Let’s Talk New Orleans Gumbo: Roux 101

 To thicken a gumbo with a roux isn’t difficult, however, it takes more attention as you don’t want it to burn. Basically, a roux is a mixture of equal parts flour and fat that is cooked together prior to incorporating into a stew. The fat can be butter, oil, lard, or even bacon grease.

A dark roux is required to get that rich and classic taste authentic New Orleans  gumbo is known for A heavy cast iron pot properly seasoned will make your best gumbo. But any heavy pot is fine.

I like to cook the roux in the cast iron skillet I’m going to make the gumbo in. If you make it in a skillet, which is fine, you’ll have to move it after your veggies are wilted into your gumbo pot.


Always use equal amounts of oil and flour when making roux.  Remember this simple rule when increasing the amount of roux made.

1 cup vegetable shortening or vegetable oil (your choice)*
1 cup all-purpose flour

Combine ingredients, in the cast ion skillet at the same time and stir constantly over medium-high heat with a wooden spoon. 

If you stop stirring – the flour will burn.  Never walk away from your roux.  If you see black specks in the roux, you have ruined it.  Dump it out and start over. The secret to getting perfect roux is to take your time and stir constantly.

Some of my friends make their roux in the oven to avoid constant stirring.. But that takes the experience away, at least for me. There’s also, the store brought roux and that has me shaking my head right now. Roux is not hard to make, only two ingredients and stirring. There’s the challenge of getting the color down to a science, but if you have a good pot or skillet and keep your flame to medium heat, you will be fine.

But here’s the recipe for Baked Roux:

Place the vegetable oil and flour into a cast iron pot or skillet and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours, whisking every 30 minutes throughout the cooking process. I like to take my roux to the edge of darkness, so I’ll leave it in closer to the 2 hour mark. If you choose to do that, in the last half hour you’ll want to stir every 15 minutes. If not, 1.5 hours is just fine.

  • The roux is now starting to color ever so slightly, and is what is called a blonde roux. Blonde roux is used in preparations where you want the benefit of roux’s thickening properties but you don’t want it to affect the taste of the dish, like in a white sauce. If your recipe calls for a darker roux, turn the heat down now to medium or medium-low.

  • The roux has now cooked to the color of peanut butter. If your recipe calls for it to be cooked darker than this, be even more vigilant about stirring and paying attention to what is going on in the pot. If at any point you feel the roux is browning too fast, turn the heat down further.

  • The roux is now the color of a copper penny. You can stop here or you can continue to cook it until it is the color of milk chocolate, as called for in this gumbo. The best way to keep a roux from getting any darker is to have the vegetables and sausage prepped for the next step and to add them as soon as the desired color of roux is achieved; this will immediately drop the temperature of the roux.



New Orleans celebrity Chef Emeril says the time it takes to drink a beer is how long it will take to get your roux to copper penny consistency.



Roux (/ˈr/) is flour and fat cooked together and used to thicken sauces.[1] Roux is typically made from equal parts of flour and fat by weight.[2] The flour is added to the melted fat or oil on the stove top, blended until smooth, and cooked to the desired level of brownness. Buttervegetable oils, bacon drippings or lard are commonly used fats. Roux is used as a thickening agent for gravysaucessoups and stews. It provides the base for a dish, and other ingredients are added after the roux is complete


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