Churros, a Spanish Tradition


The first churro shops appeared in Spain in the 19th century

An essential element to Spanish cuisine, churros are a favorite breakfast and snack for both children and adults alike. You simply can’t beat some fresh churros and hot chocolate on a cold, rainy morning, though they can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

The History of Churros

There is plenty of debate regarding the origin of churros, given that different versions of the food exist in a variety of distinct cuisines. One of the most popular theories is that they were invented in China, where they are referred to as “you taio”. They were then brought to Europe by Portuguese sailors upon their return to the continent.

However, they can also be attributed to ancient Arab civilizations, whose “buñuelos”, something similar to a fried donut, are extremely similar to churros. Whatever their origin may be, churros have always been very important in Spain, starting with the nomadic shepherds that lived in the mountains who prepared them very often thanks to their few ingredients and simple preparation. 

Ever since churros became popular in Spain, they have formed a part of Spaniard’s diets. Though the profession of “churrero”, or churro maker, already existed in the 17th century, “churrerías”, shops dedicated to selling churros, began to appear in Spain around the 19th century. Madrid’s most famous churro locale, San Ginés, opened its doors in 1894, and it remains an obligatory stop for visitors and residents of the capital, where you can enjoy churros or porras with hot chocolate at any hour of the day or night.

Churros have also gained plenty of fame outside of Spain and can be found around the world. In Mexico, where they are very common, they are usually covered in sugar. They are also very popular in Southeast Asia, primarily Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

How to Make Homemade Churros

It is no challenge to get your hands on churros in Spain, thanks to the fact that they can be ordered in practically any bar or the numerous “churrerías” found in cities around the country. However, they are relatively easy to prepare at home, given that the only ingredients they require are flour, water, salt, oil, and sugar.

Simply boil 250 g of water with a teaspoon of salt, and once hot, mix in 250 g of flour. With a wooden spoon, mix the dough, which will get quite sticky and gooey. Meanwhile, coat the base of a frying pan with an abundant amount of mild olive oil or vegetable oil (it should reach 200 degrees).  

Pass the dough through a “churrera” or pastry piping bag, let it fall onto a clean surface, and cut to desired length. Cook the churros over medium heat until fully cooked on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Let rest on a plate covered with paper towel to allow excess oil to drain off. Sprinkle with sugar or powdered sugar before serving.

Enjoy your churros with hot chocolate, coffee, or on their own. What’s certain is that they will always be one of the most satisfying breakfasts or snacks.

For another delicious treat, check out this article on everything that you need to know about pastry cream.

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