Cinnamon-Sugar Gluten Free Churros & Disneyland Gluten-Free Dining Tips

Cinnamon Sugar Gluten Free Churros | BoulderLocavore.com

Over the President’s Day weekend we took a trip to Disneyland (California) to celebrate a special family birthday.  We were excited for full immersion into the ‘happiest place on earth’, a break from winter’s chill and to focus exclusively on having fun.

We were not in the park long before we realized ‘excitement’ was not the only thing in the air.  There was the most delicious smell of sugary, cinnamon fried dough.  Utterly intoxicating.  Churros.  They smelled so alluring and of course were NOT gluten free.  We paused to reminisce about being able to eat those types of things when we could eat gluten (though I’m unsure any of us had actually eaten a Churro), shook it off and sped along to do Space Mountain one more time before the crowds descended on the park.

This was not our only inhalation of the perfect mouth-watering snack.  We encountered them again….

In Fantasyland

In Fantasyland

In Critter Country

In Critter Country

In New Orleans Square

In New Orleans Square

In Main Street U.S.A.

In Main Street U.S.A.

As well as in California Adventure Park…..

In Cars Land

In Cars Land

In A Bug's Life

In A Bug’s Life

On Paradise Pier

On Paradise Pier

This wasn’t all but you get the drift.

Complete stalker photo.  As most parents are trailing Disney characters and princesses I was discretely trying to take Churro iPhone pics.

Complete stalker photo. As most parents are trailing Disney characters and princesses I was discretely trying to take Churro iPhone pics.

By the end of our trip my children were begging me to please come up with a gluten free version of a Churro we could eat at home.  So I did.

Cinnamon Sugar Gluten Free Churros BoulderLocavore.com

The Churros provoking shameless begging were Disney-perfect.  Long, straight sticks of lightly fried perfection dusted in cinnamon-sugar and wrapped in the middle with a tidy bit of paper to keep guests’ hands from becoming soiled with sugar; though doubtful that would actually happen for the speed they were devoured by Moms, Dads, babies in strollers and full families en masse.  We turned into full churro stalkers by the end of the long weekend with as many pictures of the Churro stands on my phone as my children with Pluto.

My churros were delicious.  Light, gently fried dough in the center of a star-shaped golden cinnamon-sugar coated crust.  They were not however, ‘Disney-perfect’.  The dough writhed in the bubbling oil at their own whim, showing no respect for my desired conformance for a photo.  In the end they presented looking more like Medusa coming out of my makeshift newspaper cone but I did not care based on their scrumptious bite.  Another gluten-filled treat converted.

Cinnamon Sugar Gluten Free Churros BoulderLocavore.com

Cinnamon-Sugar Gluten Free Churros

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 10-15 Churros depending on the size

Light, fluffy inside with a golden-brown cinnamon-sugar outside make these gluten free churros irresistable. Can be made with regular all purpose gluten flour instead if desired.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted Butter
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Gluten Free Flour (I used Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend)*
  • 3 Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil (enough to be 1 inch deep in pot used for frying)
  • Supplies: Pastry Bag, 1-inch star tip, Candy thermometer

