Churros Don’t Need Translating Anymore

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Churros Don’t Need Translating Anymore

Some Latin foods don’t need translating anymore. That is the case of churros. Crisp and golden on the outside, soft and almost moist in the center, and covered in a gritty mix of sugar and cinnamon. They have to be some of the most, if not the most, irresistible fritters.

Mexicans don’t get the credit for inventing them though. That battle is still disputed between the Portuguese and the Spanish. But we do owe the Spanish for helping churros find their way to our Mexican kitchens, where we have found a way to make them our very own. More than five centuries later, so rooted they have become, it is hard to find a town, small or large, that doesn’t sell them.

You can find churros being sold by street vendors in little paper bags, in baskets, or in stands that have a heating light to keep them warm – people tend to underestimate how chilly Mexican nights can get. But there are also churrerías, places that only sell churros and different kinds of hot chocolate to accompany them.

Then there are extra dipping sauces that, of late, have become fillings. Some industrial churro press machines pump out churros with an inner tunnel that can be filled with dulce de leche or cajeta, chocolate or fruit jams. I go for the traditionally plain ones, without the inner tunnel, with cajeta or dulce de leche on the side to dip as I please.

churros

Just like other extremely popular street food goodies, many people have the misconception that something so good must be impossible to make at home. Well, wrong and wrong. All you need is a good recipe – and my boys and I did the legwork for you – and a churro-making tool.

On the recipe, it was a team effort. You know how many takes my boys sampled? The dough was too thick, then too sweet, then too crackly. Or once shaped into churros, it hardened too fast, its center dried too soon and the grooves didn’t stay smooth.

Finally, we nailed down the most irresistible and fool-proof one. With the recipe nailed down, the issue became the tool. As the perfect masa needs to be heavy and thick, it resists being pushed around in a cookie cutter or in a pastry bag. Ask my oldest son, he came to the kitchen to my rescue one too many times to help push the dough out from a cookie cutter press, we ended up breaking, and the pastry bag attempts were too much of a work out.

I finally caved. Though I am usually one to complain about stores trying to sell you special tools for certain cooking tasks, or for dealing with ingredients that do not require a special tool at all. Take the egg slicer, for example. Not only does it not work, it is messy and it does not make impeccable slices. Or the nutmeg grinder, nothing a normal grater can’t handle. I have to admit, the humble plastic churro press (less than $20 and many brands available online), is a great thing to have if you want fresh churros at home just about any afternoon.

Since the dough can be made in just a few minutes, you can have churros pressed and fried, seamlessly in less than a half hour.

Churros con Cajeta or Dulce de Leche
Print Recipe
16 churros
Ingredients
  • Vegetable oil for frying plus ¼ cup
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar plus ¼ cup
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon plus ½ teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • Cajeta or dulce de leche optional dipping sauce
To Prepare
  • In a large, heavy and extended casserole, or cast iron, high-sided skillet, heat about 1 1/2-inches of canola oil over medium heat until the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees (or test with a piece of tortilla or bread; it’s ready when the oil bubbles actively all around it). It will take awhile to heat, so get this started before making the dough.
  • On a large plate, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the water, 1/4 cup oil, vanilla extract, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the flour all at once, turn off the heat and use a wooden spoon to stir vigorously until the mixture forms a dough as smooth as possible with no flour lumps. It will take about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip or a churro press. Pipe the dough into about 6 to 8-inch pieces (or if you want to replicate a churro store, pipe a rope-like dough of about 24-inches) and carefully place in oil. Fry for about 3 to 4 minutes, until golden and crisp, flipping in between. Use tongs to remove them and place on a paper towel lined baking sheet or drying rack.
  • While the churros are still very hot, toss them in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat. If desired, serve with cajeta or dulce de leche as a dipping sauce and Mexican hot chocolate on the side.
Ingredients
  • Vegetable oil for frying plus ¼ cup
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar plus ¼ cup
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon plus ½ teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • Cajeta or dulce de leche optional dipping sauce
To Prepare
  • In a large, heavy and extended casserole, or cast iron, high-sided skillet, heat about 1 1/2-inches of canola oil over medium heat until the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees (or test with a piece of tortilla or bread; it’s ready when the oil bubbles actively all around it). It will take awhile to heat, so get this started before making the dough.
  • On a large plate, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the water, 1/4 cup oil, vanilla extract, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the flour all at once, turn off the heat and use a wooden spoon to stir vigorously until the mixture forms a dough as smooth as possible with no flour lumps. It will take about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip or a churro press. Pipe the dough into about 6 to 8-inch pieces (or if you want to replicate a churro store, pipe a rope-like dough of about 24-inches) and carefully place in oil. Fry for about 3 to 4 minutes, until golden and crisp, flipping in between. Use tongs to remove them and place on a paper towel lined baking sheet or drying rack.
  • While the churros are still very hot, toss them in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat. If desired, serve with cajeta or dulce de leche as a dipping sauce and Mexican hot chocolate on the side.

