Churro, no! Fast food chains need to leave churros alone

Between Dunkin’, Subway, and more, it’s time to leave the churros to the experts.
A street vendor is selling Churros in downtown Oaxaca de...
A street vendor is selling Churros in downtown Oaxaca de... / Wolfgang Kaehler/GettyImages

A good churro is a thing of beauty. Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, the sweet kick of cinnamon sugar all over. A bad churro, on the other hand, is an affront against nature. And between Dunkin’, Subway, and other chain stores’ attempts to tackle the flavor, it’s clear the fast-food churro trend must be stopped.

In case you’re not familiar with [ominous voice] what’s been happening, it didn’t start with Subway, but it certainly kicked into high gear on January 18 when they introduced Subway Sidekicks. The three snacks have already been reviewed here on Guilty Eats, but the main takeaway is that the footlong cookie is like crack, the footlong pretzel is a skip, and the footlong churro is the equivalent of eating cinnamon-flavored air.

A month later on February 21, Dunkin’ followed suit with an array of new products including a Churro Signature Latte, and a Churro Donut. While Dunkin’ boasts that the latter is a “deep-fried cake donut” with a “soft, pillowy interior” and “rich, cinnamon sweetness on the outside.” The reality is it’s the shape of a cruller, with the consistency of thick bread. It also doesn’t seem to hold cinnamon sugar as well as a regular cinnamon donut from Dunkin’, aka the kind that makes you cough a cloud every time you take a bite.

Dunkin' Retail 24 Window 2 Retouched Product Image: Churro Donuts (2); overhead view (image + shadow + white background/transparency) /

Other chains are also getting in (or back in) the churro game. Cinnabon brought back the Churro Chillata for the first time in four years, which combines “churro” flavors with whipped cream, and a churro stuck in the drink. And Costco fans are going all Pepe Silvia over whether the Twisted Churro is – or is not – available at Costco.

Schrödinger’s Costco Churro aside, the issue here I’d venture is that most of these attempts at the iconic Mexican street snack ignore what makes it so delicious. A churro is deep-fried piped dough, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and handed to you hot enough to burn your mouth. That way you get the crisp crunch on the outside, the still-cooling dough on the inside, and so much cinnamon sugar you almost instantly go into anaphylactic shock.

Side note: there are actually multiple different takes on the treat, which started in Spain before getting augmented in Mexico. But I’ve had a lot of churros, and the flavor is always ruined by stores/restaurants trying to reheat them, or serve them any way other than direct from the frier. A good churro needs to be fresh and hot. If you see it on the shelf, give it a skip.

Subway Sidekicks Cinnabon Footlong Churro /

This, in essence, is the problem these chains aren’t dealing with because asking minimum wage workers to deep fry dough on demand all day outside of a carnival is, I’d venture, workplace abuse. So of course Subway is reheating a churro in their oven. Sure, Dunkin’s churro donut has been sitting there all day, slowly solidifying. And let’s be honest, when Cinnabon says their Chillata has “churro flavor” they mean “cinnamon” and that’s it.

Point being a churro is a singular thing, not a taste to be captured. These chains jumping on churros to convey some air of the exotic to their customers is just not working, at least based on samplings of what they’ve had to offer so far.

As usual, trends will come and go. Churro will give way to whatever the next hot flavor will be. But hopefully, it will go anyway sooner, rather than later. In the meantime, next time you want a churro? That guy (or girl) on the street corner frying them fresh is the way to go.

Subway Sidekicks menu review: We tried the Footlong Cookie, Churro, and Pretzel. dark. Next. Subway Sidekicks menu review: We tried the Footlong Cookie, Churro, and Pretzel