Roux is an essential thickening component for making sauces, soups, and thick, hearty dishes. It is simple to make and should become a staple ingredient in your kitchen. I’ll show you how easy it is to make!
Roux (pronounced RU) is made by cooking a mixture of equal parts flour and fat, typically butter. It is the thickening agent for three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: sauce béchamel, sauce velouté and sauce espagnole.
I use it all the time to add extra richness, and it’s also the thickener for many soups and sauces.
Types of Roux
- White: This is the lightest roux. White roux should be slightly puffed, and it requires 1 to 2 minutes of cooking. It it used to make sauces like sausage gravy or a bechamel sauce, and it’s the perfect homemade mac and cheese roux!
- Blond: A blond color roux is also slightly puffed. It requires cooking for 3 minutes. It is used to make lighter sauces like velouté (chicken stock plus roux).
- Light Brown: A light brown roux will be thick and have a color similar to peanut butter. It is perfect for gravy, and requires cooking for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Dark Brown: A dark roux is dark brown and almost black in color. It is great for making Creole and Cajun recipes. Because of the long cook time of 7 to 8 minutes, it is best to use a high smoke point oil or clarified butter instead of traditional butter. This is because melted butter is likely to burn.
Good choices for oil are canola, vegetable, or avocado oil. I also sometimes use shortening, or the incredible “liquid gold” that is bacon fat. As a result, you will have plenty of extra flavor there!
Keep in mind that the longer you cook a roux, the more flavor it will have, but the less thickening power it will have.
How to Avoid Lumps
- To prevent lumps, the rule is to always whisk a cold liquid (milk, chicken stock, wine, etc.) into the hot roux. It is also important to add the liquid slowly!
- If using a cold roux that you have on hand straight from the refrigerator, whisk it into hot liquids (chicken, beef or vegetable stocks).
Lumps are more likely to form if both the roux and the liquid are the same temperature. Lumps do not make for a smooth sauce!
How long can you keep it?
Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. If you make a small batch and plan to use it up within 2 days, it can be kept in a covered container at room temperature.
How to make gravy
Watch the roux recipe video tutorial below!
- 1/4 cup butter (or oil, fat drippings)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- dash of white pepper
- In a medium sauce pan melt equal parts butter and then the flour.
- Whisk the flour and butter together and allow to simmer on low to cook the flour.
- 1-2 minutes: The lightest (white color) roux will be slightly puffed. It can be used in white sauces like pepper sausage gravy or bechamel sauce. 3 minutes: The light (blond color) roux will be slightly puffed. It can be used in sauces like velouté (chicken stock plus roux). 5-6 minutes: A light brown (peanut butter color) roux is perfect for savory sauces or gravies. 10 minutes: Dark (brown color) roux is great for Creole and Cajun recipes.
- Add liquids like chicken of beef stock, milk or wine a little at a time while whisking until smooth after each addition. Add remaining seasonings in recipe and simmer a couple of minutes more.
- The roux is the base thickener for any sauce, gravy or soup. Adding 3-4 cups of stock or other liquid will yield a medium consistency when whisked in. Adapt to your liking of more or less. I prefer thicker, which means less stock and add more as you go. You can't go back once it's thinned, BUT you can make more roux and whisk it in to thicken again.
- The longer a roux cooks, the less thickening power it has.
- If you want a dark roux for a Cajun or Creole dish use a canola or vegetable oil because it has a higher smoke point than butter and will prevent the mixture from burning. I also use shortening or the incredible “liquid gold” that is bacon fat, extra flavor there!
- How to Avoid Lumps
- To prevent lumps when adding liquids to a roux, the rule is to always add a cold liquid (milk, chicken stock, wine, etc.) to hot roux.
- If using a cold roux straight from the refrigerator, whisk it into hot liquids (chicken, beef or vegetable stocks).