45 comments on “Churros Don’t Need Translating Anymore

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  1. When I hit my goal number on the scale, I am going to reward myself with an occasional treat, and this is one of them! In the meantime, I have been feasting my eyes on your foods – thank you. By the way, the link for your cajeta isn’t working.

  2. Hi Pati,
    Love your show and always look forward to see every week.
    You make me appreciate the real traditional Mexican food as you also
    show the food in areas of the town & cities — where the foods really
    look so so yummy.
    I like the way you show the cooking technique which make it easy to
    follow you through in the simplest way.
    The food you make looks really yummy and certainly love the way you
    have your kids get involved, which make me think that you are not only
    a good cook but also a very good and loving “MOTHER”

    More success in your show and endeavor in life.
    All my best wishes to you and your family.

  3. Hi Pati,

    My mom and I are a huge fan of yours! We love your show and cant wait to see the new cook book. I was searching the web for a
    churros recipe, and notice most recipes call for butter instead of oil. Is there a reason why you prefer the oil over the butter when cooking the dough?

  4. Goodmorning,
    Well tried the churros but they too wet not done enough inside, 4 to 5 minutes left 1 or mjnutes still uncooked, oil 350 degrees, what did I do wrong?
    Thank you Patti
    Mary Machado

  5. I &my husband Richard enjoy your show very much &have trie a few recipe s but do cook mexican food start off always with tomatoes&onions con garlic.
    I am going to try making churros
    Your familia is precious, bless you.

    Thank you,
    Mary, as my husband calls me Maria Machado

  6. Hi Pati,
    I’m from New Zealand and I have yet to try an authentic churro recipe until this! Most recipes has eggs and I wonder why as they
    don’t taste good at all. Thank you for your wonderful recipe as
    this one would be the one and only churro recipe I’d stick to for the rest of my life!

  7. Hi Pati,
    I am looking forward to trying the churros. My 4 year old grandson spent a week with me in Isla Mujeres and we had some crispy on the outside, soft on the inside churros. Loved them. I wanted to say how much I look forward to your shows. I love how much you love the food and how lovingly you describe the cooking. I also love that you actually eat and enjoy your food. Thanks for a great way to spend Saturday mornings on PBS.

    1. Hi Sandra, Thank you so much for watching and for taking a minute to write to me! We eat this food all the time in my home, and it is my pleasure to share it with you. I hope the churros live up to the ones from Isla Mujeres…you will have to let me know!

  8. I love this show!! I learn a lot and look forward to trying some of your recipes. I seen this episode, but I can’t seem to find the caramel sauce recipe you made in the copper pot.

  9. I love Churros! I get them every time I go out and now thanks to you I get to make them on my own! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  10. It calls for vegetable oil for frying plus 1/4 cup, then it only calls for 2 tablespoons to go in the dough. Is that right; just 2 tablespoons?

  11. Pati,
    I am always excited to try your recipes. They are all very good. I thought the authentic churro had queso fresco finely crumbled in the batter. Is that correct?

  12. YUM!I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Thank you, to you and your sons, for perfecting the recipe 🙂
    Churros were my favorite treat during my childhood, when my mom would take us to Ciudad Juárez to shop and visit family. I’m with you, I prefer the traditional plain ones vs. the filled;)

  13. All of the other churro recipes that I’ve seen are made with a cream puff dough. Basically the same but with eggs. I guess they aren’t authentic. I can make these when I have a sweet tooth but no eggs! Thank you Pati..

      1. Thank you Pati. Lol I made them with the 2 tablespoons and they weren’t that good. Texture and density was wrong. I will try again with the 1/4 cup.

          1. I ate them anyway too. I was in the mood for something crispy fried so they still worked 🙂