How to Make a Roux

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Roux is the foundation of some of your favorite dishes: gravy, macaroni and cheese, chowders, gumbo and more. We'll show you how to make a roux and the best way to store it so you always have it ready to use.

Roux (pronounced ROO) is what makes chowders, stews and gravy thick and silky. It’s what makes gumbos rich and nutty. And—believe it or not—it’s made up of just two ingredients.

Stirred into hundreds of recipes, a roux is a mixture of equal parts flour and fat, usually butter or oil. What makes one roux different from another is its color and cook time. But it’s a simple combination, and knowing how to make a roux is something every home cook should learn.

What Are the Four Types of Roux?

There are four types of roux: white, blonde, brown and dark. They all contain the same ingredients—equal parts flour and fat—but the colors differ based on how long you cook the mixture.

  • White roux is the most common and has the most thickening power. You’ll find it in recipes for white sauce (also called bechamel) and soups. You only cook this roux long enough to eliminate the flour’s raw flavor, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Blonde roux has an off-white color you could call “eggshell” and a buttery flavor. It’s perfect for quick pan sauces. You would use this type of roux to make velouté (one of the classic mother sauces) but you can also use it in any recipe that calls for a white roux. Blonde roux cooks for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Brown roux is caramel-colored and has a nutty, rich flavor. Use it in complex soups and stews, and cook it for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Dark roux is the darkest and most flavorful roux. It requires constant stirring. You’ll also find that many cooks use vegetable oil instead of butter for a dark roux, to avoid burning the butter. You’ll end up with a maple-colored mixture that doesn’t have as much thickening power as the lighter versions, but it is deeply flavorful. To reach this level, cook at least 45 minutes.

What Is Dry Roux?

Dry roux is simply toasted flour. You can make it in a skillet on the stovetop or bake it in a 350ºF oven for about 25 minutes. Either way, make sure to stir it occasionally to get an even color, until the flour is brown.

What Can You Substitute for Flour in a Roux?

For gluten-free thickening power, look to any of these ways to thicken a sauce. Skip the flour and make a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry as a thickener to mix into your sauce or soup at the end of the cooking time. Or, if you want to keep the nutty flavor of a roux, try swapping in sweet rice flour for wheat flour. It’s ground from glutinous rice, so it creates the same silky texture as using regular flour.

How to Make a Roux for Any Dish

This recipe makes enough roux to thicken 1 cup of milk or broth.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash white pepper

A quick note about the ingredients: Most roux recipes call for butter because it’s naturally flavorful and rich. If you’re making a dark roux, you may want to consider using an oil with a higher smoke point, like canola or vegetable oil, to prevent the mixture from burning. You can also use melted shortening or even bacon grease to make your roux.

Directions

Step 1: Make a white roux

how to make a rouxTaste of Home

All roux starts with a white roux—cooking the roux just long enough to eliminate the taste of raw flour. In a small saucepan, melt the butter (or oil) over medium heat. Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and foamy. At this point, it should look like a thick paste.

Make A White RouxTaste of Home

Editor’s tip: Most roux recipes instruct you to use a whisk, but I like using a rubber spatula. It helps you get into the corners of the saucepan, making sure the mixture doesn’t collect there and burn.

Step 2: Keep it going for a blonde roux

Stirring Blonde RouxTaste of Home

To deepen the nutty flavor of your roux, continue cooking it for as long as 10 minutes, stirring frequently. This will weaken the thickening power of the flour, but it will turn an appealing caramel color and add a huge amount of flavor to any dish.

Step 3: Cook even longer for a brown roux

Brown RouxTaste of Home

For a brown roux, keep going for another 20 minutes, cooking the roux as long as 30 minutes total. It will turn out deep and rich with a nuttier flavor and aroma. It’s reminiscent of brown butter with an almost smoky quality.

Step 4: Cook just a little longer for a dark roux

Roux Dark C how to make a rouxTaste of Home

There are a few things to keep in mind when making dark roux. First, the thickening power decreases as the color increases, so plan to make extra when making a darker roux.

This type of roux also burns very easily as it darkens. If you notice any dark flecks in your roux, toss it and start over—otherwise, it won’t thicken properly and your recipe will taste burnt. To avoid ruining your dark roux, stir constantly and lower the heat to medium-low. Remember, it needs to cook for at least 45 minutes, so patience is key!

Step 5: Use the roux or save it for later

Pouring Milk Into RouxTaste of Home

Use your prepared roux as the foundation for any number of dishes, either immediately or over time. To use the roux immediately, whisk in 1 cup of cold milk or broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring until the liquid is nice and thick. You can easily create a cheese sauce from here by adding shredded cheese.

To prevent lumps when adding liquids to a roux, always add cold liquid to hot roux (or, cold roux to hot liquids). If both the roux and the liquid are hot, the mixture will clump up quickly and you’ll end up with lumps.

Roux also stores exceptionally well. (Making roux ahead of time is the secret to perfect homemade gravy!) Store the roux in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to six months, or freeze it for up to a year. You can place dollops on a sheet pan and put them into a freezer bag once they’re frozen, or freeze it in ice cube trays.

What to Make with Roux

Now that you know how to make a roux, you can perfect your mac and cheese by using your roux for a cheese sauce—or make the cheese sauce and pour it over potatoes or vegetables.

To create an easy gravy, add roux to pan drippings from roasts. Or use your roux to try a Cajun-inspired dish like Crawfish Etoufee or savory Seafood Gumbo.

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Rashanda Cobbins
When Rashanda’s not tasting and perfecting Taste of Home’s recipes, you’ll find this food editor sifting through our recipe collection, curating digital content or tracking the latest culinary trends. While studying for her bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, Rashanda interned in Southern Living’s test kitchen and later spent nearly a decade developing recipes and food content at ConAgra Brands. In her spare time, she loves scoping out local farmers markets and having picnics in the park.
Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.