Churros: What are the and Where did they come from?

by Rianna Hill on Dec 10, 2023

Churros: What are the and Where did they come from?

An Introduction to Churros

If you are a big fan of county fairs, amusement parks, or have shopped at Costco, then you have likely heard of or seen a churro before. Churros are the ultimate fun food, often served with a chocolate dipping sauce and lots of cinnamon sugar. They are buttery, sweet, soft, and crunchy making for a great snack or dessert!

So, what is a churro? Churros are fried strips of dough similar to a funnel cake or doughnut, but in a different shape and without any glaze. They resemble stick pretzels and come in standard varieties like cinnamon, chocolate drizzled with honey, or dusted with sugar. This fried dough makes an unforgettable impression on you even if you do not have a sweet tooth. Besides its satisfying deliciousness, the origin of this delicious dessert is as complex as its texture.

Churros were popularized by the Spanish who called them “little curls”. You will also find some roots of the churro in China as well as in Latin American countries such as Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Venezuela. This wider variety of origins led to a breadth of different churros recipes, serving styles, coating, fillings, and dipping sauces.


The History of the Churro

Churros as we know them today were invented in Valencia, Spain. The city is in the Mediterranean, where the climate is warm and the ingredients for this dessert are readily available. Churros have been a part of Spanish culture since the 16th century.

The recipe for these pastries is not well-documented, but some clues offer insight into its origin. The name “Churra,” or "little curls" likely refer to the shape of the dough strips and not the curl shape they form when deep fried.

This is from the theory that the Spanish nomadic shepherds used flour, water, and oil to make a dough that would last for weeks. This was important since they could not often access fresh foods and many ingredients were not readily available. The name "Churro" is inspired by the shapes of the horns of sheep, called "Churra."

It is also claimed that Churros were inspired by a Chinese pastry called "Youtiao", which is also fried in oil and has a similar exterior to churros. This pastry was salty and often eaten as breakfast in Chinese cuisine.


Churros Around the World

Regardless of when and where the churro originated, it is believed that the Spanish and Portuguese introduced the treat to Latin America. The recipe for this delectable dish, how it is served, and the fillings or sauces it comes with vary from location to location. 

In Cuba, the Churro is loaded with guava because the Caribbean region has an abundance of fresh tropical fruits. 

The churro is frequently filled with Dulce de Leche, a rich caramel sauce, and is often served with an espresso after dinner as a dessert in Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. In Uruguay, a variation of the churro is made as a savory churro, filled with cheese and served as an appetizer. 

The popularized churro in America is more of a fair food, served at carnivals, amusement parks, and fairgrounds alongside funnel cakes and kettle corn.

Interested in learning more about Churros? 

Check out our cookbook here or try your hand at making some at home with our churro maker!

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