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In our quest for the best churro recipe, I quickly realized this would be a challenge–because I don’t think a bad churro really exists. While I fear this may not be the most helpful bake off (my reaction to all: “yum!”), I hope this will help break down at least a few options. And hopefully this test will help you pick the best version to make at home!
METHODOLOGY // RESULTS // FACTORS // ANALYSIS // RECOMMENDATIONS
- 16 total tasters
- All doughs were prepared the day of the tasting
- Each recipe was fried fresh right before tasting in a deep fryer
- Churros were piped using a 1M tip in a tipless piping bag (but you can use any large open star tip)
- All tasters ranked each churro on a scale from 0-10 for overall flavor and texture
- Ingredients were measured by weight according to King Arthur
- Gold Medal bleached all-purpose flour
- Unsalted Land O Lakes butter
- Nielsen Massey vanilla extract
- Bob’s Red Mill baking powder and soda
- Diamond kosher salt
- Imperial granulated sugar
PARTNER NOTE: I’m delighted to be partnering with Imperial Sugar on this bake off as I’ve consistently used their consistent, high-quality pure cane sugar products throughout my bake offs. Imperial Sugar is non-GMO verified, allergen free and gluten-free!
For more sweet inspiration, you can visit Imperial Sugar to find more than 4,000 expert-tested recipes, free downloadable vintage cookbooks, sugar scrubs and bath products at the Sugar Spa, and lots of helpful guides on their blog. You can also check out their Pinterest, You Tube, Instagram for even more recipe inspiration!
What is a churro?
Churros are essentially a stick of fried dough, typically rolled in sugar or cinnamon sugar (more on the difference between Spanish vs. Mexican churros below). While some churro recipes are eggless, most churro recipes with egg uses a dough that follows the same method as making pâte à choux or choux pastry:
- Water and butter are brought to a boil (what I’ll refer to as the “boiling liquid” later in the post–sometimes vanilla or salt may be added at this point)
- Flour is stirred in and cooked briefly on the stovetop to help gelatinize the starches in the flour to provide structure
- After cooling slightly, eggs are stirred in at the end
Choux pastry does not use any chemical leaveners (baking powder, baking soda)–rather, it relies on eggs or the steam trapped in the gelatinized starch for leavening power.
What is a Spanish churro vs. a Mexican churro?
Where did churros come from? Salt and Wind cites that they may have actually originated in China with explorers taking inspiration from fried youtiao crullers back to Iberia. Others say that churros may have originated from Spanish shepherds who invented the fried dough since they lacked access to bakeries.
In any case, here are a few differences:
- Mexico churros: typically rolled in cinnamon sugar
- Spanish churros: can be rolled in plain sugar (or no sugar at all) and are often served with a thick drinking chocolate
- Egg content: Some say that Spanish-style churros tend to be eggless while Mexican churros include egg
- Fun fact: porras are a Spanish variation that involves adding baking soda and letting the dough rise before frying. This yields a thicker end result (more similar to what we’d see in the US), typically without as many ridges and a little softer than a churro
For the sake of variety, I tried 3 eggless churro recipes and 6 recipes that included egg. In the style of Mexican churros, all churros were rolled in cinnamon sugar.
While I have eaten numerous churros in both Mexico (Mexico City) and Spain (Barcelona), I try to steer clear of naming which churros I think are the most “authentic” since I’m really not an expert. The only churros I’m an expert on are the ones from Costco.
This is another bake off (fry off) where I truly believe every churro would be a standalone hit. This fry off also had a particularly small sample size (i.e. less reliable data), so check out the deeper analysis to find the recipe that’s right for you!
I’ll also note that while I have a decent amount of deep frying, I would not say it’s a specialty of mine. Any variations in the rankings could definitely be due to my frying errors rather than the recipe itself.
