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Xanthan Gum Substitute: 12 Top Options To Try


Do you know what the best xanthan gum substitute is? If not, you’re not alone. After all, this ingredient seems like a complicated one to replace. It is not an ingredient most people keep in their pantries; some might not even have heard of it. 

However, you’d be surprised to discover that something as simple as egg whites can do its job for some recipes. Read on to find out more about xanthan gum and its alternatives. 

measuring scoop filled with xanthan gum powder.

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is a common food additive. It is a white powder produced when certain bacteria are used to ferment sugar. 

When added to water, it forms a gel-like substance that acts as a binding agent for most food items. This gel can also be an emulsifier because it can keep oil and other liquids together.

Xanthan gum does not have gluten or carbohydrates. Because of this, it is a staple ingredient in most keto-friendly and gluten-free foods. It enables you to have fluffy, chewy bread without adding gluten.

Other than that, xanthan gum is a great thickening agent. You can use it to improve the texture of your soups and stews. Some even add it to jams and jellies for a better mouthfeel.

Indeed, this ingredient has distinct characteristics that make it incredibly useful. However, it is not irreplaceable. Plenty of other ingredients can do the same things it does. For this reason, looking for an alternative to xanthan gum is easy. 

11 Best Substitutes for Xanthan Gum

1. Corn Starch

Also called cornflour or maize starch, corn starch comes from the endosperm of corn. Similar to xanthan gum, it is a fine, white powder. If you add it to water and subject it to heat, it forms a substance likened to a gel. For this reason, it is usually used as a food thickener in cooked dishes.

You should remember that corn starch is gluten-free but not keto-friendly. 

You can use it as a sub for xanthan gum in most recipes, even for baking. You can directly add it to your batter when used in baked goods. However, when used in soups, stews, and dressings, it is best to dissolve it in water first. Doing so will give you a better substitution experience. 

The best thing about cornstarch is that it is a staple household item. You might even already have it. If not, it is easy to find in most grocery stores. 

You can substitute xanthan gum with corn starch using a 1:1 ratio.

2. Egg Whites

Another common household item you can use to replace xanthan gum is egg whites. They’re gluten-free and keto-friendly. Plus, egg whites are good binders in recipes.

In baked goods, they act as a leavening agent causing your cakes to rise. It even lends a light and airy texture. Since eggs are easy to find, this swap is one of the easiest to make.

In most commercial goods, xanthan gum is commonly used instead of egg whites due to its longer shelf life. That said, they are great substitutes for each other.

One of the biggest considerations here is that eggs are common allergens. Ensure no one is allergic to it before serving, especially when feeding guests.

You’ll also have an egg yolk lying around, which you can save for an aioli sauce or creme brulee recipe. 

Replace one tablespoon of xanthan gum with 1 egg white. Beat the egg white until soft peaks form before use. 

3. Unflavored Gelatin

Regarding stabilizing properties, gelatin is one of the best ingredients out there. For this reason, it can be a great alternative to xanthan gum. Gelatin can take heat well, so you can use it in baking and cooking.

It is an inexpensive ingredient, a swap that won’t break the bank. You can stock up on it and always have a ready substitute.

Use clear and unflavored ones, as many variants are available. Using colored and flavored gelatin will affect the appearance and taste of your dish. The only exception is when you’re baking something that has the same flavor. For instance, strawberry-flavored gelatin can enrich a strawberry-flavored baked good. 

Regarding dietary restrictions, you must remember that gelatin comes from animal collagen. Most of it comes from pigskin, so it is unsuitable for vegans. But it is gluten-free, so people with celiac sensitivity are able to have it. 

Use twice the amount of unflavored gelatin as xanthan gum.

4. Arrowroot Flour

A lesser-known flour, arrowroot flour comes from the arrowroot plant. This plant is a tuber, like cassava. Arrowroot flour can bind ingredients, making it a decent alternative to xanthan gum. 

This flour is paleo-friendly and grain-free, so it is a staple in gluten-free baking. Aside from that, it can be a thickener for soups and stews. When you use this, it will leave your sauces clear and glossy. 

