Gumbo File Powder (Sassafras Leaf)

(Sassafras oficinalis)


This pale green powder is the traditional ingredient that gives gumbo its characteristic ‘gummy’ consistency. Filé powder should be added towards the end of cooking and should not be re-heated, as it will break down and become stringy. 

Gumbo file powder is a necessity for cooking authentic Creole or Cajun cuisine. Quite simply, gumbo file powder is the powdered leaves of the sassafras tree. When ground, they have a rich, cooling smell, reminiscent of eucalyptus crossed with juicy fruit gum.

Long before the use of file powder for Creole and Cajun cooking, American Indians pounded sassafras leaves into a powder and added them to soups and stews. In addition to contributing an unusual flavor, the powder also acts as a thickener when added to liquid. This is what gives gumbo its traditional slippery texture.



1 Tablespoon vegetable oil 

1 Tablespoon flour 

1 small onion, finely diced 

½ green capsicum, diced 

2 cloves garlic, crushed 

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped 

¼ cup tomato puree 

10 small okra, chopped 

1 litre fish stock 

1 Tablespoon Herbie’s Cajun Seasoning 

½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves 

1 Herbie's Bay Leaf - Turkish (whole) 

100g scallops 

200g shelled & deveined green prawns 

200g crab meat 

1 teaspoon Herbie's Gumbo File Powder

Make a roux with oil and flour, add onion, capsicum and garlic. Saute until onion is transparent, then add tomatoes and puree, cook for 5 minutes. Add seasonings and salt and pepper, cook a further 5 minutes, then add stock. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add seafood. Mix file powder with a cup of stock, then stir into the gumbo. Serve in bowls over cooked white rice. DO NOT REHEAT after file is added, as the gumbo will become stringy.

Other Common Names: Sassafras Leaf, Gumbo filé. 

Botanical Name: (Sassafras oficinalis)

Botanical Name (Sassafras oficinalis)
Common Names Sassafras Leaf, Gumbo filé
Flavor More of a thickener than flavor
Contains Leaves of the sassafras plant
Application To give gumbo its "gummy" texture