Factors in the Churro Rankings
- Egg vs. no egg: Churros made with no egg generally leads to a crunchier dough whereas recipes with egg had more richness, puff, and a more custardy interior. Eggs also serve as a leavener, so the churros with egg were generally thicker and puffier than those without egg. Recipe Tin Eats is one exception–it uses baking powder as a leavener, resulting in a thick churro that could rival some of the egg churros. More egg = thicker churros.
- Butter vs. oil: While the majority of churro recipes use butter in the dough (like a classic choux pastry), All Recipes and Recipe Tin Eats used vegetable oil in the dough and both recipes were rated lower than others. While there many confounding factors that could have led to this result, it does make sense that tasters favored churros with more butter flavor.
- Sugar: I found that recipes with sugar in the dough (Isabel Eats, Leite’s Culinaria, Bon Appetit, All Recipes) tended to brown much faster than those without during the frying process. (This is because the sugar is basically caramelizing during the frying process.) If you prefer the aesthetic of a darker churro, choose a recipe with sugar or add a little sugar to the batter! You can get a darker color by frying longer/hotter, but sugar will get you there faster and without the risk of overfrying the churro exterior and leaving the inside raw.
- Vanilla: Vanilla was incorporated into these churro recipes two ways: adding vanilla extract to the boiling water (A Cozy Kitchen, Isabel Eats, Mexico in My Kitchen) or via vanilla bean (Bon Appetit). While vanilla beans are expensive, I found this really paid off–there was a way more prominent vanilla flavor in the BA churros. With the recipes that called for vanilla extract in the boiling liquid, I feel like the vanilla flavor mostly cooked off. (Generally you should not heat vanilla extract as the alcohol and flavor will cook off.)
- Cinnamon: Personally, I think you get plenty of cinnamon flavor from the roll in cinnamon sugar. I don’t think it’s necessary to add ground cinnamon in the dough or to steep a cinnamon stick in the boiling liquid. Most tasters could not detect the difference.
- Liquid ratio: Churros with a higher ratio of liquid like water (Leite’s Culinaria) or even butter/egg (Bon Appetit/A Cozy Kitchen) had a higher-hydration dough. This generally seemed to lead to churros with a more custardy interior.
Best Churro Recipes Video Review
Analysis of the Best Churro Recipes
Recipe Tin Eats: a beginner-friendly churro dough with a straightforward flavor
Recipe Tin Eats had by far the easiest churro dough! Made with just flour, baking powder, salt, oil and boiling water, this was the only dough that didn’t call for being cooked on the stove like a traditional choux dough. This was also one of three eggless recipes. Instead of relying on eggs as the leavener, this recipe adding baking powder (the only recipe to add a chemical leavener).
Ultimately, these churros had surprisingly good fluff compared to other eggless churros. They took quite a long time to brown and cook through for me, resulting in very crispy edges and less of a tender middle compared to others. If you’re really nit picking, this churro had slightly less flavor compared to some others. If you’re short on time, this is a great recipe to try. But if you’re willing to put in just a little more effort, I’d encourage you to try a recipe with a cooked dough!
- Love the crispiness but I’m missing the chew
- Texture is super crunch, flavor a bit lacking. I would dip it in something happily
- Harder texture, felt like the doughy center was missing here. Could only taste the outside sugar coating. Overall a good churro, but didn’t love as much as the others.
All Recipes: a thin but sturdy, extremely crispy churro with a heavy sugar covering
Another eggless recipe, All Recipes was another simple churro dough. It’s relatively similar to Recipe Tin Eats except that the dough gets cooked on the stove. The dough also incorporates sugar, which I think helped these churros start to brown as soon as they hit the oil. These fried up incredibly crispy, sturdy and a little chewy, but with less of the tender interior compared to most others.
Interestingly, tasters consistently commented that these were SUPER crunchy–and in several cases, they were too crunchy. I didn’t know “too sugary” was a thing, but some commented that these had too much sugar. So if you like skinny, super crispy churros without too much of the doughy center, these are the ones for you!
