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All About Roux

Once you learn how easy it is to make roux, it could become a staple item in your kitchen.

This classic French thickener imparts velvety-smooth richness to soups and sauces.


What is Roux?

Roux (pronounced "roo") is a thickening agent for soups and sauces with roots dating back more than 300 years in French cuisine. Made by cooking a flour and oil paste until the raw flavor of the flour cooks out and the roux has achieved the desired color, a good roux gives dishes silky-smooth body and a nutty flavor, and thickens soups and sauces.

Home cooks usually make roux with butter, but it can also be prepared with olive oil or bacon grease! The difference between roux and other thickeners (like corn starch) is that the starch, in this case flour, is cooked before use. Cooking removes the flour's raw taste but maintains its excellent thickening properties. This makes roux  a stable, smooth, and delicate thickener. Cooked to a golden or brown stage, roux takes on a rich, toasted flavor, adding color to soups and stews.


How to Make Roux

Roux takes just a few minutes to make. Whether you are making just enough for a single dish, or a batch to divide and freeze for later, the proportions of ingredients are the same: 1 part oil or fat and 1 part all-purpose flour, by weight. If you have a kitchen scale, this is easy to measure. If you do not have a kitchen scale, use measuring cups or spoons to measure 1 part oil or fat and 1-3/4 parts all-purpose flour.

We'll explain how to make a small batch.

Begin by heating 2 tablespoons oil or fat in a saucepan over medium heat until a pinch of flour sprinkled into the oil will just begin to bubble. Then, whisk in 3-1/2 tablespoons of flour to form a thick paste the consistency of cake frosting. Continue whisking as the roux gently bubbles and cooks to the shade desired. Do not allow the roux to bubble too vigorously, or it will burn rather than brown.


    Whisk for Extra Smoothness in Sauce

    After cooking roux, you'll usually add a liquid ingredient to make a sauce (milk added to white roux, for example, makes white sauce). 

    To ensure lump-free thickening when making sauces, the liquid ingredient should be cold or room temperature, and slowly whisked into the hot roux. Do this by adding the liquid a little at a time, whisking until smooth between each addition, until the roux forms a thin paste, then whisking in the remaining liquid and bringing the mixture to a simmer. Cold or room temperature roux is simply whisked into a simmering soup or sauce until it dissolves. These methods ensure the roux is incorporated slowly and the mixture will not form lumps.

    Roux begins to thicken soon after it is combined with a liquid, but it must be simmered for 10 to 20 minutes in order to reach its full flavor and thickening potential. This additional cooking time allows the flour to soften and absorb the liquid, resulting in a silky smooth soup or sauce. If the simmering time is too short, the flour in the roux will remain grainy.


      The Four Shades of Roux

      There are four varieties of roux denoted by their colors: white, blond, brown, and dark brown. Brown and dark brown roux have more flavor, but less thickening power than white or blond roux. They are primarily used in Cajun and Creole dishes, most notably gumbo and jambalaya.


        White Roux

        White roux is cooked for about 5 minutes, just until the flour has lost its raw smell, but before any golden color or toasted aroma develops. This roux is used to thicken chowders and milk-based sauces. Classic macaroni and cheese, tuna noodle casserole, and New England clam chowder are all based on milk thickened with a white roux.


        Blond Roux

        Blond, or golden roux, is cooked approximately 20 minutes to a light, golden-brown shade with an aroma resembling popcorn or toasted bread. This is the most commonly-used roux, desired for the richness and a slight nuttiness it provides along with its excellent thickening power. Blond roux is a good, general-purpose roux to keep on hand for thickening stock-based sauces, soups, and stews.


        Brown Roux

        Brown roux is cooked about 35 minutes until it reaches to a peanut butter-brown color. Its aroma is more pronounced and sharper than the nutty smell of blond roux. Cooked to this stage, flour begins to loose its thickening power, requiring more roux to thicken a given amount of liquid.


        Dark Brown Roux

        Even darker than the preceding brown roux, dark brown roux is cooked approximately 45 minutes until it is the color of melted milk chocolate. Its aroma is mellower than the strong, roasted flavor of brown roux, and will actually smell a little like chocolate. This stage has the least thickening power of all four; its main purpose is as a flavoring agent with thickening secondary.


