Grilled Navajo Tacos

by on January 27, 2009

Grilled Navajo Tacos

Is that a fiesta on a plate or what?

Arizona CardinalsArizona Cardinals fans – hope you guys didn’t feel too left out yesterday as I paid tribute to your Super Bowl opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  If you did, today’s Grilled Navajo Tacos ought to perk you back up.  Did you know you could grill fry bread on a panini press?  Neither did I.  But it turns out that you can!

Grilled Fry Bread

Navajo Tacos feature a combination of beans and/or ground beef and toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cheese all atop crispy fry bread.  In 1995, they were actually voted as the State Dish of Arizona in a poll conducted by the Arizona Republic newspaper.  Of course, traditional fry bread is…well…fried, but the grilled version is pretty tasty too.  With a touch less guilt. Just a touch.

As you can see in the first photo, I had a grand time piling on all sorts of fresh toppings – to the point you can hardly see the bread!  So I’ve included a few extra photos of the bread on its own.  It really is satisfying to make it yourself and, of course, who can resist freshly grilled bread?  And if you happen to have any extra left over, it tastes wonderful with a little powdered sugar and cinnamon.

The Ultimate Super Bowl Party Recipe SmackdownP.S. As with yesterday’s Pittsburgh-Style Cheese Steak Panini, I’m entering today’s Grilled Navajo Tacos into The Ultimate Super Bowl Party Recipe Smackdown over at The Recipe Girl.

Grilled Fry Bread

Grilled Navajo Tacos

NOTE: The fry bread portion of this recipe was slightly adapted from this Grilled Fry Bread recipe from Barbecue University.

Serves 6


Grilled Fry Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
2 tablespoons powdered milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (e.g., Crisco)
2/3 cup hot water, or more as needed
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or 2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 lb. ground chuck
1 onion, chopped
1 can pinto beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper

Shredded lettuce
Tomatoes, chopped
Grated cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Green onions, chopped


In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, powdered milk, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or two knives; the mixture should be the texture of cornmeal.  Add enough water to create a soft, pliable dough.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it for 5 minutes.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, brown the ground beef and onion in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Drain the fat.  Add beans, garlic powder, salt, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper.  Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Keep warm while you prepare to grill the fry bread.

Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.  Working on a lightly floured cutting board, roll a ball into a thin disk 5″ to 6″ in diameter.  Place the disk onto a lightly floured baking sheet, then repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.  Keep the rolled-out dough covered with a damp cloth (I used a damp paper towel) until you are ready to grill it.

Preheat the panini grill to high heat.

Brush the top of each disk with oil.  Place 1 to 2 of the disks oiled side down onto the bottom grate.  Keep the lid open (closing the lid will result in a very dense flatbread).  Brush the top side of the dough with oil.  After about 3 minutes the bread will start to puff and blister and the bottom will become golden brown.  Turn the bread with tongs and grill the other side for another 3 minutes.

The fry breads are best served immediately – pile on the filling and toppings and enjoy!

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

>Ready to buy a panini press? Check out my Panini Press Buying Guide for the features to look for.

>Want more panini recipes? See my Recipe Index for a list of all recipes on Panini Happy.

>Traveling to a new city soon? Browse Panini Happy’s Great American Sandwich Guide to find the best sandwiches across the country!

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carrie January 27, 2009 at 8:08 am

How fun! The grilled fry bread looks so good. I think I’ll try this next time I’m in the mood for tacos!


2 RobinSue January 27, 2009 at 9:43 am

Kathy as much as I liked yesterday’s panini, I have to say you out did yourself today and true to my word I am letting the best panini of the two decide who I am going for and ….

Go Cardinals!

The Navajo Taco decided it for me! Thanks Kathy, you continue to impress me with your creativity and your famous panini press.


3 lo! January 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

I’m stoked about the fry bread… and I’ll bet it has all sorts of other brilliant applications.

Seriously… what did we do before our Brevilles??


4 grace January 27, 2009 at 10:30 am

the fry bread looks amazing!! i wish my state had such an awesome dish to claim–fantastic. 🙂


5 Adrienne January 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

I don’t have a panini grill, will it work on a regular grill? These look fabulous and I can’t wait to try it!


6 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) January 27, 2009 at 11:16 am

I’ve had Navajo tacos in the Southwest, from canteen trucks along the side of the road, but I never thought to make them at home. Gosh, now I really, really, really have to get a panini press.


7 PaniniKathy January 27, 2009 at 11:28 am

Adrienne – They’ll absolutely work on a regular grill – check out this recipe on Barbecue University:


8 Jordan January 27, 2009 at 11:37 am

Hehe….I don’t know much about football, but I know this looks even more delicious than the Steelers recipe… 🙂


9 The Duo Dishes January 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

If they eat fun things like this in AZ, then we need to book a flight stat. Fry bread, fry bread! Definitely want to try this with lashings of butter, cinnamon and sugar too!


10 Dragon January 27, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Now these are my kind of tacos! Yum.


11 HoneyB January 28, 2009 at 8:13 am

Just awesome. I love it!


12 Erin January 28, 2009 at 9:48 am

These bring back such fond memories for me. I grew up in a town that’s home to a Native American University, and at all of their festivals we would look forward to fry bread and Indian tacos!!!

I can’t wait to make these!!


13 Michelle January 28, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Wow! What an inspirationally creative blog you have!!! It’s such a great way to have more fun with your food so thanks so much for sharing your culinary adventures! Definitely makes you think out of the box. 🙂


14 Jackie January 28, 2009 at 12:36 pm

YUM! That looks amazing. I love the idea of making the fry bread on your panini press, how inventive. I’ll have to try it out on my stovetop grill, have never made fry bread before, though – kind of nervous. But up for the challenge! This might be dinner tonight (although, sadly, we have no good tomatoes here on the East Coast)…


15 Sarah January 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm

This looks really good.

I found your blog on foodgawker and I love it!!


16 RecipeGirl January 28, 2009 at 5:19 pm

I can’t believe you! Both of your entries are just fantastic! I would love to try these. Good luck with your second entry 🙂


17 Ashley January 28, 2009 at 9:19 pm

This looks fantastic! Yum!


18 Pam January 29, 2009 at 10:24 am

This is calling my name and leaving me drooling. Excellent recipe and photo.


19 Nicole January 29, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I am ABSOLUTELY LOVING LOVING LOVING this! Fry bread is so good. I have never made it though. I want to make this. The only thing is that the powdered milk always comes in such a large box. What else would I use it for? Do you know where to get smaller boxes?


20 Kevin January 29, 2009 at 9:24 pm

I have never had Navajo but they look good!


21 janelle January 30, 2009 at 10:17 am

love the mountain-high presentation!


22 Elizabeth February 1, 2009 at 8:11 am

Terrific. And today in honor of Super Bowl & Puppy Bowl we’re gonna make these–we love Navajo Tacos!


23 Kristen February 4, 2009 at 2:19 pm

What a great recipe. Yum!
I can’t wait to try that bread too…so versatile!


24 lynn May 7, 2009 at 3:20 pm

well i live here in Az,/NM… i hate to tell ya, but you forgot the green chile!


25 Kathy May 7, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Oh no! I’ll be sure to remember that ingredient in my next Arizona-related effort 🙂


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