Try this easy churro recipe from Oakland’s Doña Tomás

A plate of churros served with a dipping sauce of chocolate.
Doña Tomás churros and chocolate dipping sauce. Photo: Sarah Han

The churros are a must-order when brunching or lunching at Doña Tomás. Dusted with sugar and canela (Mexican cinnamon) just after emerging from the fryer, these traditional Mexican pastries come to the table warm. Whether enjoyed plain or dipped in chocolate sauce, they have a wonderful crunchy texture on the outside and a heavenly soft interior within. 

Doña Tomás chef-owner Dona Savitsky has shared her churro recipe with Nosh, and we visited the restaurant, where lunch line cook Jose Zapien (who’s worked at Doña Tomás since 2003!) showed us how quick and easy they are to make. The dough is a simple choux pastry that comes together on the stove and in a mixer in minutes. The most intimidating steps for a churro-making newbie will be piping the dough from a pastry bag into the deep fryer, but if you’re game to give this a try, you’ll be rewarded with a bounty of fresh, hot churros. 

A churro that has just been dipped into a chocolate sauce sits on a plate with other churros.
Doña Tomás churros and chocolate dipping sauce. Photo: Sarah Han

Churros

Makes 20-30 pieces

2 cups water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 jumbo eggs
2 tablespoons ground canela (Mexican cinnamon)
2 to 3 cups canola oil, for frying


In a saucepan, bring the water, butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt to a boil over high heat. Once the mixture begins boiling, reduce the heat to medium and quickly add the flour in thirds, stirring to incorporate after each addition. Keep stirring for 1 to 2 minutes, until the flour is well incorporated, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to remove any flour that may stick.

While the dough is still hot, transfer it to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low speed and mix for about 15 seconds to cool the outside of the dough before adding the eggs.

One at a time, add the eggs and mix at a low speed, allowing the first egg to incorporate into the mixture before adding the next. The dough will become more elastic, smooth, and shiny after each egg is added.

Cook Jose Zapien prepares churros at Doña Tomás in Oakland.
Zapien uses a food processor to prepare the dough at Doña Tomás, but home cooks can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Be sure to add the eggs one at a time for best results. Photo: Sarah Han

Once the dough is fully mixed, set it aside for about 10 minutes until it is just cool enough to handle. (You don’t want it to cool too much or it will be too stiff to pipe.)

On a plate, mix together the canela and the 1/2 cup sugar for coating. Pour the oil into a skillet to a depth of 1/2-inch and place over high heat. Bring the oil to 350ºF without allowing it to smoke, adjusting the heat as necessary; this should take no longer than 10 minutes.

Spoon one-quarter of the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. If the dough is too hot to work with, wrap the bag with a towel to protect your hands. If it gets too cold or stiff, microwave it in a piece of plastic wrap (don’t place the metal tip in the microwave!) for about 10 seconds to soften it up. Press the dough to the base of the bag and pipe it out into 8-inch strips directly into the hot oil.

Work in small batches of 5 or 6 strips, cooking each batch for 3 to 5 minutes, gently turning and submerging the churros with a slotted spoon or tongs, until slightly browned and crispy. If the oil temperature is too low, the churros will split before browning.


Using the tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the churros from the oil and transfer to paper towels to drain for 1 to 2 minutes. While the churros are still hot, roll them in the sugar and canela mixture so that they are well coated.

Hands hold and shake a pan filled with churros being coated in cinnamon and sugar.
The freshly fried churros are coated in a generous amount of sugar and Mexican cinnamon. Photo: Sarah Han

Repeat the entire process with the remaining dough, continuing to pipe and fry in small batches.

Serve hot.

Churros at Doña Tomás are served with a side of chocolate dipping sauce. Photo: Sarah Han