This homemade churros recipe yields irresistibly light and crispy fried pastries with the perfect amount of chew. These hot fluted sticks are tossed in cinnamon and sugar for a quick and easy sweet treat.
A crispy fried-dough pastry snack
Eyes grow wide and cravings kick-in when churros are insight. Hot, crispy fried-dough generously coated in sugar and cinnamon is a winning combination. This popular snack can be found freshly fried by street vendors, at bustling sporting events, and at major theme parks. This sweet treat is like a sugar donut but in stick form.
Learning how to make churros from scratch is really easy with impressive results. The dough comes together quickly, cooking it briefly on the stovetop then incorporating the eggs. Each piece is piped into hot oil until expanded and crunchy. I’ll warn you, once you have one, you’ll sacrifice burnt fingertips for another taste!
The key ingredients for a great churro
The churro dough is based on French pâte à choux (or choux pastry) which consists of flour, sugar, water, butter, and eggs. This combination creates a light, crunchy exterior, and nearly hollow centers. While good for cream puffs, it’s not great for heartier churros.
To add a little more bready thickness inside I slightly increase the flour and reduce the eggs and butter to give that characteristic churro chew. For this recipe, I add some vanilla and ground cinnamon to the mixture to enhance the sweet notes of the plain dough.
Cooking the flour
A unique step to making this dough is cooking the flour mixture on the stovetop for several minutes. Bring to a boil the water, salt, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, then add the flour and cook in the saucepan over medium heat. Make sure to stir constantly to prevent burning.
This process effectively breaks down the starch in the wheat, making it easier for the flour to absorb the liquid. This keeps the fried dough tender, increases gluten formation for structure, and makes a stiffer paste.
Once this step is complete, remove from heat and let the dough cool to below 130ºF (54ºC) before adding in the eggs. The egg proteins will solidify or scramble when heated above 144ºF (62ºC). We want to keep it rich and liquified.
How flour impacts the texture
Flour gives the churro its structure and shape. The flour granules are coated with the fat from butter to inhibit some of the gluten formation, but not all. I increased the typical amount of flour in my choux pastry recipe by 25% to ensure the creation of the stunning ridges on the exterior and to provide bread-like consistency when bitten.
The dough should be firm enough to control when piping out of the bag so much so that you need to cut it with scissors. If the dough is too runny or soft, chill it before using to help firm up the butter.
Eggs like to expand
Eggs keep the texture light, the center slightly custardy, and provide volume when heated. Eggs are natural leavening agents that give rise and puff to this fried pastry. I tested out various amounts of eggs and saw noticeable differences in the churro size, specifically the diameter.
I find two large eggs to be perfect. The dough expands to about double its size and has some bounce when chewed, but it also keeps a nice uniform fluted appearance.
Creating the fluted shape
There are two things you need to make churros look like they were store-bought or at least expertly made; a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. I use the Ateco 824 size. The fluted edges have a larger surface area, creating more crispy facets. The pleats also allow for the fried dough to expand more. You can use smaller tips, but it will cook faster and is better for mini-churro bites.
I tested a round tip and although edible they aren’t as pretty and they cause issues. Churros have more chances of exploding when round in shape because the outside cooks quicker and hardens, while the inside is still expanding and might crack, especially if the oil is too hot.
Make sure to use an oil that has a high smoke point about 25 degrees above the recommended frying temperature. Vegetable oil, canola, corn, or peanut oil are all good choices for prolonged deep frying.
The pot size affects the shape
The vessel for frying can be a cast iron skillet, a large pot like a dutch oven, or saucepan if you want longer churros. I find that a shallow skillet gives straighter sticks because you can pipe it parallel to the pan and multiple pieces stay closer together so there’s less curling. You want to add enough oil in the pot so the dough doesn’t touch the bottom, it needs to be able to easily swim in the hot grease.
Frying the churros
The ideal temperature range to fry the churros is between 350 to 360ºF (177 to 182ºC). This allows the surface to gradually deepen the color and the inside to fully cook. If the temperature climbs too high, the inside will taste raw.
Carefully pipe the dough into the hot oil in the desired strip length, and quickly cut it off with kitchen shears (this gives that nice blunt edge). Fry until deep golden brown in color, about 2 minutes per side. The middle is not a fully solid bread core. The egg will keep it moist, with pockets of dough.
Drain then coat
For the best churro texture, let them slightly cool down and fully cook. The pastries should be drained on paper towels to remove the excess oil on the surface. Wait for at least 5 to 10 minutes before tossing in the sugar. This allows the dough to finish cooking in the center due to carryover cooking.
Reheating and freezing
If you’re making a big batch of churros, you can keep them crisp by warming them in a 350ºF (177ºC) oven for about 5 minutes before serving. They also freeze very well, with or without the sugar coating. Store them in a resealable plastic bag once cooled down, then reheat for about 10 minutes in the oven.
What to serve with churros
- Freshly whipped cream
- Melted chocolate sauce
- Warm berry sauce
- Homemade caramel sauce
- Add some pumpkin spice to the cinnamon-sugar mixture for a fall-flavored treat.
- A glass of hot chocolate or coffee.
Making even chewier churros
For those who enjoy a more bready texture, use one egg instead of two. The lower amount of eggs and moisture from the ingredients will make the dough chewier once fried. The dough will be stiffer in the pastry bag for piping and skinnier in width.
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- ¼ cup (60 g) unsalted butter, cut into slices
- ¼ teaspoon (1 g) kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cup (158 g) all-purpose flour, spoon and leveled
- 2 large eggs, chilled
- ½ cup (107 g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Line a sheet pan with paper towels to drain the churros after frying.
- Add water, butter, salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and vanilla into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir the mixture until the butter is fully melted. Turn off the heat and immediately add the flour.
- Vigorously stir the dough with a spoon by hand until flour is incorporated.
- Turn the heat to medium and constantly stir and press the dough until it comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball, about 2 to 3 minutes. The dough should look relatively dry and should just begin to leave a film on the saucepan.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Slowly stir on low speed (setting 2) to cool to 100 to 130°F (37 to 54ºC), about 2 to 3 minutes. This prevents the eggs from curdling when added.
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing on medium-low speed (setting 4) until each egg is fully incorporated, about 45 to 60 seconds per egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula between each addition. The final dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl in thick threads, it will not clear the bowl. It should be shiny but firm and not runny so that it’s easy to control when piped.
- Add a large star tip (Ateco 824) to a piping bag. Lightly spray the inside of the piping bag with cooking spray to help keep the sticky paste from clinging to the plastic. Add the dough into the bag.
- Add enough oil to a medium cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or medium saucepan to reach 1 ½ to 2-inches in depth. Heat over medium heat until temperature reaches 350 to 360ºF (177 to 182ºC). Check the temperature between each batch and adjust the heat as needed to maintain this range.
- Carefully pipe a 6-inch strip of dough into the hot oil and use kitchen shears to cut it. Add about 4 inside the pan at a time, making sure there's enough room for the churros to swim freely in the oil. Fry, turning a few times until each piece is deep golden brown, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side.
- Use metal tongs to transfer the churros to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain excess oil. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before tossing in the coating.
- In a shallow bowl whisk together ½ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
- Toss the churros in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until coated.
- Repeat with frying and coating process with remaining churro dough.
- Serve immediately while still warm.