Naan Bread (Plain + Butter + Garlic Naan Recipes)

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You can make naan bread at home without a tandoor! This easy to follow post will teach you how to make pillowy soft plain, butter, or garlic Indian naan bread at home using your stovetop. 

A stack of fresh naan bread.
A stack of fresh naan bread

If you have been to an Indian restaurant you have probably had naan – this soft, buttery flatbread that you have dunked in your curries. They come in so many varieties – stuffed, flavored but the most popular ones are plain, butter and garlic naan. For those new to naan, let’s talk a little about its origination and how it has become so popular worldwide. 

What is naan bread?

Naan gets its name from the Persian word nān, meaning bread.

It is a leavened flatbread that is often served in Indian buffets in the US as an accompaniment to curries such as butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, palak paneer, etc. 

In a traditional naan recipe, naan is cooked in a tandoor clay oven at temperatures as high as 800°F. Soft rounds of naan bread dough are tossed into a tandoor such that they stick to the sides, and when cooked they are removed with a long metal stick.

Where did naan originate from?

Some of the earliest accounts of naan bread come from the Indian poet and musician Amir Khusrow in 1300 AD. This is around the time yeast was introduced to India from Egypt where it was used to brew beer and make leavened bread. It took another 100 years for the bread to evolve into a tandoor cooked version, also called tandoor naan. 

Naan bread became popular during the Mughal era and was often served as breakfast accompanied by keema and kebab. Due to the kneading techniques and use of yeast, traditional style naan did not find its way into the kitchens of the common man and remained confined to the royal kitchen. Instead, it led to the invention of tandoori roti – an unleavened bread made from wheat and cooked in Tandoor. 

Apparently, kulcha was also inspired by naan. It used baking soda as the leavening agent and was cooked in a tava / cast-iron pan making it more accessible to the masses. Kulcha has the same chewiness as Indian naan bread and spread in popularity across northern India.

Naan has many different variations across the world but the version that is popular in Europe, as well as the US, is the one from the Indian subcontinent. 

Read more: How naan and kulcha became India’s much-loved breads. 

A fresh stack of garlic naan with chopped cilantro on a white dish towel next to a cup of cilantro.
Warm, fresh garlic naan.

Though tandoori naan is a popular Indian flatbread most Indians including me who grew up in the ’80s/90’s probably never had it until they stepped into a restaurant. This is because naan was never cooked at home instead of whole wheat rotis was what we had on a daily basis.

It was mostly because naan bread is made with all-purpose flour (maida) a.k.a processed flour which is not considered healthy. Also, it is a little more time consuming to make compared to chapatis because you have to wait for the dough to rise and yeast was also not a commonly found ingredient in an Indian household. 

Typical ingredients in naan

Commonly, naan is made with flour, salt, a leavening agent such as yeast, baking powder or baking soda, and water.

Many recipes also include the use of yogurt or milk instead of water. I have used both because – yogurt adds a nice flavor to the dish and tenderizes the dough while the inclusion of milk makes the naan softer and also the presence of sugar and fat in the milk caramelize to give the bread a nice golden color. 

Some even add eggs to the dough to help with the rising of the bread which gives it a richer flavor and also, helps with the browning of the flatbread. I haven’t included it in this recipe but if you would like to one well-beaten egg is all you need. 

How to make naan bread

Making naan is probably easier than making rotis. You don’t have to make the perfect round shape that rotis have. All you need to do is aim for an oblong shape that is evenly thick.  Before we chat more on this topic, let’s get the dough right.  