Since this is plant-based, you’ll get health benefits too. It contains B Vitamins, iron, and potassium. 

This alternative is tasteless, so using it will not result in flavor shifts in your recipe. It will, however, affect the texture of your baked goods.

It leans towards the crispy side rather than the moist and airy. That said, there are better choices when baking something that needs to be elastic, like a pizza crust. 

Use a 1:1 substitution ratio when opting for this alternative. 

5. Psyllium Husk or Psyllium Husk Powder

Psyllium husk comes from Plantago ovata seeds. Like xanthan gum, psyllium husk is a soluble fiber, too – it reacts the same way when mixed with water. It also forms a gel-like substance that you can use as an emulsifier and a thickener. 

It can easily replace xanthan gum in salad dressings, soups, and stews. You’ll have to bear with some of the husks floating around, as these do not dissolve in liquid.

When you add psyllium husk to bread, you’ll get an airy texture and great structure. This can even make your gluten-free bread feel like the real thing. 

If that isn’t enough, this alternative even comes with health benefits. It contains calcium, sodium, and trace amounts of manganese. In fact, it is a popular dietary fiber supplement, so you can easily find it in health stores. Even pharmacies have them!

Use twice the amount of psyllium husk as the xanthan gum listed in your recipe.

6. Chia Seeds

Did you know that this superfood can take the place of xanthan gum? Well, it is, so you can add that to the many uses of chia seeds in the kitchen. These seeds also form a gel when left to soak in water. 

You can use that gel like xanthan gum: a thickener and a binder. Do note that chia seeds do not dissolve in water. It will appear as tiny black seeds in your dish and give a crunchy texture.

You can grind them first to lessen their effect on your dish’s appearance. Ground chia seeds will be less noticeable than whole ones.

They need some prep time to soak before you can use them. So, they’re not the best options if you’re in a hurry. 

Nevertheless, chia seeds are the best substitutes if you’re after the benefits. After all, they have high amounts of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. And yes, they’re vegan, gluten-free, and keto-friendly!

Soak 1 part of the chia seeds in 2 parts water for at least 10 minutes. Use the same amount of chia seeds as the xanthan gum called for in your recipe.

7. Ground Flax Seeds

Another superfood you can use instead of xanthan gum is flax seeds. However, it is important to grind them first so they can absorb water and produce a gel.

Only in this form will it be able to replace xanthan gum in your recipes. Plus, if you take them whole, they will pass through your body undigested, and you’ll not get their benefits.

Anyway, ground flax seeds are good binding agents that act the same way as chia seeds. They are as nutritious as they contain fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. 

You can add them to baked goods like cakes and muffins. They’ll also do a fantastic job if you need to thicken your soup. 

As a bonus, you can have them if you’re vegan, on a keto diet, or avoiding gluten. Now, that’s one convenient swap there. To add, you can buy flax seeds in most grocery stores either in their whole or ground form. 

Use the same amount of ground flax seed as the xanthan gum for a proper proportion. Then, add twice the amount of water. You can then use that mixture as your would xanthan gum. 

8. Agar Agar

Made from red algae, agar agar is what one may call vegan gelatin. It yields the same results as regular gelatin, only a bit denser. That said, it can be a xanthan gum substitute in some recipes. This is especially true because it is gluten-free and keto-friendly as well. 

You can buy them in health food stores in different forms. There are agar agar sheets, flakes, and powder. Using any of these will give you the same results, so it all boils down to preference and availability. 

Once prepared properly, agar agar can be a great binder and thickener. This is especially true for baked goods.

One notable disadvantage of using this is the additional prep time. Before you can add agar agar to your dishes, you need to dissolve it in water first. Once dissolved, you must cook the mixture until it thickens. In baked goods, though, the powdered form will work as is.

Use a 1:1 substitution ratio for this alternative. 

9. Guar Gum

Derived from guar beans, guar gum is a keto-friendly and vegan alternative. Guar gum is one of the many emulsifiers and food stabilizers recognized by the FDA.