Instructions

  1. Begin to heat oil in a large pan. The optimum length of the churros is about 4-6 inches so the pan should be large enough to accommodate that length. Using a candy thermometer allow oil to reach 350 degrees. Oil can be heating while dough is constructed. It is important once cooking the churros that the temperature remain at 350 so as to not under or over cook the churro. Undercooking will leave them greasy; overcooking will alter their flavor.
  2. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, combine the water and butter. Bring to a boil to melt butter; whisk to fully combine.
  3. Add salt and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar; bring to a boil. Add gluten-free flour and stir vigorously and constantly until the mixture forms a slightly sticky dough; about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat immediately and do not overcook.
  4. Add dough to the bowl of a freestanding mixer. Add one egg at a time, beating on high speed, allowing each egg to incorporate with the dough before adding the next. Beat on high until forming a shiny, smooth ball of dough; about 2-3 minutes. Allow dough to sit.
  5. Combine the remaining ½ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a rectangular baking pan or dish. Stir to mix thoroughly.
  6. Place paper towels on a plate to allow cooked churros to have any excess oil absorbed. Assemble the pastry bag with large star tip. Fill the pastry bag with churro dough and pipe into the hot oil, in 4 to 6 inch lengths. The churros should not touch while cooking so I cooked one at a time. With a heat proof spoon or spatula, turn the churro as the underside begins to turn golden to ensure even cooking. Churros are done when they are a dark golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil (note: they are not greasy at all and there will not be obvious excess oil).
  7. When cool enough to handle (a few minutes) place the churro in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. With your hands, sprinkle cinnamon-sugar densely on every side of the churro, turning it to fully allow to coat. Gently tap the churro to allow excess to fall back into the pan (a bit like applying glitter to a glue project).
  8. Serve when warm and freshly cooked.

Notes

+I have a mechanical Pastry Bag which worked great for this and provided good control when extruding the churro dough into the hot oil.

*I used Pamela’s flour because it is does not bear a distinct flavor and includes guar gum. If using a different flour blend I’d suggest adding ½ teaspoon Xanthan Gum.

http://boulderlocavore.com/2013/03/cinnamon-sugar-gluten-free-churros-disneyland-gluten-free-dining-tips.html

Gluten-Free Mickey Mouse Waffles at the Plaza Inn Character Breakfast {Disneyland CA}

Gluten-Free Mickey Mouse Waffles at the Plaza Inn Character Breakfast {Disneyland CA}

I personally believe Disney parks are the best at accommodating Gluten-Free diners (as well as other allergies I’m sure).  Our first visit after becoming gluten free, probably about 5 years ago, we were impressed at being able to pick up a list of accommodating eateries on property which even included a character breakfast.  Disney has iterated their dining model to further accommodate and with Spring Break coming I wanted to share some tips:

  1. Safe Dining Everywhere:  Disneyland no longer issues lists of property restaurants which can accommodate gluten-free needs.  Instead when visiting any Disney restaurant or café, announce to the Disney attendant you are gluten free.    The policy now is that the chef or a comparable representative will speak to you directly about options.  I was told at Disney’s City Hall that virtually all the eateries could accommodate gluten free diners in some way.  We found this to be true in spades.  There is every cuisine imaginable from gluten-free pizza (Tomorrowland) to retro breakfast options (Flo’s V8 café in Cars Land) to higher end Creole-inspired food at the Blue Bayou.  Also the on property hotel restaurants do a superb job tailoring delicious gluten-free dishes including pasta, pizza and other less commonly found options.
  2. When Making Dining Reservations Notify the Attendant you are Gluten-Free:  We pre-arranged some reservations at two more popular venues which is recommended (The Blue Bayou at the Pirates of the Caribbean and a Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn) and were prompted about any special dietary needs.  When arriving for the reservation, each venue had our gluten free needs highlighted in yellow on their reservation sheet and we were in good hands from the get go.
  3. Healthy Gluten Free Snacks Abound:  Despite my sniveling about gluten-filled Churros, Disney has done a masterful job at positioning healthy, gluten free snacks everywhere in their parks.  Large iced carts of all sorts of fruits and bottled water are readily available.  We found some sweet treats that were gluten-free too!
Clearly marked Gluten-Free Cheeseburger and fries at the Storyteller Cafe {Grand Californian Hotel - Disneyland|}

Clearly marked Gluten-Free Cheeseburger and fries at the Storyteller Cafe {Grand Californian Hotel – Disneyland}

General Park Tips:

There are many online resources for planning the most productive and fun trip to Disneyland and California Adventure Park but I wanted to share some highlights that really helped maximize our trip.  Most of these insights also pertain to Disney World and in the case of #2 there is a dedicated Disney World option.

