"What I love about cooking is that after a hard day, there is something comforting about the fact that if you melt butter and add flour and then hot stock, it will get thick! It's a sure thing in a world where nothing else is sure, it's a certainty, the stock will thicken!"
Nora Ephron

Stocks may be thickened by means of reductions, eggs, butter, vegetable purees, cream, foie gras, various starches and even blood. In classical French cuisine, the roux is the primary thickening agent. Equal parts of butter and flour are well blended over heat to create a roux. This process may produce rouxs of different colors and thickening capabilities depending on the cook's need. In Cajun and Creole cuisine, the roux has been raised to a new dimension never before experienced in other forms of cooking.

Butter, lard, peanut oil, bacon fat and even duck fat have been used in combination with flour to produce as many taste and color variations as there are cooks in South Louisiana. In classical cuisine, the brown roux is used for brown sauce, the blonde roux for veloutes and the white roux is used for bechamels. In Creole cuisine, a brown roux is made from butter or bacon fat and is used to thicken gumbos and stews requiring a light touch. The Cajuns, on the other hand, are the originators of the most unique rouxs in modern cookery.

The Cajun dark brown roux is best made with vegetable oil, although in the past, it was thought imperative that only animal fat be used. The flour and oil are cooked together until the roux reaches a caramel color. This roux has less thickening power. Thus, the thickening capabilities of the dark roux are diminished. The dark brown roux is the secret to traditional Cajun food because of the richness and depth it adds to the dish. Butter is used in classical and Creole rouxs, however, the Cajuns use only vegetable oil or lard to produce their lighter colored roux. Tan in appearance, these light rouxs are used primarily with vegetables and light meat dishes.

Nothing in Cajun country has a greater aroma than a light brown roux simmering with onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. On many occasions growing up in South Louisiana, my hunger was satisfied with a touch of this vegetable seasoned roux spread on a piece of French Bread. Certain gumbos are further thickened, in Bayou country, with either okra or file powder.
Considering the variations in cooking time and fats or oils, the number of different roux possibilities are infinite. I will attempt to delineate six such rouxs, three used in classical cuisine, one used in Creole cooking and two that are strictly Cajun.

Oil-Less Roux

2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread flour evenly across the bottom of a 15-inch cast iron skillet. Bake, stirring occasionally, for approximately 1 hour. Make sure to stir well around the edges of the skillet so flour does not scorch. Cook flour until light or dark color is achieved, depending on use. The roux will become darker when liquid is added. When desired color is reached, cool on a large cookie sheet, stirring occasionally. Store in a sealed jar for future use. 1 cup of oil-less roux will thicken 1 ½ quarts of stock to a proper gumbo consistency.

NOTE: I recommend oil-less roux manufactured and sold by Bruce Foods and Savoie’s. Bruce Foods is located in New Iberia, Louisiana (318) 365-8101 and Savoie’s is located in Opelousas, Louisiana (318) 942-7241.

  • 8 Servings
  • Calories: 114
  • Total Fat: 0
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • % Calories from Fat: 0%
  • Cholesterol: 0
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Carbohydrate: 24mg
  • Fiber: 1gm
  • Protein: 3 gm


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour

In a heavy bottom sauté pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Using a wooden roux spoon, add flour, stirring constantly until flour becomes light brown. You must continue stirring during the cooking process, as flour will tend to scorch as browning process proceeds. Should black specks appear in the roux, discard and begin again. This volume of roux will thicken three cups of stock to sauce consistency.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour

In a heavy bottom sauté pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Proceed exactly as in the brown roux recipe, however, only cook to the pale gold state. This roux is popular in Creole cooking and will thicken three cups of stock to a sauce consistency.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour

In a heavy bottom sauté pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Proceed exactly as in the blonde roux recipe, however, only cook until the flour and butter are well blended and bubbly. Do not brown. This classical style roux is popular in Creole cooking and will thicken three cups of stock to a sauce consistency.


The Creole roux can be made with lightly salted butter, bacon drippings or lard. As with everything regarding food in Louisiana, whenever someone attempts to reduce this wealth of food lore to written material, an argument breaks out. Let's just say that Creole rouxs vary in color the same as Classical and Cajun ones. The Creoles, however, did have in their pantry, butter for the roux, whereas any butter a Cajun had would be saved for a biscuit or cornbread and
never put in the black iron pot for a roux.

If a comparison statement can be made, it would be that generally speaking, Creole roux is darker in color than the classical French brown roux it descended from but not as dark as the Cajun dark roux.


1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour

In a black iron pot or skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat to approximately 300 degrees F. Using a wooden roux spoon, slowly add the flour, stirring constantly until the roux is peanut butter in color, approximately two minutes. This roux is normally used to thicken vegetable dishes such as corn maque choux (shrimp, corn and tomato stew) or butter beans with ham. If
using this roux to thicken an etouffee, it will thicken approximately two quarts of liquid. If used to thicken seafood gumbo, it will thicken approximately two and a half quarts of stock.


1 cup oil
1/2 cup flour

Proceed as you would in the light brown Cajun roux recipe but continue cooking until the roux is the color of a light caramel. This roux should almost be twice as dark as the light brown roux but not as dark as chocolate. You should remember that the darker the roux gets, the less thickening power it holds and the roux tends to become bitter. This roux is used most often in sauce piquantes, crawfish bisques and gumbos. However, it is perfectly normal to use the dark brown roux in any dish in Cajun cooking.

This roux gives food such a rich character that I sometimes make shrimp and corn bisque with it, as well as a river road seafood gumbo that will knock your socks off. Slow cooking is essential to achieve that dark, rich color.

Some time ago, I was discussing the origin of the dark roux with my good friend, Angus McIntosh, a chef and aspiring Cajun. I've always contended that because the Cajuns cooked in black iron pots over open fires using lard as a base, the dark roux was discovered by accident when the fire got too hot and the flour over-browned. With their lean pantries in mind, the Cajuns kept the roux instead of discarding it. They enjoyed the flavor and kept doing it that way. Classical cookbooks written as far back as the mid-1500s state that roux is derived from the French word "rouge" meaning "red" or "reddish" in color. Thus, the origin of the name. Angus felt that it developed during the Cajun's less affluent years as a means of enriching a soup or stew with flavor when the pantry was not as full but the number of chairs at the table were many. Either way, if properly done, the dark Cajun roux enriches food with color and flavor that is so fantastic it could only be Cajun.

Table of Sauce and Soup Consistencies
Using The Roux of Cajun and Creole Cooking

(The Classical and Creole Rouxs)

1 cup butter 1 cup flour

This recipe will thicken the following:

  • 6 cups stock to a thick white sauce consistency.
  • 8 cups stock to a concentrated soup consistency.
  • 10 cups stock to a thick soup consistency.
  • 12 cups stock to a perfect Louisiana gumbo consistency.
  • 14 cups stock to a light gumbo consistency.

(The Cajun Rouxs)

1 cup vegetable oil 1 cup flour

Cooked at 300 degrees F. for three to five minutes, this recipe will thicken the following:

  • 6 cups stock to a thick brown sauce consistency.
  • 8 cups stock to a thick gumbo consistency.
  • 10 cups stock to a perfect Louisiana gumbo consistency.
  • 12 cups stock to a light gumbo consistency.

It should be noted that the butter or oil base rouxs may be made well in advance, cooled, separated into half cup portions and placed in the refrigerator or freezer. The roux will keep well for months and always be available to you should an emergency arise.

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