The 7 Most Effective Filé Powder Substitutes

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Fil powder is a famous herbal powder used in Cajun cuisine in southern Louisiana. This powder, sometimes called as gumbo fil, is made from the crushed, dried leaves of the eastern North American sassafras tree. There were originally worries regarding the safrole present in fil powder. Yet, although substantial concentrations of the carcinogen are discovered in the bark and roots, the leaves contain nearly undetectable amounts and are safe to use in any recipe. If your recipe asks for this delectable powder but you don’t have it on hand, you could find it in one of the 7 fil powder replacements mentioned below.

The Choctaw People were the first to employ this unusual powder as a seasoning hundreds of years ago. The spice gained popularity when Cajuns relocated to Louisiana, and it was quickly employed to flavor stews, soups, and gumbos. It is also often used as a thickening in a variety of foods. Fil powder is widely available, since it can be found in many health food shops and supermarkets. But, if it is not accessible in your region, there are other online possibilities.

How healthy (or unhealthy) is it?

The nutrition statistics below show that this powder does not include a lot of nutrients. It does not, however, contain any calories, fat, or cholesterol. The leaves utilized to manufacture the powder also contain certain beneficial substances to the human body. Myrcene, a moderate sedative and analgesic with anti-inflammatory qualities, and linalool, which also fights inflammation and functions as a light sedative, are examples.

Nutritional Breakdown

Filing powder

Amount (per 100 g) (per 100 g)

% Daily intake recommendation

Calories

0 kcal

0%

Fat in total

0 g

0%

Saturated fatty acid

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

0 g

0%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

0 mg

0%

Protein

0 g

0%

Calcium

0 mg

0%

B-12 vitamin

0 ug

0%

Potassium

0 mg

0%

(This is based on USDA nutritional data.)

What recipes use filé powder?

Fil powder is widely used as a thickener and flavoring. Yet, it has a variety of additional uses, including the production of root beer. Cajun foods like as etouffee and gumbo are among the most popular recipes that employ fil powder. The powder has a savory taste profile with a touch of thyme. It’s also similar to the tastes of eucalyptus and root beer.

Why do we need filé powder substitutes?

If you run out of fil powder or need it right away and are unable to buy it at your local grocery store, a substitute may let you to make your dish without it. Several of these substitutions have the similar taste character as conventional gumbo fil powder, and others may be used in various ways. Whichever dish you’re making, the substitutes below will guarantee you receive a tasty and authentic-tasting dinner even if you don’t have the actual thing.

Note:

= vegan


1. Okra 🌱

Great for: gumbo, stews, soups, and other thickening recipes.

Overview

Okra is a great substitute for fil powder and a classic technique to thicken gumbo. Since it is based in West African cookery, some say it is the most traditional thickening agent. When it first gained popularity in the United States, okra was used in the warmer months, while fil powder was more widely used in the winter months.

Okra is a vegetable that contains mucilage, a fiber that may turn slimy if cooked for an extended period of time. This is the ingredient that thickens your food.

Advantages

The main benefit of using okra instead of fil powder is that it thickens your stew or soup in the same manner. It’s also adaptable, since you may add as much or as little as you wish to reach the consistency you want. It has a similar texture as fil powder and will not feel odd in the mouth. It may be added after the meats and veggies have finished cooking and simmered for a few minutes before serving.

Disadvantages

Although okra has a similar texture as fil powder, it does not have the same flavor. It’s a good replacement when texture is more essential than an unique fil powder taste. If taste is more important to you, some of the other options on this list may be a better fit.

Nutritional breakdown

Okra

Amount (per 100 g) (per 100 g)

% Daily intake recommendation

Calories

44 kcal

2%

Fat in total

0 g

0%

Saturated fatty acid

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

8 g

3%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

3 mg

0.2%

Protein

3 g

6%

Calcium

80 mg

8%

B-12 vitamin

0 ug

0%

Potassium

0 mg

0%

(This is based on USDA nutritional data.)


2. Roux 🥛 / 🌱

Sauces, stews, soups, and gravy work well.

