Dry Roux vs. Wet Roux: Know the Differences

When you make certain dishes, especially some Cajun and Creole dishes, a roux has to be made first. A roux is the base of gravy or sauce, among other things, and it gives the dish more flavor and thickness. In fact, both the taste and the texture of a dish are affected and made better by the roux.

If you’re wondering about the difference between a dry and wet roux, the answer is simple: a dry roux is cooked with just flour and a wet roux is cooked with a combination of flour and oil.

The Basics of a Roux

A traditional roux is made with equal amounts of flour and oil, although you can use other types of fat as well, including butter. You have to cook the mixture over medium-high heat and stir constantly so it doesn’t burn. The longer you cook the roux, the darker it gets, so whether you prefer a light-brown roux or a very dark roux, it’s easy to get because it depends on how long you cook it. The important thing to remember is to make sure you stir constantly because if you don’t, the chances of it burning get much higher.

For people who love Cajun food, a good roux is a necessity when making a gumbo recipe. Most people cook their roux until it is a chocolate-brown color, and afterward they add a little water and some chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery, then the rest of the ingredients. Once the roux is made, the rest of the recipe is fast and simple.

It is the roux that takes the longest to cook. As long as you keep an eye on the roux and take your time with it, it should turn out great.

Differences Between Dry Roux vs. Wet Roux

Wet Roux

We’ve talked about the basic way to make a wet roux and how important it is to keep stirring the mixture the entire time you’re cooking it. A roux is used not only for certain Cajun and Creole dishes but also for dishes such as potato soup, tomato bisque, bechamel sauce, veloute sauce, gravy, and espagnole sauce, among others. Indeed, any time there’s a soup or sauce that you’d like to thicken and add flavor and depth to, a roux is the perfect way to do so.

Another tip to remember with wet roux is that you should always use the roux immediately after it’s finished. In other words, you should make your roux, then go right to the next step in the recipe until your dish is complete. This way, the roux is always fresh and the rest of the recipe is easier to make because it blends into each step.

Roux does not reheat well, so you cannot save it and reheat it later for the dish you’re making.

Dry Roux

A dry roux is cooked with the raw flour only, then the oil is added after the cooking is complete. The flour should be white all-purpose flour, and all you do is place it in a heavy pan and put it on the stove. Turn the stove on medium heat or medium-high heat and stir the flour with a wooden spoon. Just like a wet roux, a dry roux has to be stirred continuously until it obtains the desired color. As a general rule, you can expect to stir the flour for 5–7 minutes to get it to a light-brown color, and up to 15 minutes or so for a dark-brown color. It’s your choice.

One thing you’ll want to remember is that when cooking your roux dry, it likely won’t get nearly as dark as it would have if you were cooking the flour and oil together. That being said, once you remove the cooked flour from the stove and add your oil, it should get at least a little bit darker.

After you cook the flour and remove the pan from the stove, you can either use it immediately or store it in a jar that closes tightly until you are ready to use it. There’s no need to keep it in a refrigerator. Just make sure you keep it in an airtight jar or airtight container and set it on your countertop or in your pantry. You won’t add the oil until you’re ready to cook something with your roux.

When you’re ready to use it, just scoop the right amount of cooked flour up and place it in another pan, then add an equal amount of oil and stir well. While a roux can be made with many different types of oil, most people use vegetable oil simply because it is easy to work with and inexpensive. You do not have to cook this mixture.

At this point, you can proceed with the recipe.

If you’re using a recipe for one type of roux and you’ve already made the other type, just know that you can use them interchangeably. In other words, if your recipe calls for wet roux and you only have dry roux available, just use the same amount called for in the recipe. Also, regardless of what type of roux you’re using, the 1:1 ratio of flour and oil applies to both types, so keep that in mind as you cook.

Roux Basics

Both wet roux and dry roux are great for starting numerous dishes, especially Cajun and Creole dishes such as gumbo. A wet roux is cooked with flour and oil, and a dry roux uses only the flour and the oil is added later. Both need to be stirred constantly until they’re done, and you’ll need to use a 1:1 ratio of flour and oil each time.