Homemade Naan (and Garlic Naan too!)
Soft and tender homemade naan. With just a handful of simple ingredients, you can learn to make some of the best naans at home. You can even top them with garlic butter if you’d like! And you can freeze them too!
Fluffy tender and so irresistible.
So much you can do with homemade naan! This recipe uses everyday pantry staples that I’m willing to bet you already have and turns them into soft and fluffy naan that tastes just like it came hot from your favorite Indian restaurant.
Take it from someone that eats Indian food at least once a week; these naans are the real deal. They’re tender, a little chewy, and brushed with garlic butter for good measure right at the end. I shared a batch with my parents, and they couldn’t believe I actually made them! They kept raving about how soft and tender they were, and I just sat back and let them go on and on. You know why?
Because these homemade naans are just that rave-worthy!
What are homemade Naan?
Naan is a type of Indian or Pakistani flatbread that is leavened and somewhat similar to the pita bread. Typically naan’s are shaped and clung to the walls of a hot clay oven, called a tandoor. The tandoor quickly cooks and puffs up the naan leaving you with a tender bread that is served with seasoned sautéed vegetables, curries, and stews of all kinds.
What ingredients do I need to make homemade naan?
- All-purpose flour: works better for this recipe rather than bread flour because we want the flatbread to be soft and tender, not chewy. You’ll end up with a more elastic or chewy naan if you swap the all-purpose flour for bread flour.
- Sugar: is used in this recipe as food for the yeast. But it also helps keep the naan tender by absorbing the liquid and slowing down the formation of gluten.
- Instant dry yeast: using instant yeast helps the naan dough to rise more rapidly, and you don’t have to go through the process of activating the yeast, so it cuts down on prep time.
- Kosher salt: the main function of salt is to help flavor the dough.
- Warm water: is used in this recipe so that the yeast quickly starts up. It also helps keep the ghee in a liquid state, which will then coat the flour when we knead the dough. Coating the flour in ghee (or butter) helps prevent too much gluten from developing when you mix the water and flour mixtures. Since the flour is coated in ghee, it’s like it’s waterproof. So when you knead the dough to make naan, it minimizes the formation of gluten, which gives you a more tender naan.
- Plain yogurt: yogurt adds a nice tang and softness to the naan.
- Melted ghee: thought you can also use melted butter in this recipe, melted ghee or clarified butter is what is more traditionally used.
What if I only Have Active Dry Yeast?
If you have active dry yeast, you can still use it for this recipe. Just be sure to activate your yeast. Instant yeast does not require activation so that we can combine everything directly in a bowl. Active dry yeast does, so you’ll need to mix the sugar, water, and yeast in a bowl and allow for it to activate for at least 5-7 minutes or until you start to see it foaming at the top. The quantity of yeast you use will vary depending on how quickly you want to make naan. Here’s what you need to know:
- Using one teaspoon active dry yeast and the dough will take approximately 2-3 hours to double in size.
- Using 2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast, the dough will take roughly 1 – 1 ½ hour to double in size; the same amount of time as it would take for instant yeast to double the dough.
How to make the best homemade naan:
- Make the dough: Start by whisking together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Remember, if you’re using active dry yeast, you’ll want to activate it first with warm water, sugar, and yeast for at least 5-7 minutes or until it’s foamy. In a glass measuring cup, combine the warm water, melted ghee, and yogurt until smooth. Then, using a dough whisk or with a fork, pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and make a shaggy dough. Flour your hands and knead the dough into a ball until it just comes together. Then, pop this dough into a well-oiled bowl, cover, and place the bowl in a warm place and allow it to double before moving forward.
- Make the butter: Heat the butter in a small bowl in the microwave if you’re making regular naans.
- Shape the naan: Sprinkle a clean work surface with a bit of flour and flatten the dough with your hands into a large disc shape. Cut the disk into eight equal pieces using a scraper or a knife. You can also just make a log out of the dough and cut into similar pieces; the shape doesn’t matter! Then, roll the dough into smooth balls. Let them rest for at least 5-7 minutes and 10-15 minutes if you worked them quite a bit. When you’re ready to make the naan, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle a bit more flour on your work surface and roll the dough, then flip it 90 degrees, and keep rolling. You want to do a roll, flip, roll, flip until the naan is large enough to where it’s just ¼ inch thick. Lift the dough and pass it back and forth between your hands, to help dust off the excess flour. To make that traditional tear-drop shape, grab two sides of the circle and *gently* wiggle it back and forth in your hands so that the third side droops a bit. Don’t overdo it as you run the whisk of tearing the dough.