- It was too crunchy. Cinnamon level good. Hard to taste the flavor of the churro itself. The center was “empty”. Felt like it was just a crunch and not much of a doughy center that I personally look for
- Too crunchy, too much sugar, but good taste!
- A little too crunchy for my taste but so delicious
- These are the most like what I’ve had before; maybe a tad less cinnamon would be more my preference; more dense/sturdy/crispy than others
A Cozy Kitchen: poofy, fluffy, light, melt-in-your-mouth, slightly eggy and lightly bready churro
Adrianna’s recipe comes closest to a traditional choux pastry dough with 1.5 cups flour, 1 cup water, 1 stick of butter and 4 eggs (the highest ratio of eggs). With so much egg, these churros immediately inflated into poofy specimans once in the oil. Their lightness and beautifully defined ridges almost remind me of crullers. With lightly crisp edges, these churros had a generous amount of fluffy, lightly chewy interior.
I think these proved a little more divisive because some enjoyed the bready interior whereas others didn’t. This also had a slightly eggier flavor compared to others (but quite subtle). This was one of my favorites texturally! Even without sugar in the dough, these browned to a light golden color fairly evenly/quickly.
- Crispy and airy all around, I’m a fan.
- Not as much of a crunchy bite initially but super light texture overall and makes for a super tasty mouthfeel overall. The coating is heavier on the cinnamon which I personally love.
- Very crisp outside, but I want more cinnamon and sweetness. And I’d prefer a slightly denser inside
- A little soft, eggy/bland taste to this one
Disney: crunchy edged, soft-middled churros with a sugary coating that lacks cinnamon
These churros are similar to A Cozy Kitchen but with slightly less flour, 1 less egg and a tiny bit of cinnamon in the dough. These churros didn’t have sugar in the dough and for me, they took a longer time to brown and cook through. Ultimately, they ended up with a nice crunch on the outside with an airy, custardy interior.
I suspect that keeping a high ratio of butter but lowering the egg slightly boosted these above A Cozy Kitchen because these tasted slightly less eggy and a little more airy instead of bready. These were one of the lightest in terms of cinnamon flavor, but that’s easy to fix by adding more cinnamon to taste.
- Melts in your mouth but wish it was more crisp and had more cinnamon
- First one to have a distinctly lighter color. Has a super nice crunch, almost a crust with a good eggy dough. I am missing some cinnamon in the coating and the super fine sugar makes for a sweeter taste
- Kinda bready? Flavor is mostly sugar, would like more cinnamon
- This tasted too eggy for me. A+ texture and airiness but couldn’t get over the egg
- Perfect texture but dough was a little bland
Leite’s Culinaria: very thin churros with a high hydration that leads to very custardy interiors
This recipe intrigued me as it was the only recipe to have a higher than 1:1 ratio of water to flour. The batter was on the looser side, but it wasn’t significantly wetter than others. (It did have a lower amount of butter, which brought the liquid amount back down to a similar level with recipes that used more butter). These churros browned quickly in the oil thanks to the sugar in the batter, but they took a long time to cook through. Even once I thought they were done, they still seemed quite raw on the inside.
While the churros did set up after a few minutes with beautifully crispy exteriors, these remained one of the most custardy insides. This could be a sign that my oil was too hot when frying (the outside will cook faster, leaving a raw inside), but I think this was also a result of the high hydration dough. If you are just starting out with deep frying, I would recommend trying a different dough because this was one of the trickier doughs to work with.
- Great crunch on the outside, almost too doughy in the center
- Too skinny but crispy
- A little on the thin side, but otherwise so balanced!! If bigger, it would be the perfect churro. I like the crisp to doughy ratio and the cinnamon to sugar ratio.
- Much thinner than the other ones but the crisp is worth it. Nice custardy middle that balances well with the outer crunch. The cinnamon sugar is nice but the texture wins anyway.
- Was there custard in the middle? This one tasted creamier, but had a good outside crunch.
