Though freshly fried churros are hard to beat, I find I enjoy Air-Fryer Churros just as much! Serve with Tablea Tsokolate and Hot Thai Milk Tea on the side.
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Churros is one of those snack foods I very much like, yet I indulge on them so rarely nobody would expect that to be true. I eat them so rarely in fact that every time I have them again, it’s like getting a sudden jolt to my memory, or rediscovering a lost love. Sitting here writing this post and thinking about how I ate churros maybe only once last year, I wonder if I can actually even say that I love churros as much as I claim lol.
What I can tell you for sure is that some time ago, I bought a large star tip that I had intended to use exclusively for making churros. Ironically enough, between acquiring said tip and the day I made this recipe, there is a stretch of time where the thing remained unused in my container of piping tips. I still distinctly recall how I felt adding the tip in my cart: Excited about the prospect of making LOTS AND LOTS of churros. Yet somehow, after the churros tip gets delivered, gets cleaned, and gets stored alongside my other piping tips, it lay forgotten for a time.
Does this happen to you as well? It’s as if the comfort of knowing I owned the thing was enough lol. Thankfully, when a churros craving hit strongly enough to compel me to finally get up and make some, I remembered I actually had the piping tip. The joke would’ve been on me had I ended up ordering another piping tip all because I forgot I already had one.
I have made churros before and frankly they aren’t very complicated, so you’d think that it would be easy to find good churros places all over. But if I’m going to be honest, the only churros I’ve had locally that really passed muster for me are the ones from Cioccolata Churros Café on the ground floor of The Bayleaf. They make the perfect churros in my book. I wonder if they still make it like that? Clearly I’m not about to wait around and wonder. If there’s one food-related thing I’ve learned in the last two years of being in “lockdown”, it’s that you have to create your own opportunities in the kitchen if the universe won’t let you travel to eat.
Churros are at their best for me when crisp on the outside, and almost a fluffy sort of chewy on the inside. I am not a fan of the churros that are crisp all the way through (almost rock-hard on the outside really), nor am I a fan of super soft churros that verge on soggy or are empty in the center. I also really dislike it when the churros taste eggy, or when they’re overly coated with sugar and flavorings. So many concerns for a freaking churros, am I right?
This recipe is one my personal favorites, but while it’s consistently fab when deep-fried, I really wanted to try air-frying the exact same recipe. Well, it works! I love that you can just step away from the churros as they cook in the air-fryer, and have to only listen for the alarm to know that they’re done. No oil clean-up or any of that, and you can do something else (like prep beverages) at the same time! There is just one caveat: You have to eat it IMMEDIATELY.
Literally the moment it comes out of the air-fryer, you have to coat, plate, and eat it right away for best texture and crunch. Compared to deep-fried churros which can hold on to their crisp texture a little longer, once the air-fried churros are cool, they will no longer be crunchy. HOWEVER, they DO NOT turn soggy in the center either, and in fact they still taste pretty fabulous paired with a chocolate dip. Chocolate dips are A MUST for churros– in my opinion anyway.
For this recipe, I used a tablea-based chocolate dip. Tsokolate tablea is easy to source here in the Philippines, but if you can’t find or don’t want to buy any, I’m sure there are a gazillion other recipes out there you can use that do not involve tablea. Me, I am VERY happy with this churros and dip pairing. And because you know how much I love going for a “full experience” thing when I’m in the kitchen, I also paired my churros with some Hot Thai Milk Tea.
I have to admit, this pairing is very unusual. I didn’t really think too deeply about it. I just had some Thai Tea Leaves in the fridge and decided I wanted to make a hot and frothy Thai Milk Tea for a change. A hot drink seemed like a good partner for hot and crunchy churros. I feel like this would go pretty well with a hot Cafe Mocha too.
Now before I let you continue on to the recipe notes, I just wanted to remind everyone that this recipe can be deep-fried OR air-fried. If you don’t have an air-fryer, you can still try this recipe out! If you’re in the mood to find out the differences of the churros produced by both cooking methods, who am I to stop you?! Just know that deep-fried churros will always end up crunchier slightly firmer, but even if people do notice the crunch difference, not a single piece will be left in the platter. I know this from experience.
- Make sure to mix the dough well once the flour is added. Keep mixing until you no longer see any floury bits on your dough at all. The dough should start following your wooden spoon around as you mix, rolling around in the pan and mostly sticking together in one ball-like mass. (It will leave this “film”-like layer on the surface of your pan. That’s normal.) Keep an eye on your flame as well and lower the heat as needed. If at any point you feel like you might burn the mixture, take the pan off the heat and continue stirring the dough until it comes together into a mass. You’re aiming for a mass of sticky dough here that isn’t necessarily super smooth yet, but should not have any more flour bits.
- Let the dough cool before adding in the eggs so they do not get scrambled. This is pretty self-explanatory. Right after cooking the dough into a smooth mass, dump it into a separate clean bowl to help it cool down. If the dough is too hot, adding in the eggs will only cause the egg to cook before it gets incorporated into the mixture. You’ll get bits of cooked egg in your batter, which is not cool! (To see how the dough looks in each stage, make sure to watch the recipe video above!)
- You can use a wooden spoon or a hand mixer for mixing the dough. I usually prefer using a wooden spoon for making churros, even though the part where you incorporate the eggs into the main dough requires quite a bit of work! A wooden spoon is just easier to clean for me. Feel free to use a hand mixer though. You’ll want to really mix the egg into the dough well during this stage. At first the mixture will look curdled, but keep going until you get a smooth dough that is soft but able to hold its shape.