Preparing the dough 

  1. Warm 1/4 cup water for about 15 seconds in a microwave. The water temperature should be between 105 and 110°F degrees for proofing. Note: Follow the directions in the yeast packet to proof the yeast. 
  2. Add water to the yeast along with 1 teaspoon sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Wait for the yeast to double in volume and become frothy (takes around 10-15 minutes).
Collage of two images showing yeast being proofed to make naan
Proofing yeast for naan

Making the dough

  1. Add flour, yogurt, salt, sugar, and milk to the proofed yeast.
  2. Using the dough attachment, combine the ingredients at low speed till it forms a dough. This step takes around 6-8 minutes. If you are not using a stand mixer, knead it by hand for a good 8-10 minutes.
  3. The texture of the dough should be softer than the dough you make for Chappati or Roti atta. Make sure it is not very sticky. 
  4. Add a tablespoon of oil and knead it by hand for a minute or two.
  5. Grease a deep bowl and place the dough in it.
  6. Lift the dough and place it back again the other way round so that both sides are oiled.
  7. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise and let it rest for an hour. The dough should double in size by then. If it has not, give it 30-60 minutes. For best results – Use Instant Pot – see steps below.
  8. Add a cup of water in the steel insert of the Instant Pot. 
  9. Put the trivet and place the bowl with the dough on top of the trivet.
  10. Cover with a glass lid and press the Yogurt setting and set it on low for 1 hour.
  11. In about an hour, the dough will double up. I leave it for about 2 hours to proof because it is cold where I live. 
A collage of images showing how to make dough for naan using stand in mixer and Instant Pot
Making the dough for naan

Making naan

  1. Once the dough is ready, knead it for 2-3 minutes and then divide the dough into 12 pieces ( I eyeballed it).
  2. Shape them into a ball. Flatten the ball and roll it out using a rolling pin to an oblong shape using as little flour as possible.

To make garlic naan

  1. If making garlic naan, heat butter till it is fully melted. Add minced garlic to the butter and mix well.
  2. Using a pastry brush, spread this garlic butter mixture on the naan. Sprinkle kalonji (nigella seeds) along with finely chopped cilantro.
  3. Using your fingers gently press on the garlic and kalonji till it gets embedded in the rolled naan.

Ways to cook naan bread

Traditional naan is cooked in a tandoor clay oven. Soft rounds of naan bread dough are tossed into a tandoor in a way that they stick to the sides. When they are cooked through they are removed with a long metal stick.

If you don’t have a tandoor another way to cook the naan is to bake it in the oven using a pizza stone. Additionally, you can also cook naan bread in a cast-iron skillet, and/or over an open flame as I have in this recipe. 

A collage of images showing how to roll and cook naan
How to roll and cook naan

Cooking the naan

  1. Heat a cast-iron pan over high heat. Once hot, place the rolled out naan in the pan.
  2. Cook the naan till small bumps start to form on the surface (approximately 1-2 minutes).
  3. Then flip the naan to the other side and cook for 10 seconds or so until you see bumps. 
  4. Brush the naan with some of the garlic + butter mixture. Set it aside. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough.
  5. Serve it warm with vegetable or chicken curry.

Note – I am using a roaster rack to cook the naan after one side is cooked. If you have one you can use it or just use the cast-iron pan

Tips 

  1. Proofing the dough in the Instant Pot is not mandatory, you can use the warming function in your oven as well. I have found that the dough takes a long time to rise during winter and using an IP or an oven is a fail-proof method to get the work done. 
  2. This recipe will fail if the yeast hasn’t been proofed properly. Don’t rush, wait for the yeast to proof. If the yeast is old, it may not work. Discard the mixture and use a new one. 

Variations 

  • Add a well-beaten egg to the dough to add more flavor to the naan and make it softer. 
  • To make naan without yeast, replace it with a teaspoon of baking powder. 

Different types of naan bread

Various versions of naan bread have evolved over the years and these are the popular ones – 

  • Plain naan– The traditional naan most often served.
  • Butter naan– Traditional naan brushed with a topping of melted butter or ghee.
  • Garlic naan– For the garlic lover, naan flavored and topped with garlic.
  • Laccha naan– This naan has a spiral and layered appearance. 
  • Pudina naan– Naan stuffed or topped with pudina, also called mint.
  • Aloo Matar naan– A stuffed naan bread with Aloo Matar filling.
  • Peshawari naan– Naan stuffed with dried fruits or coconut shreds. 
  • Coriander naan- Naan sprinkled with coriander.
Plain butter naan served with palak paneer and cucumber slices
Plain Butter Naan served with palak paneer

How are naan and pita different?