Mexico in My Kitchen: beautifully crispy, thin churros that hold their shape well
With a lower proportion of egg, these churros were relatively skinny compared to others. Without sugar in the dough, these also took quite a while to gain even a light golden color in the oil. These had a lower proportion of wet ingredients overall, so these had a drier interior and led to a very crisp and structured churro.
These were quite similar in taste and texture to All Recipes but have just a little more of a chewy center. These also had a more picturesque shape and retained a much lighter color no matter how high I turned up the temperature on the frying oil. (The recipe just specifies “sugar to dust”–I used about 1/2 cup + 1 tsp cinnamon.)
- Mild flavor, not too sweet. Perfect doughy center. Could use slightly more flavor
- A little soft and flavor wasn’t my favorite
- Great crispiness, nice doughy center. But could use more flavor
- Good crispy bite but the middle is a little soggy still. Heavy cinnamon sugar ratio so a little extra sweet than I love.
- I love the nice crispness on the outside for this one with a good heavier inside.
Isabel Eats: a beautifully browned churro with a crisp exterior and airy, chewy middle
Like Mexico in My Kitchen, Isabel Eats uses a lower amount of butter (3 tbsp) but adding an additional egg allows it to poof up into a thicker churro. The addition of 2 tablespoons of sugar in the dough also helped get a deep brown exterior color.
Both texturally and flavor-wise, these reminded me a lot of Disney, but with a darker color and slightly more crisp. Several tasters commented that this reminded them most of churros they’d had in Mexico, and I would agree. These struck a great balance with a shatteringly crispy exterior, custardy interior and a decent amount of chew. While I wished for slightly more cinnamon flavor, there were otherwise one of my favorites!
- This had the perfect flavor, perfect texture–crisp exterior and so airy and fluffy inside
- Fav one, perfect amount of sugar, not too “fried” tasting
- Good crunchy texture balanced with a nice soft middle. Not as creamy but nice and doughy. Sweeter than I like and i missed more cinnamon
- Reminds me of El Moro churros
- Crispy, sugary outside; I wish it had a bit of cinnamon but it does remind me of the ones we used to get at the fair in Mexico
My Latina Table: an extraordinarily crunchy churro with heavy cinnamon flavor
This recipe was the only one to steep a cinnamon stick in the boiling liquid. People did praise this recipe for the very cinnamon-forward flavor, but that could be because the cinnamon sugar had one of the highest ratios of cinnamon to sugar. Basically: I don’t think I’d go to the trouble of sourcing a cinnamon stick just for this recipe, though I’m sure it doesn’t hurt!
Interestingly, this churro is nearly identical to All Recipes except that it uses butter instead of oil and doesn’t have sugar in the dough. As an eggless churro, it’s on the slender side and is deeply crunchy with less of the chewy/custardy interior. Although I wished it was slightly thicker, this did remind me of the street churros I tried in Mexico and I loved the crunchiness!
- Really cinnamon heavy which I love. Good crisp exterior. My current favorite!
- Super crunchy, super deep flavors, can taste a bit more of the oil than the ones before. Sugar level is perfect and overall a great bite.
- Amazing crunch. A little oily, but in a good way. The cinnamon to churro ratio was also on point.
- The outside is too crispy/thick but I loved the soft inside.
- Great crispiness. Great flavor. Great sugar topping. Would prefer a thicker churro to help differentiate the churro dough flavor and sugar.
Bon Appetit: a vanilla-infused churro with an airy, deeply custardy interior
It’s rare that I’ll make the investment to source a pricey vanilla bean for a recipe, but this is an application where it really makes a difference. While other recipes incorporated extract into the boiling liquid, steeping the pod in the liquid (and then scraping the seeds out) infused the dough with a far more powerful vanilla flavor. Coupled with a moist, custardy interior surrounded by a lightly crisp, deeply bronzed exterior, these churros are definitely the bougiest but worth the effort. (If you’re looking for a deeply crunchy churro, look elsewhere.) The vanilla bean is key to the flavor!
