Homemade Naan Bread

Delicious naan bread is one of the easiest and quickest homemade breads. Although it's Indian by origin, naan is the perfect accompaniment to so many foods and makes a great base for a wrap or a flatbread.

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Homemade naan bread in parchment paper and aluminum foil on a counter top.

What is Naan Bread?

Naan is a traditional Indian flat bread that is one of my favorite parts of any Indian meal (which incidentally is one of my favorite cuisines). Naan is a soft, tender and pliable bread that is perfect to sop up all the delicious sauce in any curry or Indian dish, but it’s also fantastic as a crust for pizza or flatbread, or as a wrap around your favorite ingredients to make a sandwich. Traditionally, naan is made on the side of a super hot tandoori oven, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make delicious homemade naan bread in your very own kitchen.

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Ingredients on a counter - flour, salt, yeast, sugar, yogurt, melted butter, water - along with a spatula, wooden spoon and glass bowl.

Naan Bread vs. Pita Bread vs. Lavash

There are several varieties of flat bread in the world. The first distinction between naan and many other flat breads is that it is leavened (in other words, it uses yeast or sometimes baking powder to give it rise), which makes it soft and airy. Unleavened flat breads like lavash and tortillas are do not include yeast, baking powder or baking soda and remain very flat when cooked. The other distinct quality of naan bread is that it includes yogurt which gives it flavor and keeps it soft. Middle Eastern pita bread is a leavened flat bread, but it is made of flour, salt, yeast and water (sometimes a little olive oil) and is a little tougher to tear.

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Naan bread dough in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon.

How to Make Naan Bread by Hand

You can definitely use a stand mixer to make homemade naan, but you don’t have to. Generally, you won’t make more than one batch of dough at a time (8 individual breads) and it takes just a little arm strength to stir everything together and knead the dough. Grab a good wooden spoon and get to work.

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Naan bread dough after being kneaded.

Knead Dough?

Don’t be intimidated by the fact that you have to knead the dough. It’s not hard. Just push the dough away from you, fold it over on itself and repeat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… kneading dough is therapeutic. It’s relaxing and repetitive and a perfect way to spend 5 or 10 minutes meditating or thinking something out. Who couldn’t use 5 or 10 minutes of therapy, after all? When you’re done, the dough will have a smooth feeling to it. If you stroke the dough, it should feel like a horse’s nose.

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A bowl of dough, a bowl of flour, a rolling pin, a bench scraper and a quarter sheet pan on a counter.

Let it Rise

Naan only needs one rise and that rise time will depend on how warm your environment is. One to two hours is plenty of time. You’ll know when the time is up because the dough will have doubled in volume. The next step is the most fun – give it a slap or light punch and the dough will drop. Gather it up in your hands, dump it onto a lightly floured surface and move on to the next step.

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A small bowl of flour, a bench scraper, a rolling pin and small balls of dough with one rolled out into a circle on a counter.

Roll it Thin

Divide the dough into 8 portions (or 6 portions if you want really big naan) and roll out one portion until it is about ¼-inch thick. It doesn’t matter what shape you roll it into as long as it isn’t bigger than the diameter of your pan. Some naan breads are round, others are oval, so just make it whatever shape (or shapes) you like. 

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Naan bread cooking in a dry cast iron skillet.

Naan Bread in Cast Iron

Cast iron is the best substitute for a tandoori oven when making homemade naan breads. Pre-heat the cast iron pan over medium to medium-high heat for several minutes. Sprinkle a little water in the pan to test to see if it is ready – the water should evaporate immediately with a quick sizzle. Then, slap the rolled out dough into the hot pan – no butter or oil needed. In a minute or two, the dough will bubble up as it browns on the bottom side. 

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Naan bread in a skillet with one side cooked.