While they may seem similar, naan and pita differ in a few ways. Naan uses an enriched dough while pita has a lean dough base. Lean doughs are low in fat and sugar content while enriched doughs are considered sweet doughs made with milk, eggs, sugar, or butter. The use of yogurt in naan makes it an enriched dough which gives the bread a chewy texture, unlike pita. 

These two doughs bake differently as well. Pita bakes in the oven on a baking stone or a baking sheet while naan bakes in a tandoor or over a flame in a skillet. 

Roti vs Naan

Roti is an unleavened Indian flatbread, similar to a tortilla. Whole wheat flour and the lack of yeast in roti dough are the greatest differences between naan and roti. Also, roti is cooked over a skillet whereas naan is cooked in a Tandoor. 

Is naan vegan? 

While this recipe is not vegan, here are the small changes you can do make it vegan – 

  • Replace yogurt and milk with water. You’ll need about 1 cup of water.
  • Substitute yeast with a teaspoon of baking powder 
  • Substitute butter with avocado or coconut oil while making garlic naan. 

How to store naan

Naan stays fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freeze any leftovers. 

How to freeze naan

To freeze naan, place a parchment paper between each cooked naan and store it in a Ziploc two gallon freezer bag

What do you eat with naan bread?

Naan and curry go hand in hand. Here are a few curry recipes that you can savor your naan with:

  1. Paneer Makhani- This restaurant-style Paneer Makhani consists of Paneer cooked in a buttery, rich and creamy tomato-cashew sauce.
  2. Chicken curry– This simple and easy Indian curry chicken recipe is one more reason you’ll love cooking in your Instant Pot. 
  3. Chicken Tikka Masala- Grilled chicken are crisp on the outside and succulent on the side are added to a creamy onion-tomato based gravy to make this finger-licking Indian chicken dish. 
  4. Dal makhani- This creamy and delicious Punjabi lentil curry graces the menus of Indian restaurants worldwide.
  5. Butter chicken- Chicken is cooked in a buttery onion-tomato sauce with a medley of spices in this classic North Indian dish.
A plate with naan and a bowl of curry on a wooden table with a bowl of rice and a drink.
A warm bowl of curry with fresh naan bread.


Got a new Instant Pot? Check out the links below to make the most of your pressure cooker -  
A fresh stack of garlic naan with chopped cilantro on a white dish towel next to a cup of cilantro.

Plain, Butter and Garlic naan recipe

4.63 from 16 votes
Easily make pillowy soft naan bread with this plain, butter, and garlic naan recipe.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 44 minutes
Servings: 12
Diet : Egg-Free, Nut-free
Course : Breads
Method: Stovetop
Cuisine : Indian

Ingredients
  

For Proofing the yeast

Rest of the ingredients

For Garlic Naan

Instructions
 

Proof the yeast

  • Warm 1/4 cup water for about 15 seconds in a microwave. The water temperature should be between 105o F and 110o F for proofing.
  • Add water to the yeast along with 1 teaspoon sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Wait for the yeast to double in volume and become frothy (took around 10-15 minutes).

Making the dough

  • Add flour, yogurt, salt, sugar, and milk to the proofed yeast.
  • Using the dough attachment, combine the ingredients at low speed till it forms a dough. This step takes around 6-8 minutes. If you are not using a stand mixer, knead it by hand for a good 8-10 minutes.
  •  The texture of the dough should be softer than the dough you make for chapati or roti atta. Make sure it is not very sticky. 
  • Add a tablespoon of oil and knead it for a minute or two.
  • Grease a deep bowl and place the dough in it.
  • Lift the dough and place it back again the other way round so that both sides are oiled.
  • Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise and let it rest for an hour. It might take up to 2 hours depending on the weather. The dough should double in size by then. If it has not, give it 30 more minutes. [For best results - Use Instant Pot - see notes]

Making naan

  • Once the dough is ready, knead it for 2-3 minutes and then divide the dough into 12 pieces ( I eye-balled it).
  • Shape them into a ball. Flatten the ball and roll it out using a rolling pin to an oblong shape using as little flour as possible.

