7 Best Gumbo File Powder Substitutes for Soups and Stews

Gumbo file powder is prepared from powdered leaves of the North American sassafras tree and tastes quite similar to root beer. File powder is an essential ingredient in African cookery.

This powder is a thickening agent, and a common ingredient in the famous Gumbo soup, a signature dish in Louisiana filled with all kinds of strong flavors(meat or seafood, a strongly flavored stock, and all kinds of veggies).
The problem with gumbo file powder is that it is not very easy to find in the local grocery stores or the local health food stores. So, with that being said, here are some substitutes.

Substitutes for gumbo file powder are

  • Okra
  • Roux
  • Corn starch
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Root beer
  • Eggplant
  • Potato starch

Continue reading to learn how to utilize these file powder options.

Substitutes For Gumbo File Powder


Okra is the greatest substitute for file powder and is often used as a basis in West African soups and stews. Okra is another prominent vegetable used in Gumbo, adding a thick texture and an earthy taste.

Okra is a dark green vegetable with thickening characteristics that may thicken any soup or stew. To replace gumbo file powder, use two cups of okra for every tablespoon of file powder.


Roux is a well-known thickening agent throughout the world, particularly in France. This is a rich, creamy blend of wheat flour, butter, and bacon grease.

Roux is used in numerous sauces, including the well-known bechamel sauce, a white milky and creamy sauce that also serves as a thickening agent and a basis for many soups and stews.

roux noir.The bacon fat darkens the roux (nearly to a reddish tint), which is why it is termed a brown roux.

If you dislike the texture of okra, this is the way to go. When I need anything with thickening capabilities, I normally go for roux. If you are unsure about preparing your own roux, a quick roux mix is available for purchase.

A Simple, Classic Recipe For Roux


  • Bacon fat (I like butter since it adds a nutty taste to the roux)1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
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Preparation/Cooking Process

  • Melt the butter on medium heat.
  • Begin stirring immediately after adding the flour to the butter.
  • Stir until the flour starts bubbling.

Corn Starch

In the culinary world, a yellow powdered ingredient used for baking, cooking, and thickening sauces, soups, and gravies.Corn starch, often known as cornflour, is a starch extracted from corn kernels. This is a white shirt.

Despite the fact that it is manufactured from maize, this flour has a neutral taste and blends nicely with any meal, regardless of whether it is sweet or savory.

To use corn starch instead of file powder, just combine one tablespoon of water and one tablespoon of cornstarch.

Arrowroot Powder

By far the most convincing replacement for file powder. Arrowroot powder, often known as arrowroot flour, is a white powdered material that resembles wheat flour.

stew.It has no distinguishing taste and is excellent for thickening soups and stews. If you prefer to use arrowroot powder instead of file powder, combine one tablespoon of arrowroot powder with one tablespoon of water for each cup of soup.

Root Beer

Root beer is not the ideal file powder alternative since it lacks thickening characteristics, but it does have a similar taste to file powder.

If you really must replicate the flavor of file powder in Gumbo dishes, combine some root beer with cornstarch or arrowroot powder.


Eggplant is an uncommon alternative for filing powder, but it might come in helpful when you don’t have any other thickening agents on available.

Cut one eggplant into cubes, spray with olive oil, and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. When finished, place the eggplant cubes in a blender or potato masher and mix until smooth.

Put this thickening alternative in your favorite soups and stews and let it boil for a few minutes. Roasted eggplant has a smokey taste that complements the flavors of the vegetables and meats.

Potato Starch

Potato starch is flour manufactured from potato starch. Potato starch, like cornstarch, may be used to thicken sauces, gravies, pie fillings, and other dishes.

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This flour serves a variety of different functions. It is used to coat french fries, chicken wings, muffins, and quick breads, among other things.

Make Your Own Gumbo File Powder

Gumbo recipes, whether you like them or not, aren’t as popular as those prepared with file powder. File powder is a game-changing spice for Gumbo, and you can now improvise and attempt to create it yourself. Let’s get started with the recipe.