Flip and Finish 2 Ways

Then, there are two different ways to cook the second side. You could flip the dough over and let it brown in the pan (as above), or you could toast the second side over an open gas burner flame (as below) until it gets the distinctive brown speckles that naan is known for. I tend to do a mixture of the two methods and even toast the first side of the naan too to get a little charring of the surface. If you don’t have a gas burner, don’t worry – just cook the second side in the hot pan on the stovetop. Whichever method you use, brush both sides of the warm naan with melted butter and season with any of the optional seasonings – sea salt, chopped fresh cilantro, sesame seeds, nigella seeds, or even poppy seeds if you like. Keep the naan warm in a 170ºF oven until you are ready to serve.

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Toasting naan bread over an open gas burner.

What to Serve with Naan

Naan is traditionally Indian, so it pairs perfectly with Indian dishes of all kinds like this butter chicken, or my sous vide chicken with red curry and coconut recipe. It’s far too delicious, however, to only serve it with Indian food. It’s the perfect bread for chicken shawarma and is a super quick way to make a pizza like this peach, prosciutto and burrata flatbread. These are just a few options – you will come up with many more.

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Naan bread on a quarter sheet pan with cilantro sprinkled on top and a hand basting with butter.

How to Store

Naan, as with most flat breads, is always best eaten fresh, but it will keep wrapped well at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. You can pop it into a zipper sealable plastic bag and keep it refrigerated for up to 5 days and you can also freeze the cooked naan. In order to freeze naan, make sure you let it cool completely first and then put it into a bag, removing as much of the air as possible. Then, freeze and keep it up to a month or two. It defrosts very quickly and is nice to have at a moment’s notice. Re-heat the naan by frying it in a little oil in a hot pan for a minute or two, popping it into your air fryer for a couple minutes or wrapping in parchment paper and foil and warming it in the oven for 10 minutes at 350ºF. 

Naan Breads

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 20 m
  • Rising Time: 2 h
  • Total Time: 2 h 40 m
  • Servings:
    8
    naans

Ingredients

  • teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm water about 80ºF
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup melted unsalted butter 4 tablespoons, divided
  • cups all-purpose flour or bread flour 420 grams/15 ounces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • sesame seed nigella seed, grated garlic, chopped cilantro (all optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine the yeast, sugar, warm water, yogurt and 2 tablespoons of melted butter in a large bowl. Whisk the flour and salt together in a separate bowl. Stir the flour into the wet ingredients, adding more flour as needed for the dough to come together as you stir with a wooden or in a stand mixer with dough hook. The dough should be sticky, but you’ll need to add enough flour to make it manageable. Knead the dough on a floured surface by hand or with a stand mixer for about 5 minutes, until it is a less sticky and more smooth.

  2. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl to rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in bulk.
  3. Tip the risen dough onto a floured surface and divide it into 8 portions.
  4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and pre-heat a dry cast iron pan over medium-high heat for several minutes until it is piping hot.
  5. Flatten one portion of dough and roll it out into a disc that is about ¼- to ½-inch thick. Place the disc into the hot dry pan and cook for a couple of minutes. The dough will bubble and brown in spots. Flip the dough over and cook the other side until it too has browned in spots. Alternately, remove the dough from the pan after cooking one side and brown the naan directly in the flame of your gas burner.
  6. As soon as the dough comes out of the pan or off the stove, brush both sides with melted butter and sprinkle any seasonings on top – sea salt, grated garlic, chopped cilantro, nigella seed, sesame seed or poppy seed. Place the cooked naan in a 170ºF oven to stay warm while you repeat with all the remaining portions of dough.
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Comments (4)Post a Reply

  1. If all you usually have is salted butter, how much would you reduce the added salt. I cook for me so it’s difficult to have both types and keep them fresh. Thanks

    1. Hi Mary,
      If you’re making a small quantity (like a 1x recipe), then I wouldn’t worry about swapping out salted butter instead of unsalted butter. It really only makes a difference when butter is a primary ingredient and you are using a lot of it.
      ML

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