I like making sauces from scratch, starting with a roux. Today, I discovered there's no flour in the kitchen. A quick trip to the store is not possible.

What could I use instead?

(Note that my question is similar to but not the same as Flour alternatives for roux. I have no reason to avoid wheat flour; I just don't have any around.)

  • 5
    It would help if you listed what you actually have available that could be used, and what you need to make a roux for.
    – GdD
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 8:50
  • 1
    That would vary from one time to the next. I'd like to have a list: if no flour, try xxx. If none of that, try yyy, If that's not around, try zzz...
    – DarenW
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 15:33
  • It's possible that what the roux is for might be more significant -- if you're making a gumbo where you need a really dark roux the options may be different than for a blonde roux.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 16:09
  • What I actually did was grab some fancy crackers and grind them up. The powder was pretty much like coarse flour. The end result came out good, though with some interesting flavor due to the seeds or nuts or whatever additive was in the crackers.
    – DarenW
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 4:22

3 Answers 3


Technically, you can make roux with any starch and any fat, per Harold McGee.

So use cornstarch or arrowroot or whatever you have. Just avoid something with strong flavor like cornmeal.

Of course, the flavor and thickening properties will be those of the starch you use... And you probably don't want to make a brown roux with anything but flour because of the flavor difference.

  • As I recall, in Germany potato starch is sold for brown roux, so I don't think the flavor warning applies.
    – JasonTrue
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 14:01
  • @JasonTrue While you can certainly brown non-flour based roux, without the wheat protein the flavor is going to be very different, and may be dissonant in the dishes (I am thinking mostly of the New Orleans cuisine) which expect brown roux.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 14:10
  • Not substantively different in my experience, but I am more likely to use wheat flour because it's usually more convenient.
    – JasonTrue
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 15:20

I use cornmeal all the time to make roux. It takes longer but I use it for powerful cheese sauces for pasta so I can never taste any corn flavor. Of course don’t try to make Thanksgiving dinner gravy with cornflour but it works great in many other dishes. Ever hear of polenta and cheese? It’s actually popular in many countries and not just called grits. I just made a cheese sauce for pasta using 5Tb butter and cornmeal, milk, sharp cheddar, Colby Jack, Pecorino Romano DOP, and Danish blue. Dash of Worcestershire sauce and Dijon. Salt, pepper, a fee dashes of homemade Italian seasoning and lastly garlic powder. No corniness at all.


Instant corn masa works. The commercial stuff around here is mild enough in flavor that it doesn't overpower, and it thickens as well or better than white flour.

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