  1. Find a sassafras tree (preferably in the autumn before the leaves begin to change color) and pluck a few leaves. Wear gloves for your own protection.
  2. Wash the leaves and hang them in a dark, dry location to absorb any remaining moisture.
  3. Leave the leaves to dry, however long it takes.
  4. When the leaves are dry and crispy, crush them by hand and ground them in a coffee grinder to make a green powder.
  5. Seasonings like as paprika, a pinch of salt, or garlic powder may be added to your file powder, but they are not required.
  6. Powder should be sifted and stored in an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator.

Related Questions And Other FAQ’s

Is File Powder Necessary For Gumbo

It is not required to add file powder in your Gumbo recipes, but it is preferable if you have it. It contributes to the dish’s unique taste.

Is Gumbo File Safe To Eat

Gumbo file is safe to consume. It was formerly considered unsafe for human ingestion because to the presence of a carcinogen known as safrole in the plant. However, whereas the root and bark of sassafras contain carcinogens, the leaves do not.

How Do You Thicken A Gumbo File

File powder should be plenty on its own, but if you wish to thicken your Gumbo even more, add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch.

What Spices Are In Gumbo File

File powder is created from powdered leaves of the fragrant sassafras tree, but it may also include ingredients such as garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.


What can I use in place of filé powder recipe?

If you can’t obtain file powder, you may use cornstarch, tapioca flour, arrowroot powder, or okra. All of these components are readily available in most supermarkets. If you can’t locate file powder replacements in your local shop, you may buy them online.

Is filé powder necessary for gumbo?

Finally, add Filé.

It is usually sprinkled over individual portions of gumbo to thicken and season it. While gumbo may be made without it, we appreciate the spice’s earthy, somewhat flowery taste. If you can’t get filé powder in your local grocery or gourmet shop, you may purchase it from penzeys.com.

What seasonings are in gumbo file?

Filé powder, also known as gumbo filé, is a herbal powder prepared from the dried and crushed leaves of the eastern North American sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum).

How do you thicken gumbo without filé?

One to two tablespoons cornstarch and two to three teaspoons water may be combined to produce a slurry. Mix it well before adding it to the gumbo to eliminate any lumps. Pour the slurry into the gumbo while stirring, and then let it boil to absorb the thickener. The sauce will thicken while the gumbo cooks.

What is the primary thickener used in a Creole gumbo other than filé powder?

Many gumbo recipes utilize okra or a dark roux as a thickening agent instead of filé. If you can’t get filé powder, look for a recipe that doesn’t call for it.

What tastes like file powder?

Thyme has a similar earthy taste to file powder and may be used in the same amounts. Tarragon dried. Tarragon has a somewhat sweeter taste than file powder and may be used in the same amounts.

What is the secret ingredient in gumbo?

Several friends claim that the secret ingredient in amazing gumbo is chicken stock. When it comes to cooking a superb chicken and sausage gumbo, numerous friends swear by chicken stock as a must-have ingredient.

What is the thickening agent for gumbo?

File powder is a staple in Cajun and Creole cuisine, particularly gumbo, where it serves as a spice and thickening factor. Choctaw Indians used the ground leaves of the native sassafras tree in their soups and stews for generations before the Cajuns came in Louisiana.

What spices thicken gumbo?

Gumbo filé is a flavoring and thickening powder prepared from dried sassafras leaves that has been pulverized. In gumbo, how much filé powder should you use? When thickening your gumbo, you just need a spoonful or two of filé gumbo powder.

How do you make homemade file powder?

Filé Powder Made at Home
In the autumn, before the leaves change color, cut tiny branches from a sassafras tree.
The leaves should be washed.
Discard the stalks after removing the dried leaves from the stems.
Crush the leaves by hand, then crush them in a clean coffee grinder until they create a fine, green powder.

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