Overview

Roux is another thickening that is widely used in Cajun cooking. This is a classic component made by frying wheat flour in butter or lard. Depending on how long you cook it, it may range in color from light brown to black coffee. It may be be turned vegan by replacing the dairy-based butter with a vegan fat.

Advantages

This fil powder alternative has a flavor that is difficult to replicate in any other manner and may be used in conjunction with okra or fil to get the required taste and thickness. Some individuals combine all three thickeners, although this is far less usual. While making roux for gumbo, a medium-brown color is preferred. This gives the dish its distinctive ruby hue.

Disadvantages

One of the issues with this alternative is that it is not vegan by default. Also, it needs additional preparation when used in a recipe. This makes it less handy than fil powder, which can be added to a meal before it is finished.

Nutritional breakdown

Roux

Amount (per 100 g) (per 100 g)

% Daily intake recommendation

Calories

541 kcal

26%

Fat in total

40 g

66%

Saturated fatty acid

25 g

192%

Carbohydrates

39 g

14%

Cholesterol

107 mg

36%

Salt

322 mg

17%

Protein

5 g

10%

Calcium

0 mg

0%

B-12 vitamin

0 ug

0%

Potassium

0 mg

0%

(Based on USDA nutritional values for butter and flour.)


3. Corn starch 🌱

Soups, marinades, gravies, sauces, pies, and casseroles work well.

Overview

Corn starch may also be used as a thickening in Cajun cuisine, although it has a more neutral flavor than the others we’ve just mentioned. It is derived from the endosperm of maize kernels. It is a typical component used to thicken stews and soups, as well as to produce sugar and corn syrup.

Advantages

If you dislike the texture of okra and want to avoid the high fat content of a roux, this replacement works great. It is also simpler to create than the other choices. All you have to do is combine corn starch and a little water to make a paste. When your food is almost through cooking, add the mixture to thicken it up.

Disadvantages

Corn starch lacks the taste characteristic of flour powder and has little to no flavor of its own. It will thicken your meal but may diminish the taste. Due of the dilution, it’s a good idea to use larger quantities of various spices and ingredients with strong tastes to guarantee the final product has lots of flavor.

Nutritional breakdown

Starch from corn

Amount (per 100 g) (per 100 g)

% Daily intake recommendation

Calories

375 kcal

18%

Fat in total

0 g

0%

Saturated fatty acid

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

88 g

32%

Cholesterol

0 g

0%

Salt

0 mg

0%

Protein

0 g

0%

Calcium

0 mg

0%

B-12 vitamin

0 ug

0%

Potassium

0 mg

0%

(This is based on USDA nutritional data.)


4. Root beer 🌱

BBQ meats, sweets, gumbo, and chicken wings are ideal.

Overview

Root beer is a popular beverage, but it may also be used as an ingredient in a range of Cajun and non-Cajun meals. The drink is sweet and associated with North America, having a predominant sassafras taste. The majority of store-bought root beef has no caffeine, is carbonated, and has a frothy head on top. This drink has been available since the 1860s, however comparable beverages have been around for hundreds of years.

Advantages

Root beer has the sassafras taste that you would be searching for in a fil powder substitution, making it a popular option. This is an excellent option if you are more concerned with obtaining a genuine flavor than with the thickening power of the powder. It will not taste precisely the same, but it is as near to the actual thing as you can get.

Disadvantages

Although root beer tastes similar like fil powder, the mouthfeel is nothing like it. Root beer, rather than being a thickening agent, is a drink that may add moisture to a meal. If a dish requires thickening, such as gumbo, you may want to use an extra thickener, such as corn starch or okra, in addition to the root beer for the best results.

Nutritional breakdown

The root beer

Amount (per 100 ml) (per 100 ml)

% Daily intake recommendation

Calories

47 kcal

2%

Fat in total

0 g

0%

Saturated fatty acid

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

12 g

0%

Cholesterol

0 g

0%

Salt

10 mg

0.5%

Protein

0 g

0%

Calcium

0 mg

0%

B-12 vitamin

0 ug

0%

Potassium

0 mg

0%

(This is based on USDA nutritional data.)


5. Arrowroot powder 🌱

Sour sauces, stews, gravy, soups, pancakes, and breading are all good uses for it.

