If you're in need of a xanthan gum substitute you are not alone, there aren't many people that keep it on hand (or have even heard of it)! Xanthan gum is primarily used as a thickening or binding agent in recipes, so you never know when you might need something to substitute it!
The 10 best substitutes for replacing xanthan gum in a recipe!
A common ingredient in manufactured foods, xanthan gum is not a very common ingredient to find in the home kitchen. So, it is not surprising that you may be looking for a substitute.
The great thing is, there are several substitutes for xanthan gum. Like xanthan gum, a few of these may be less common staples in your pantry, but several of them are easy to find and you most likely already have one or two in your kitchen.
- What is Xanthan Gum?
- What is Xanthan Gum Used For?
- The Easiest Substitutes for Xanthan Gum
- 1. Corn Starch
- 2. Egg Whites
- 3. Unflavored Gelatin
- 4. Arrowroot flour
- 5. Psyllium Husk
- 6. Chia Seeds
- 7. Ground Flax Seeds
- Additional Substitutes for Xanthan Gum
- 8. Agar Agar
- 9. Guar Gum
- 10. Konjac Powder
- 📋 Recipe
Before looking at these substitutes, let’s take a quick look at this funny-sounding ingredient. That way you will know exactly what xanthan gum is used for and what the best substitute will be for your recipe.
What is Xanthan Gum?
Even though xanthan gum is made from natural ingredients, it does go through a process that is as scientific as its name sounds. It is made from fermenting simple sugars that have a specific type of bacteria.
The name xanthan gum is derived from the type of bacteria needed to form the final product. Since xanthan gum is made from sugar, you may assume that it is gluten-free. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Often the bacterium that is used to create xanthan gum is gathered from wheat, soy, dairy, corn, or barley. Therefore, one reason you may need a substitute is that you have a gluten or soy allergy.
Always check the label to see if it has been processed with any ingredients you may be allergic to or choose to avoid.
What is Xanthan Gum Used For?
This unique by-product of fermented sugar is a popular additive to foods and other manufactured products like toothpaste. It is even used in making makeup.
In both the home kitchen and manufacturing, xanthan gum acts as a thickening and binding agent. It is especially great at helping to bind ingredients to keep them from separating. It can even be used as an emulsifier to help blend oil with other ingredients.
In the kitchen, xanthan gum is a popular choice for gluten-free baking. It is a strong binding agent that helps replace the binding properties of gluten so that you can still get a nice full loaf of bread.
Ironically, as mentioned above, some brands of xanthan gum may not be completely gluten-free so keep that in mind. If gluten was present during manufacturing, there will only be trace amounts in the xanthan gum.
So, if you do not have a gluten intolerance and simply prefer a gluten-free diet, then you can still use xanthan gum without any worry. However, if you are highly sensitive to gluten you may want to select an alternative.
The Easiest Substitutes for Xanthan Gum
When you are in the thick of cooking and need a quick and easy substitute for xanthan gum these 7 alternatives will get the job done. Many of these you will already have at home, while others are easy to grab at the store.
I'm leaving off all-purpose flour and wheat flour from the list, although either one could also be used as a great xanthan gum substitute. They'd also certainly top the list as being the most readily available easy alternatives!
1. Corn Starch
Corn starch is one of the easiest substitutes for xanthan gum because you probably already have it in your kitchen and can use it exactly how xanthan gum would be used in the recipe.
Most brands of corn starch are completely gluten-free. Therefore, corn starch is often used as a gluten-free substitute to replace wheat flour in recipes. Typically, cornstarch is used as a thickener for soups, stews, sauces, and gravies.
It will work best as a substitute for xanthan gum in similar recipes; however, it can also be used in baked goods and as an emulsifier for dressings.
Replace cornstarch with an exact 1:1 substitution for xanthan gum in any recipe. You do not need to add water before using, especially in baking.
When adding to soups or sauces though, making a sludge (by mixing the corn starch with a small amount of water) before adding it to the recipe will give you a smoother final product.
2. Egg Whites
Egg whites are another easy substitute for xanthan gum and one you most likely have in your refrigerator right now. If you are worried about any gluten or soy allergies, this is a great substitute.
Egg whites are also a good choice for those following a keto or paleo diet since they are all-natural and have not been processed. They can be a great choice for making keto or paleo baked goods that are light and airy.
Replace 1 tablespoon of xanthan gum with 1 egg white. It is best to whip the egg white until it is firm and then gently fold it into the batter.
3. Unflavored Gelatin
A collagen by-product of animals, unflavored gelatin forms a gel-like consistency that can be used to thicken and bind foods. If you make jam or jelly at home, you may have some extra unflavored gelatin in your pantry (it is also great for making your own homemade Jell-O).
Gelatin is a great substitute for xanthan gum because it can be used in both baked goods and as a thickening agent when cooking. So, even if you don’t already have this in your pantry consider picking up a small and inexpensive box at the store to keep on hand.
Use double the amount of unflavored gelatin in a 2:1 substitution for xanthan gum. While unflavored gelatin is a great gluten-free option, it is not a suitable choice for those who are vegan or vegetarian.
4. Arrowroot flour
Arrowroot flour (or powder) has made a name for itself in the world of Paleo diets and gluten-free baking. This plant-based flour comes from grinding and processing the root of tropical plants (most commonly the Maranta arundinacea or Florida arrowroot plant).
Arrowroot is very similar to the way cornstarch is used (and is also a good substitute for cornstarch). It can be used in baked goods and as a thickening agent for soups and sauces.
