vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons + ½ cup sugar, divided
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Begin heating the oil for frying before you make the dough for churros.
In a separate small saucepan, bring the water, salt, butter, 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla extract to a boil over medium-high heat.
Lower the heat and add the flour all at once after the water has boiled. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a ball. Remove from the heat and cool for 4 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, check on the oil. The temperature should be between 350 F and 370 F.
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
Mix the ½ cup of sugar and cinnamon, if using cinnamon.
Beat the egg in a small bowl. Add about ½ of the egg to the flour and beat with the wooden spoon. Add the remaining egg and beat again until the egg is incorporated.
Drop the nozzle for piping into the piping bag. Leave the tip of the bag on for now.
Load the dough into the bag, and then cut the tip of the bag off so the tip can slide down.
Pipe the churros onto the parchment paper, about 8 inches in length. Cut the parchment paper into pieces, with each churro on one piece of parchment.
When the oil is hot enough, slide one piece of parchment with the churro on it into the hot oil. The churro will float off and you can use tongs to pull the parchment out of the oil and set aside.
Cook the churro 6 to 8 minutes, turning it over halfway through. When it’s browned, remove it from the oil to a cooling rack over a baking tray.
Check the first churro for doneness. You’re looking for it to be crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside.
Cook remaining churros 2 to 3 at a time in the hot oil and drain them on the cooling rack.
Sprinkle with sugar or the cinnamon-sugar mixture while still warm. Serve immediately.