How to Thicken Gumbo? Here are Several Options That Could Surprise You


Gumbo is a popular and well-loved dish in the South. However people are still asking how to thicken gumbo? We offer the best alternatives.

Gumbo is one of America’s most popular dishes. It is part of New Orleans Cajun-Creole tradition.

What New Orleans natives call the holy trinity of Cajun cooking – bell peppers, celery, and onions compose the backbone of this great stew. Aside from the three ingredients, gumbo has proteins like chicken, shrimp, and sausages.

The most famous sausage used in this stew is andouille. The sausage is one ingredient that gives the dish its’ French touch because of its’ wine content.

Some say the dish is soup, but some declare it as a stew because of its creamy and thick texture. There are so many ways you can learn about how to thicken Gumbo. Here are the most popular manners of doing so.

I. Cornstarch Method

Usually, cornstarch is used to thicken Asian cuisine. In this case, gumbo can use some of this strong powder to get that creamy and dense texture it is known for.

One of the best things about cornstarch is that a little of it goes a long way. It is important that you create a slurry out of it and whisk it into the gumbo.

Dissolving the cornstarch and whisking it into the gumbo will prevent the thickener from forming into lumps. Another thing about cornstarch slurry is that it gives the gumbo that added sheen in the end.

Recipe For Cornstarch Slurry

  • You will need equal parts of cornstarch and water.
  • ​Dissolve the cornstarch in the water.
  • ​Bring the gumbo to a boil and pour the slurry into the stew.
  • Whisk the slurry into the gumbo until it thickens. E. Leave the gumbo to reduce for about five minutes and the gumbo is cooked.

II. The Okra Method

Okra is the traditional thickening agent of gumbo. In fact, before powders and flours came to fame, chefs used okra to thicken just about everything.

The trick to thickening gumbo with okra is to cook the vegetable for a long time. The reason being is that okra needs time to develop its gelatinous character located in its pod and seeds.

Recipe For Okra Thickener

  • You need about a pound of okra
  • ​Rinse the okra under tap water
  • ​Cut off the tops and the pointed ends from the okra.
  • ​In the last hour of cooking gumbo, place the okra into the pot and let it thicken.
  • ​Mix the okra well into the gumbo and leave it.
  • ​For every 5 quarts of gumbo you will need a pound of okra.

Iii. Roux Thickening Method

A roux is another classic gumbo thickener. The traditional recipe is all about flour and butter. Combining them in a pan will turn the mixture into a paste. A roux is the starting point to making beautiful sauces.

Sauces like a béchamel, veloute, or even gravy are all based on the roux. The main difference between a regular roux and the roux used to thicken gumbo is that the flour needs to some toasting before the addition of butter.

Compared to other thickening agents, the roux is made at the beginning of the gumbo even before the sautéing of the holy trinity.

Roux makes the gumbo thicker and creamier in texture and taste. For these reasons, it is the preferred thickening agent for gumbo.

To Make Toasted Flour Roux

  • You will need equal parts of all-purpose flour and unsalted butter
  • ​Put the pot (where you will cook your gumbo) and turn the heat on to medium.
  • ​Add the flour in and toast it for about 5 to 10 minutes. The exact cooking time depends on how toasted you want your flour to be.
  • ​You then whisk in the butter until you create a smooth paste.
  • You now can build on your gumbo recipe by adding the rest of the ingredients in its’ particular order.

Iv. The Rice-Flour Thickening Method

Using rice flour will solve your dilemma on how to thicken gumbo. First of all, you will only need a tiny amount of it. Yes, even less compared to cornstarch.

That is how powerful this thickening agent is. You will have to make a slurry out of it. Whisk it into the gumbo and you are ready to go. Alternatively, you can create a roux with it.

Recipe For Rice Flour Slurry

  • You need equal proportions of rice flour and water.
  • For a five-quart gumbo recipe, you will need about half a cup of rice flour and half a cup of water.
  • Create slurry with the flour and water.
  • ​Bring the gumbo to a brisk boil and whisk the slurry into the stew. Whisking the mixture will assure you that your gumbo is free of lumps.
  • ​Bring the gumbo up to a simmer for five minutes. Turn the heat off and serve.

Rice Flour Roux Recipe

  • You will need equal amounts of rice flour and butter.
  • Create a roux by putting the flour and butter in a pot.
  • Turn the heat to medium and form a smooth paste.
  • After doing so, you can now proceed by adding all of your gumbo ingredients into the roux.

V. Thickening With Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are a great thickening agent. You can make life easy for you by buying fine bread crumbs from the supermarket.

But if you are up to it, you can make your bread crumbs. It makes a lot of difference.

Simply bake your very own bread at home. Slice the bread into smaller pieces and toast them gently in the oven.

Use very low heat to dry it out. Once the bread slices have reached that toasted stage, toss them in the food processor or blender to create your fine breadcrumbs.

Recipe For Fresh Breadcrumbs.

Vi. File Powder Thickening Method

File powder is the classic of all thickeners for gumbo. The leaves of the sassafras tree are the source of file powder. The leaves are dried and pounded.

File powder thickening recipe

  • For a five-quart gumbo recipe, you will need about 1 to 2 tablespoons of file powder.
  • Bring the gumbo to a rolling boil ten minutes before it is cooked.
  • ​Sprinkle the file powder equally on the surface of the stew.
  • ​Mix the powder until it is well incorporated.
  • Bring the gumbo back to a simmer.
  • Let it cook for about ten minutes and the gumbo is ready to serve.

I hope that the tips listed here help you thicken your gumbo in the right way. The important thing is that I have offered you more than just the classic ways of thickening your stew.

I hope you enjoyed reading through the tips as much as I enjoyed giving them to you.

If you have any comments and would like to share it, you can do so in the comments section below. Any word from you will certainly be appreciated by yours truly.


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