In baking, it will change the overall texture slightly as it tends to produce crispier cookies and baked goods.
Make an easy 1:1 exchange of arrowroot for xanthan gum in any recipe.
5. Psyllium Husk
You may be familiar with psyllium husk as a gut health supplement. As a soluble fiber, it expands in the gut and can help to aid in digestion. Xanthan gum has also been noted as having similar effects on the gut.
These similarities transfer to baking as well, offering a great plant-based substitute for xanthan gum. Psyllium husk is best used as a binding agent in baking due to its texture and mild earthy taste.
Use double the amount of psyllium husk in a 2:1 substitution for xanthan gum.
6. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are indeed the seeds used in the famous chia pets. Don’t worry though, you won’t be growing a chia pet inside if you use these. You will simply get a great dose of fiber and nutrients!
Chia seeds can be used as whole seeds or ground up. When mixed with water, they form a gel-like substance.
This gel acts as a binding ingredient in baking and a thickening agent in other dishes. Whole seeds are best for baking, while ground is best for cooking. You can make ground chia seeds by tossing a handful into a blender for a few seconds.
While chia seeds are a 1:1 exchange for xanthan gum you do need to prep the seeds before adding them to your recipe:
- Measure chia seeds in an even 1:1 ratio for xanthan gum.
- Place the chia seeds in a cup and add 2 parts water (2 tablespoons water for 1 tablespoon chia seeds).
- Let the seeds sit for 10-15 minutes until a gel forms. Use the gel in your recipe the same way you would xanthan gum.
7. Ground Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are another superfood like chia seeds. Super in nutrients and in their ability to be used in so many versatile ways in the kitchen!
Ground flax seeds can be used in the same way that chia seeds are used to replace xanthan gum in a recipe. You do need to grind the flax seeds first though (whole flax seeds do not absorb water the same way whole chia seeds do).
Measure ground flaxseeds in an equal 1:1 ratio for xanthan gum. Then follow the directions above to prepare them in the same way as chia seeds before adding them to your recipe.
Of all the substitutes noted, flaxseeds will change the overall recipe the most. They have a slightly nutty taste that will come through in the final recipe.
Additional Substitutes for Xanthan Gum
If you are looking for a quick and easy substitute that you already have on hand, then the list above is your best bet. On the other hand, if you do not need an immediate substitution and want to explore some other great options, look at the list below.
8. Agar Agar
Agar Agar is made from red algae and the vegan version of gelatin. However, it will produce stiffer and denser baked goods than gelatin.
While agar agar can be used in an easy 1:1 substitution for xanthan gum, it does take some time to prepare it before it can be used.
Follow the directions below to use this as a substitute for xanthan gum in any recipe-
- Add agar agar and 4x the amount of water (4 tablespoons water for 1 tablespoon agar agar) to a saucepan.
- Stir over low heat until dissolved.
- Remove from heat and let cool before using. *If it gets too thick, use an immersion blender to soften it before adding it to your recipe.
9. Guar Gum
Guar gum is made from guar beans. The beans are processed to make a white powder that looks and acts in the same way as xanthan gum. Guar gum is a plant-based product that is great for those who want to avoid any possible allergens in xanthan gum.
Many believe that guar gum is the best substitute for xanthan gum. Unfortunately, like xanthan gum, it is one of the least likely to have on hand at a moment’s notice.
One other downside is that you need to use more guar gum than xanthan gum for an effective substation. If you have guar gum on hand or want to try it though, it will produce the closest results to xanthan gum.
Use 3 parts guar gum for 2 parts xanthan gum in any recipe (3 tablespoons of guar gum for 2 tablespoons of xanthan gum).
If you use guar gum in a recipe that has oil, such as salad dressing, mix the guar gum first with the oil before adding any additional liquids.
10. Konjac Powder
Konjac powder is another great plant-based substitute for those who prefer something less processed than xanthan gum. Made from the root of the konjac plant it is a popular thickening ingredient in Asian cooking.
If you make a lot of Asian cuisine then you may have this on hand, but otherwise, this one may not be an easy substitute for xanthan gum.
In most recipes, you can use a simple 1:1 substitution of konjac powder for xanthan gum.
If you are making something flatbreads (like pita or naan) or other foods that are meant to have a soft doughy texture, you will want to use a bit more konjac powder.
In these recipes, use 1 ½ the amount of konjac powder in place of 1 serving of xanthan gum.
We wish you the best of luck with your recipe and hope we helped you find the best substitute for xanthan gum. Let us know what you thought of these substitutions by commenting down below!
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Xantham Gum Substitute: Best, Easy To Use Alternatives In Your Pantry!
Option 1 (Quick & Easy) - Cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Option 2 (My Second Choice) - Egg White
- 1 large egg white (whipped to stiff peaks)
Option 3 (A Baking Favorite) - Arrowroot Powder
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
Option 1 (Quick & Easy) - Cornstarch
- Use cornstarch in a 1:1 equal ration as the amount of xanthan gum called for in any recipe.1 tablespoon cornstarch
Option 2 (My Second Choice) - Egg White
- Use 1 large egg white for each 1 tablespoon of xanthan gum called for in a recipe. Fold into your recipe to combine.1 large egg white
Option 3 (A Baking Favorite) - Arrowroot Powder
- Use arrowroot powder (or arrowroot flour) in a 1:1 equal ration as the amount of xanthan gum called for in any recipe.1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!