Churros are a beloved fried dough snack that originated in Spain and Portugal. Their distinctive ridged, star-shaped exterior and soft, sugary interior make them an irresistible treat. However, churros can be tricky to make at home. With so many steps involved in preparing the dough, frying them just right, and getting the coating of cinnamon sugar perfect, there are ample opportunities for mistakes. Avoid churro catastrophes with this guide to the biggest no-nos when making churros.
Using the Wrong Equipment
Having the proper tools is essential for churro success. Here are some key pieces of equipment not to substitute when making churros:
This tool extrudes the dough into the signature churro shape. It has a nozzle with a star-shaped opening to form the ridges as the dough is squeezed out. Trying to simply pipe the dough through a round tip will not achieve the proper ridged texture. Invest in a churrera for perfectly grooved churros.
Churros must be fried at a consistent high temperature to cook them through without absorbing too much oil. A deep fryer allows you to maintain the ideal 350-375°F temperature. Frying in just a pot of oil on the stove will lead to uneven cooking and greasy churros.
A candy thermometer is a must for monitoring the oil temperature. As the churros fry, the temperature will drop, so you need to keep a close eye on it and adjust the heat accordingly. Guessing the temperature will likely lead to oil that is too hot or too cold.
Using the Wrong Ingredients
Churros require a precise ratio of ingredients in the dough. Avoid these ingredient substitutions:
The dough needs the higher gluten content of bread flour to achieve the right elastic, chewy texture. All-purpose flour will make the dough too crumbly.
Butter contains water and milk solids that can inhibit the dough from frying up nicely. Stick to vegetable or canola oil.
Superfine sugar is ideal for dissolving smoothly into the dough. Granulated sugar will leave unpleasant large grains and grittiness.
A pinch of salt is necessary to balance and enhance the sweetness. Skipping it makes the churros one-dimensionally sweet.
Improperly Mixing the Dough
Churro dough requires careful mixing to properly hydrate and activate the gluten. Here are some mixing mistakes to avoid:
Excessive beating develops too much gluten, leading to tough churros. Mix just until a smooth dough forms.
Not mixing enough fails to adequately hydrate and distribute the ingredients. The dough will remain shaggy and dry.
Not Letting It Rest
After mixing, the dough needs to rest for at least 30 minutes. This allows the flour to fully absorb the liquid and the gluten to relax. Skipping this step will prevent the dough from frying nicely.
Using the Wrong Frying Oil
Churros absorb flavor from the oil they’re fried in, so choose wisely:
The flavor and low smoke point make olive oil a poor choice. It will impart an unwelcome greasy and bitter taste.
Shortening cannot get hot enough to properly fry churros. The dough will absorb too much fat and turn greasy.
Previously used oil will make churros greasy and impart unpleasant burnt flavors. Always fry in fresh, clean oil.
Frying at the Wrong Temperature
Maintaining the oil temperature in the ideal 350-375°F range is imperative. What happens if you don’t?
Overheated oil will burn the exterior before the interior cooks through, leaving you with blackened, raw churro centers.
Churros fried at too low of a temperature will be pale, soggy, and oily instead of beautifully browned and crispy.
Letting the temperature fluctuate wildly gives uneven results. Some churros will be burnt while others are pale and limp.
Improper Frying Time and Method
You have to fry churros just right to achieve the ideal balance of crispy exterior and tender interior. Avoid these frying mistakes:
Not Fry in Small Batches
Frying too many churros at once causes the temperature to drop drastically. They will wind up greasy and underdone. Fry 4-5 at a time.
Like frying too many, clustering churros too close together prevents them from frying evenly. Leave space around each for even cooking.
Churros need to be flipped halfway through frying to cook both sides. Skipping this leaves one side pale and soggy.
Not frying long enough (under 2-3 minutes total) will leave the centers undercooked and doughy.
Frying for too long risks burning the exterior and drying out the interior. Remove when just lightly golden brown.
Improper Cooling Method
Properly cooling churros locks in the ideal texture. The wrong cooling method gives you:
Leaving churros in a pile traps steam, causing them to get soggy and lose their crunch. Cool individually on a rack.
Letting the interior steam remain trapped gives you an unpleasant gummy texture inside. Allow them to fully cool before eating.
Poor Coating Adhesion
Dunking in cinnamon sugar before sufficiently cooling prevents it from properly sticking. Let them cool slightly before coating.
Using the Wrong Coating
Churros get their classic flavor, aroma, and sweetness from being rolled in cinnamon sugar after frying. Watch out for these coating blunders:
Plain sugar gives you one-dimensional sweetness. The cinnamon provides a vital boost of warmth and aromatic spice.
Just cinnamon imparts an unpleasantly dusty and dry flavor. The sugar is needed to balance it out with sweetness.
Too Much Cinnamon
Excess cinnamon overpowers the pastry and eliminates the subtlety. Use a 10:1 sugar to cinnamon ratio.
Lumps of dry cinnamon sugar will not properly adhere to the churros. Always sift to avoid clumps.
Serving Churros Incorrectly
Even after mastering the frying, you can still mess up at the end by serving churros improperly:
Sitting Too Long
Letting churros sit for too long before serving causes them to lose their irresistible warmth and crispness. Serve immediately.
Stacking churros too densely traps steam and removes the perfect crispy exterior. Allow space for air circulation.
No Dipping Sauce
They need a sauce for dipping! Warm chocolate, caramel, or dulce de leche sauce takes them to the next level.
Avoiding these all-too-common mistakes will help you achieve churro glory. With the right equipment, ingredients, frying method, and serving style, you can create perfect churros with delightfully crispy ridged edges and pillowy, sugary interiors. What are you waiting for? Grab a churrera and satisfy your churro craving!