Overview

Arrowroot powder is another excellent thickening agent for soups, sauces, gumbos, and other dishes. This flavorless flour powder alternative is manufactured from starch derived from tropical plants like as cassava and arrowroot. It is a white powder that has double the thickening power of wheat. It also contains no protein and is completely gluten-free, making it an excellent choice for anyone trying to reduce their gluten intake.

Advantages

Arrowroot powder has many of the same advantages as fil powder and, in certain situations, may be a superior alternative. It has a more clear look than fil powder or corn starch, which helps to highlight the other components in your dish. It will also hold up better than flour powder or corn starch if you are cooking foods to freeze. For every cup of gumbo or soup, add one tablespoon of arrowroot powder and one tablespoon of water as a replacement.

Disadvantages

This is a flavorless component, but you may add a dash of root beer to spice it up a little. Arrowroot has more calories and carbs than fil powder, which may be a disadvantage if you’re trying to lose weight. But, since you use so little of the substance, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Nutritional breakdown

flour made from arrowroot

Amount (per 100 g) (per 100 g)

% Daily intake recommendation

Calories

357 kcal

17%

Fat in total

0.1 g

0.2%

Saturated fatty acid

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

88 g

32%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

2 mg

0.1%

Protein

0.3 g

0.6%

Calcium

40 mg

4%

B-12 vitamin

0 ug

0%

Potassium

11 mg

0.3%

(This is based on USDA nutritional data.)


6. Eggplant 🌱

Salads, frittatas, gumbo, soups, and stews are ideal.

Overview

Eggplants, also known as aubergines, are a nutrient-dense vegetable that also adds fiber to your diet. Many eggplants on the market are dark purple and huge, although size, color, and form may range from purple to green or white. Eggplants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from slender and long to squat and rectangular.

Advantages

As a substitute to fil powder, eggplant improves the tastes of the other ingredients while thickening gumbo or other soups. If you dislike the texture of okra, this is great since it has a creamier texture with tang and spice. Before roasting, the eggplant should be sliced into medium-sized slices, seasoned, and drizzled with oil or other fat. When they’re ready, combine them and add them to the recipe to simmer for a few minutes.

Disadvantages

Although this vegetable has a similar flavor as fil powder, if not correctly blended, it may contribute too much texture to the meal. It also includes a lot of oxalates, which may produce kidney or gall bladder stones in excessive quantities. If you are prone to these problems, you should consider another choice.

Nutritional breakdown

Eggplant

Amount (per 100 g) (per 100 g)

% Daily intake recommendation

Calories

25 kcal

1%

Fat in total

0.2 g

0.3%

Saturated fatty acid

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

6 g

2%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

2 mg

0.1%

Protein

1 g

2%

Calcium

9 mg

1%

B-12 vitamin

0 ug

0%

Potassium

228 mg

6%

(This is based on USDA nutritional data.)


7. Nopal leaves 🌱

Best used in: stews, gumbo, soups, and stews.

Overview

Nopales are edible cacti generated by the prickly pear cactus that are often used in Mexican cuisine. The leaves of this cactus are very nutritious and provide a significant amount of fiber to the diet. These leaves may be used as an alternative for fil powder, but selecting the ideal leaves is critical. They will be strong and thick, with no wrinkles, bruising, or cracks. The best-looking leaves will be medium to dark green in hue.

Advantages

Nopale leaves are crisp and flavorful, and they go well with gumbo, salad, soup, and stew. Peeled and chopped leaves may be added to gumbo at the end of the cooking time since it just has to boil for a few minutes. Several stores sell canned and bottled leaves, making them simpler to utilize when time is of the essence.

Disadvantages

If you want to utilize fresh nopale leaves, the preparation time and effort may be longer than you like. Removing the spines from the leaves, as well as the actual peeling, may be difficult. If you don’t want to do too much prep work, using pre-packaged leaves or an other solution may be a better option.

Nutritional breakdown

The leaves of the nopal

Amount (per 100 g) (per 100 g)

% Daily intake recommendation

Calories

16 kcal

0.8%

Fat in total

0.1 g

0.2%

Saturated fatty acid

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

3 g

1%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

21 mg

1%

Protein

1 g

2%

Calcium

164 mg

16%

B-12 vitamin

0 ug

0%

Potassium

257 mg

6%

(This is based on USDA nutritional data.)


