Eating Churros Is A Different Experience In Spain

If you love street fairs and snacks, chances are you've enjoyed a sugary, crispy, fried churro. In North America, churros are typically rolled in cinnamon-laced sugar, and might even be filled with pastry cream or sweet chocolate sauce. But when traveling around Spain, you'll encounter a very different churro with no sugary exterior, which is the original version of our indulgent delicacy. The dough may be shaped in coils, loops, or short sticks, served at street stands or cafés, and known by different regional names — all featuring the same delicious fried dough.

In Spain, there are restaurants devoted to serving churros, which are designed to be dipped into thick drinking chocolate or milky coffee for breakfast, along with street stalls serving up fresh churros to whisk home to share. Spaniards love their churros as much as North Americans do, and love to snack on them at street fairs and markets as well as restaurants. Although they might not be the churro you are familiar with, you'll fall in love with traditional Spanish churros!

The origins and traditions of churros in Spain

Recipes for the fried treat date back to at least the 12th century, long before chocolate arrived in Spain. Many sources say that the word churro comes from the Iberian word for the native Churra sheep because the pastry looks like a sheep's horn. Shepherds in pastures had the simple ingredients and could fry up a churro instead of baking bread. We don't know who first dipped a churro into hot chocolate, but the tradition of enjoying churros traveled all over the world with Spanish explorers.

The dough is a simple mix of flour, water, and salt, which makes a stiff batter that is best pressed out of a churrera, a cookie press-style gadget. One variation, the porra, has baking powder in the recipe, making the inside more fluffy but still crispy on the outside. Warm churros are enjoyed as a breakfast treat with coffee or chocolate for dipping. You'll find them served at chocolate shops with all the options for dunking, and street churro stands simply sell the pastry, ready to bring home or munch on the go. One more noticeable difference in Spain: you won't see churros on a dessert menu! Look for them mainly at breakfast-time.

Traditional Spanish churro flavors

Today, churro varieties are found all over the world, from Spain to Mexico and from Argentina to Cuba. You'll also find churros in the Philippines and Indonesia where they are called "Spanish doughnuts". Spanish churro dough is simply flour and water, but you may find more cake-like versions that include egg, sugar, and spices outside of Spain. As we've said, the dough in Spain is not intended to be sweet, so it contrasts when dunked in sweet café con leche or thick, rich drinking chocolate

While you might find churros filled with dulce de leche or with a mound of whipped cream outside of Spain, your Spanish churros will be served straight from the fryer, with a packet of sugar on the side if you choose to sprinkle it on before dipping in your coffee or chocolate. Enjoy the flavor and crunch of the original churro when you visit Spain, you'll be glad you did!