Does Naan Bread Have Yeast (+ recipe for naan bread)

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “does naan bread have yeast?” and discuss the particularities of naan bread and the benefits of eating naan bread, if naan bread can spoil and how to make naan bread.

Does naan bread have yeast?

Yes, naan bread does have yeast in it (1,2). Naan bread is a leavened flat bread prepared with wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. It is cooked on a convex griddle called tava in the form of discs, after being hand-pressed to be flattened.

Naan bread can contain different ingredients, such as yogurt and additional leavening agents, such as sodium bicarbonate (1). However, there are certain variations in recipes where naan bread is also made without using yeast. 

What are the particularities of naan bread?

Naan bread is a leavened flatbread, but relatively thick, when compared to other flat breads of this type, that originated from Pakistan (1,3). Different Arabian and Asian countries have versions of flat breads with different names and characteristics (2).

Naan bread is made with very fine wheat, which allows a faster fermentation process. It is classified as a single layer bread, which differs from the double layer flat breads, such as the pita bread (4). Due to the very fine thickness, the baking is very fast, within minutes.

What are the benefits and risks of eating naan bread?

The benefits of eating naan bread is that it is a source of energy, carbohydrates and, in some cases, iron and folic acid, when the wheat flour is fortified with these micronutrients. 

Having the main ingredient the wheat flour, when complemented or eaten together with legumes, naan bread is an important source of amino acids (6). Naan bread is one of the most important sources of energy and protein from people in Pakistan (1,6).

Naan bread can be fastly cooked. Although traditionally cooked on specific convex metal grills, it can be also baked in ovens (1) within minutes. Naan bread, as other flatbreads, can be dried in a second cooking / baking process, which reduces its moisture content and allows the long storage of this bread (2). 

The risk of eating naan bread is that it is traditionally produced with refined wheat, which is considered a high glycemic index food. Consuming high glycemic index food improves the risks of developing metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and heart diseases (5).

An alternative is to make naan bread with whole wheat or whole barley, which will result in a lower glycemic index of the food. For instance, whole wheat or whole barley breads have a glycemic index of 50, while refined wheat bread has a glycemic index of 70. Compared to glucose, which is 100, the glycemic index of whole wheat flour bread is relatively low.  

How do you make naan bread?

Here’s a simple recipe for making naan bread (Adapted from 1).

Making The Dough

  1. To 250 g of wheat flour, add 50 g of fresh yogurt in a bowl. Add water and mix and let ferment overnight in a warm place (preferentially 35°C or 95°F)
  2. Add more 750 g of flour, one teaspoon of sugar, one teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of baking soda (optional) and ¼  teaspoon yeast. Add water enough to form a dough, which will depend on the type of flour
  3. Knead the dough till a soft and smooth ball is obtained. If the dough looks dry, add some more water, but be careful not to make it too runny. The result should be a stretchy and soft dough.
  4. Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and cover it with a moist napkin or kitchen towel. Let it rest for about two hours to allow the leavening agents to do their job.

Preparing The Dough

  1. Divide the dough into medium-sized balls. Flatten them slightly, rub with flour, and sprinkle flour on the rolling board as well.
  2. Roll the balls into elongated tear-shaped ovals measuring six to seven inches using a rolling pin. You can also sprinkle some nigella seeds, sesame seeds, or melon seeds on the rolled dough. This is simply a taste preference and not obligatory.

Cooking The Naan Bread

  1. Heat a tava (can also use a heavy griddle or skillet) and keep it on medium heat
  2. Place the naan bread on the hot tava. Allow one side to become partly cooked
  1. Once you begin to see air-pockets forming, flip the half-cooked side to cook the raw side using a spatula or a pair of tongs. Cook this side on medium-high heat as well
  2. As before, you will see air-pockets starting to form. Flip the naan over again when you see many air-pockets; the second side needs to be cooked more than the first side, however, be careful to not overcook
  3. Alternatively, naan bread can be baked in an oven at 315°C (600°F) for 3 minutes

Can naan bread spoil?

Yes, naan bread can spoil. The most common spoilage of this type of food is spoilage through the action of fungi which are present in the ingredients. Aspergillus, Penicillium and Xerophilic molds develop in low moisture foods, such as bakery products and can produce toxins (7). 

Commercial flat breads can be stored for up to 18 days at room temperature or for 3 weeks in the refrigerator (8).


In this brief article, we answered the question, “does naan bread have yeast?” and discussed the particularities of naan bread and the benefits of eating naan bread, if naan bread can spoil and how to make naan bread.

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Farooq, Zubair, S. Rehman, and Muhammad Qamar Bilal. Suitability of wheat varieties/lines for the production of leavened flat bread (naan). J. Res. Sci, 2001, 12, 171-179.


Gocmen, D., A. N. Inkaya, and E. Aydin. Flat breads. Bulgar J Agric Sci, 2009, 15, 298-306. 


 C Brand-Miller, International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr, 2002, 76, 5–56 


Antony-Babu, Sanjay, and Ian Singleton. Effects of ozone exposure on the xerophilic fungus, Eurotium amstelodami IS-SAB-01, isolated from naan bread. Int j food microbiol, 2011, 144, 331-336.


Food keeper. United States Department of Agriculture.