On your summer grill, naan--the beloved, puffy Indian flatbread--takes on even more character and flavor. This grilled vegan naan is an easy recipe to make, and whatever your skill level, I have you covered with options for making it the traditional way with yeast, instantly with baking powder, or with sourdough discard. This is a soy-free, nut-free recipe.
The naan is perhaps the best known among all Indian breads -- and there are many of those -- because of its easy ability to please nearly anyone. Child, adult, picky eater -- no one can really resist this puffy, soft and rather gorgeous, if misshapen, bread that often appears at the restaurant table spilling over the sides of the dish.
In fact, there are few gastronomic experiences that compare with tearing into a fresh-baked naan with your fingers and using the bread to scoop up a spicy curry.
I have already shared with you my recipe for the best naan that you can cook on the stovetop, this easy vegan naan brushed with a delectable garlic butter. We, and so many of you, love it. But of late we've been grilling quite a bit, and I wanted to share my favorite recipe for a vegan grilled naan that's all the rage hereabouts, especially with my son, Jay.
The grill does a great job of adding flavor to the naan, and those grill marks make the bread look even prettier. The high heat of a grill also does a really nice job of emulating the tandoor, the oven that's traditionally used to bake a naan.
This is a relatively simple recipe, and it can be a quick one if you switch up the leavening. I sometimes use my favorite naan recipe and just throw it on the grill. At other times, when rushed or having forgotten to start the dough a few hours ahead, I leaven the dough with just baking soda and vegan yogurt. Or, if I have sourdough discard on hand, I add that in, either to complement the yeast or to replace it.
I will describe for you how to make your naan using all and any of these options. My favorite one is the version with both yeast and some sourdough discard added in, because it makes the softest, fluffiest naans and requires about two-and-a-half hours to proof and prep. But the baking powder version is rather good, especially if you're looking for an instant option. The sourdough-only version tastes amazing but will need to be started the night before. (You can also check out my quicker sourdough roti recipe here).
Tips for making the best vegan grilled naan
Naans are typically not vegan, and most cooks add either yogurt or milk to the dough. But you don't really need these, especially when you can make the perfect naan without either, or sub with vegan yogurt.
Butter is often brushed on to a naan after it's baked, or grilled in this instance, but olive oil or vegan butter do just as nicely. You can also brush on a mixture of olive oil, garlic and cilantro on your naan breads after they've been grilled.
- Active dry yeast: To make the dough with yeast, use a packet of active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp). If you have a sourdough starter, add half a cup of the discard to the dough (you will need to cut down on other liquids). Naan made this way will need a 60-90 minute rise before you can shape and bake it.
- Sourdough and no added yeast: If you take this route, be prepared for amazing flavor but a longer rise time. Use a cup of sourdough discard (fed no longer than a week before making) and cut down the amount of flour to 3 cups (instead of 3 ½). Add water only as needed, since moisture is already present in the sourdough. Start your naan dough the night before and let it stand in the fridge or a cool spot overnight to proof, then on the counter for another couple of hours to reach room temperature before you attempt to shape the breads.
- Baking powder and baking soda: Mix a teaspoon of baking powder and half a teaspoon of baking soda to the dough along with half a cup of vegan yogurt (instead of nondairy milk). The acid in the yogurt combined with the baking soda will help the naan puff up. The dough will need to rest for just half an hour before you bake the naan. This version makes great naans, but they won't be as flavorful as the versions with yeast and sourdough.
- Shaping the naan
- It is really important to let the naan dough rest a bit after the rise and before you shape it. Divide it into 8 or 10 pieces, depending on how big you want your naans to be, shape them into balls, sprinkle on a little flour, cover them and let them stand for 10 minutes.
- The easiest way, I find, to shape the naan is to roll it out first into an approximately four-inch disc with a rolling pin. After that, I pick it up by the edges and stretch it gently all the way round, letting gravity pull and lengthen the naan. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, just use a rolling pin.
- You can shape the naan into a teardrop, the way naans are usually shaped at restaurants, or into an oval, but there really don't need to be any rules here. So long as you shape it into something that's flat and fairly, albeit not perfectly, even, you will be eating great-tasting -- and great-looking--naan.
- The reason you don't want your naan to be perfectly even is because you want it to have those uneven spots where it puffs up and others where it chars.
What to serve with naan
- Naan tastes best with spicy Indian curries, like vegan malai kofta, vegan palak paneer, vegan butter chicken and vegan paneer butter masala. You can find a plethora of vegan Indian curries to suit your tastebuds on this blog.