I do have two notes on this recipe: it recommends a closed tip, but I think an open tip is easier to use. The recipe also specifies using organic sugar to better stick to the churros (“conventional granulated is too fine and raw sugar is too coarse”). I actually found that this sugar tended to absorb more oil and clump faster than the granulated sugar used with all other churros. If you prefer a less sugary covering, I can see why you might prefer the larger grains of organic sugar. Personally, I preferred the dense covering of conventional, smaller-grained sugar.
- Soft and crispy at the same time with great vanilla flavoring; I’m a fan!
- A little creamier than I like but such good flavor!!
- Creamy inside with a good ‘deep fried’ flavor, nice crunch on all the edges. Good balance of sugar and cinnamon overall. *chefs kiss*
- The inside is very airy and the outside is crunchy but not hard. Love!!
- Amazing. Great flavor. Very crisp on the outside. Soft and airy inside.
- Super gooey but in a good way. Best coating
- I’m missing the density. Almost too light and airy
Tips for Making the Best Churros
- Afraid of deep frying? I was too! Here are 5 great tips to follow in case you’re a beginner. If you’re scared to pipe churros directly into the oil, you can also pipe them onto squares of parchment paper. All you’ll need to do is lower each churro-topped square into the oil and fish out the parchment paper with tongs!
- Use a large open star tip: Some recommended tips I saw: 1M, 1/4″/6mm open star tip, Ateco Silver 5/845. I used 1M tips paired with tipless piping bags. Here’s how to use a tipless piping bag.
- Make sure your oil is hot: I tended to keep the temperature between 350-375 degrees F. If you stick the tip of a wooden spoon in the oil, a small stream of bubbles should come off of it. If the oil is too cold when you start frying, your churros will absorb more oil and can tend to be greasy. On the other hand, if the oil is too hot, it can lead to the outside cooking faster than the inside, leading to a raw interior and brown exterior. Adding churro dough to the oil will bring down the temperature, so just monitor and adjust as you go!
- No scissors? No problem! I used a small knife to cut each churro off the piping tip into the oil. Make sure to keep the tip low to the surface of the oil to avoid splashing.
- Can I use reusable piping bags? Please! I generally avoid piping because I hate throwing away the plastic bags. But this looks like a great reusable option. You can also use a decorating applicator as long as you can fit an open star tip on it!
- What’s the best cinnamon-sugar combination for churros? Generally 1/2 cup of sugar is enough to roll a churro recipe that uses about 1 cup of flour. Tasters generally seemed to like a ratio of 1/2 cup sugar to 1-1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon.
- Can you refrigerate churro dough? Typically yes, you can make churro dough ahead of time and refrigerate it. You can fry refrigerated dough straight from the fridge. However, if you’re using a stiffer/low hydration dough, it may be difficult to pipe when cold. Letting the dough sit out for 30 minutes at room temperature may make it easier to pipe.
- What can I do with extra churro dough? Try making cream puffs! As long as you used a recipe that is similar to pâte à choux (i.e. the dough was cooked on the stove and contains eggs), you should be able to get some passable cream puffs. I piped blobs of extra dough and baked them for about 25 minutes at 350, then 15 minutes at 325 (instructions per my favorite cream puff maker) until they looked dry and puffed.
My personal picks: Bon Appetit flavor-wise, A Cozy Kitchen texture-wise. Isabel Eats overall-wise.
Best thin and crunchy churros: Mexico in My Kitchen, Leite’s Culinaria, All Recipes
Best thick and crispy churros: Isabel Eats, My Latina Table
Best thick and fluffy churros: A Cozy Kitchen, Disney, Bon Appetit
Best easy recipe: Recipe Tin Eats
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I tried to cooked this when I wrote completed research papers for https://writingleader.com/research-papers and I can confirm it is soft and crunchy at the same time with a wonderful vanilla aroma. Very tasty!
Hello! Nice work! What oil did you used for frying the churros?
Hi there, I used vegetable oil for frying!