If you can’t make it to Disneyworld for their gluten free churros, no worries! You can make them at home and they’ll be delicious!!! Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, they’re the perfect sweet snack 😋
I have a confession to make. I’ve never had the gluten free churros at Nomad’s Lounge in Animal Kingdom! I know, I know. It’s super sad, isn’t it? The last time I was there (in May) I vowed to have them, but it was hotter than Hades and I had no desire to eat much of anything 😓. Anyone who knows me knows my favorite part about Disney is the food.
How can I possibly make a copycat recipe for something I’ve never had before, you ask?? Well, I HAVE had real, gluten-filled churros and I bought these really cute little baskets so I just HAD to try and imitate the ones from Disney 🙂
THE ORIGIN OF CHURROS
First off, let me start by saying that these churros are NOTHING like the ones in Spain, at least according to my mom and dad. We used to live there when I was a very young kid (so I don’t remember much) and they said Spanish churros aren’t sweet at all.
What makes them sweet in Spain is the chocolate dipping sauce. Churros and chocolate are a famous pair. I even remember my high school Spanish textbook being named Churros y Chocolaté.
Cinnamon and sugar are also nowhere in the Spanish version of these fried little gems. Somewhere along the line they were added to the American version and they stuck, literally and figuratively. Haha! I’m not sure if this is a Mexican version, Mexican-American version, or just an American thing. Regardless, they’re delicious!!
WHERE I STARTED IN MAKING GLUTEN FREE CHURROS
When researching how to make churros, I already knew that regular Americanized churros start with a choux paste. A choux paste, or pate a choux, is a dough or “paste” that is the basis for many French pastries, most famously cream puffs and eclairs.
And since I had just developed a gluten free cream puff, I decided to give the gluten free churro a go. With a few adjustments in the method, these wonderful gluten free churros are super easy to make and even easier to eat!!
I went a step further by making the sauces that go with those churros from Nomad’s Lounge. One is a creme anglaise, which is like a thinned-out pastry cream. And the other is a chili strawberry sauce, which is like a spicy strawberry jam. Now I see why they chose them because they are absolutely delicious with the churros!!
PIPING THE GLUTEN FREE CHURROS AND FRYING THEM
When the choux paste is ready, add an open star tip to a pastry bag (this is the one I use–*affiliate link) and fill the pastry bag with the paste. Pipe the churros, about six inches long, onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
After piping all the churros, place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for about 30 minutes. The reason I use this freezing method is to make it easier to add them to the hot oil. Squeezing a paste from a piping bag and then trying to cut it off a few inches from hot oil can be very daunting. It’s so much easier to carefully place half frozen “sticks” of dough into the oil.
Fry the churros, about 4-5 at a time, until completely cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. They will be dark brown and crispy. Remove them from the oil and place them briefly on paper towels to drain before moving them to a wire rack to cool slightly. Roll them in cinnamon sugar while still warm and serve warm with dipping sauces.
CAN THE CHURROS BE BAKED INSTEAD OF FRIED?
They absolutely can be baked instead of fried, although then it’s not really a churro. However, I get not wanting to waste a pot of oil just to fry up some churros.
If you’re really dead set on baking them, follow my instructions in my gluten free cream puffs post for how to bake them. Once fully baked, immediately roll them in cinnamon sugar or the sugar mixture won’t stick to the outside.
HOW LONG WILL CHURROS LAST?
Churros are best eaten the day they are made, but they will last a few days at room temperature. They can also be re-crisped in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. You’ll likely need to re-roll them in a little more cinnamon sugar at that time, too.
I’m still waiting for the day when I can finally try the gluten free churros at Nomad’s Lounge in Disneyworld. But until then, I’ll go ahead and make my own version and I think they’ll be just as good (maybe even better 😉).
Gluten Free Churros (Disney Copycat Recipe)
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
- 1 stick (½ cup or 113 ml) butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup (140 g) Kim's gluten free flour blend (or any flour blend with xanthan gum)
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
CINNAMON SUGAR MIXTURE:
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (240 ml) half and half (or ½ cup each of heavy whipping cream and whole milk)
- 4 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean pod (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
- pinch of salt
CHILI STRAWBERRY SAUCE:
- 1 cup (320 g) strawberry jam (seedless)
- 1 tsp (or more to taste) chili powder
- 1½ tsp water
- In small saucepan, add milk, butter, sugar, and pinch of salt. Stir over medium-low heat with a wooden spoon until sugar melts completely (don't rush this step). Turn mixture to medium-high until it begins to boil rapidly.
- Remove pan from heat and dump flour in, all at once, and stir with wooden spoon.
- Place pan back on stovetop over medium heat and stir continuously until mixture balls up and all flour is cooked out, about 1-2 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for about 3-4 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, with a hand mixer, in a food processor, or by hand with a wooden spoon, add eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously after each addition. It should be shiny and smooth, but it might be very thick, which is okay.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip with the paste. I prefer to let the choux paste sit in the pastry bag for about a ½ an hour to loosen up a bit before piping, but this isn't completely necesssary. It will just be a little stiffer to pipe.
- Pipe about six-inch long sticks onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Place baking sheet in freezer for about 30 minutes. Towards the end of the 30 minutes, begin heating oil in deep fryer or large Dutch oven to 350°. In shallow bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
- Remove churros from freezer and carefully place 4-5 in the oil at a time (a frying "spider" or slotted spoon can be used for this). Fry for about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Remove churros from oil and drain briefly on paper towels before dredging in cinnamon sugar.
FOR THE CREME ANGLAISE:
- Split open vanilla bean pod and remove the seeds by scraping the dull side of a small knife along the inside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the half and half and vanilla bean seeds (along with the scraped out pod) to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.
- While continuing to whisk, slowly pour about ¼ cup of the hot half and half into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Don't worry about the vanilla bean pod. It can be left in the mixture until the very end. Continue adding about ¼ cup of the hot half and half at a time, whisking continuously, until all the half and half has been combined with the egg mixture.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, taking care to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all the vanilla seeds. Over medium-low heat, whisk the mixture constantly until the mixture thickens. This will take anywhere from 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and pour through a sieve into a clean small bowl to catch any overcooked egg bits and the vanilla bean pod (don't throw away the used pod–rinse it and allow it to dry and store in a container with some sugar to make vanilla sugar). Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce. Chill the sauce for at least one hour or up to overnight. Serve chilled with the churros.
FOR THE CHILI STRAWBERRY SAUCE:
- Combine the strawberry jam with the chili powder and water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for one minute. Stir. Allow to cool before serving with the churros.