To make garlic naan

  • If making garlic naan, heat butter till it is fully melted. Add minced garlic to the butter and mix well.
  • Using a pastry brush, spread this garlic butter mixture on the naan. Sprinkle kalonji along with finely chopped cilantro.
  • Using your fingers gently press on the garlic and kalonji till it gets embedded in the rolled naan.

Cooking the naan

  • Heat a cast-iron pan over high heat. Place the rolled out naan in the hot pan.
  • Cook the naan till small bumps start to form on the surface (approximately 1-2 minutes).
  • Flip the naan to the other side and cook for 10 seconds or so until you see bumps. Your plain naan is ready.
  • To make butter naan, brush the naan with butter and for garlic naan, slather the naan with the garlic + butter mixture.
  • Set it aside. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough.
  • Serve it warm with vegetable or chicken curry.

Notes

How to proof the dough using Instant Pot
  1. Add a cup of water in the steel insert of the Instant Pot. 
  2. Put the trivet and place the bowl with the dough on top of the trivet.
  3. Cover with a glass lid and press the Yogurt setting and set it on low for 60 minutes. 
  4. In about an hour, the dough will double up. I leave it for about 2 hours to proof because it is cold where I live. 
Notes
  1. The bowl should be deep enough to allow for space for the dough to rise. 
  2. I am using a roaster rack to cook the naan after one side is cooked. If you have one you can use it or just use the cast-iron pan
Tips 
  1. Proofing the dough in the Instant Pot is not mandatory, you can use the warming function in your oven as well. I have found that the dough takes a long time to rise during winter and using an IP or an oven is a fail-proof method to get the work done. 
  2. This recipe will fail if the yeast hasn't been proofed properly. Don't rush, wait for the yeast to proof. If the yeast is old, it may not work. Discard the mixture and use a new one. 
Variations 
  • Add a well-beaten egg to the dough to add more flavor to the naan and make it softer. 
  • To make naan without yeast, replace it with a teaspoon of baking powder or baking soda. 

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Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Serving: 1garlic naanCalories: 163kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 4gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 229mgPotassium: 67mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 114IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 31mgIron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Did you make this recipe?Take a photo and tag @simmertoslimmer on Instagram for a shoutout!
Keyword : Butter chicken, garlic, plain

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18 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have tried 4 other Naan recipes and this is the keeper!!!! Thank you so much for the recipe.
    Note – I was out of plain yogurt, I used cottage cheese (small curd) as a substitute and it turned out great!!

  2. If your IP doesn’t have the yogurt setting, how else do you proof the bread? In the oven? What temperature? This looks sooo good!

    1. If you have the proof setting in your oven use that or you could do the following –
      Leave the dough in your oven with the light on or
      1) Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F or the lowest temperature it can be preheated to.
      2) Turn off the oven. Wait for 10 minutes and then place the dough inside the oven.
      3) Leave it for an hour or two till your dough doubles up.

  3. Why when proofing in the Instant Pot don’t you just put it in the bottom of the metal insert like when proofing other bread instead of in a bowl on a trivet with a cup of water?

    1. You could do both. I like to do it this way because having water in the Instant Pot provides a humid environment for the dough to rise which is perfect for cold winters. I will probably do it directly in the pot during summer.

  4. Hi Anu:)
    Please could you tell me if there’s a GLUTEN-FREE Recipe for CHICKEN KORMA CURRY?~&!… My FAVORITE,- ONION BAJI’S??;~ iF So, Could you Also INCLUDE These Recipe’s!? *(iT Would Be GREATLY APPRECIATED!).
    Sincerely, Tracy M.
    P.s.
    Thankyou For ALL Your DELICIOUS MEAL IDEAS!!:)

    1. Set the pizza stone in your oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Once the desired temperature is achieved, place 1-2 pieces of the rolled out dough on the pizza stone. Let it cook for about 2-3 minutes till the bottom is cooked and the top puffs up.Remove the naan and slather it with butter.

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