Grilled Navajo Tacos

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!


KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. Carrie wrote:

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

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  2. RobinSue wrote:

    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.

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  3. lo! wrote:

    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??

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  4. grace wrote:

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

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  5. Adrienne wrote:

    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!

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  6. 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.

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  7. PaniniKathy wrote:

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

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  8. Jordan wrote:

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

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  9. 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!

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  10. Dragon wrote:

    Now these are my kind of tacos! Yum.

    Posted 1.27.09 Reply
  11. HoneyB wrote:

    Just awesome. I love it!

    Posted 1.28.09 Reply
  12. Erin wrote:

    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!!

    Posted 1.28.09 Reply
  13. Michelle wrote:

    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. 🙂

    Posted 1.28.09 Reply
  14. Jackie wrote:

    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)…

    Posted 1.28.09 Reply
  15. Sarah wrote:

    This looks really good.

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

    Posted 1.28.09 Reply
  16. RecipeGirl wrote:

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

    Posted 1.28.09 Reply
  17. Ashley wrote:

    This looks fantastic! Yum!

    Posted 1.28.09 Reply
  18. Pam wrote:

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

    Posted 1.29.09 Reply
  19. Nicole wrote:

    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?

    Posted 1.29.09 Reply
  20. Kevin wrote:

    I have never had Navajo but they look good!

    Posted 1.29.09 Reply
  21. janelle wrote:

    love the mountain-high presentation!

    Posted 1.30.09 Reply
  22. Elizabeth wrote:

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

    Posted 2.1.09 Reply
  23. Kristen wrote:

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

    Posted 2.4.09 Reply
  24. lynn wrote:

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

    Posted 5.7.09 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

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

      Posted 5.7.09 Reply