How To Make A Roux


If you only know it for gumbo, you're missing out on a whole world of delicious, silky-smooth possibilities with roux.


Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
45 mins

Have you ever needed to thicken a pan of gravy just a wee bit more, or maybe the sauce for your chicken pot pie , and decided to sprinkle in a little flour—only to end up with lumps that just will not dissolve? That familiar example makes the case for making roux.

Done right, a roux will lead you away from lumps and toward the smoothest gravies, silky cheese sauce, creamy and comforting pot pie, and your best savory gumbo .

The word "roux" is derived from the French culinary term "beurre roux," which refers to browned butter. It’s a French technique that, whether you knew it or not at the time, you’ve no doubt used before when making gravy or sauce or stew.

What Is a Roux?

A roux refers to a mixture of equal parts flour and fat that’s cooked into a smooth paste. The fat coats and helps to separate the starches—basically preventing lumps. After being cooked to the desired color (more on this below), the roux serves as the base of sauces, gravies, or soups, where it helps to thicken them and, depending on the type and color of the roux, possibly add flavor. It’s a classic French technique that’s a building block for all kinds of recipes.

What Can You Make with Roux?

Roux is the base for four of the classic "mother sauces," a set of sauces that serve as the starting point for many other sauces. Béchamel (dairy-based white sauce), velouté (stock-based “beige” sauce), and espagnole (brown sauce) are all mother sauces that begin with roux, and sauce tomat (tomato sauce) often does as well.

Aside from those sauces, the aforementioned examples of gravy, cheese sauce, pot pie filling, and gumbo are all roux-based mixtures. Roux can help you make the best mac and cheese , sausage gravy , scalloped potatoes , creamy casseroles, shrimp creole , and more.

Ingredients for a Roux

Roux is made with starch and fat. The starch is most often in the form of all-purpose flour (some gluten-free versions might use gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, rice flour, or arrowroot or tapioca starch).

The fat can be regular butter, clarified butter, vegetable oil, bacon drippings, lard, or duck fat—depending on what kind of flavor you want to create. Butter will add rich, almost caramel-like notes, oil tends to be neutral, and animal fat contributes meaty-funky flavors.

ingredients and equipment for making a roux

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How To Make a Roux

Use a pan or pot with a thick, heavy bottom. A heavy Dutch oven works well, as does a cast-iron or thick stainless steel skillet or sauté pan.

Add the fat to the pan and heat over medium-low until melted (if the fat is solid) or warm (if it’s already liquid). Add an equal amount of flour, and stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until you have a smooth mixture that has reached the desired color stage (see below).

creating roux

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

After cooling the roux slightly, you can then whisk liquid (stock, water, milk, cream) into the roux to create your sauce, soup, or gravy.

The 4 Types of Roux

White roux is cooked just long enough for the paste to slightly puff and the raw-flour taste to cook out, 2 to 4 minutes. It should not brown at all. This type of roux has the most thickening power and works well for béchamel sauce and country peppered gravy.

white roux

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Blond roux cooks until it smells toasty-nutty and is the color of light brown sugar or caramel candies, 5 to 10 minutes. It has moderate thickening power and is ideal for creamy bisques or chicken or turkey gravy.

Blond roux

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Brown roux should look coppery, about the color of melted milk chocolate. It will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to get there. This type of roux has less thickening power than the lighter ones and is ideal for gumbo, shrimp creole, or meat gravies.

brown roux

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Dark roux will be the color of melted dark chocolate and will have a rich flavor akin to strong coffee. It will take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to achieve this stage. This type of roux is typically used for hearty gumbo and etouffee.

dark roux

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

What Can Go Wrong When Making a Roux?

Making roux isn’t hard, if you pay attention to the details. For a great roux, you’ll want to avoid these common mistakes.

Using a thin pan and/or too high heat: We advise using a heavy-bottomed pan (Dutch oven, cast-iron skillet, heavy sauté pan) and cooking over medium-low heat. If you crank the heat up or use a thin pan, you risk burning the roux. Even for a dark roux, you still want to cook the mixture slowly, taking your time to get there, so that it tastes rich and robust—not burned and bitter.

Not measuring your ingredients: A roux is based on an easy ratio: equal parts fat and flour. Too much of one or the other will give you a mixture that’s watery or more like dough than sauce. If you’re using ½ cup butter or oil, measure out ½ cup flour by scooping the flour into a dry measuring cup and leveling off the excess with the back of a knife.

Not cooling the roux slightly: Once your roux is the color you’re going for, you’ll need to add liquid to proceed with your dish. You should cool the roux slightly, just a few minutes, before adding cool or cold liquid so that the mixture doesn’t seize up or become lumpy. Aim for this temperature differential; hot liquid added to hot roux tends to get lumpy. And add the liquid slowly, whisking constantly as you pour it in.

Can You Store or Freeze a Roux?

This is one of the best things about roux: You can make it well ahead of time and stash it in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer (you can pour it into ice cube trays) for up to six months. When ready to use it, either rewarm the roux and whisk in cool or cold liquid, or heat the liquid first and whisk in cool or cold roux.


  • 1/2 cup butter or oil

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


  1. Combine oil and flour in a large Dutch oven. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until roux is desired color, 2 to 45 minutes, depending on darkness.

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