It is one of the most popular ingredients in the food industry. You’ll find this white powder anywhere, from ice cream to cereals, cheese, jam, and jellies. 

It looks very similar to cornstarch and acts the same way, only with more binding power. It is actually 8 times more powerful than cornstarch. Like xanthan gum and psyllium husk, it is a soluble fiber with benefits. 

Because of these, you can use guar gum as a xanthan gum substitute. It is tasteless, so it will not affect the flavor of your dish. 

Be warned that certain foods don’t go well with guar gum. For instance, acidic ingredients can affect its thickening properties. Choose other alternatives when making dishes containing vinegar, lemon, or other citrus fruits.

Use a 3:2 ratio of guar gum to xanthan gum in your recipes.

10. Konjac Powder

Konjac powder goes by other names like glucomannan and konjac flour. It is extracted from the roots of the konjac plant or elephant yam. That said, it comes with nutritional advantages. 

For one, konjac powder is high in fiber. It also contains calcium and some sodium. 

Konjac powder is so absorbent that it expands 100x in volume when in contact with liquid. Similarly, it forms a heat-stable gel. Because of this, it is used widely in Asian cuisine as a thickener. For the same reason, it is an excellent substitute for xanthan gum.

On top of that, as a plant-based swap, konjac powder is free of gluten and animal products. It is 97% water, so it is keto-friendly too. 

In most recipes, you can replace xanthan gum with the same amount of konjac powder. But if you want a chewy texture, go for a 1.5:1 ratio of konjac powder to xanthan gum.

11. Pectin

Pectin is a starch you can find in the cell walls of certain fruits and vegetables. Like agar agar, you can consider this as vegan gelatin. It is a common thickener in most fruit jellies and jams. Because of this, you can use pectin to replace xanthan gum in most recipes.

The manufactured pectin comes from citrus rinds, so it is still vegan. In stores, you might find pectin as a powder or a liquid. It is flavorless, so you can expect your recipes to taste the same.

Do pay attention to the label, as there are many kinds of pectin. There are those you need to cook for a long time, while there are varieties that gel up quickly. You can come across pectin that you need to dissolve. There is also a powdered kind that you can add to your dishes directly.

Because of these variations, you need to experiment with substitution ratios. Regarding gluten-free bread recipes, 2 teaspoons would suffice for 5 cups of flour.

Xanthan Gum In Keto and Gluten-Free Baking

When it comes to keto and gluten-free baking, xanthan gum plays a vital role. It replaces gluten and provides all the properties it lends to baked goods. 

To better understand this, you’d need to know what gluten does. Gluten acts as a binder that keeps ingredients together. It gives your baked goods elasticity and structure. Lastly, it keeps moisture in check, so you’ll not end up with a crumbly mess. 

Now, in keto baking, you avoid carbohydrate-containing ingredients. Since it is in those items where you can find gluten, you are also removing gluten in keto baking.

Without gluten, you’ll not have bread as you know it…until you add xanthan gum. Including this incredible powder in your dough gives you everything that gluten offers.  

As a result, you’ll get moist, elastic, and formed gluten-free baked goods close to the original.

Why Is It Called Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum got its name from the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris. This bacteria is used to ferment sugars and create xanthan gum.

What Is Xanthan Gum Used For?

Xanthan gum is used for thickening liquids like soups and stews. It is used as a binding agent in gluten-free and keto baking. Xanthan gum is also an emulsifier, which keeps liquids mixed up in dressings and sauces.

How Do You Store Xantham Gum Properly?

Since xanthan gum is a powder, you should store it in an airtight container away from heat and moisture. Refrigeration is not recommended as it might cause clumping. 

Summary

Looking for a xanthan gum substitute is easy. After all, plenty of other ingredients have binding and thickening abilities too. If you’re after the benefits, chia seeds and flax seeds are the best xanthan gum substitutes.

But if you want something quick, egg whites and unflavored gelatin are equally great. You can also use guar gum and pectin if you can find them.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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