Learn how to make roux for authentic gumbo with this easy recipe.  Now you can recreate this Deep South comfort food at home by using this traditional roux recipe.  It’s simple and perfect for your next special meal!

Prep Time: 2 minutes
checking the roux color with a penny
Christmas, Soups & Stews

How to Make Roux for Gumbo

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Have you ever wondered what all the fuss is about when people discuss making roux (pronounced “roo”) for gumbo?  Maybe you feel intimidated, or just wonder why even bother.  Although the roux is a crucial step to achieving an amazing gumbo, it’s not hard to make. 

Keep reading to find out how it’s done.

stirring roux in a cast iron skillet

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What is the best cookware for making a roux for gumbo?

The favorite choice of chefs is cast iron, either enameled or seasoned, because of its even heat distribution and excellent heat retention.  If you don’t own a cast iron, use a heavy-bottomed skillet.  Using a pan that has a thin bottom will increase your chances of burning the roux because the pan will heat more unevenly and won’t hold the heat as well.

What is the recommended fat to use for making a roux for gumbo?

The best type of oil would be a corn oil or a vegetable oil.  Stay away from olive oil or peanut oil. 

If you prefer using animal fats, you can choose from lard or bacon grease.  Butter is only good for a very light colored roux, and it’s not recommended for the dark colored roux that’s needed for gumbo.

What is the best color when making a roux for gumbo?

Traditionally, Creole gumbo is made with a copper penny-colored roux, and a Cajun gumbo is made with a deep reddish-brown roux.  Either one tastes very good in a gumbo.

How to Make Roux for Gumbo

Gather your two ingredients: fat (lard) and flour.

ingredients for roux with a whisk

In a cast iron skillet, melt the lard over high heat then gradually add the flour a little at a time.

spooning flour into lard for roux

Whisk the flour into the melted lard with a large metal whisk until all the flour is well mixed.  Whisk until the roux begins to bubble.  Keep stirring.  After 5 minutes, turned the heat down to medium high.

Continue whisking, making sure to get into the corners. 

After a few minutes you’ll start to see a change in color.  The first color stage is a light caramel color.  When you hit that stage, turn the heat down to medium.

whisking flour into roux

You might want to change your whisk for a wooden spoon.  Keep stirring and you’ll see the next color change: a light peanut butter color.  Compare your color with a jar of peanut butter.

The next color stage will be the copper penny stage.  This is the color you’ll want for a Creole type gumbo.  It will take another 20 to 30 minutes of stirring to get to this point.

The flour should smell nutty, not burnt.  Remove the cast iron skillet from the heat and stir for another 5 minutes as the roux will continue cooking.

checking roux color with a penny

Use the roux right away by cooking the holy trinity (onion, celery and bell pepper).stirring the roux with a whisk

Pro Tips for Making a Roux for Gumbo

  • Have all the ingredients and supplies ready before you start.  Measure out the fat and flour.  If you plan on cooking the holy trinity for your gumbo as soon as the roux is done, have the onion, celery, and green pepper all chopped and ready beside the stove.
  • Stir constantly.  Have a wire whisk and a wooden spoon beside the stove.  Change hands so your arm gets a break.  If you have a responsible kitchen helper, you can take turns stirring.  Don’t walk away from the roux.
  • Be patient.  A good roux takes time–anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour.  If you want to compare color, take out a jar of peanut butter and a copper penny before you start.  Relax and enjoy the process. 
  • If you’re making the roux ahead of time, let it cool, then transfer it to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate to use the next day for gumbo.  When ready to use, put the roux back in the cast iron pan, reheat over medium-low heat, and proceed with making gumbo.
  • It is best to use the roux right away by adding in chopped onion, celery, and green pepper (the holy trinity of Creole cooking).  Next, cook the veggies in the roux.  Once done, you can proceed with making the gumbo that day, or freeze the veggie/roux mixture to make gumbo in the future.
  • Once the roux is finished, keep the roux in the cast iron pan, remove from the burner, and let it sit until you are ready to use it later in the day.  Just reheat the roux over medium-low heat, then proceed with making the gumbo.

Note: This post is Part 2 of my three-part series in making gumbo.  To read Part 1, check out how to make seafood stock.  Read Part 3, where I share how to make gumbo.

