Discovering Churros: 20+ Insights into Their History and Culture

Have you ever wondered where the delicious churro originated from? Those divine strips of crispy, fried dough, dusted with sugar or cinnamon, had to come from somewhere. It may surprise you to learn that these crispy snacks are Spanish – they are, in fact, an integral part of Spanish culture. 

However, several stories surround the origin of Churros. Some claim Spanish shepherds invented them, while others believe they originated from the Chinese Youtiao. Many exciting facts encompass the history of these delightful snacks.

We cannot pinpoint the exact region from where Churros originated, given that they’ve existed for centuries. Stories exist that Spanish Shepherds invented Churros as the shape resembles the Churra sheep’s horns. Other theories indicate that Portuguese and Spanish sailors adopted the Chinese Youtiao recipe. 

Of all the crispy, fried dough delicacies, Churros are the most indulgent—and one that’s trending. Why? These delectable treats are narrow-shaped, making them the perfect easy-to-eat snack. With such a simple recipe—literally, a mixture of equal parts of flour and water, with a pinch of salt—yummy goodness can be achieved once the dough is deep-fried. Take a closer look at twenty-five of these fascinating facts. 

Table of Content

1. People sometimes refer to Churros as Spanish or Mexican doughnuts.  

Have you ever wondered why people sometimes refer to Churros as Spanish or Mexican doughnuts? It’s because they’re far more prevalent in these countries than in any other place. Any traveler heading to these countries is bound to come across these doughnut equivalents as you’ll find them practically anywhere – from local street vendors to posh cafés. 

2. Churros were filling food for Spanish shepherds. 

Some stories surround the nomadic Spanish shepherds. Since they had no access to bakeries, they were the ones who stumbled upon Churros. Spurred on by their hunger for bread, they created dough and fried it in a pan over a fire. This fried bread, which they called Churros, became filling food for them.  

3. The shape of a Churro is very similar in shape to the Churra sheep’s curly horns. 

A breed of sheep known as Navajo-Churro are descendants of the Churra sheep in the Iberian Peninsula. Navajo-Churro sheep have curly brown horns that resemble Churros, lending credibility to the fact that Spanish shepherds high up in these mountains who reared this breed of sheep may have invented Churros. 

4. A Porra (a plump Churro) is very similar to a Youtiao. 

Some people believe the Chinese were involved in the creation of the churro. This belief stems from the Porra (a churro with one other ingredient – baking powder – which gives a churro a puffed, airy texture) and is closely related to the Chinese Youtiao. People say Spanish and Portuguese sailors brought the Chinese technique to the Iberian Peninsula, where they tweaked the recipe to create Churros as we know them today. 

5. Churros were initially the size of a breadstick.  

Can you imagine Churros being the size of a breadstick? Remember, it was said to be filling food for the Spanish shepherds. We wouldn’t be able to eat as many today if they were still this size. 

6. People in Portugal make Churros from potato dough. 

A yucca or sweet potato can be boiled and mashed and used instead of wheat flour to make churros. As found in Portugal, this version contains no gluten, and those with gluten sensitivity can enjoy it.  

7. The churro, at its core, is a mixture of flour and water. 

At their core, churros consist of flour and water. Add any other ingredient to them, and you’re bound to give them another name, not churro. Hence, some people were not impressed when Disney released a recipe for their “Churro Bites.” Adding butter and eggs to the recipe made people feel Disney tampered with the original Spanish doughnut recipe. It may be a delicious cake-like delicacy, but it is not a true churro. 

8. Another theory as to where the churro comes from is from Rome. 

Today’s churro is very much like the recipe for a flour and water Fritter found in a Roman cookbook, dated 1st century Ad. Hence, some people claim the churro has roots in Rome.

9. Ancient Egypt had the oldest view of making, rolling, and frying dough, from 1184 to 1153 BC. 

That’s right; archaeologists have discovered engravings in Ramses III’s tomb that depict workers processing wheat and then creating and frying the dough.

In Madrid, Churrerías are pretty popular. Churrerías are stalls that people dedicate to serving only Churros. They are especially famous during times of celebrating festivals and fiestas. 

11. Churros are available in cafes for breakfast throughout Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. 

You may find churros throughout the day when you visit a theme park, but when you’re sitting in a café in Spain, Portugal, or Latin America, you’ll find churros in the breakfast section of the menu. 

12. A churrera is a syringe-like utensil used to create the classic ridged Churro shape. 

A churrera is a handheld machine used to make churros. However, you can also make churros at home without a churrera, as long as you have a pastry bag with an open star tip. 

13. People commonly dip Churros in sugar or cinnamon. 

Unlike the Chinese Youtiao, which is savory, people sprinkle Churros with sugar or cinnamon, especially in American theme parks and fairs. So, if you don’t eat them for breakfast, you can have them as a delicious treat at a fair. 

14. Churros are served with Dulce de leche in Chile, Argentina, or Brazil. 

Dulce de leche is a type of caramel that people make by cooking sugar on high heat for ten minutes, and they add milk and butter to make it a caramel sauce.

Churros and chocolate are especially popular in Madrid. The chocolate tends to be thick, dark, and on the bitter side. Eating Churros with chocolate is one of the most traditional things to do at Christmas time in Spain. 

Different people favor different flavors, and condensed milk happens to be especially popular with churros in Venezuela and Colombia. 

17. People fill Churros with guava in Cuba. 

In Cuba, you’ll find Churros stuffed with guava. Guava-filled Churros are famous due to the availability of fresh tropical fruit in the Caribbean. 

18. Delicious Churros start from 2 cm wide. 

Churros may be narrow, but you’ll never find one skinner than 2cm. Why? Any thinner than that, and the center becomes dry. 

19. The traditional shape for churros is a large semi-circle. 

Churros come in millions of forms today, but the original one from Spain was long and in the shape of a semi-circle similar to the horns of the churro sheep. Other popular types include shorter bite-size Churros and twisted or heart-shaped prisms. 

20. There are 116 – 260 calories in one churro. 

Churros are deep-fried and certainly not made to be a part of low-fat food. And, depending on what you’re dipping your churro in, the calories may increase. 

Churros and Doughnuts share similar ingredients and processes. As a result, both are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Yet, their drastic difference in shape distinctly sets them apart. 

22. Churros taste best when they are fresh, but they reheat very well. 

Churros have crispy ridges and are served piping hot, but they also reheat very well. They are the ideal party snack for your guests. 

23. Churros are commonly sold by street vendors today. 

Mobile churro carts are popular at any fiesta in Spain. The Churros are cheap, filling, and delicious. Now, little stalls that serve churros are popping up all around the world. 

The snack’s long, narrow shape makes it easy to eat, and this is what makes it a favorite at amusement parks and fairs. 

All things considered

It’s impossible to pinpoint the churros’ origins since they are a delicacy that is many hundreds of years old. Some people are possessive and claim it as a part of their culture. If you meet a Spanish person, they tell you Spanish shepherds invented churros. If you meet a Portuguese person, they’ll tell you Portuguese sailors came up with the idea. Every culture likes to lay claim to this popular food. However, the fact remains that the tasty churro is well-loved and enjoyed by many cultures.

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This article was co-authored by our team of writers and editors who share one thing in common: their passion for food and drinks!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco works as a New York-based editor at Foodrinke, driven by his lifelong love for food. His culinary journey began in childhood, as he eagerly assisted his mother with her local sandwich and bakery business, relishing every opportunity to sample her creations. Known among family and friends as an easy eater, JC has a particular affinity for Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Peruvian cuisine. At Foodrinke, he channels his passion for food into his work, sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with readers.