This work explores the advantages of vacuum frying of ‘churros’, a Spanish dough pastry, compared to standard deep-fat frying. Oil uptake, texture change, colour development, nonenzymatic browning and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) concentration were analysed at different frying conditions. The results obtained during vacuum frying at 100, 120 and 140 °C and 21 kPa were compared with those obtained at atmospheric pressure at 140 and 180 °C. For the same final water content, the vacuum fried ‘churros’ showed no significant differences in the fat uptake compared to those fried at atmospheric pressure (P > 0.05). However, the vacuum fried dough had a much crunchier texture. The evolution of the CIELab a* coordinate and the browning measurement at 280 nm show that vacuum frying is able to slow down the development of browning tones. Furthermore, products can be obtained with an HMF content <1 mg kg−1 of dry dough.