The Bottom Line

Fil powder is a crucial ingredient in the preparation of delectable Cajun cuisine like as gumbo, stews, and substantial soups. Nevertheless, it has extremely few nutrients and may not be accessible in every grocery shop. The fil powder replacements mentioned above may be used to imitate the taste and thickening properties of the real thing in a number of recipes.

Top vegan picks

The beautiful thing about the vegan replacements on our list is that they are all accessible. If you want to add some additional vegetables to your recipe, eggplant or okra are excellent choices. Those looking for something a little simpler but still vegan may use corn starch or arrowroot powder. If you don’t mind a different texture, root beer is an excellent substitute for fil powder.

Top healthy picks

When it comes to health, you can’t go wrong with substituting fil powder for okra, eggplant, or nopale leaves. Each of these components will provide nutrition to your cuisine without adding too many calories. Unlike roux, which contains a lot of oil and salt, these components are healthful and may be consumed on a daily basis as part of a balanced diet. Adding additional veggies to your diet is also a good idea.

Top convenient picks

Corn starch is probably your best choice for the most easiest approach to replace fil powder in gumbo or other foods. The preparation is as simple as combining it with water, and most people already have it in their cupboards. Arrowroot powder is another excellent option, although it is less likely to be on hand in your kitchen.

Top convincing picks

One of two solutions stands out as the most compelling fil powder replacement. The first is okra, which has thickening characteristics as well as a pleasant taste. The other is root beer, which uses the same sassafras that flavors the powder. Those who prefer root beer should keep in mind that it does not provide thickness, therefore it may be necessary to mix it with other ingredients in certain recipes.

Sources:

what-is-file-powder-3050538www.thespruceeats.comhttps:

gumbo-file-powderwww.spiceography.comhttps:

what-is-arrowroot-powder-1328463www.thespruceeats.comhttps:

eggplant-pros-and-conshomewww.eatingisimportant.comhttps:

eggplant-recipesslideshowrecipeswww.bonappetit.comhttps:

FAQs

Is there a substitute for file gumbo?

Arrowroot powder may be used in place of gumbo file powder. What exactly is this? Arrowroot is a starch derived from the arrowroot plant’s root. It’s a white powder with a neutral flavor that’s often used to thicken sauces, gravies, and soups.

Is filé powder necessary for gumbo?

Additional information is available. Gumbo filé powder is a flavoring and thickening ingredient that may also be used to flavor sauces and gravies. Gumbo filé is often added after the dish has been taken from the pan but before it has had time to cool since it gets stringy when cooked.

How do you make homemade filé powder?

Filé Powder Made at Home
In the autumn, before the leaves change color, cut tiny branches from a sassafras tree.
Clean the leaves.
Discard the stalks after removing the dried leaves from the stems.
Smash the leaves by hand, then crush them in a clean coffee grinder until they create a fine, green powder.
Sep 29, 2021

What can I substitute for filé seasoning?

It is essential to remember, however, that not everyone can get file powder at their local grocery shop. If you can’t obtain file powder, you may use cornstarch, tapioca flour, arrowroot powder, or okra. What exactly is this? All of these components are readily available in most supermarkets.

How can I 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 are the 2 rules of gumbo?

In the saucepan, there are franks. Do not add entire, naked crabs to the pot. grilled dogs Here are some helpful guidelines from a gumbo expert: Make your sausages brown. There will be no wieners.

What is the secret ingredient in gumbo?

Numerous 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 seasoning thickens gumbo?

File powder, derived from powdered dried sassafras leaves, is used to flavor and thicken gumbos and other foods in Creole and Cajun cuisine cooking. Gumbo is a stew that is often thickened with okra seedpods, a flour-to-fat combination called roux, and file powder.

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

Almost all gumbos also contain a roux, which helps to thicken it.)

What is the smooth powder used to thicken gumbo?

Filé powder is used in various versions of gumbo, a thick Creole soup or stew eaten over rice, in Louisiana Creole cuisine. There are many types.

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