  1. Early Park Entry:  When buying a Park Hopper pass and/or staying at a Disney property there are ‘Extra Magic Hour’ and ‘Magic Morning’ days.   One specific days of the week you may enter either park an hour before the public.  These days are a golden opportunity to enjoy the more crowded rides.  Only certain areas of each park are open during this time and it’s good to research and plan ahead to hit the rides you are most interested in.  Highest ride wait time seems to be between 9:30-11:30 where lines can grow to well over an hour long (or 2 hours in the case of the new Cars Land ‘Radiator Springs Racers’ in California Adventure Park).  Maximize the popular rides early and go on the less popular rides in the middle of the day when lines are longest.
  2. Disneyland Wait Times Apps:  We caught wind of the best park navigation tool available:  ride wait time applications for smart phones.  We downloaded ‘Disneyland Wait Times’ by VersaEdge Software LLC which was free and updated often.  It allowed us to navigate the rides we wanted to go on real time without having to be at the ride AND which rides to get a Fast Pass for to arrive at a scheduled time to hop right on.
  3. FastPassesBig rides such as Space Mountain and Splash Mountain offer a ‘FastPass’.  This allows you to enter a kiosk at the ride, insert your park pass and receive a ticket with a specified time window later in the day to return and ride the ride without waiting in the normal line.  It’s a lifesaver.  All rides offering the Fast Pass are listed on the park maps in each park.
  4. Special Occasion Buttons:  Disneyland offers a series of free special occasion buttons.  If you are visiting for a family reunion, honeymoon, birthday, having your first Disney visit or maybe would like to be an Honorary Disneyland Citizen there is a button for you.  In our case since we were visiting Disneyland to celebrate a birthday, when checking into the park hotel where we stayed we were given a birthday button with my son’s name on it and the rest of us were given ‘We’re Celebrating’ buttons.  ‘Cast members’ (as the Disney employees are referred to) told him Happy Birthday all weekend long, from those sweeping the streets to ride operators.  It was an incredible experience.  Those wearing buttons are acknowledged making their visit extra special.  You may inquire at City Hall/Guest Services when entering Disneyland or California Adventure Park, at park hotels and shops.  They are a fun way to celebrate your visit.
We enjoyed an excellen dining experience at the Storyteller Cafe {Grand Californian Hotel - Disneyland}.  The chef walked us through the entire menu and returned at the end of the meal with this gluten-free birthday bowl of ice cream 'with extra sprinkles' for our birthday boy.

We enjoyed an excellent dining experience at the Storyteller Cafe {Grand Californian Hotel – Disneyland}. The chef walked us through the entire menu and returned at the end of the meal with this gluten-free birthday bowl of ice cream ‘with extra sprinkles’ for our birthday boy.

Cinnamon Sugar Gluten Free Churros BoulderLocavore.com

Comments

  1. says

    What a delightful trip! I had heard Disney was pretty good at accommodating allergies but it’s nice to hear it from the horse’s mouth so to speak! Your churros look fantastic! I just saw that Pamela’s has created an artisan flour mix. It’s not available in the stores out here but I’ve thought about ordering it to try in my croissant recipe I’m working on. How did you like working with it? Their products are by far my favorite.

    • says

      You know Jen I’d call Disney ‘extraordinary’ in their focus and ability to keep guests ‘safe’ in their dietary needs. Their marketing prowess never ceases to amaze and being such an international destination they are smart to maneuver this so artfully.

      I’ve just begun to experiment with Pamela’s flour and I like it. My ‘go to’ premade blend has been King Arthur’s. I like both blends because they have flour in them that do not have a distinct flavor (I loathe gar-fava flour for instance for that reason). I have had such great success with Pamela’s mixes. They have been a life saver many a time!

    • says

      We love it too Kayle. We’ve only been to Disney World once but Disneyland is a mere hop on a plane for us and small enough to do pretty much everything in both parks in three days. We powered through it too. Though I was going to need to have all my tendons replaced after the first day of extreme power walking!

