Churros are a popular fried dough pastry that originated in Spain and Portugal. They are made by deep frying a dough made from flour, water and salt into long sticks that are often coated in sugar or cinnamon sugar. Churros are a beloved snack and street food in Spain and Portugal, where they have been eaten for centuries. They are also popular in Latin America, the Philippines and even parts of the United States. But what place is really known for churros?
Spain is often considered the birthplace of churros and is strongly associated with this pastry. Churros are believed to have originated in Spain possibly as far back as the 16th or 17th century. Shepherds in the mountains of Spain are said to have made the first churros by frying dough in oil over a fire. The unique shape of churros, long sticks or loops, was well suited for shepherds who needed a snack that was easy to carry and eat on the go.
Churros quickly became popular across Spain and Portugal. In Spain, churros are sold from churrerías, shops or stands that specialize specifically in churros. Churrerías often serve churros with a cup of thick hot chocolate for dipping, creating the quintessential churros experience. Churrerías are most active in the morning for breakfast or snacks. The combination of churros con chocolate can be found all over Spain, from small towns to large cities like Madrid and Barcelona.
Even today, churros remain an integral part of breakfast and snacking culture in Spain. They are sold daily at cafes, bakeries, fairs and street vendors across the country. Spanish churros are typically thicker and less crispy than Mexican variations, with a denser dough interior. In Spain, churros are often coated simply in granulated sugar rather than cinnamon sugar. Eating churros is considered a beloved custom and part of everyday Spanish life.
In Portugal, churros are known as filhozes or filhós. Portuguese-style churros are very similar to the churros found in neighboring Spain. They are long, fried dough pastries that can be rolled in sugar. Filhozes are commonly eaten at cafes, fairs and roadside vendors as a snack or dessert. As in Spain, they are also frequently accompanied by a cup of Portuguese hot chocolate for dipping.
The tradition of churros in Portugal extends back centuries, possibly even longer than their history in Spain. Portuguese filhozes are thought to have originated as early as the 15th century before becoming popular in Spain. Churros were likely brought over to Spain from Portugal as part of the personal union of the two kingdoms under the Iberian Union from 1580 to 1640.
Nowadays, churros remain popular at cafes across Portugal. They are a staple food item every summer at the festivals of saints or holy days known as Festas Populares Portuguesas. Portuguese churros may be thinner than the Spanish variety and are sometimes rolled in a mix of sugar and cinnamon. Overall, the churros tradition in Portugal is extremely similar to that found in neighboring Spain.
While Spain and Portugal may be the original home of churros, churros have actually become an equally important part of breakfast and food culture in Mexico. The churros tradition was brought over to Mexico by Spanish colonizers in the 16th century. Since then, churros have become deeply ingrained in daily life across Mexico with some variations from the original Spanish style.
In Mexico, churros are long fried dough sticks that are rolled in cinnamon sugar rather than plain sugar as commonly found in Spain. Mexican churros are also typically thinner, crispier and crunchier than the thicker, softer Spanish versions. In Mexico, churros are often enjoyed with warm dipping sauces such as chocolate, dulce de leche or cajeta instead of plain hot chocolate. Street vendors sell churros from carts or stalls in markets and parks to be enjoyed as snacks.
Churros are eaten throughout Mexico, but are especially popular for breakfast in Mexico City. In the capital, many locals start their mornings with churros dipped in hot chocolate or café de olla, a cinnamon-infused coffee. Churrerías and street vendors offer fresh churros all morning long. World-famous churro shops like El Moro in Mexico City have been serving churros for generations. Outside of breakfast, churros are commonly served at celebrations like birthdays or weddings as well. The ubiquity of churros across Mexico today shows how they have become a cherished part of Mexican cuisine and culture.
In the Philippines, churros are known as “churros con yelo” or “churros con tsokolate.” Churros were introduced to the Philippines in the late 1800s during the Spanish colonial period. Since then, they have evolved into a popular local snack and breakfast food especially in urban areas.
Filipino churros tend to be light and thin, crispy on the outside but fluffy inside. They are typically fried until golden brown and then rolled in white sugar rather than cinnamon sugar. In the Philippines, churros are enjoyed either with frozen yogurt called “yelo” or with thick Filipino hot chocolate known as “tsokolate.” Some shops even offer churros served with ice cream.
In the Philippines, churros vendors can be found in public markets, street carts or franchised stores. Two popular nationwide churros chains are Churrumais and El Churros. Churros con yelo is a common snack for kids after school on hot days. It also makes a frequent breakfast pairing and afternoon merienda or snack. Overall, churros are beloved in the Philippines for their sweet, fried goodness and accessibility from so many vendors.
In the U.S., churros are most popular in states with historic ties to Spain and Mexico. Areas like California, Texas, New Mexico and Florida offer plenty of restaurants, food trucks and festivals serving churros. At Disney theme parks, churro carts are located throughout for a signature American amusement park snack.
The churro tradition arrived in the Southwestern U.S. from Mexico in the early 1900s. Today, many Mexican immigrants and Americans of Mexican descent sell homemade churros from street carts or food trucks, maintaining their heritage. Major cities with strong Hispanic communities like Los Angeles, Albuquerque and Miami have popular churros spots. Some are simple street vendors while others are brick-and-mortar cafes.
In the U.S., churros are most often thin, crisp and cinnamon-coated in the Mexican style rather than the thicker Spanish variety. American churro lovers have also innovated with flavors like chocolate, strawberry and churro ice cream sandwiches. Sweetened condensed milk is sometimes offered as an alternative dipping sauce beyond chocolate. Churros are showing up more and more across the U.S. at county and state fairs, carnivals and festival food stalls as well.
While many places around the world have embraced churros, the origins of this delicious fried pastry can be traced back to Spain and Portugal. Churros remain an integral part of the culture, cuisine and daily life in both of these Iberian nations where they first began centuries ago. Mexico also adopted churros into their own classic breakfast traditions with some variations like cinnamon sugar. The Philippines put their own twist on churros after they were brought over in the colonial period from Spain. And in parts of the U.S. with Hispanic communities, churros vendors help keep this fried dough tradition alive and well. So while you can now find churros all over the world, the places most synonymous with churros are Spain, Portugal and Mexico.
- Churros likely originated in Spain or Portugal as early as the 15th or 16th centuries.
- Churros remain an integral part of daily life and culture in Spain and Portugal today.
- Mexico has also adopted churros into their cuisine with some variations like cinnamon sugar coating.
- The Philippines developed their own churros traditions after being introduced during Spanish colonial rule.
- In the U.S., churros are popular in areas with Hispanic communities, especially the Southwest.
- While churros have gone global, Spain, Portugal and Mexico remain most closely associated with this fried dough delicacy.
Where to Enjoy Authentic Churros
If you want to taste some of the best, most authentic churros out there, consider visiting any of these top destinations:
- Madrid, Spain – Churrerías offer churros con chocolate all over the city.
- Lisbon, Portugal – Pastelarias serve churros alongside coffee for breakfast.
- Mexico City, Mexico – Try famous churros spots like El Moro or Churrería El Moro.
- Manila, Philippines – Look for churros vendors in public markets or malls.
- Los Angeles/San Diego, California – Check out churros food trucks or joints like Xurro in L.A.
- San Antonio, Texas – Hit up churros cafes like Mr. Churro.
Of course, great churros can be found in many more cities around the world too. But visiting the countries that invented churros remains a special experience for any churros lover. The next time you’re craving that perfect blend of crispy, fried dough and cinnamon sugar, consider a trip to churros’ ancestral home for an authentic taste of one of the world’s most beloved snacks.