foodFood & Drink

In the Kitchen With: Marcela Valladolid’s Churros

by Kristina Gill

Churros photographed by Coral von Zumwalt | DesignSponge

Fried dough rolled in sugar and cinnamon, what’s not to like? That’s what I think each time I read a recipe for churros. Yet, I have never tried them! Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been in a place where they were available, or perhaps because until I bought a fryer, I was a little scared to fry things — or both. Whatever the reason, now I have no excuse. Author of Casa Marcela and co-host of Emmy-nominated Food Network show The Kitchen, Chef Marcela Valladolid has shared her favorite version of churros with us. A quick tip to help ensure success — have a look at YouTube to find a method of transferring the dough to the oil that you’re most comfortable with. It helps to know what your action plan is before the oil reaches the desired temperature!  —Kristina

Why Marcela loves this recipe: I grew up crossing the border between San Diego and Tijuana on a daily basis for school. My favorite part was when my mom would let us buy these freshly made churros straight off the churro cart while waiting in line to cross the border. This is my version of them, their smell is so nostalgic for me, just like when I was a kid I caught myself wanting to lick my fingers right after testing the recipe. Great dessert for kids and adults of all ages.

Casa Marcela by Marcela Valladolid | DesignSponge

Food photography and cover by Coral von Zumwalt | Portrait by Isabella Martinez Funcke

Makes 18 Churros

I’ve published recipes for churros before but have untraditionally added eggs to the batter, more like how you would make a choux pastry. Here I go more traditional, with pretty much just butter, flour, and seasonings. Invest in a good high-temperature thermometer because having a consistent oil temperature will ensure your churros are evenly cooked. There is nothing worse than churros that are golden on the outside but raw on the inside.


— 1⅓ cups water
— 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
— 1 teaspoon salt
— 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
— ¼ cup granulated sugar
— ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
— Vegetable oil, for frying

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the water, butter, and salt in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the flour, and mix with a wooden spatula until combined. Let the dough sit until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Knead the dough until smooth, about 1 minute. Place half of the dough in a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe 4-inch-long churros onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon on a large platter. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 4 to 5 inches of vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven until it registers 365°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Add the churros in batches of three and fry, flipping once, until deep golden brown all over, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the churros to a paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain.

Roll the churros in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve immediately.

Text excerpted from CASA MARCELA © 2017 by Marcela Valladolid. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

About Marcela: Growing up around expert and traditional cooks in Tijuana, Mexico, Marcela was raised to be passionate about food, and she jumped straight into a culinary life with her first job working at her aunt’s cooking school in Baja, Mexico. She trained professionally at the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, and the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris to become a classical French pastry chef. Marcela later returned home to run a catering company and teach children about the culinary arts in Tijuana. She debuted on television as the host of her own Food Network series, Mexican Made Easy. Her books include Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor, Mexican Made Easy, and Casa Marcela. Marcela lives in San Diego with her children Fausto, David, and Anna Carina, her fiancé Philip and their dog Kongo. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Portrait of Marcela Valladolid by Isabella Martinez Funcke | DesignSponge

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  • That is a nice recipe and brings back memories of getting fresh churros from el churrero at the TJ/SD border. (If you are not Californian, this is what it was like: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-churro-man19-2009nov19-story.html )

    I am confused by the instruction to pipe the churros onto a baking sheet and put them into the oil later. We always pipe directly into hot oil, sometimes spinning with a chopstick to make circles, and sometimes piping letters or hearts for the little kids.

    As with Krispy Kreme donuts, you should never, ever eat a churro that is cold and stale. Churros at Disneyland, and all other churros that come out of a box are an abomination.

  • Hi, Cristina–

    I recommend readers have a stroll through YouTube precisely for the reason you’ve pointed out! There are quite a few methods people use to add the dough to the oil, one of the most common being directly to the oil as you do. I did, however, see other recipes which recommended piping first, like Marcela’s does. Readers should adopt the approach that feels safest and easiest for them. -Kristina