like this Three Sisters Stew.

We recommend using a 12-inch (or larger) skillet or griddle, so you have room to cook more than one frybread at a time.

Excerpted from Seed to Plate, Soil to Sky: Modern Plant-Based Recipes Using Native American Ingredients by Lois Ellen Frank. Copyright © 2023. Available from Hachette Go, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.


  • 4 cups (1 lb. 1 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 Tbsp. (1 oz.) baking powder
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt


Step 1

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your hand or a wooden spoon, gradually stir in 1⅔ cups of warm water until a shaggy dough forms. (If the dough feels very stiff or dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, just until pliable.)

Step 2

Lightly flour a clean work surface, turn the dough out onto it, and knead until smooth, 3–4 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature until the dough is softened and relaxed, about 30 minutes.

Step 3

Turn the dough back onto the floured work surface and divide into 20 even pieces, about 1½ ounces each. Gently roll each piece into a ball and, using a rolling pin, flatten each ball into 5- to 6-inch rounds, about ¼- to ⅛-inch thick. (If the surface of the dough begins to dry out and crack, cover with plastic wrap as you go.)

Step 4

Line a basket or bowl with clean, dry kitchen towels and set it by the stove. Preheat a large, dry, seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Working in batches and flipping once, cook the dough circles until lightly puffed and bubbled and lightly browned on both sides, 4–6 minutes. Keep the cooked breads warm in the towel-lined basket while you continue cooking the rest of the frybreads. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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