Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 29, 2010 11:48 AM

Smelly roux?

I'm making Cook's Illustrated shrimp & sausage gumbo.
The first step is to make a roux: 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup canola oil stirring constantly over medium-high. I'm using a wooden spoon and a Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven (red, if you must know).
I got a bit of a popcorn smell coming from the pot but no bits on the bottom of the pot to make me think it was burning. Could the smell have been from the wooden spoon, which did take on some color?
Should I use a metal whisk next time?



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Do you mean a bad burnt popcorn smell or a buttery popcorn smell?

    2 Replies
    1. re: blue room

      It wasn't a great smell. Not terrible, though.

      1. re: Fuzzydave

        A popcorny, toast kind of smell is fine -- but if it was actually unpleasant, that's not good.
        I've stirred many a dark roux with many a wooden spoon without issues, but if the spoon does look burnt, then that's likely your problem. Could try a whisk, making sure you get into the corners.

        Also, roux can burn without sticking to the bottom of the pot. If you see little black spots in the roux, it's burned.

        Whatever it is, though, if it doesn't smell like it belongs in your food, start over. Sucks, but better than going through with the dish and having it taste like a campfire.

    2. Canola oil goes rancid much sooner than many other vegetable oils. Open the bottle and smell it. It should have a very faint, very neutral odor. If it smells strong, or like old wood furniture, then toss it. You'll have to buy fresh oil and start over :(

      6 Replies
      1. re: Christnp

        I bought it no more than 2 months ago.

        1. re: Fuzzydave

          Canola oil lasts a long long time if kept in a dark dry place. I've kept it for at least a year, tightly closed under my kitchen sink. On another note, when I make roux, I cook it over medium low heat for a longer period of time. Also, keep stirring the roux with the wooden spoon. Dont walk away from the pot.

        2. re: Christnp

          Every time I use canola oil there is a funky smell and taste to it. It's fishy, might be just me, but still I stay away from it.

          1. re: chef chicklet

            I have had the same experience it's fishy. I stay away from canola oil FOR MANY REASONS!

            1. re: chef chicklet

              Agreed. At very high heat, it smells weird.

              1. re: jvanderh

                me 3. Canola oil is just plain stinky and heating makes it worse. I do not find it to be "neutral" at all.

          2. I don't think it's the canola oil, but it very well could be flour browning in the fat as the roux cooks. Browning flour can give off a slightly nutty, toasty, popcorn-like aroma. I believe I've experienced that aroma, but it's been quite a while since I've made a dark roux. My inability to remember the aroma clearly may or may not be helpful for you, but it doesn't sound like it's anything bad going on with your roux.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bushwickgirl

              Hi all, well, we ate the gumbo today for lunch and it was just fine.
              We use canola all the time and buy the huge bottle from the price club and keep it in a cabinet away from any heat.
              I don't make a roux that often, especially one that size, so the popcorn smell might have been normal, just kind of weird.


            2. The popcorn aroma is the flour browning and is central to the flavor that dark roux imparts to your gumbo.

              1 Reply
              1. use duck fat sometime. its the best. no contest.