How to Make a Roux
Roux is used to thicken sauces and impart rich, toasted flavor to some stews. Here’s how to make it.
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By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen
Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.
What Is a Roux?
A roux is a cooked mixture of equal parts flour and fat. When flour is cooked in fat, the fat coats the flour’s starch granules. This helps keep lumps from forming when the roux is combined with liquid such as milk or stock, yielding a silky-smooth, uniform sauce.
Butter is commonly used as a fat, but other fats that may be used include oil, lard or rendered fat such as bacon, or pan drippings from a piece of roasted meat.
When Should You Use a Roux?
There are several categories of roux: light roux (white and blonde roux), brown roux and dark roux. Different types of roux result depending on how long you cook the flour and fat; the type of roux you’ll make depends on whether you need it to act more as a thickening agent or to impart flavor.
White and blond roux are cooked for just enough time to eliminate the raw taste of the flour, but not so long that the roux starts to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. White roux is used to thicken sauces such as béchamel, cheese sauces and white gravy, as well as creamy soups and chowders.
Brown and dark roux are cooked for longer and have more flavor. The longer the roux is cooked, the darker in color it gets and the more its toasty, nutty aromas and flavors will come out. A roux starts to brown after about 6 or 7 minutes. Brown roux is classically used in perfect gravies. Dark roux is cooked longer, about 8 to 15 minutes, and is commonly used in Creole and Cajun cuisine to flavor dishes such as gumbo or jambalaya. Brown and dark roux are typically runnier in consistency and have less thickening properties than white or blond roux.
How to Make a Roux
How to Make a Light Roux
- Melt 1 part butter or fat in a skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Then sprinkle in 1 part flour.
- Stir the butter and flour constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure-eight motion for even cooking.
- In 3 to 5 minutes, you'll have a light roux that should puff slightly.
How to Make a Brown Roux
- To make brown roux, you’ll proceed through steps 1 – 3 in the How to Make a Light Roux section, above.
- Then simply continue cooking and stirring the roux. After about 6 or 7 minutes of total cooking time, it will smell a little nutty and turn pale brown. At this stage you have a brown roux.
How to Make a Dark Roux
- To make a dark roux, you'll make a brown roux, detailed above, and then take the roux even further, about 8 to 15 minutes or longer total.
Cool the Roux
No matter what the color, let the roux cool slightly before adding a liquid, like stock or milk. Use a whisk to incorporate and simmer to desired thickness.
How to Make a Roux Without Flour
Roux is commonly made with flour, but you can also sub in cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Mix the cornstarch or arrowroot powder with water to form a slurry before adding it to the pan and cooking it with the fat.
Recipes that Use Roux
Roux can be used to thicken sauces such as gravy, béchamel, velouté and cheese sauce, and dishes such as macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, moussaka, and pot pie filling. Darker roux are used to flavor dishes such as gumbo or jambalaya. Flour and butter are all you need to make a roux, but make use of those pan drippings for an extra-flavorful roux. And remember, the longer you cook the roux, the darker and more flavorful it gets, but the less thickening properties it has.
Mastering a roux will pay dividends year-round, but especially at Thanksgiving when turkey gravy is as essential as the bird itself. Turkey pan drippings are transformed into a luscious gravy by cooking them with turkey fat and flour until slightly browned, then whisking in hot broth (slowly, to prevent lumps!) until thick and glossy.
WHITE SAUSAGE GRAVYFood Network KitchenFood NetworkPork Sausage, AllpurposeFlour, Milk, Baking Powder, Sugar, Fine Salt, Unsalted Butter,Heavy Cream,WHITE SAUSAGE GRAVY Food Network Kitchen Food Network Pork Sausage, Allpurpose Flour, Milk, Baking Powder, Sugar, Fine Salt, Unsalted Butter, Heavy Cream
; Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved
A white gravy is essential to the Southern classic combo of biscuits and sausage gravy. Here, the fat rendered from the sausage serves as a flavor-bomb fat component that’s whisked with flour to create a white roux. The roux is whisked with milk and lightly simmered before being folded with sausage and seasoned with black pepper.
This fan-favorite leans on a classic white roux to bolster the béchamel-inspired sauce that pulls this comfort food mash-up together. Butter and flour form the roux’s base, but dry mustard adds a flavor pop without adding moisture. The roux is whisked with half-and-half and stirred with hot sauce, then taken to super-creamy territory with the addition of cheddar and pepper jack cheeses and sour cream.
Dark roux is called for here to bring deep flavor to this classic Cajun and Creole dish. Andouille sausage drippings are sprinkled with flour and stirred until the roux turns deep brown and smells nutty (about 10 to 12 minutes). Be sure to scrape up the browned bits from the pan with a wooden spoon to make your roux extra flavorful.
Chicken drippings and flour are cooked down into a dark roux that imparts loads of flavor to this creamy, smothered-chicken-style dish. You’ll know the roux is ready when it turns brown and smells of roasted peanuts, about 12 to 15 minutes.
A white roux forms the base of the creamy sauce that gives this baked broccoli gratin dish its signature smooth texture. Whisking flour into melted butter and then simmering it with milk, salt and nutmeg creates a classic béchamel sauce that’ll be become a go-to in your sauce repertoire. Try it with other hardy baked vegetable dishes, such as potatoes, brussels sprouts or cauliflower.