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Possible to make a roux using flour and something besides butter?

Am making Thanksgiving dinner for a group that includes one person who is lactose intolerant, so I think butter is out. What else have you used as a gravy base? Would something like Smart Balance work? Or does that have a different melting/combining with flour consistency than "real" fat??!! Any help would be appreciated!

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  1. Why don't you use clarified butter? That way, you'll have pure fat, no milk solids.

    1. You cannot use spreads to cook with, but you can use sticks of margarine (I wouldn't.) I think you can use oil (it is the base for cajun roux, right?). Take a look at this gravy. I made it once a long time ago with roasted ducks, and remember it being crazy good.


      1 Reply
      1. re: coconutz

        I cook with Smart Balance or Earth Balance all of the time - including making roux.

      2. Absolutely, oil can indeed be used for a roux instead of butter.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Val

          Peanut oil is fairly 'round' and full in flavour and would probably be closest to butter. Some lard would be fine too. But, as was said above, I haven't met anyone who was lactose intolerant enough to need to worry. Lactose intolerance isn't an allergy, it is an inability to digest the lactose. Hence, the reaction is directly proportional to the amount consumed.

        2. Any kind of oil can be used for a roux, but unless this person is SEVERELY lactose intolerant, butter in a roux isn't going to affect them at all. You should check with the guest.

          1. Turkey fat, separated from your turkey drippings, will make an excellent gravy that is in no way a compromise.

            Oil will also work, as would margarine (my last choice, but if you go that route, use Earth Balance stick margarine, as its consistency is closest to butter).

            3 Replies
            1. re: btnfood

              I was going to say bacon drippings, but I think your notion is choice.

              1. re: btnfood

                I'm hoping to do the gravy ahead and freeze it as I have in years past, but I guess I could brown the turkey wings I have before simmering with the carrots, onions, etc. and probably get enough fat from that process. I had thought of the bacon grease idea that Spencer suggested, but was afraid it might give a weird taste. Maybe I'll combine turkey fat from the wings with some bacon grease. Thanks, everybody, for all the great ideas!

                1. re: btnfood

                  Absolutely! Use those drippings go for the full flavor, but any oil/fat will work. Don't forget when making gumbo you use flour and oil or lard to make your roux.

                2. I found this recipe for turkey gravy in Fine Cooking magazine. It uses turkey fat, and mentions that it can be augmented with oil if necessary.


                  1. Olive oil is what I use most of the time,

                    1. I too would suggest using Turkey or Chicken fat instead of butter, not only will you eliminate the lactose, but you will have intense Turkey flavor. I use half Turkey fat and half butter in my gravy and there is never enough, eveyone eats extra. Do not tell my Doctor, he would have a heart attack just thinking about it.

                      I usually buy a few turkey legs and thighs and cook them off before Thanksgiving, render the fat and save the stock. I use the fat for my roux and use the stock to fortify the gravy.

                      1. You can also set the oven to 350 degrees and spread a layer of flour on a sheet pan, put it into the oven and toast it as dark as you would like/ you may need to move the sheet pan around in the oven. When making the gravy dust the onions/veggies and giblits-if you use them with the toasted flour and then add the liquid. This will thicken like a roux without the additional butter or fats.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: justmoved

                          Interesting to me that you should suggest this. I have a doctor friend from New Orleans that told me a few years ago about a "dry roux" that you make in a skillet with no oil. I tried it a few weeks ago and it worked wonderfully.
                          I prefer a roux with oil, but my wife is on a diet so I thought I would give it a try. I still prefer wet, but if you are counting calories...

                          1. re: Spencer

                            You can even use rice flour for a dry roux if you're gluten or wheat sensitive.

                        2. Here is another option for gravy making: use a thickener like cornstarch and skip the roux entirely.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ellaj

                            Mouthfeel of roux-thickened gravy vs. cornstarch gravy is VERY different. I find the cornstarch version quite gluey & unpleasant.

                          2. My grandmother made a German type roux of rendered meat fat and flour that was called something like "ironbrun". I remember her using it as a base in a crazy dish of stringbeans with "sour salt", sugar and cinnamon. Now that I'm typing about it, it sounds gross, but I remember it as delicious.