More vegan Indian bread recipes
Easy Grilled Vegan Naan
- 2.5 teaspoon active dry yeast (look in the notes below for variations for a sourdough naan or for an instant naan with baking powder/soda)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup nondairy milk (lukewarm)
- 1 to 1 ½ cups water (lukewarm. See notes below if making an instant naan or sourdough naan)
- 3.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon vegan butter (melted, to brush on after the naan comes off the grill)
- Place the yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar, nondairy milk, and ½ cup water. Let the yeast stand at least five minutes until it starts to look frothy and "blooms"
- Add the flour and salt to the bowl and begin to knead, slowly drizzling in additional water until your dough comes together in a ball that's just slightly sticky (traces of the dough will stick to your fingers when you touch it). Keep in mind that you may not need all of the water, so don't dump it all in at one go.
- Drizzle the oil on top of the dough, turn it over once or twice to make sure the oil coats the dough, cover the bowl tightly with cling wrap or a lid or a kitchen towel, and set it aside to rise in a warm place for an hour to 90 minutes.
- After the dough has risen, turn it out on your work surface. Knead it lightly, form into a disc and cut into eight even pieces, the way you would a pizza. Roll each piece into a ball, dust each ball lightly with flour, and set them aside, covered, for 15 minutes.
- To shape the naan, either roll each ball into a teardrop shape or a round with a rolling pin. You can dust your work surface lightly with flour if needed. Or roll each ball into a small disc, then lift the disc by its edges and stretch it gently with your fingers, while letting the dough stretch and fall with the aid of gravity. Continue shaping by moving your fingers along the edges. If you're not used to doing this, it's possible your dough could tear, so be careful. If you do get a tear, patch it up by pressing the dough together and continue shaping with a rolling pin.
- Make sure the grill is screaming hot. You can also use a grill pan on a stovetop, if you don't have a grill. Place the naan on the grill. You will immediately see it start to bubble up and turn opaque. Put down the grill cover or, if using a pan, cover with a lid. Let the naan grill for a minute, then, using tongs, carefully turn it by 90 degrees to get those lovely cross-hatch grill marks. Grill another minute, then flip and repeat for the other side. Altogether, you should need no more than 3 minutes on the grill for each naan, possibly less.
- As soon as you take the naan off the griddle, brush it with melted vegan butter or olive oil. Keep your naans wrapped in a kitchen towel until ready to serve.
- You can reheat any leftover naans on the griddle before serving.
Active dry yeast: To make the dough with yeast, use a packet of active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp). If you have a sourdough starter, add half a cup of the discard to the dough (you will need to cut down on other liquids). Naan made this way will need a 60-90 minute rise before you can shape and bake it.
Only sourdough and no added yeast: If you take this route, be prepared for amazing flavor but a longer rise time. Use a cup of sourdough discard (fed no longer than a week before making) and cut down the amount of flour to 3 cups (instead of 3 ½). Add water only as needed, since moisture is already present in the sourdough. Start your naan dough the night before and let it stand in the fridge or a cool spot overnight to proof, then on the counter for another couple of hours to reach room temperature before you attempt to shape the breads.
Baking powder and baking soda: Mix a teaspoon of baking powder and half a teaspoon of baking soda to the dough along with half a cup of vegan yogurt (instead of nondairy milk). The acid in the yogurt combined with the baking soda will help the naan puff up. The dough will need to rest for just half an hour before you bake the naan. This version makes great naans, but they won't be as flavorful as the versions with yeast and sourdough.
Hi, I was wondering what you mean by grill in this recipe? It has different meanings in different parts of the world and I'm not sure where you are.
You put it on a gas or charcoal grill. Alternately make it in a grill pan.
Ah ok got it. Thank you. You're chucking it on the BBQ 😀 (in Australian) I think I made it in a frying pan last time, so I shall try that again 🙂 Thank you for the delicious lunch I'm about to eat!
Awesome, yes, it's a bbq grill. 🙂 Happy you enjoyed it.
I've been looking for a recipe for paratha; especially for the northern sourdough. These will give me a place where to start.
Deborah M. Williams
Just made these for the second time last night. Because it was cold and I don't have a warm spot in my kitchen for the dough to rise, I decided to try it on the dough setting in my bread machine. It came out great! I used one cup of water. And yes, the grill needs to be screaming hot!
Hi Deborah, so awesome to hear--thanks for letting me know! 🙂
nice recipe , well written and explained with images.
Hi Vaishali, these look amazing. My husband loves naan. Will be giving these a go with my rye sourdough. I made your soft rolls and they were amazing. Mine didn’t look as light as yours because of the rye. But they were brilliant. Thank you. There is something green in your naans, is that mixed in with the naan or brushed on with the oil afterwards? My husband likes his naan flavoured. ?
Hi Avril, that's a mixture of olive oil, cilantro and garlic. You can also use vegan butter. I place them in a small skillet over low heat for about five minutes for all the flavors to merge, then brush on the naan once it's grilled. You can find a more detailed recipe for this in my other homemade garlic naan recipe: https://holycowvegan.net/homemade-garlic-naan-bread/
Would your gluten-free sourdough starter work for this? I miss naan so much!
Hi Leslie, I am going to try a gf naan, stay tuned.
Yay! Can't wait!