          Comments
          pam.b. 
          Sep. 13, 2009 4:00 pm
          great article :)
           
          Donna 
          Sep. 26, 2009 4:49 pm
          thanks for the tips, facinating
           
          Oct. 8, 2009 4:19 pm
          Thanks I have been wondering how to make it and what the different colors of roux were used for
           
          Nov. 10, 2009 6:40 pm
          tis is so nice helped me out so much thanks darlin
           
          Snowbird 
          Nov. 23, 2009 3:00 pm
          Tips/hints were very helpful...thanks!
           
          clos 
          Dec. 8, 2009 3:26 am
          Can only all-purpose wheat flour be used to make a roux? I must eat gluten-free, so can't have wheat, rye, barley or oats products. What other flours work well and produce a good result? Unfortunately, info on flours is missing from your otherwise informative articles on rouxs.
           
          mgchowley 
          Dec. 27, 2009 4:50 pm
          I would attempt using spelt or rice flour. Having never tried them I cannot speak to the thickening power, however they are starches and that is the main reason for using flour. I would try the recipie above as is and if it is too thick or thin, then change the amounts from there. Hope this helps.
           
          babydollmac 
          Jan. 1, 2010 3:40 pm
          My family has cooked roux for years living in New Orleans all my life. Since it takes soo long to cook it on the stove-- My mom gave me this awhile ago to cut down some of the cooking time -- part is done in the microwave & part is done of the stove.. We also use the Savoie's roux jar mix because it also cuts down on the time on the stove -- Plan on having a few hours if you want to cook a dish with a roux base.. Hope this helps some people who are at times on shorter days but still want a roux dish.. we use an 8 cup pyrex measuring cup (sometime flour will froth up & boil over so use the big one) if not large enough bowl / cup used) 1 1/2 cups oil add in 2 cups ALL PURPOSE flour; stir well, using wooden or plastic spoon micro on high 7 minutes, stir well at this point roux is usually light. than micro 1 minute at a time, stirring after each minute till roux looks like dark peanut butter. this beats on the stove, but is not as convinent as store bought. If roux is not
           
          lilbzthatsme 
          Feb. 17, 2010 11:47 pm
          That's neat never heard of roux in the microwave. Me I'm a firm believer that there is no such thing as jar roux, but I've always made my own (I'm from Lafayette,La. the heart land of La. so it's called)but that's just me. The jar roux is never dark enough and they don't add good stuff to it, like onions and garlic and bell peppers, all of which i add at the end of cooking a roux. Oh well guess not everybody has the time to do it authentic, but if you do it comes out sooo much better.
           
          Feb. 25, 2010 4:12 am
          Thanks for the info. I never thought of making the roux ahead of time and storing till needed. Also did not realize the roux lost thickening power as it darkened. However, now some things are beginning to make sense. Guess one is never too old to learn!
           
          Mar. 13, 2010 6:31 am
          Potato starch or flour thickens very well. When gluten free is needed, make roux using equal parts potato flour and a fat such as butter or a potato starch and water. Corn starch and water is another alternative.
           
          clos 
          Apr. 13, 2010 6:02 am
          Many thanks to mgchowley for her suggestions and to chef sharkscue for his proven gluten-free alternatives based on experience. I'll be trying potato flour/starch for sure. Sure wish restaurants would use gluten-free starches in their gravies, sauces& fry batters/ coatings-it'd make dining outeasier and safer for the gluten sensitives.
           
          Brigid's Folly 
          May 11, 2010 12:32 pm
          Please address the issue of the "breaking" of roux in a soup resulting in a layer of oil on the top. My theory is that the roux has not been cooked long enough before being added to the soup. Is that a valid assumption?
           
          May 17, 2010 10:20 pm
          many2 thanks for the article..it is very helpfull...from now on perfect roux all the time...
           
          donyarina 
          Jul. 13, 2010 1:51 pm
          Can I use whole wheat flower to make roux?
           
          Sep. 20, 2010 1:01 pm
          Thanks so much this just helped with my catering/hospitality homework lol.
           
          granmacita2 
          Nov. 7, 2010 11:42 am
          This is excellent information! Thank you!
           
          Cam 
          Dec. 19, 2010 11:23 am
          Thank you to everyone at Allrecipes! I have been putting together a 'First Cookbook' for my son's girlfriend who has asked me for cooking lessons. I am learning SOOO much with this project. Correcting errors of years! and understanding why some things have been beyond me for so long. Thank you!
           
          yvonne 
          Dec. 20, 2010 6:28 pm
          Very informative and helpful! Thank You!
           
          Love to Cook 
          Jan. 31, 2011 7:37 pm
          Thanks so much for the tips. Here's what I do to make a delicious cheese sauce from a reaux. Slowly add milk to the reaux, stirring constantly to desired thickness. Then add a couple dashes of Worcestershire and stir in completely. Add shredded cheese (I like sharp cheddar) to taste and stir until melted.
           
          ron cook 
          Mar. 3, 2011 10:59 am
          Great info! I made a lovely dark roux and then learned the gumbo I had planned would have to wait for a few days. Thanks to your info, I now know I can save the roux. THANKS! -- ron
           
          lori 
          Aug. 17, 2011 6:51 am
          our cafe, Urbia Fresh makes all our soups using roux with corn starch for a gluten-free option for our customers. We are located just 12 miles from the GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group) headquarters.
           
          roankafarm 
          Oct. 2, 2011 3:55 pm
          The mystery of roux has finally been solved for me.....especially the microwave version. I can't wait to try this. Cajun cooking here I come!
           
