Have you ever wondered if it is possible to make a roux using olive oil instead of the traditional butter or vegetable oil? Well, you're in for a pleasant surprise! In this article, we will explore the possibility of creating this classic French sauce base using the rich and flavorful olive oil. Whether you're looking for a healthier alternative or simply want to experiment with new flavors, we've got all the information you need to know about making a roux with olive oil. Get ready to elevate your culinary skills and add a Mediterranean twist to your dishes!

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What is a Roux?


A roux is a thickening agent used in cooking, commonly used in French and Cajun cuisine. It is made by cooking equal parts flour and fat together until the mixture becomes smooth and thick. The fat can be butter, oil, or a combination of both. Roux is used as a base for many sauces, soups, and gravies, and it adds depth of flavor and texture to a dish.

Importance in Cooking

Roux is a fundamental component in many traditional recipes. It serves as a foundation for sauces like béchamel, velouté, and espagnole, and it helps to thicken stews, soups, and gravies. The process of cooking flour and fat together creates a nutty flavor and helps to remove the raw taste of flour. Roux is an essential ingredient in dishes like gumbo, étouffée, and gravy, and it enhances the overall taste and texture of the final dish.

Traditional Ingredients

The traditional ingredients used in a roux are butter and flour. Butter provides a rich flavor and helps to create a smooth consistency. Flour adds thickness and works as a binding agent. The ratio of butter to flour may vary depending on the desired outcome and the recipe being used. Typically, equal parts of butter and flour are used, but some recipes call for a higher ratio of butter to flour.

Using Olive Oil in Cooking

Overview of Olive Oil

Olive oil is a versatile and healthy cooking oil that is commonly used in Mediterranean cuisines. It is derived from olives and is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy. Olive oil comes in various grades, such as extra virgin, virgin, and regular. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade and is often used for drizzling or finishing dishes, while regular olive oil is more suitable for cooking at higher temperatures.

Smoke Point of Olive Oil

The smoke point of olive oil refers to the temperature at which it begins to break down and emit smoke. Different grades of olive oil have different smoke points. Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point, usually around 375°F (190°C), while regular olive oil has a higher smoke point, typically around 410°F (210°C). It's important to consider the smoke point when deciding whether to use olive oil in cooking, as overheating olive oil can lead to the degradation of its nutritional properties and the development of an off-flavor.

Traditional Roux Ingredients


Butter is the traditional fat used in making roux. It adds a rich and creamy flavor to the roux and helps to create a smooth consistency. The fat in butter provides a good medium for cooking the flour and helps to evenly distribute heat. When using butter, it's important to keep an eye on the heat as it can burn easily and give the roux a bitter taste.


Flour is the other main ingredient in a traditional roux. It acts as a thickening agent and helps to bind the fat together. All-purpose flour is commonly used, but other types of flour, such as whole wheat or gluten-free flour, can also be used depending on dietary restrictions or preferences. The flour should be cooked in the fat until it forms a smooth, paste-like consistency and takes on a slightly golden color.

Substituting Olive Oil for Butter

Reasons for Substitution

There are several reasons why you might choose to substitute olive oil for butter in a roux. One reason is dietary restrictions or preferences. Olive oil is suitable for those following a dairy-free or vegan diet, as it is plant-based and contains no animal products. Olive oil is also a healthier alternative to butter, as it has less saturated fat and is rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to have positive health benefits.

Effects on Flavor and Texture

Substituting olive oil for butter in a roux can have an impact on the final flavor and texture of the dish. Olive oil has a distinct flavor that can add a mellow and fruity undertone to the roux. It may also give the roux a slightly lighter texture compared to one made with butter. The flavor of the olive oil can be more pronounced in lighter-colored dishes, so it's important to choose an olive oil with a flavor profile that complements the other ingredients in the recipe.

Recommended Ratios

When substituting olive oil for butter in a roux, the ratio of oil to flour may need to be adjusted to achieve the desired consistency. Olive oil has a thinner consistency compared to butter, so a slightly higher ratio of oil to flour may be needed to maintain a thick, paste-like consistency. A common ratio is 1 tablespoon of olive oil to 1 tablespoon of flour, but you can adjust this based on the recipe and your personal preference.

Making a Roux with Olive Oil

Ingredient Measurements

To make a roux with olive oil, you will need equal parts olive oil and flour. The typical measurement is 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of flour, but you can adjust this based on the amount of roux needed for your recipe. It's important to have all your ingredients prepared and measured before you start making the roux, as the cooking process requires constant attention.

Cooking Process

To make a roux with olive oil, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the flour gradually, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon to combine it with the oil. Continue stirring the mixture for 5-7 minutes, or until it reaches a smooth, paste-like consistency and turns a slightly golden color. Be careful not to burn the roux, as this will give it a bitter taste. Once the desired color and consistency are achieved, remove the roux from the heat and allow it to cool slightly before using it in your recipe.

