If you haven’t ventured to a Disney park yet, you may not realize that the most magical place on earth also happens to be one of the tastiest places. The food options are endless, from enjoying tea and finger sandwiches with the Disney princesses, to exploring different cuisines from around the world, to checking out the snacks all the carts have to offer.
One of the most popular treats at Disney is the churro. You likely know this classic snack as fried pastry dough dusted with delicious cinnamon sugar. But at Disney, there are numerous variations such as the churro ice cream sandwich and even festive churros for the holidays. There are different flavors to choose from, like chocolate and strawberry rose gold, as well as yummy dipping sauces. Some park guests flock to the pineapple churro with marshmallow dipping sauce, while others adore the lemon, s’mores, or carrot cake-flavored churros.
If you’ve never tried one or haven’t enjoyed a Disney churro since your last visit to one of the parks, then you have to check out this recipe and snack on a churro at home. Recipe developer Stephanie Rapone of Pantry to Plate spent time at Disney as a performer and shows how to whip up this sweet recipe everyone can enjoy.
"I have had a really interesting perspective on Disney and the food there," Rapone says. "These are very light and airy on the inside with just the right cinnamon-sugar crunch on the outside."
Gather up the ingredients for Disney churros
For this sugary treat, you’ll need water, unsalted butter, salt, ground cinnamon, all-purpose flour, eggs, vegetable or canola oil, sugar, and fun toppings. One thing to note: This recipe cannot be modified to become gluten-free by simply swapping out the flour. In fact, Rapone explains that if someone needs to prepare this without wheat flour, it’s important to first prepare a pate a choux recipe to make the dough for the churro, then resume the recipe with the frying process.
Choux pastry is best described as a delicate pastry dough that contains butter, water or milk, flour, and eggs. Not that the flour here can be replaced with gluten-free options such as almond flour.
Prepare your piping bag
To get started, measure out ½ cup of sugar and combine it in a bowl with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, then set aside to use later. Prepare your piping bag, which is used to make the churro shapes, by cutting the corner off of a gallon-sized zip top plastic bag and inserting a large star tip in the corner. If you have an actual piping bag, slide the tip right into the corner. "I like to put my bag in a tall cup or glass and fold the edges over to hold it for easier filling with the dough," Rapone suggests.
Next, line a tray or large plate with paper towels, so it is ready to set the churros on to cool when they’re fresh out of the frying oil.
Prepare the churro dough
Pour the oil into a large high-sided skillet, medium or large saucepan, or a Dutch oven until the oil is ¾ to 1-inch deep, but don’t turn on the heat yet. Turn your attention to making the dough by combining 1 cup of water, 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, then bring to a rolling boil. Once the mixture has begun to boil, turn the heat to low. Add in 1 ¼ cup of flour, then stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball of dough. Remove it from the heat, and allow it to cool for seven to ten minutes.
Once the dough has cooled enough to where you can touch it, add 3 eggs to the dough and beat with a hand mixer until reaching a smooth texture, then set the dough aside. Now, heat the oil over medium-high heat or until temperature reaches 350˚F, using a probe thermometer.
Shape the churros
Carefully scoop up the dough with a spoon into the piping bag. Pipe a 5 to 6-inch strip of dough across the saucepan or skillet, and once it’s at the right length, pinch it off carefully with your fingers. Repeat the process four more times so you have five churros ready to fry each round. Fry the churros until they are golden brown, and remove from the oil with tongs or a slotted spoon. Place the churros on a paper towel-lined tray or plate to cool. While the churros are still hot, toss them in the cinnamon-sugar concoction until thoroughly coated.
Mix up some tasty toppings for the churros
Disney sells churros with different colored sugar to match various themes. You can create your own milk and cookies churro by dipping the cinnamon-sugar churro in sweetened condensed milk. A paintbrush churro can be created by dipping it in melted white chocolate or candy melts and dusting with sprinkles. There’s also the pecan pie churro that uses a maple glaze adorned with chopped pecans and a chocolate sauce.
To make the pecan pie churro, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in ¼ cup of firmly packed dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt until blended. Then, whisk in 2 tablespoons of milk and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking continuously. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, still whisking constantly for four minutes or until the glaze turns golden brown. Drizzle the maple glaze and chocolate syrup over the ends of the churros and sprinkle ⅓ cup of chopped pecans across the top.
- 1 cup water
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ to 3 cups vegetable or canola oil
- ½ cup sugar
- Combine ½ cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon in a dish, set aside.
- Prepare your piping bag. Either snip the corner off a gallon zip-top bag and drop in a large star tip, or drop the tip in a large piping bag.
- Line a tray or large plate with paper towels.
- Put vegetable or canola oil in a large high-sided skillet or a dutch oven, but don’t turn on the heat yet.
- Combine 1 cup water, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon in medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Add flour and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball of dough. Remove from heat and let cool for seven to ten minutes.
- Once it’s cooled down (it doesn’t need to be cold, but you should be able to touch it), add eggs to the dough and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Set aside.
- Add oil to a high-sided skillet, medium or large saucepan, or a dutch oven, until ¾ to 1-inch deep. Heat oil over medium-high heat or until temperature reaches 350˚F, using a probe thermometer.
- Spoon the dough into a piping bag or zip-top bag fitted with large star tip. Make sure you don’t cut the hole in the plastic bag too big or your entire tip may push through.
- Pipe a 5 to 6-inch strip of dough over the saucepan, pinch off carefully with your fingers, and allow to drop into the hot oil. Repeat four more times, cooking five churros per round.
- Fry churros until golden brown. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon, and place churros on a paper towel-lined tray or plate.
- While hot, toss in churros in cinnamon sugar until coated. Place on serving plate and serve with favorite dipping sauce.