- For good-looking churros, use a star-shaped piping tip. Aside from using it for churros, a star tip will be a good addition to your baking arsenal since it can also be used for piping pretty frosting on cakes and cupcakes. For churros, we want this tip for the ridges that will help trap the cinnamon-sugar and the chocolate sauce. I actually bought a separate star tip that’s bigger than the usual 1M-sized tip because I wanted to make bigger churros.
- This recipe can also be cooked the traditional way. If you wish to deep-fry your churros after all, skip the freezing stage altogether. After placing the churros dough in your piping bag, heat up a good amount of oil for deep-frying. (Some people like to pipe shapes on small pieces of parchment and lower the entire thing into the oil later on.) Carefully squeeze ropes of dough straight into the preheated oil and fry about 2 minutes on each side, or until churros are golden. Make sure not to overcrowd the pot to maintain temperature and achieve best texture.
- Eat the churros immediately once cooked. Whether you’ve deep fried them, but especially when you’ve air-fried them, churros are at their best eaten immediately. They will not taste good reheated! If you think you cannot finish the entire batch, just cook what you can eat and pop the rest in the freezer for deep-frying or air-frying later on. (If frying from frozen, make sure to fry them a little longer.)
- If you cannot find or do not wish to buy tablea, simply use another chocolate sauce recipe off the internet. I only paired my churros with a tablea sauce because I had a lot of tablea here at home. Feel free to use another recipe for the dip. I do not recommend skipping the sauce! Churros and chocolate sauce are a match made in heaven!
Air-Fryer Churros con Tsokolate
For the churros
- ½ cup (125 grams) butter
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (280 mL) water
- 2 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
For the cinnamon sugar coating
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the tablea sauce
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- 5 tablets tsokolate tablea or more to taste
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar or more to taste
Make the churros
- In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the butter until almost completely melted. Mix in the water, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 5 minutes, using a wooden spoon to mix occasionally. Add in the flour and stir until well combined.
- Once the dough is well blended, it will pull away from the saucepan and form a sticky ball. Take saucepan off the heat and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, or until just warm to the touch. Line a 9- x 13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Once cool, add the first egg and immediately beat it in with the wooden spoon until completely incorporated. It will look like it’s not coming together at first, but this is natural. Keep beating! Add in the second egg and beat until a smooth dough forms. The dough will be soft but will manage to hold its form.
- Scoop the dough into a double-lined pastry bag with a large star tip nozzle. Pipe 4- to 5-inch long strips of dough onto the parchment paper, using a pair of scissors to cut the ends. (If the churro dough sticks to the scissors, wipe scissors with a bit of oil before resuming.) Space them at least ¼-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet just to make sure they don’t stick together. Freeze piped batter for at least 30 minutes.
Make the tablea sauce
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water and evaporated milk to a simmer. Turn down the heat to low and add the tablea, salt, and sugar. Whisk everything together until dissolved and smooth.
- Let simmer for a few minutes, whisking occasionally, until the chocolate thickens a little. If you want it a little thicker, add more tablea. If you want it a little sweeter, add more sugar. Once you’re satisfied with the consistency and taste, transfer to a dipping bowl for serving.
Prepare the cinnamon sugar coating
- Combine sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl, then set aside while you wait for the churros to be cooked.
Cook the churros
- Preheat your air-fryer for 3 minutes at 360°F (185°C). Gently detach frozen churro pieces from the parchment paper and place in a single layer in your air fryer basket. Don’t overcrowd the basket to give the churros a bit of space to expand. Bake each batch for 15 minutes, or until the churros are crisp and golden. Make sure to return the remaining uncooked churros into the freezer between batches.
- As soon as the churros come out of the air fryer, toss them in the cinnamon sugar coating evenly then serve right away. These churros are at their crunchiest eaten immediately with the dip. Once cooled, they won’t be crunchy anymore, but they won’t be soggy either and will still taste delicious! I enjoyed these with some Hot Thai Milk Tea (recipe below).
- I prefer to use the Cha Tra Mue brand Thai tea mix. To be honest, I don’t even know any other brands of Thai tea except this one. It’s inexpensive, and it makes some really great drinks, if I do say so myself.
- Adjust the sugar according to your preference. I don’t like super sweet stuff so I rely mostly on the condensed milk to sweeten my drink here. HOWEVER, I do find that Thai tea does not taste that good if it isn’t a bit sweet, so definitely DO NOT SKIP the sweetener altogether.
- You can serve this drink cold. Add ice and froth the milk under the cold froth setting if you have it, OR use cold half-half for something a little thicker and creamier and skip the frothing step.
Hot Thai Milk Tea
- 1½ heaping Tablespoons Thai tea leaves mix
- 1 cup freshly boiled water
- 2 teaspoons condensed milk or more to taste
- ¼ cup evaporated milk
- 2 teaspoon sugar if needed
- Steep Thai tea in hot water for at least 5 minutes, then strain. (If you like a sweet tea, mix in 2 teaspoons of sugar at this stage.) Meanwhile, steam and froth the evaporated milk.
- Into a serving mug with a handle, add condensed milk to the bottom. Pour in the strained Thai tea, then top off with the hot evaporated milk, froth included. Add in as much or as little as you like.
- Adjust the sweetener as desired. Enjoy hot!
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