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


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!



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


  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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
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  • Category: Stews
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: roux, gumbo

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