- Cook the naan: Place the dough in the skillet and allow for it to cook and bubble on one side before flipping it over. Brush the naan with the prepared melted butter with a pastry brush and remove the naan from the skillet to a plate lined with a kitchen towel or use this to keep them warm. I like to sprinkle them with chopped cilantro too. However, this is optional.
How to make garlic naan:
If you’re making garlic naan, I suggest mincing a couple of cloves of garlic into a small saucepan and adding a knob of cold butter in with the garlic. Allow it to heat over the lowest heat setting until the butter melts completely. This allows all that garlic flavor to infuse into the butter. I like to keep it on the stove on the low heat setting so I can brush the naans with the prepared butter right as I’m about to take them off the pan.
What if I don’t want garlic naan, can I use any other toppings?
You don’t have to brush fresh naan with melted garlic butter. Here are a few other ways of topping freshly made naan.
- Melted butter + sprinkle with a pinch of cilantro or parsley for color
- Brush with melted butter + sprinkle with sesame seeds
- Melted butter + sprinkle with nigella seeds
- Brush with melted butter + a sprinkling of za’atar seasoning
Can you store/freeze homemade naan?
YES! You can cook the naan, allow them to cool to room temperature, and then place them in an air-tight container or a zip-top bag and let them sit in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When you want to reheat, just spritz with water and reheat them in a warm skillet over low heat until they heat through.
You can also freeze prepared naan. Just add them to a zip-top bag and freeze. You can freeze them for up to 4 months. Allow them to defrost in the refrigerator overnight or zap them in the microwave for 30-60 seconds at half power. Once they’re room temperature, you can reheat them with the same method listed above.
- Mixing Bowls
- Measuring Cup
- Food thermometer
- Rolling Pin
- Cast iron skillet (budget-friendly)
- Cast iron skillet (splurge)
What do you suggest serving with homemade naan:
- My Finger Lickin’ Butter Chicken
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- 30-Minute Spicy Shrimp Masala
- Weeknight Chana Masala
- Palak Paneer (coming soon!)
If you liked this recipe, you might also like:
- Homemade tortillas
- No-knead dutch oven bread
- Jalapeno cheddar bread
- Swirled banana bread
- One Hour Garlic Herb Dinner Rolls
- Roasted Garlic Rosemary Focaccia
- Garlic Irish Cheddar Chive Soda Bread
- Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread
- One Hour Cinnamon Rolls
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon EACH: sugar AND chopped cilantro (optional)
- 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup warm water (105ºF)
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons melted ghee (or butter)
- 3 tablespoons cold butter (+ 2 cloves garlic minced, optional)
- DOUGH: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; whisk. In a 2 cup measuring cup (or larger) whisk together the water, yogurt, and melted ghee. Add the yogurt mixture to the whisked dry ingredients and mix using a dough whisk or with a fork. When the dough is shaggy but somewhat together, flour your hands and knead the dough into a loose ball. It will be soft and sticky but once the dough comes together, STOP. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth (or plastic wrap) and allow the dough to rise and double in size, about 1 - 1 ½ hour.
- SHAPE: Once the dough has risen, sprinkle a clean work surface with a bit of flour, flatten the dough into a disc shape and sprinkle with a bit of flour and pat it around. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each of the pieces into a small round ball. And let the dough sit for 5-7 minutes and rest, covered. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle a small dusting of flour on a clean work surface and roll the dough out into a ¼ inch thick circle. Pick up the dough with one hand and pass it off to the other hand back and forth quickly to help dust off any excess flour. To make that traditional tear-drop shape, grab two sides of the circle and *gently* wiggle it back and forth so that the third side droops a bit. Don’t overdo it as you run the whisk of tearing the dough. Shaping it this way is optional.
- BUTTER: Add the butter and garlic to a cold saucepan and allow for it to heat through on the lowest heat setting. Keep the butter on the stove and brush the naan with the butter while still hot. If the butter starts to deepen in color. You can turn off the burner but leave the saucepan on the stove for easy brushing.
- COOK: Gently place the rolled out dough onto the hot skillet and allow for it to cook and bubble up on one side (about 1½-2 mins) before flipping, then flip and allow the dough to finish cooking on the other side (30-40 seconds.) Brush with melted butter then remove the naan from the skillet to a plate with a kitchen towel to keep them warm. You can sprinkle with a pinch of cilantro or parsley if you like. Serve warm.
- You can also use active dry yeast for this recipe, just be sure to allow at least 2-3 hours for the dough to double in size.