    • says

      Thanks Dawn. They were really good; fluffy inside with a beautiful outer crust but not greasy in the least (the secret to that is the oil temperature). It was a very satifsying end after smelling them for three days at Disneyland!

  2. says

    Wow these look incredible! I had some churros at a mexican restaurant the other week and they were to die for. The drizzled a little honey on top of them which took them out of this world! Thanks for sharing, I’m definitely trying your recipe :)

    Happy Blogging!

    • says

      I think they also are commonly dipped in chocolate; hot chocolate too! I loved them just as they are but I’m sure there are many variations one could make with them! Thanks Eric.

  3. JoAnna says

    Wow! I made this recipe using the Tom Sawyer brand flour. They were amazing! My son kept saying, “Wow! This is what a churro tastes like!?” His happy face made it all worth it. I was intimidated at first making this recipe but it sounds harder than it is. Thank you so much for the recipe and great directions!

    • says

      I’m so happy to get your comment JoAnna! I’ve not heard of Tom Sawyer flour; can you fill me in on it? My kids felt the same about the Churros. After inhaling them for 3 days it seemed a shame never to try them for a taste. So glad your son got to try them too!

  4. ina james-point says

    just made the churros for my daughter wenona who is gluten intolerant, she loved them, as did everyone else, i used an 1 cup tapioca, 1 cup brown rice and 1 cup white rice four mixed them in a bag and used this flour blend for the churros. they were amazing.. thank you for this recipe. :)

    • says

      I’m so happy to have your feedback and your chosen flour blend! We too loved the churros and the idea we could have something gluten-free we never thought we would! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your comment. You made my day!

  5. says

    How did I miss this yummy post??? I have not had a churro is such a long time, but that is going to change now that I have your recipe! We are taking my daughter to Disneyland for her 12 b-day next month. Shh…it’s a surprise :-)

    • says

      Mum’s the word on your trip! Our trip was a surprise for my son’s 10th. It’s such a fun place. Do take advantage of the tips in the post. It made a big difference. The churros are yummy! After you too inhale them all during your trip you can make your own! Have a special trip!

  6. Stephanie says

    Just tried these tonight. So amazing and so light and fluffy. We can’t stop inhaling them…forget about chewing!

  7. Lisa says

    When I asked my 8 year old Celiac what he wanted special for his birthday when we are at Disneyland celebrating this summer, he looked at me sadly and said “I wish I could have churros.” Google to the rescue. And it looks like you’re in Colorado so this recipe might actually work at altitude (gluten free cooking and Colorado don’t always mix)! I cannot wait to try to make these. Looks like a good weekend project to me!

    • says

      Well if you read the post Lisa you will know I definitely understand. It was the same for my kids which is why I came home and created a recipe immediately. With the churros everywhere, and if not seeing them the fabulous smell of their frying dough is in the air, it is really a challenge for all GF to bear! I hope you’ll all love them.

  8. says

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! Just looking at all those pictures has me smelling churros. Mmm. We went to California Adventure last month and found it fairly easy to eat gluten free. I had a pizza and salad that were both delicious, though my pizza was a bit small.

    • says

      I think Disney does a great job of accommodating allergies/dietary restrictions. They order their pizza crusts so they all come in a specific size which is smaller as you mentioned. I think you’ll love the churros. Each time we make them we are so happy the kids put me on task to create a recipe for them. We were so hungry for them after a few days at Disney and CA Adventure Park!

  9. Samantha Duggan says

    I am hoping to make these for a tailgate; they look delicious! I am always looking for recipes that shock people when I tell them it is GF.

    What are your thoughts/recommendations on cooking the day before, storing, and re-heating? Or, at least making the dough the day before?

    • says

      These are definitely a food that are best when eaten right after frying. They are light and airy at that stage. I only have made them and eaten them fresh Samanatha and really don’t fry a lot of foods to know how they’d do either made early and served a day later, or with pre-making the batter; I’m sorry. If you experiment with it please do let me know how it goes!

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