Knowing how to make a roux will take your cooking skills to a whole new level. This is the base for making the best gravies, soups, sauces, and even macaroni and cheese.
The best part of all, you can make this important ingredient in just minutes. It’s one of the best returns on your cooking time that you will ever get!
What is this?
Roux is a basic thickening sauce that is made up of one part fat and one part flour. It is so important in cooking that it is used in three of the mother sauces of classical French cuisine.
The longer you cook this combination of fat and butter, the darker and more intense of a flavor you will get. For gravies and stews, you may want a darker and nuttier flavor.
What’s in it?
For making a roux you need a fat and some flour. Both will add their own unique flavor depending on what you use and now long you cook it.
- Flour – All-purpose flour works just fine for making a roux . This is where a lot of the flavor will come from. Cooking it longer and browning the flour will give you a deeper flavor.
- Fat – Butter is the most common fat used for this but the more of these you make, the more substitutions you will find.
Common Fat Substitutions
- Pan Drippings – Always use these with butter, or on their own. These pan dripping will contain little brown flavor bombs called fonds. These are the little dark specks that you often see in the bottom of a roasting pan or skillet.
- Cream – This is my fat of choice when making our very popular mac and cheese. It also works great for scalloped corn.
- Oil – Oil can be a healthy fat for your roux. This is a great choice as a base for many tomato sauces.
How to make it
It only takes a few minutes to make a roux. From there, you can turn it into a luscious gravy, soup, or other sauce.
Start by heating some butter (or other fat) in a pan. Gradually stir in some flour with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
Slowly stir and cook the flour and fat mixture until the mixture thickens and turns to the color that you want.
Remember, the longer you cook it, the darker and more flavorful result you will get. Once you are satisfied with the flavor start to add the other liquids. Things like:
- Broth or stock for gravies and sauces.
- Cream, milk, or cheese for pasta and cheese sauces.
- Tomato sauce for marinara
- Pan drippings for gravy
Tips for making a roux
- Use a fine-mesh strainer to “tap” the flour into the pan. This will prevent clumping.
- Look for the perfect ratio of flour and fat to have the consistency and appearance of wet sand.
- If adding cheese, milk, or cream, do not bring it to a boil! I’ve done this before and the result is a gritty sauce.
- It’s important to stir constantly (I use a wooden spoon) or whisk.
- If making gravy for a roast, use the roasting pan or skillet to make the gravy. This is both convenient and keeps you from having to wash another pan!
Common recipe questions
You can freeze this for up to a year. A great way to do this is to freeze it ice cube trays. Seal it in a air-tight zip-lock bag and thaw and use whenever you need it!
It is a thickening agent that also adds flavor to gravies, stews, soups, and sauces.
Recipes that use a roux
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- Iron Skillet
- Wooden spoon
- ½ cup Butter
- ½ cup Flour
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, melt the butter or other fat over medium-high heat.
- Slowly but gradually stir in the flour and cook to the desired color and flavor. For a white roux, cook no more than five minutesFor a blonde roux, cook no more than 5 to 10 minutes.For a dark roux, cook 10 to 30 minutes.
- A white roux is cooked the least, no more than 5 minutes, so it remains light and is mostly used with a milk base (think Béchamel, one of the five mother sauces).
- When making a blonde roux, the fat & butter is cooked out to a golden color, 5 to 10 minutes, taking a little more time to make than a white roux. Because of this, it will have more flavor than a white roux.
- A brown roux is cooked between 10 and up to 30 minutes. Brown roux are great bases for meat gravies and are used as an ingredient in another mother sauce, Espagnole.
- Dark brown roux is used in traditional gumbo. Another 10 minutes can be added to the cooking time for this.