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How to Make Cheese Fry Bread

Athlyn loves "all things bread" and shares her tips and recipes for homemade bread, quick breads, and all varieties in between.

Cheese fry bread is crispy and delicious.

Cheese fry bread is crispy and delicious.

Crispy Cheese Fry Bread: Perfect for Snacking

If you enjoy different types of bread, you will enjoy this cheese fry bread. This bread is actually fried in oil instead of being baked in the oven, and it puffs up, turns golden brown, and is wonderfully crispy.

We all know how delicious fried foods can be, but many of us have never considered that you can actually fry bread. This is done more frequently south of the border, with many restaurants offering fry bread as staple fare. Fry bread was and is an important staple in Navajo tradition and is made in Navajo homes; it is made by the Southwestern tribes and is also seen at state fairs and at pow-wows. Up here in Canada, however, fry bread is not as common.

Cheese fry bread is a variation on the original and can be made ahead and served to a crowd as finger food, served with dip. It tastes good warm or cold and makes the perfect bread to serve with chili or other spicy Mexican-type dishes.

Few ingredients go into fry bread (it is very similar to biscuit dough), and it takes only minutes to prepare before being fried in hot oil. By the time you finish reading this article, you will be equipped to make your own.

A Real Crowd-Pleaser

Your guests will be intrigued when they see this delicious-looking bread.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more, depending on preference)
  • 1 cup or more water
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups grated sharp cheddar (or more)

Step 1: Heat the Oil

Pour about 1 inch of oil into a large pot and set this on the stove to heat. I usually set my dial to around 6 or 7. You do not want your oil to overheat. Keep a lid nearby for safety purposes, and if you have a large element at the back of your stove, use that. It always pays to be very careful when working with hot oil.

While your oil is heating, make your fry bread dough.

Always keep an eye on your oil.

Cooking Tip

Remember, oil that is too hot will cook fry bread too quickly; oil that is not hot enough will not do a good job either. When you drop in your fry bread, you should see the oil bubbling around the bread.

Step 2: Mix the Dough

  1. Mix flour and baking powder together.
  2. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in the water gradually, stirring lightly with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to stick together. Add more water if needed to remove flour from the bowl's bottom and sides. A moist dough makes for tender fry bread.
  3. Work gently with your hands until a ball forms.
  4. Allow dough to rise while you grate cheddar cheese. Add the desired amount of cheese.
  5. Mix cheese into the dough, kneading until cheese is mixed into the dough.
  6. Let the dough rest and rise further.

Note About the Dough

A good fry bread is made by feel. This is why I haven't given exact water amounts. I stir in water and keep adding it in increments until the dough is moistened.

When adding water, remember it is okay for dough to be moist, which also makes stirring easier, just as you would do for biscuits. Avoid a dry dough, which could result in tough fry bread.

This bread tastes better with more cheese so opt for more over less.

Step 3: Roll Out the Dough and Cook

  1. Test your oil by dropping in a small piece of dough. The oil should bubble around the dough.
  2. Pull off a palm-sized portion of dough and roll it in your palms until you have a round ball.
  3. Place the ball on a floured counter and smooth some flour on top. Roll out with a rolling pin until about 1/8 inch thick. Drop the first piece of dough into the oil and watch to check how it is cooking.
  4. Continue to pull off pieces of dough and roll them into rounds, then flatten with a rolling pin.
  5. Turn the fry bread as it cooks in the oil and continue frying it until it is a golden brown. You want to cook it long enough so that the cheese becomes crispy, which is what gives this fry bread its delectable texture; however, avoid overcooking which would cause over-browning, which would make for bitter-tasting fry bread.
  6. Continue to turn the bread as it cooks.
  7. When your first piece of fry bread is cooked, remove it from the oil and place it in a metal strainer (placed over a bowl to catch drips). Continue dropping each round into the oil and frying until all pieces are golden brown.

Good Hot or Cold

Fry bread can be served hot or cold, although I think it is best served warm.

Photo Guide: Cheese Fry Bread

Mix the dough.

Mix the dough.

Form the dough into a ball.

Form the dough into a ball.

Fried crispy and golden

Fried crispy and golden

Some cooks make a small hole in the middle to help fry bread cook, as I have done here and is seen in the first video, but it is not necessary.

The videos give a good visual on how to fry this bread and the type of pans to use.

Fry bread puffs up quite a bit as it cooks, so keep this in mind when rolling out dough. What looks to be a thin piece of dough will surprise you as it cooks and puffs up magically.

Tips for the Best Fry Bread

  • Keep the dough moist
  • Stir the dough lightly
  • Let the dough rise
  • Don't overcook the bread
  • Serve warm

Dips to Serve With Fry Bread

Cheese fry bread is delicious on its own but it also goes well with dips.

  • Salsa
  • Olive Spread
  • Spinach Dip

Fry Bread Fingers

Who says fry bread has to always be fried in rounds? Roll dough into a rectangle and cut it into fingers with a pizza wheel, so that you have breadsticks, which are perfect for dipping.

If you use a pizza wheel, it takes just seconds to make lots of fingers.

Photo Guide: Fry Bread Fingers

Roll out the dough.

Roll out the dough.

Cut the dough into fingers. A pizza wheel makes easy work of this job.

Cut the dough into fingers. A pizza wheel makes easy work of this job.

Fry the fingers in hot oil.

Fry the fingers in hot oil.

Golden fry bread fingers

Golden fry bread fingers

Make-Ahead Party Food

If you are making fingers or sticks, they can be stored in the freezer and warmed in the microwave when you want a tasty snack.

If you are entertaining, you can freeze a bunch of fry bread sticks, heat them, then serve them with a dip.

Mexican Variation

If you want spicy fingers, add taco seasoning when mixing your dry ingredients to give your fry bread a zip. Start with a 1/2 teaspoon and taste to check whether to add more. Or you can replace the salt with taco seasoning.

One of My Favorite Snacks

This is one of my favorite breads to make when I have a hankering for something crispy and good. I'm sure you'll enjoy it, too.

Please leave your comments and tell me what you think of this recipe for fry bread made with cheese. Thanks for stopping by.

Did You Know?

Names for Fry Bread

Navajo bread

Indian bread

flat bread


© 2013 Athlyn Green