To make it right, roux requires care, attention to detail, and time, but the end result is so worth it.  I encourage you to try your hand at making a traditional Creole or Cajun roux the next time you are craving gumbo.

kitchen tools for making roux for gumbo

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Making Roux

Do you love Creole cooking?  You’ll want to try these other delicious recipes, too.

holding a bowl of gumbo pouring seafood stock into a glass jar spoonful of jambalaya

 The pleasure of a 5-star review for this roux recipe would be greatly appreciated.

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checking the roux color with a penny

How to Make Roux for Gumbo


  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 57 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups 1x

Description

Learn how to make roux for authentic gumbo with this easy recipe.  Now you can recreate this Deep South comfort food at home by using this traditional roux recipe.  It’s simple and perfect for your next special meal!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup solid lard
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if necessary

Instructions

  1. Melt the lard or some other fat (like corn oil, vegetable oil, or bacon grease) over high heat in a large cast iron skillet.
  2. Gradually whisk in the flour until the roux is well mixed.  Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to bubble, then keep stirring.   After 5 minutes, turn down the heat to medium high.
  3. Continue whisking constantly, making sure to stir at the edges of the pan as well.  After a few minutes, the flour mixture will start to change color.  Once it turns a light caramel color, turn the heat down to medium.
  4. If you like, exchange your whisk for a wooden spoon, but keep stirring constantly.  The flour will continue to change color over a period of time.  In the next color stage, the roux will be a light peanut butter color.  You might want to keep a jar of peanut butter out to compare.
  5. To have a Creole type gumbo, you will want the roux to be the color of a copper penny.  This will require about 20-30 more minutes of constant stirring.  Be patient–it’s worth it.  If you want, you can keep a penny close by to compare.  The smell of the flour browning should give off a nutty aroma.  If you smell it burning, lower the heat or move the cast iron skillet off the burner for a while.  If there are black flecks in the roux, it is burnt and you’ll have to start over, as a burnt roux will taste bitter.  Your goal is to have the roux a smooth and silky consistency, not lumpy.
  6. If your goal is to have Cajun type gumbo, you will want your roux to be a darker reddish brown color.  In order to achieve this, turn the heat down to low.  This will allow you to control the color of the roux without burning it.  Keep stirring until you are almost at the desired color.
  7. Remember, the roux darkens and continues to cook when it’s removed from the source of heat, especially if it’s in a cast iron pan.  Because of this fact, it’s a good idea to turn off the heat and remove the roux from the burner when it’s one or two shades lighter than you want it to be.  Continue stirring until it cools, roughly 5 minutes.

Notes

  • Make this recipe perfectly the first time.  Check out the step-by-step photos and pro tips before the recipe card.
  • The pleasure of a 5-star review for this roux recipe would be greatly appreciated.
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Want to see our latest recipes?  Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
  • Category: Stews
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: roux, gumbo

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6 thoughts on “How to Make Roux for Gumbo

  1. I wanted to post a photo to see if I got my roux too dark. (But I don’t see where to upload a photo 😂) I’ve made roux this will be my second time. I had saw somewhere where you could get it the color of chocolate. This time that’s what I done. But the time before I don’t it the color of peanut butter. It was amazing. So I wanted to try to go darker for even more flavor. I kept it stirred so that it didn’t stick. 😁 Even though it didn’t stick..how do you tell if it’s burnt or not? When I let it cool to pour in the bowl for storage it was so thick. Is that normal?

    1. Hi Teresa! We don’t have a place for you to upload a photo on our blog, but you can definitely do that on Pinterest! Just find our Roux pin on Pinterest and leave your photo there.
      We’re thrilled that you found this recipe to be good! You can tell if the roux is burnt by smelling and tasting it. It definitely will be very thick; that’s a good thing. Happy cooking!

  2. Your recipes and explanations are extremely well-done. I often have people ask me for my gumbo recipe, but I don’t have the patience to write out all the steps and find it hard to explain. You’ve given me a great resource to share. People are so afraid of roux, but the most ingredient of all is patience, which you added. For some reason, however, people outside of Louisiana think of roux only as something we make for gumbo. So many other great Louisiana dishes begin with a light roux and for those butter is a delicious fat to use.

    1. Thank you so much, Suzanne! You’re right–many dishes use a roux, such as white sauces and gravies. We’re glad you enjoyed the gumbo recipe!

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