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The 5 Best Substitutes for Gumbo File Powder

Gumbo file powder is a key ingredient in Louisiana-style gumbo, giving the dish its distinctive thickness and flavor.

However, file powder can be difficult to find outside Louisiana, and it may not be available at your local grocery store.

If you’re looking for a file powder substitute, several options can be used in a pinch.

Here are five substitutes for gumbo file powder that will give your dish the flavor and texture you’re looking for.

What is Gumbo File Powder?

what is gumbo file powder

Gumbo file powder is a type of seasoning made from ground sassafras leaves.

It is commonly used in Louisiana Creole cuisine, giving gumbo its characteristic thick, slightly oily texture.

File powder is typically added towards the end of the cooking process and can also be used as a finishing touch to add flavor and thickness.

While it is most commonly associated with gumbo, file powder can also be used in other types of soups and stews.

It can be difficult to find outside Louisiana, but many grocery stores now carry it in the spice aisle.

So if you’re looking to add a little something extra to your next pot of gumbo, give file powder a try.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Gumbo File Powder

There are several options available if you’re looking for a gumbo file powder substitute.

Here are the five best substitutes for gumbo file powder:

1 – Cornstarch


Cornstarch is a fine, white powder made from corn kernels’ starch.

It is commonly used as a thickening agent in soups and sauces.

When mixed with water, cornstarch forms a gel-like substance that can help thicken and smooth out the texture of gumbo.

Additionally, cornstarch does not have much flavor, so it will not alter the taste of the dish.

While it is not an exact replacement for gumbo file powder, cornstarch is a good alternative if you cannot find the real thing.

2 – Arrowroot powder

arrowroot powder

Arrowroot powder is a great substitute for gumbo file powder.

Arrowroot is a starch extracted from the root of the arrowroot plant.

It is a white powder that has a neutral taste and is used to thicken sauces, gravies, and soups.

Gumbo file powder is made from dried and ground sassafras leaves.

It is used as a thickener and seasoning in gumbo and other creole dishes.

While arrowroot powder and gumbo file powder have similar uses, they have different flavors.

Arrowroot powder has a neutral flavor, while gumbo file powder has a unique flavor from the sassafras leaves.

Arrowroot powder is a great option if you are looking for a substitution for gumbo file powder.

3 – Okra


Okra is a common ingredient in gumbo and has a similar consistency to a fine powder when cooked.

Simply add a few pieces of okra to your gumbo while it is simmering, and then remove them before serving.

Your gumbo will have the same thickness and flavor without needing file powder.

The okra will add some extra nutrients, including fiber and vitamins A and C.

4 – Roux


For anyone who loves gumbo, the thought of making it without file powder may seem sacrilegious.

However, roux can be used as a substitute for file powder, which can still result in a delicious dish.

Roux is made by cooking flour and fat together until it forms a thick paste.

It is then used to thicken soups and stews.

When used in gumbo, roux adds body and richness to the dish.

It also gives the gumbo a deep, nutty flavor that is simply delicious.

So if you find yourself out of file powder, don’t despair.

Roux makes an excellent substitute, and your gumbo will still be delicious.

5 – Nopal Leaves

nopal leaves

Nopal leaves are the leaves of the cactus plant, and they have a variety of uses in traditional Mexican cuisine.

Nopal leaves are among the most popular herbs used in gumbo file powder.

When ground into a powder, nopal leaves have a similar texture to gumbo file powder.

They also have a slightly bitter taste, adding an interesting flavor to gumbo.

In addition, nopal leaves are a good source of fiber and Vitamins C and K.

For these reasons; nopal leaves make an excellent substitution for gumbo file powder.


Gumbo file powder is a key ingredient in many Louisiana Creole dishes.

It is made from ground sassafras leaves and has a woodsy, slightly sweet flavor.

Gumbo file powder is used to thicken and season gumbo, adding a distinctive flavor that is essential to the dish.

While gumbo file powder can be difficult to find outside of Louisiana, several substitutes can be used in its place.

Each of these substitutes will add a different flavor to your gumbo, so be sure to choose one that will complement the other ingredients in the dish.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Gumbo File Powder

The 5 Best Substitutes for Gumbo File Powder
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Cornstarch
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Okra
  • Roux
  • Nopal Leaves


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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