Churros have been around forever, the South-of-the-Border equivalent of a doughnut, often cooked by street vendors. But they're crazy popular on the menus at upscale restaurants such as Terra Plata in Seattle, and soon, Pillbury will release Mini Churros Bites in supermarkets everywhere. Well, guess what? Even if you can't find them in restaurants, food trucks or on your next trip to Mexico, churros are not difficult to DIY.

650 x 465 churro-at-terra-plata photo by Leslie Kelly
Photo by Leslie Kelly

My current churros crush started with that beautiful order, pictured above, but that slightly crunchy fried dough treat is nothing new for chef Tamara Murphy. "We've been making them since Brasa days," said the James Beard Foundation award winner, referring to her previous restaurant. Her advice on making them at home comes down to finding the right pastry tip. "You need to find a star shaped tip with a fairly large opening, almost the size of a nickel." The star pattern are what creates the ridges that get all crispy and catch the cinnamon sugar they're eventually dredged in, after emerging from the hot oil.

Not long after falling for those treats, which seem lighter than the typical doughnut, I spotted another hot spot in Seattle, serving them. Cantina Leña preps the pastry dough in advance, pipes the shapes out onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and freezes them, so they're ready to go during the breakfast, lunch or dinner rush at this Tom Douglas restaurant. Diners have a choice of three dipping sauces — spicy chocolate, guava marmalade or dulce de leche — so, naturally, I ordered all three, pictured below. Perfect, but the only problem is that this order just left me wanting more.

650 x 465 churros from cantina lena photo by Leslie Kelly
Cantina Lena churros. Photo by Leslie Kelly

I searched for a recipe and found one for apple cider churros on a blog called Baked by Rachel, which is a long way from the classic, but I gave it a try. I mixed the dough the night before and filled the pastry bag. I'm not much of a pastry cook, but this was a technique I'd never used, warming the cider and adding the flour while it was still hot. It formed a soft, and really fragrant dough that was easy to fill in the bag.

The next morning, in the Allrecipes' Kitchen, I heated oil in a skillet and piped the chilled dough directly into the nearly smoking hot pan. The directions called for frying for 3 to 5 minutes, and I fished the dark golden sticks out after about 4 minutes, dropping them in a bowl of cinnamon sugar. Really good, with the cider flavor coming through brightly, but the interior texture was a little gooey. Not the fluffy you expect from a traditional churro. So, the search goes on.

Oh, and if you want to make the easiest caramel sauce ever, here are the details.

churros gif
Mmmm, caramel sauce. GIF by Leslie Kelly

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