There are as many gumbo recipes as there are cooks, but they all have one thing in common: a rich, dark, slow-cooked roux.
A roux is a slow-cooked combination of flour and fat (usually butter) that is used as a thickening agent. It's essential for making classic gravies and sauces (Mornay, béchamel and velouté) as well as Cajun and Creole specialties such as gumbo.


There are three classic roux: white, blond and brown. The color and flavor is determined by the type of fat used as well as the cooking time.

The lighter colored roux are made with butter. White roux is cooked until it just starts to turn beige, while blond roux is cooked until pale golden. Both are used to thicken creamy white sauces or light soups.

Brown roux can be made with butter, drippings or pork or beef fat. It's cooked to a deep golden brown and used for rich, dark soups and sauces. Cajun and Creole cooks often used a lard-based roux. Cooked for up to an hour, this roux turns a dark mahogany color and carries a nutty flavor.

Storage Tips

Unused roux may be cooled, wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for a later use.

Cooking Tips

• The standard ratio for making a roux is 6 parts flour to 4 parts fat by weight.

All-purpose flour is most often used—the moderate levels of starch and protein result in moderate thickening. Flours with higher starch contents will have more thickening power.

• A heavy-bottomed saucepan will ensure heat is conducted evenly and help prevent burning.

• When making delicate white sauces, use clarified butter (instead of whole butter) for extra smooth results.

Try one of our favorite roux recipes:

Crawfish Bisque
Dad's Low(er) Fat Sausage Gravy
Chicken a La King