Who remembers their first time having a churro? I do. It was at the San Diego Zoo when I was a kid. Think back. You can probably remember too.
I have had a bit of an obsession with churros since I was a kid. Fried bread hot out of the fryer with lots of grooves to capture a heavy coating of cinnamon sugar. What’s not to love? I met my first heavenly churro in Spain, where you grab “xurros y chocolate” on the way back from the club, giving you just enough calories to make it home.
I lived in Miami for a couple of years. And always made a point of driving past the “churro intersection” in Hialeah. You could buy a bag of churros from your car window for a dollar. You just rolled down your window and yelled “churro, churro, churro” during a red light. Sugary, cold, but still somehow delicious churros would come right to you by an industrious entrepreneur.
It was inevitable that I’d try my hand at making churros at home at some point. How hard could it be? Turns out plenty hard. You need a piping bag, the right tip and some ability to make pastry dough. It also requires some dexterity. You must pipe the dough from the bag into hot oil while simultaneously cutting the churro dough into the right length while not burning yourself and ensuring your pasty bag doesn’t explode. Whew. I even enlisted some help—we both ended up with some minor burns, mediocre churros and no easy way to satisfy my obsession.
Scott Porter, the founder of San Diablo Churros, is similarly obsessed.
He developed his passion in Mexico City, where churro stands are found on almost every street. In the southeast bohemian part of the city, they make a type of hollow churros that are freshly filled with dulce de leche. When Scott returned to the United States he, like me, was disappointed with the American version.
“I remember thinking at that time, I love churros, but I don’t understand why we have such mediocre churros in the United States,” said Scott. “And so it planted that idea of, at some point, it really just would be irresponsible not to share this with the rest of the world. I think I’d love to start a churro business and see what could happen.”
San Diablo Churros came along as the culmination of a lot of tests, trials, and errors until it was just right—which included developing a dough closer to a choux pastry. The business’s name is a nod to the recipe’s Mexican origins, and offers a playful remark on the duality of Saintly Devils. “We’ve incorporated a bunch of those things into our experience,” said Scott. “So we have spicy cinnamon sugars. We have a secret menu with Diablo Cinnamon Sugar and Inferno Cinnamon Sugar with cayenne and habanero. We wanted to have fun with this idea that people always say, ‘Get away. These are so addictive. You’re tempting me.’ And then say, ‘These are the best things. Like falling from heaven.'”
San Diablo Churros launched at various events and then as a catering company with a food truck. You’ve seen them around town with their hustle and their team in bowties. They’ve won “Best Pastry in Utah” multiple times. Now, over six years in, Scott is excited to introduce their latest venture: the Churro Fiesta in a Box.
The idea was to create a kit that could act as a complete churro-making system at home, one that could be done as a family or for a party. I got one myself, and the kit had the dough (just add water), the cinnamon sugar, and even a fool-proof churro-making tool for perfect piping. You can pick between dulce de leche, Nutella, or red berry for the filling. Add a few angelic/devilish surprises in the box, and you have the perfect party. Bonus points if you get some spicy cinnamon sugar too. When I made mine, it took me around 30 minutes from start to finish, with zero burns and perfect churros. Obsession fulfilled.
Remember when I asked you about your first time eating a churro? It was probably an occasion.
“I think churros will always be something special. In people’s minds, there’s nostalgia wrapped up in the churro,” said Scott. “Everyone will come up with and have a favorite churro memory. They’re like, ‘I used to go to the fair with my grandma, and she always got me churros.’ ‘Every time we went to Disneyland, we got churros.’ ‘On my honeymoon at the beach in Cancun, we went to get churros.’ Whatever it is, there’s always a happy memory associated with churros, and it becomes a special occasion thing. And so what we wanted to do was make the churro more accessible.” AKA easy to make at home. For anyone.
The goal? To become the global churro authority. No big deal.
“We want to be that go-to resource [for people who want to make churros at home]. So that’s why we give away our recipe,” said Scott. “We want you to create special memories at your home with churros. We give you all of the equipment and supplies that you need.”
To that end, San Diablo Churros is also launching Churro University (a series of how-to videos) and providing vegan and gluten-free kits. “I just like the idea of creating a new tradition for the holiday season,” said Scott. “So whether it’s the Day of the Dead, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve, all of these times are when we’re having gatherings with family and friends.”
I, for one, have started planning my Day of the Dead celebration around churros. Who wants to come?
See more stories like this and all of our food and drink coverage. And while you’re here, why not subscribe and get six annual issues of Salt Lake magazine’s curated guide to the best of life in Utah.