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The ultimate guide on How to Make Roux with step-by-step instructions. A roux is used to make gravies, sauces and bases for soups and stews; It can be used as a thickening agent, as well as adding a wonderful flavor to your dish.
This article was originally published in January 2018. It has been updated for content and photos.
Roux. The cornerstone of many sauces, gravies and stews. An amazing thickening agent and flavor enhancer. Guys, first of all I’m not going to lie. Making roux is a pain in the ass. It takes a lot of time, attention and stirring.
BUT, it’s totally worth it. Whether it’s an extra creamy sauce, or a deep, intense flavor you’re after, a good roux will get you there.
What is Roux?
Roux is basically an equal mixture of flour and fat, cooked over medium to low heat to allow the flour to cook. There are 4 basic kinds of roux; white, blond, medium brown and dark brown. Each of them have a different use. (Scroll down below for detailed descriptions and uses for each).
The lighter roux has less flavor, but works great as a thickening agent. The dark roux will not thicken as well, but has a great deep rich flavor.
As the roux cooks, the starch in the flour is toasted, which is what gives it it’s flavor. The more toasted the flour (the darker the roux) the more flavor your roux will have.
Traditionally, it is made with clarified butter; however, you can use any fat you’d like. If you choose a fat that burns easier, you just need to be a little more careful to not let it burn during the process. I love a roux made with bacon grease, clarified butter, vegetable oil, duck fat, chicken or turkey fat, or a mix will also work.
Fatworks offers a variety of extremely high quality fats that can be used to make a roux. Check out some of their most popular:
See the bottom of the post for a roux recipe. And don’t forget to watch the step-by-step video!
What Is Roux Used For?
It is used both as a thickening agent and a flavor enhancer in dishes. Like stated above, a lighter roux has more thickening power, while a darker roux has more flavor.
Roux is used in a lot of Cajun inspired dishes:
As well as comfort food dishes such as:
Types of Roux
White roux takes less than 5 minutes to cook. It cooks just long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste. Because we are not cooking it to a deeper brown color, it doesn’t take on much flavor. It is typically used as a thickening agent for sauces. It’s great for use in a Bechamel sauce or a white gravy. Think about that macaroni and cheese guys.
Recipes Using White Roux:
If you’re going blond, you’ll need to cook it for about 5-10 minutes. It will take on very light brown, almost peanut butter color. This is a great base for creamy soups and bisques.
Recipes Using Blond Roux:
Creamy Crawfish Bisque – Went Here 8 This
Medium Brown Roux
The medium brown roux takes between 15-25 minutes to cook. It should be a milk chocolate brownish color when it’s done. This kind of roux is commonly used for etouffee as well as lighter seafood gumbos.
Medium brown roux is also used in this recipe for Japanese Curry Roux.
Recipes Using Medium Brown Roux:
Dark Brown Roux
Dark brown roux takes a commitment. But it’s worth it. Totally worth it. It takes between 30 and 40 minutes and careful attention. Whisk continuously to ensure you DON’T BURN IT. I love this stuff. It adds a deep, amazingly delicious flavor to gumbo, and can also be considered gumbo roux.
NOTE: When making a dark brown roux, I don’t recommend using butter. Butter has milk solids in it when have a tendency to burn if cooked for an extended amount of time.
Recipes Using Dark Brown Roux (Gumbo Roux):
Louisiana Seafood Gumbo – Went Here 8 This
Step By Step Instructions
I recommend using a cast iron skillet. The pan heats uniformly and makes it easy to whisk with the lower sides. You can also use a dutch oven (cast iron) if you’d like something a bit deeper.
Once you’ve chosen your fat, you need to use an equal amount of flour. For instance, if you used 1/2 cup of fat, you’ll need 1/2 cup flour.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the fat. Once heated, add an equal amount of flour.
Whisk them together until smooth and then just keep on whisking.
You can increase the heat if using a high smoke point fat (peanut oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, lard) to speed up the cooking. However, I’ve had the best results over medium heat. Learn more about smoke points in this article by Serious Eats.
It’s important to whisk continuously to keep the roux from burning. You’re going to whisk until you’ve reached your desired color (white, blond, medium brown, dark brown).
For a white roux, you only need to whisk for about 3-5 minutes – just long enough that the flour is cooked.
For a blond roux, you will whisk for about 5-10 minutes until you get a light brown color.
A medium brown roux is slightly darker and takes about 15-25 minutes, depending on the heat on your stove.
A dark brown roux takes the longest, typically 30-40 minutes.
- Many different fats can be used to make this recipe. Try using butter, oil, duck fat, goose fat, ghee, coconut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil.
- When making a dark brown roux, I don’t recommend using butter. Butter has milk solids in it when have a tendency to burn if cooked for an extended amount of time. If you have clarified butter, that would work great. However, I find vegetable or canola oil to be the best for a dark roux.
- Roux should be whisked continuously while cooking to avoid burning.
- When making a dark roux, it will go from a dark chocolate color to burned very quickly – make sure to pay attention.
How To Make Roux in the Oven
I prefer to make my roux on the stove, but if you don’t feel like standing over the stove for 45 minutes to make a dark roux, you can make it in the oven.
To make it in the oven, place the flour and fat in an ovenproof skillet and whisk together. Try a cast iron skillet like this one from Lodge (affiliate link).
Place in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Find the full recipe for Oven Roux from Southern Kitchen.
How to Add Liquid to a Roux
Whenever you add liquid to a roux, it is important to use warm or hot liquid and to very SLOWLY pour it into the roux. Pour small amounts in at a time, while whisking continuously to ensure the roux doesn’t break.
**Always make sure your liquid is warm or hot before adding it to a hot roux.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Does it Mean When a Roux Breaks?
It’s a very sad thing when it breaks. A broken roux is when the oil and flour separate, and instead of having a uniform roux, you have chunks of flour sitting in a pool of oil. It’s no good.
I’ve had a roux break when I add cold liquid to a hot roux.
Can I Save a Broken Roux?
This is debatable. I have not had much luck in saving it. However, I have read that you can use Xantham gum to thicken a roux back up. Check out this article from Cook’s Illustrated on how to use Xantham Gum.
Why is My Roux Not Thickening?
First off, it’s important to note that the longer you cook it, the thinner it will get. A dark roux will not be very thick.
If your lighter roux is not thick enough, you may have not added enough flour. Add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired thickness is reached.
Can It Be Made Ahead of Time?
It can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3-4 weeks.
Can You Freeze Roux?
It can be frozen and stored in the freezer for up to a year for the best results. You can freeze it all in one airtight container, or freeze it in ice cubes then store in a freezer safe plastic bag. I prefer the second option as I can thaw out as much as I want at a time.
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- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the fat.
- Add the flour and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly.
- Continue stirring until desired color is reached. Less than 5 minutes for white, 5-10 minutes for blond, 15-25 minutes for medium brown and 30-40 minutes for dark brown. (See additional details in the post above)
- Many different fats can be used to make roux. Try using butter, oil, duck fat, goose fat, ghee, coconut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil.
- When making a dark brown roux, I don't recommend using butter. Butter has milk solids in it when have a tendency to burn if cooked for an extended amount of time. If you have clarified butter, that would work great. However, I find vegetable or canola oil to be the best for a dark roux.
- Roux should be whisked continuously while cooking to avoid burning.
- When making a dark roux, it will go from a dark chocolate color to burned very quickly - make sure to pay attention.