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Is gumbo file the same as filé powder?

Filé powder, also known as gumbo filé, is an herbal powder made from the dried and ground leaves of the sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum), native to eastern North America. The roots and bark of this same plant were the original base for root beer.

Is filé powder necessary for gumbo?

While you can certainly make gumbo without it, we like the spice’s earthy, slightly floral flavor. If you can’t find filé powder at a supermarket or gourmet store, order it from

What can I use if I don’t have gumbo file?

If you need an alternative for file powder you can use:

  1. For a thickening substitute you can use okra (typically included in Gumbo). You’ll need about 2 cups to replace 1 tablespoon of file powder.
  2. OR – Use cornstarch (lacks the root-beer like flavor).
  3. OR – Arrowroot powder (provides a clear product).

Is gumbo file powder illegal?

Sassafras has been found by the FDA to contain Saffrole, and supposed carcinogenic and so has been banned, this means that gumbo file powder is illegal.

Why is gumbo file illegal?

Health concerns. Safrole and sassafras oil have been banned by the FDA as a carcinogen since 1960 and cannot be used in food manufacture for this reason.

What is a good substitute for okra in gumbo?

To replace okra as a thickening agent in gumbo, soups, and stews, the best options are gumbo filé, roux, xanthan gum, corn starch, or nopales. Vegetables such as zucchini, green beans, and eggplant have a similar flavor and can replace okra as a side dish.

What can I use instead of okra in gumbo?

How do you make file powder?


  1. 1Cut small branches from a sassafras tree in fall before the leaves start turning color.
  2. 2Wash the leaves.
  3. 3Remove the dried leaves from the stems, discarding the stalks.
  4. 4Crush the leaves by hand, then grind in a clean coffee grinder until a fine, green powder is formed.

Can Creole seasoning replace gumbo?

They won’t quite give you the same flavor as the filé powder you’re leaving out, but they will help make the gumbo more unique to you. You can also try other Cajun seasoning, creole seasoning in your okra gumbo or any other gumbo recipe.

Does tomatoes go in gumbo?

Creole gumbos most often include tomatoes, shellfish and dark roux and often okra and filé powder, an herb made from ground leaves of sassafras trees. It’s not uncommon for both Creole and Cajun gumbo to include meats such as ham or sausage as well.

Does gumbo file contain safrole?

Sassafras is a tree native to North America. Its roots and bark were traditionally used to make tea and the leaves when dried and powdered are called “filé” and are most famously used in gumbo. It’s because the roots and bark of the sassafras tree contain a high concentration of the chemical safrole.

Does gumbo filé contain safrole?