A Simple Thickening Agent
This is one of those recipes that is great to store in your memory as you’ll find yourself using it again and again. Its thickening power is used for sauces such as homemade gravy or béchamel sauce and can also be used in many hearty soups, gumbo or as the base for white sauce.
Making a roux may seem a bit fussy at first. I promise you, it’s so easy and your sauces will be thick and silky smooth because of it.
What is a Roux?
A Roux, (pronounced “roo”), is used to thicken sauces, soups, creamy white sauces, cheese sauces, and stews. It is made by cooking fat and flour together in a pot on the stovetop. It becomes a thickening agent that can be light or dark in color, depending on how long you cook it, and generally, the darker it is, the deeper the flavor.
Making a Roux on the Stove
Learning to make a roux is simple with my step-by-step method. For this recipe, we are using butter as the fat, but you can also use leftover bacon fat if you have some.
- Melt butter. Add ¼ cup butter to a small pot and melt over medium heat.
- Whisk in flour. Once the butter has melted, stir in ¼ cup of flour and whisk until everything is combined and there are no traces of flour left.
- Turn down the heat. Continue to whisk and when it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low.
- Cook. You want to cook out the floury taste, so you’ll continue to let it cook for one more minute. This will give you a ‘blonde’ roux. For a darker roux, continue to cook it on low heat until it has turned a caramel color and you smell a nutty aroma.
- Use in soup or sauce. You can now remove the pan from the heat and add the roux to your soup or store it for later.
Varieties of Roux
An important thing to remember while making any type of roux is to whisk it constantly until you get the color you are looking for. The longer you cook it, the darker and nuttier tasting it will become.
There are 4 varieties of roux that you might come across in recipes:
- White roux doesn’t have much flavor and is used primarily for thickening sauces like bechamel sauce and gravies. This roux is cooked for about 30 seconds.
- A blonde roux has been cooked a bit longer and the butter will start to have a slightly nutty flavor. This type is great in soups and is cooked for a minute or so.
- Brown roux has been cooked even longer and has a noticeable nutty flavor. It usually takes 3 – 5 minutes to get to this stage and will end up the color of peanut butter.
- Dark brown roux is cooked for the longest and has a deep rich flavor. This type of dark roux is often used in things like gumbo or jambalaya and can take up to 10 minutes to cook.
The method is so simple, it’s very easy to double the recipe as long as you remember to have an even ratio of butter and flour.
How to Use a Roux
When I’m adding roux to soups, I typically add 1 tablespoon per 1 cup of liquid, but you can add more or less depending on your desired thickness.
When starting with a warm roux, slowly add the liquid to the pan while continuously whisking after each addition until the sauce is smooth. Slowly adding the liquid ensures that your sauce will be lump-free and satiny smooth. Once the liquid has been added, let the sauce simmer until it thickens.
If you are using it cold from the fridge or freezer, you can simply add it to the pot of hot liquid and whisk until the roux dissolves. As the sauce continues to simmer it will thicken.
The great thing about roux is that it keeps well in both the fridge and freezer. If you’re not planning to use it right away, allow it to cool and then put it into a small airtight container or zip top bag.
It can be refrigerated up to one month or stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Once you’re ready to use it, you can simply break pieces off as needed to thicken your soups and sauces.
Dishes That Use a Roux:
- Homemade Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
- Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
- Potato and Ham Soup
- Homemade Biscuits and Gravy
- Swedish Meatballs
How to Make a Roux
- ¼ cup butter , or pan drippings
- 4 to 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Add butter to a small pot and melt over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup flour and whisk until combined.
- When the mixture starts to bubble, turn the heat to low. For a blonde roux, cook a minute and then remove from the heat. For a darker roux cook until you smell a nutty aroma and it has turned a caramel color. Then add to your soup or store for for later.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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