You may not know what xanthan gum is, but you have had it in many foods you eat regularly. This ingredient is key in many items, like ice cream, bread, and even cosmetics. It is used across various industries, and cooking and baking are two important ones.
Sometimes, finding xanthan gum can prove to be harder than it seems, particularly, if you are trying to save money and time. If your recipe calls for xanthan gum, there are some alternatives that you can use instead.
What Is Xanthan Gum?
Let’s talk about the obvious first, what is xanthan gum?
This food additive is made by fermenting corn sugar with specific bacteria. It is used for binding, thickening, and emulsifying. More than just thickening food, as a binder, xanthan gum can hold ingredients together, and as an emulsifier, it can blend two ingredients that may otherwise remain separate.
Aside from these properties, xanthan gum is popular in baking, particularly gluten-free baking, as this flour doesn’t have the binding properties of gluten. Without a binding agent, a baked good can look and taste weird.
What Can I Replace Xanthan Gum With?
Regardless of the reasons, if you can’t use it, here are some xanthan gum substitutes to keep in mind:
#1. Psyllium Husk
Made from the husks of Plantago ovata seeds, this powder is used for many baking purposes. Psyllium husk is commonly used as a dietary supplement because it is a dietary fiber that absorbs blood cholesterol and lowers blood sugar.
Psyllium husk can be bought in natural or health stores, though, it is also a common ingredient in organic grocery stores. When baking, you can replace xanthan gum for psyllium husk by adding double the amount of what your recipe calls for.
#2. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a good source of fiber, that when mixed with water forms a gel similar to xanthan gum. Keep in mind, though, that these seeds add texture to whatever you are cooking, and could change the color as well. These seeds are a common food additive in breakfast yogurts, cereals, and bread.
To replace xanthan gum, add the same amount of chia seeds. To make the mix, add two cups of hot water for every one part of chia seeds. Stir well, and the mix will become viscous. You can buy chia seeds in any health or organic stores, and even in some grocery stores.
#3. Ground Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are another popular food, thanks to its fiber content, but also because they have essential fatty acids. These seeds are also more common. You can find them in almost every grocery store. Health stores have them as nutritional supplements, too.
To use them instead of xanthan gum, you will need ground seeds as the whole seed won’t have the binding effect. Once ground, you can mix with twp cups hot water, and use it in the same amount as you would use xanthan gum.
This option is widely used in food. You can see it in chewing gum, ice cream, and candy. Gelatin comes from the collagen in animal contents, which makes it unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Gelatin forms a jelly-like texture when mixed with water, which is great for making dough stretchy and allows for moisture to be retained.
For gelatin to be used in place of xanthan gum, you should double the amount of what the recipe calls for, and only use the unflavored kind. Gelatin isn’t as easy to come by, but certain specialty stores and some grocery stores do carry it.
This food item is often used to create thickness in sauces, stews, and soups. You don’t have to add water to cornstarch before using it in place of xanthan gum.
You can just add it in the same amount of what the recipe calls for. This choice is also suitable for those looking to consume gluten-free baked goods.
You can buy cornstarch in any grocery store and even convenience stores. It will have the same effect as xanthan gum, so you can add it to your pantry especially when you’re running low of the latter.
This choice is made from red algae and it looks and acts like unflavored gelatin, thickening dishes and it is vegan friendly!
Usually, agar is sold in specialty stores as either flakes, sheets, or powder. This item also has stabilizing and texture-adding properties.
To use it instead of xanthan gum, dissolve it in the water at room temperature. Use 4 tablespoons of water for 1 tablespoon of agar flakes or 1 teaspoon of agar-agar powder. You should then heat it enough to dissolve it completely and add it to the recipe on a 1:1 ratio.
#7. Guar Gum
Also known as guaran, this item comes from guar beans, and it is a white powder that acts as a binder and thickener. You need to add about three parts of guar gum for every two parts of xanthan gum.
Make sure you blend it well with the oil in your recipe. Usually, guar gum can be found in health stores or organic supermarkets.
Yes, this is a safe option for those following a ketogenic diet because it has a low caloric content and it binds well in baked goods. It is also a good option when making thick sauces or stews that usually call for flour.
If using almond flour, you will almost always need a binding agent because of the lack of gluten. That’s why xanthan gum or another binding component should be added as well. These two are not interchangeable, but rather work together.
Cornstarch is a great substitute for xanthan gum, whether to act as a thickener or a binding agent. To do so, you can add the same amount as you would use xanthan gum.
While xanthan gum is a useful and healthy thickener, binding agent, and an emulsifier, it can also be hard to find in certain situations. Instead of changing plans or recipes, consider one of these 7 options, which will have the same effect and result in tasty baked goods.
*Photo by IMelnyk/depositphotos