The Origin Story Of Churros Is A Little Messy

No doubt about it, churros are enjoyed all around the world. However, if there's one thing churro lovers can't agree on, it's where the churro recipe originates. Some argue that the churro was created by the Spanish, while others credit the churro to the Chinese. Still, others suggest that the churro has been around centuries longer, proving both the Spanish and Chinese theories incorrect. But let's take a closer look at some of the main churro origin stories, shall we?

As previously mentioned, many people believe that the churro was inspired by Chinese youtiao, another fried dough treat. Youtiao was created in the 12th century, and in the 16th century, Portuguese sailors began traveling east, allegedly stealing the Chinese recipe and passing it off as their own -– big churro mistake, if true. On the other hand, some believe that the churro came about even earlier, perhaps during Moorish rule over Spain between the 8th and 15th centuries. Meanwhile, some historians have suggested that Spanish shepherds created the treat as a quick and easy snack while on the job (via 196 Flavors). 

The concept of fried dough goes back a whole lot further

Though the youtiao theory looked good and the Moorish theory looked even better, we have a third theory. While the Moors may indeed have introduced the churro recipe to Spain, several Arabic sources refer to churros as early as the 8th and 9th centuries.

According to food historian Michael Krondl's interview with BBC, churro-like recipes were written down by the Romans in the first century. To be fair, Ancient Rome fried chicken before anyone else, so why wouldn't they fry dough first, too? That being said, Krondl also pointed out that the Greeks could've been frying dough even before the Romans. He said, "Here are recipes from the Ancient Greeks, but it's probably even older than that. In the Mediterranean basin, it's basically been around forever."

Long story short, we have no real way of knowing who invented the churro, or where, or when. Yes, written texts give us a good idea, but the fact of the matter is that frying dough isn't exactly a revolutionary process. Isn't it possible that several people could've woken up at several points in history and decided to invent churros? We'll probably never know.