Color and Consistency

The color and consistency of a roux made with olive oil may differ slightly from a traditional roux made with butter. The olive oil roux may have a slightly lighter color and a looser consistency. The color will range from a light golden color to a deeper brown depending on the cooking time. Adjust the cooking time to achieve the desired level of color and thickness for your recipe. Remember that the flavor will develop further as the roux is incorporated into the final dish.

Alternative Roux Variations

Using Other Oils

While olive oil is a popular choice for making a roux, there are other oils that can be used as well. Vegetable oil, canola oil, and grapeseed oil are examples of oils that can be substituted for butter in a roux. Each oil will impart its own flavor profile to the roux, so it's important to choose one that complements the other ingredients in your recipe. Experimenting with different oils can bring unique and unexpected flavors to your dishes.

Gluten-Free Roux Options

For those following a gluten-free diet, there are alternative flours that can be used to make a roux. Gluten-free flours like rice flour, cornstarch, or tapioca flour can be used in place of all-purpose flour. These flours have different thickening properties, so the ratio of flour to fat may need to be adjusted. It's important to note that these alternative flours may also affect the final texture and flavor of the roux, so it's best to experiment and find the combination that works best for your dietary needs and preferences.

Culinary Applications of Olive Oil Roux

Sauces and Gravies

Olive oil roux can be used as a base for a variety of sauces and gravies. It can be incorporated into dishes like béchamel, velouté, and espagnole to add richness and thickness. You can use olive oil roux as the foundation for a creamy pasta sauce, a savory gravy for roasted meats, or a flavorful sauce for seafood dishes. The versatility of olive oil roux makes it a valuable tool in creating delicious and comforting sauces and gravies.

Soups and Stews

Olive oil roux is also commonly used to thicken soups and stews. It adds body and richness to the broth, creating a satisfying and flavorful dish. You can use olive oil roux in traditional recipes like gumbo, étouffée, or chowder, or experiment with your own creations. The roux helps to bind the ingredients together and gives the soup or stew a velvety texture. It also enhances the overall taste, as the flavors of the ingredients meld together during the cooking process.

Recipes Utilizing Olive Oil Roux


Gumbo is a classic Louisiana dish that showcases the flavors and techniques of Creole and Cajun cooking. Olive oil roux is an excellent base for gumbo, as it adds complexity and depth to the dish. To make gumbo with olive oil roux, start by sautéing onions, celery, and bell peppers in olive oil. Once the vegetables are soft, add the roux and stir until it is well incorporated. Gradually add stock, protein like chicken or shrimp, and vegetables, and let it simmer until the flavors meld together. Serve the gumbo over rice for a delicious and comforting meal.


Etouffee is a traditional Cajun dish that features shellfish, typically crawfish or shrimp, in a rich, flavorful sauce. Olive oil roux can be used as the base for the etouffee sauce, adding depth of flavor and thickening the dish. To make etouffee with olive oil roux, start by sautéing onions, bell peppers, and celery in olive oil. Once the vegetables are soft, add the roux and stir until it melts into the mixture. Add stock and spices, and then gently simmer until the flavors develop. Finally, add the shrimp or crawfish, and cook until they are cooked through. Serve the etouffee over rice or with crusty bread for a satisfying meal.

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Tips and Considerations

Choosing the Right Olive Oil

When using olive oil for making a roux, it's important to choose the right type of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is best reserved for drizzling or finishing dishes, as it has a lower smoke point and a more pronounced flavor. Regular olive oil, on the other hand, is more suitable for cooking at higher temperatures and has a milder flavor. Choose an olive oil that complements the other flavors in your recipe and consider the smoke point to ensure it will withstand the heat during the cooking process.

Adjusting Cooking Times

When making a roux with olive oil, it's important to adjust the cooking time based on the desired color and thickness. The cooking time for a roux made with olive oil may be slightly shorter than one made with butter, as olive oil heats up more quickly. Keep a close eye on the roux as it cooks, and stir constantly to prevent burning. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a steady temperature and to achieve the desired level of color and consistency.

Storage and Shelf Life

Olive oil roux can be made in larger batches and stored for future use. Allow the roux to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Store the roux in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to a month. When ready to use, bring the roux to room temperature and give it a good stir before incorporating it into your recipe. The stored roux may be slightly thicker than freshly made roux, so you may need to adjust the amount used to achieve the desired thickness in your dish.


In conclusion, making a roux with olive oil provides a delicious and healthier alternative to the traditional butter-based roux. Olive oil roux can be used in a variety of culinary applications, from sauces and gravies to soups and stews. By substituting olive oil for butter, you can create a roux that adds depth of flavor, richness, and a unique twist to your dishes. Experiment with different oils, ratios, and cooking times to find the combination that best suits your taste and dietary preferences. Get creative in the kitchen and enjoy the wonderful flavors and textures that olive oil roux brings to your cooking.

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