I’m a firm believer that everyone should be making churros at home. There are few things in this world that are more indulgently satisfying than biting into a warm churro, freshly fried and generously doused in a crunchy, fragrant coating of cinnamon sugar. When done right, they’re crisp and sweet on the outside, and soft with a slightly eggy savoriness in the middle. And really, I promise, doing it right isn’t as complicated as you might think.
So, my friends, if it’s not there, add “hot, crunchy, homemade churro experience” to the top of your Life’s Simple Pleasures list, and continue reading.
The recipe below includes clear instructions for the frying process, so let’s take a little detour and discuss proper churro accoutrements. My personal favorite is caramel. My husband and I frequently visit Mexico with his family, and there you can purchase piping hot churros from street vendors with dulce de leche made from goat’s milk, but for the sake of simplicity (we’re already tackling frying!), I chose to serve this recipe with a traditional caramel sauce that comes together in less than 10 minutes on your stovetop.
It’s gooey, lightly salted and slightly bitter in a deliciously toasty way, so it adds a sweet depth to the churro situation. Chocolate, crushed pineapple and strawberry are also great options — if preparing for a crowd, set up a churro topping bar and let your friends choose their own adventure (and show off your newly acquired frying skills!)
For a long time, I avoided recipes that required frying at home. After years of elementary school firefighter lectures about the dangers of hot oil, combined with one horrific fritter-making fail attempted with hopes of impressing a college boyfriend, I was frying-averse for much of the last decade. So for those of you out there who share the same reservations, I get it. The high heat, the splattering, the equipment — it can be intimidating to the point that you find yourself convinced that you don’t really like churros, anyway.
I call your bluff, and I’m here in hopes of convincing you that fearless frying is possible, and you’re just a few simple steps (and less than an hour) away from hot, crunchy, homemade churro bliss. It all starts with having the proper equipment — a heavy-bottomed pot, a fork, and maybe a pair of metal tongs. That’s it.
The heavy-bottomed pot is the key player here, because it will ensure even, steady heating which will cut back on the risk of your oil becoming too hot and turning into a splatter burn risk. I learned this the hard way — my fritter fail of 2009 was the result of too-hot oil in a too-flimsy pot and yes, splatter burns hurt.
My husband and I received a Le Creuset dutch oven as a wedding gift and it’s the perfect vessel for frying. If you don’t have a dutch oven, a deep cast iron pan will also work. The fork is to help you turn the churros so they fry evenly on both sides, and I like to use a tong to remove the churros from the oil because it ensures a solid grip. Really guys, if you have these three things, you’re well on your way to churro success.
Good luck and enjoy!
For the caramel sauce:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the churros:
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 - 2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To prepare the caramel sauce:
- Add the sugar to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat on medium high until the it begins to melt around the edges. Carefully swirl the sugar with a heatproof spatula until all the sugar has melted and has reached about 338F on a candy thermometer. The color should be a deep amber and it should smoke slightly, but be careful not to let it burn.
- Add the butter in pieces, and stir until melted. Stir in the vanilla.
- Remove from heat and very carefully add the cream (it may bubble up) and stir until smooth. Stir in the salt.
- Pour caramel into a jar and let cool to room temperature while you make the churros.
To prepare the churros:
- Heat the water, butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a medium saucepan until simmering and butter is melted.
- Remove from the heat and add all the flour at once. Stir vigorously until a smooth dough forms. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat for 30 seconds.
- Let sit for 10 minutes to cool slightly, so that when you add the eggs they don't scramble. While your dough is cooling add the vegetable oil to a dutch oven or large cast iron skillet until it measures about 1 1/2 inches deep. I prefer a deeper dish to prevent splattering. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches about 375F degrees.
- Add the eggs to the churro dough one at a time, beating well in between each addition. A shiny, thick dough will form.
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. You can also use a Ziploc back in a pinch.
- Test to ensure your dough is a good temperature by piping a 1-inch churro into the oil. The oil should bubble when the dough hits it, and the churro should float to the top and begin turning golden brown in about 2-3 minutes.
- When you're confident your oil is ready, carefully pipe 6-inch sections of dough into the hot oil, adding 3 churros at a time to ensure there is plenty of room for frying. I find it easiest to use scissors to cut the churro dough, as it gives you more control so you can gently drop the churro into the oil. Fry until deep golden brown on both sides, turning frequently using a fork or tongs to ensure even cooking.
- Once churros are cooked, remove from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- While the churros are still warm, combine cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Coat warm churros, in cinnamon sugar and tap off any excess.
- Serve warm with caramel sauce for dipping.