Navajo tacos are a popular Southwestern dish that consist of fry bread topped with various ingredients such as seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and salsa. However, many people don’t know the history behind this delicious dish. In this article, we will explore the fascinating story behind the creation of Navajo tacos and how it came to be such an important part of Navajo culture.

Navajo Tacos: A Delicious Fusion of Cultures

Growing up in Mexico, I always had a fascination with the diverse cultures that make up our country. From the Aztecs to the Mayans, each group has contributed something unique to our rich heritage. One such contribution is the Navajo taco, a delicious fusion of Native American and Mexican cuisine that has become a beloved comfort food in the Southwest United States.

The Origins of the Navajo Taco

The Navajo taco has its roots in the Navajo tribe’s traditional frybread, which is a simple dough made with flour, water, salt, and baking powder that is fried in oil. The frybread was a staple of the Navajo diet for centuries, and it was often served with savory toppings like beans, meat, and cheese.

It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the frybread began to take on a new life as a taco shell. According to legend, a group of Navajo women were selling their frybread at a fair in Arizona when a Mexican man suggested they top it with traditional taco ingredients like ground beef, lettuce, and tomatoes. The idea was an instant hit, and the Navajo taco was born.

Cultural Significance of the Navajo Taco

The Navajo taco’s cultural significance lies in its ability to bring together two very different cultures in a delicious and harmonious way. The dish represents the blending of Native American and Mexican traditions and serves as a symbol of the cultural exchange that has taken place in the Southwest United States for centuries.

Variations of the Navajo Taco

While the traditional Navajo taco consists of frybread topped with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and salsa, there are many variations of the dish to be found throughout the Southwest. Some popular toppings include beans, chili, guacamole, and sour cream, and some people even use the frybread as a base for dessert tacos topped with honey, fruit, and whipped cream.

How to Make Navajo Tacos at Home

Now that you have learned about the Navajo taco’s history and cultural significance let’s dive into how to make this delicious dish at home. Here is a simple recipe that you can follow:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the warm water, stirring until the dough comes together into a ball.
  2. On a floured surface, knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  3. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and shape each portion into a round disc.
  4. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat until it reaches 375°F.
  5. Fry the discs of dough one at a time, turning them over once until they are golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
  6. In a separate skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat. Drain off any excess fat and stir in the taco seasoning.
  7. To assemble the Navajo tacos, place a fried dough disc on a plate and top it with a spoonful of the seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and salsa.

Tips and Tricks:

  • To make the frybread lighter and fluffier, you can substitute half of the all-purpose flour with self-rising flour.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer to measure the oil temperature, you can test it by dropping a small piece of dough into the oil. If it sizzles and turns golden brown within a few seconds, it’s ready.
  • You can make the frybread in advance and reheat it in the oven before serving.

FAQs – Navajo Taco History

What is a Navajo taco?

A Navajo taco is a dish that has become associated with Navajo cuisine, but actually has roots in Mexican cuisine. It is a taco made with a frybread base, topped with meat, beans, lettuce, cheese, and other toppings. The frybread base is what sets it apart from a traditional taco, and gives it a distinctive flavor and texture.

Where did Navajo tacos originate?

The origins of the Navajo taco are somewhat disputed, but it is generally agreed that it has Mexican roots. Frybread, which is the base of a Navajo taco, was created by Navajo tribes who were forced to relocate to New Mexico in the 1860s. They were given limited food supplies by the government, and had to make do with what they had. Frybread was created as a way to use the limited supplies they had, and eventually became a staple of Navajo cuisine. The taco part of the dish is thought to have been added later, possibly by Mexican immigrants who introduced the taco to the Navajo people.

How has the Navajo taco evolved over time?

The Navajo taco has evolved over time as it has become more popular and widespread. Different regions and cultures have put their own spin on the dish, adding different ingredients and toppings to make it their own. Some variations include using different meats, such as beef or chicken, and adding sauces like salsa or guacamole. Some restaurants also offer vegetarian or vegan versions of the dish.

What cultural significance does the Navajo taco have?

The Navajo taco has become an important part of Navajo culture and cuisine, and is often associated with traditional Navajo gatherings and events. The dish is also used as a symbol of Navajo pride and identity, and is often featured in Navajo art and literature. In recent years, there has been some controversy surrounding the use of the term “Navajo” to describe the taco, as some believe it is cultural appropriation. However, the dish remains popular and beloved by many, and continues to be an important part of Navajo culture.

Where can I try a Navajo taco?

Navajo tacos can be found in many restaurants and food trucks throughout the United States, particularly in the Southwest. Some Native American-owned restaurants specialize in Navajo cuisine and offer a variety of different dishes, including Navajo tacos. If you’re interested in trying a Navajo taco, do some research to find a restaurant or food truck that specializes in this dish. You can also try making your own at home – there are many recipes available online that show you how to make frybread and the toppings for a Navajo taco.


By Juan

¡Hola amigos! Welcome to "Taco Rocoslo," your ultimate destination for everything taco-related! My name is Juan Carlos, and I'm the loco behind this mouth-watering blog. So, buckle up, because we're going on a wild ride through the delicious world of tacos, exploring everything from traditional Mexican flavors to funky fusion creations. As a proud Mexican with a passion for our rich culinary heritage, I'm here to celebrate the humble taco in all its glory.