          Dannie 
          Oct. 18, 2011 5:33 pm
          lol i just used this to remember the smell for my midterm tomorrow. good stuff.
           
          hsmomof4 
          Oct. 21, 2011 2:18 pm
          I made a roux today to use in one of the gumbo recipes listed here on the site. The recipe called for olive oil but I was short a bit and added half veg oil and half olive oil. My gumbo turned out so oily tasting. Where did I go wrong?? Made many rouxes before never had this happen. The roux just sit on top of the gumbo even after hours of cooking! Any suggestions!
           
          miss bobbie 
          Nov. 1, 2011 1:52 am
          November 1, 2011 I wanted to add, if you are making a gumbo roux, that you should consider doing this also. Not necessarily for the roux but the stock that will follow. Gather along the way before making your gumbo, items like shrimps, shrimps shells, fish, fish shells, crabs, crabs shells, crawfish, crawfish shells. When boiling the actual stock, it is an excellent method t engrain so much more of the flavors from seafood if using the shells and whole pieces of seafood. You do NOT have to keep the meat portion in the stock, (I dont know why one would not but it is a choice), but the main thing is, to use the stock to boil our the flavors from the seafood as a base tasting for the stock. Drain out all shells etc before continuing to make your gumbo. I promise this works, I have watched my 82 year old now deceased step father (who was from the Irish Channel n New Orleans, LA) do this and I have also done this. It cannot be matched!! brigolets@aol.com
           
          PSKITTY 
          May 10, 2012 3:22 pm
          To me, there are just some things where shortcuts will not work. I'm sure the microwave worked, but mine has hot spots that will cause a burn. Anyway, this is the kind of cooking you do in big batches; turn on a good movie and just stand there at the stove and whisk. It takes forever, but the end result is out of this world. I love the butter-nut flavor, so I use it in place of the oil, but color of the roux depends on the use. Tonight I made a golden roux that's got such an incredible nutty aroma it's to die for. I'd earlier simmered 6 chicken breasts in water and seasonings, strained the water and used it to make the sauce. Then I added chunks of chicken, thinly sliced mushrooms. I'd forgotten I'd salted the water, so the salt was a little too much, so I added about 1/6 cup of sweetened coconut milk. Great way to cut down on saltiness where appropriate and that nuance of sweet coconut just made the dish. Serve over everything including mashed potatoes, toast points, rice, pastr
           
          PSKITTY 
          May 10, 2012 3:34 pm
          Wish we could edit! That's 1/2 a cup of sweetened coconut milk.
           
          Yulana 
          Jun. 20, 2012 11:23 am
          Excellent article on roux!
           
          travelbecky 
          Aug. 29, 2012 5:06 pm
          I too, have some Savoie roux, but am not sure how much to use. The recipe I want to use calls for 1/2 c oil and 1/2 c flour. How much roux does that measure out to be?
           
          Oct. 27, 2012 2:32 pm
          A wonderful and in depth description regarding all aspects of roux. I give an A++!!!
           
          pmc686 
          Nov. 15, 2012 11:46 am
          I heard on "The Chew" that to save time on Thanksgiving, make a base gravy with roux & chicken stock & freeze. Thaw out & warm on The Day & you're all ready to add turkey drippings when the bird comes out of the oven. Thanks for the tips on making roux!
           
          Pambrad 
          Jan. 9, 2013 6:02 pm
          How do you mix the oil into the flour w/roux in a jar? I'm also Cajun & I know how to make roux, but, sometimes, I use the jarred roux to save time. I've been putting the jar in the microwave, & nuking until it's smooth. Does anyone know another way?
           
          Feb. 14, 2013 2:32 pm
          great info!!
           
          Mar. 14, 2013 1:26 pm
          Am I missing something here? How can I print this OR save it to my recipe box? This info is too good not to share!!
           
          Apr. 23, 2013 2:48 pm
          I guess it's more of a "cooking tip" type of thing than a recipe...
           
          chefkaty 
          Nov. 22, 2013 9:17 am
          All very helpful information, but your roux is not nearly dark enough for gumbo in my opinion. The darkest roux pictured looks good for gravy to me. My gumbo roux is the color of dark chocolate or even darker. Check out Paul Prudhomme's pictures of roux for another gumbo roux color.
           
          christena1223 
          Dec. 1, 2013 11:20 am
          great advice! thank you for the knowledge!!!
           
          Melissa 
          Dec. 31, 2013 11:34 am
          The new green bean casserole recipe I want to try requires a roux. Can I still make the entire recipe ahead of time and bake it in a few hours?
           
           
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