How To, Soups & Stews

How to Make Roux for Gumbo

Have you ever wondered what all the fuss is about when people discuss making roux (pronounced “roo”) for gumbo?  Maybe you feel intimidated, or just wonder why even bother.  Although the roux is a crucial step to achieving an amazing gumbo, it’s not hard to make.  Read on to find out how it’s done.

stirring roux in a cast iron skillet

What is the best cookware for making a roux for gumbo?

The favorite choice of chefs is cast iron, either enameled or seasoned, because of its even heat distribution and excellent heat retention.  If you don’t own a cast iron, use a heavy-bottomed skillet.  Using a pan that has a thin bottom will increase your chances of burning the roux because the pan will heat more unevenly and won’t hold the heat as well.

spooning flour into lard for roux

What is the recommended fat to use for making a roux for gumbo?

The best type of oil would be a corn oil or a vegetable oil.  Stay away from olive oil or peanut oil.  If you prefer using animal fats, you can choose from lard or bacon grease.  Butter is only good for a very light colored roux, and it’s not recommended for the dark colored roux that’s needed for gumbo.

ingredients for roux with a whisk

What is the best color when making a roux for gumbo?

Traditionally, Creole gumbo is made with a copper penny-colored roux, and a Cajun gumbo is made with a deep reddish-brown roux.  Either one tastes very good in a gumbo.

checking the roux color

Expert Tips for Making a Roux for Gumbo

  1. Have all the ingredients and supplies ready before you start.  Measure out the fat and flour.  If you plan on cooking the holy trinity for your gumbo as soon as the roux is done, have the onion, celery, and green pepper all chopped and ready beside the stove.
  2. Stir constantly.  Have a wire whisk and a wooden spoon beside the stove.  Change hands so your arm gets a break.  If you have a responsible kitchen helper, you can take turns stirring.  Don’t walk away from the roux.
  3. Be patient.  A good roux takes time–anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour.  If you want to compare color, take out a jar of peanut butter and a copper penny before you start.  Relax and enjoy the process.  For your pleasure, you might want a tall stool to sit on while you stir, a glass of water to sip on, and some music to listen to.

whisking flour into roux

To make it right, roux requires care, attention to detail, and time, but the end result is so worth it.  I encourage you to try your hand at making a traditional Creole or Cajun roux the next time you are craving gumbo.

Note: This post is Part 2 of my three-part series in making gumbo.  To read Part 1, check out how to make seafood stock.  Stay tuned for Part 3, where I share how to make gumbo.

Do you love Creole cooking?  You’ll want to try these other delicious recipes, too.

pot of jambalaya with wooden spoon pouring seafood stock into a glass jar white bowl of red beans and rice on gray fabric

Share how your roux turned out by leaving a recipe rating below.  We’d love to hear from you!

Print
checking the roux color with a penny

How to Make Roux for Gumbo


  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 57 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups
  • Category: Stews
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Learn how to make roux for authentic gumbo with this easy recipe.  Now you can recreate this Deep South comfort food at home by using this traditional roux recipe.  It’s simple and perfect for your next special meal!


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup solid lard
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if necessary

Instructions

  1. Melt the lard or some other fat (like corn oil, vegetable oil, or bacon grease) over high heat in a large cast iron skillet.
  2. Gradually whisk in the flour until the roux is well mixed.  Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to bubble, then keep stirring.   After 5 minutes, turn down the heat to medium high.
  3. Continue whisking constantly, making sure to stir at the edges of the pan as well.  After a few minutes, the flour mixture will start to change color.  Once it turns a light caramel color, turn the heat down to medium.
  4. If you like, exchange your whisk for a wooden spoon, but keep stirring constantly.  The flour will continue to change color over a period of time.  In the next color stage, the roux will be a light peanut butter color.  You might want to keep a jar of peanut butter out to compare.
  5. To have a Creole type gumbo, you will want the roux to be the color of a copper penny.  This will require about 20-30 more minutes of constant stirring.  Be patient–it’s worth it.  If you want, you can keep a penny close by to compare.  The smell of the flour browning should give off a nutty aroma.  If you smell it burning, lower the heat or move the cast iron skillet off the burner for a while.  If there are black flecks in the roux, it is burnt and you’ll have to start over, as a burnt roux will taste bitter.  Your goal is to have the roux a smooth and silky consistency, not lumpy.
  6. If your goal is to have Cajun type gumbo, you will want your roux to be a darker reddish brown color.  In order to achieve this, turn the heat down to low.  This will allow you to control the color of the roux without burning it.  Keep stirring until you are almost at the desired color.
  7. Remember, the roux darkens and continues to cook when it’s removed from the source of heat, especially if it’s in a cast iron pan.  Because of this fact, it’s a good idea to turn off the heat and remove the roux from the burner when it’s one or two shades lighter than you want it to be.  Continue stirring until it cools, roughly 5 minutes.

Notes

  • It is best to use the roux right away by adding in chopped onion, celery, and green pepper  (the holy trinity of Creole cooking).  Next, cook the veggies in the roux.  Once done, you can proceed with making the gumbo that day, or freeze the veggie/roux mixture to make gumbo in the future.
  • Once the roux is finished, keep the roux in the cast iron pan, remove from the burner, and let it sit until you are ready to use it later in the day.  Just reheat the roux over medium-low heat, then proceed with making the gumbo.
  • If you’re making the roux ahead of time, let it cool, then transfer it to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate to use the next day for gumbo.  When ready to use, put the roux back in the cast iron pan, reheat over medium-low heat, and proceed with making gumbo.

Keywords: roux, gumbo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *