What is Xanthan Gum? Use of Xanthan Gum – How much to use?

The use of xanthan gum explained by internationally renowned gluten-free expert, Carol Fenster, Ph.D. She is the author of several gluten-free cookbooks and allergy friendly lifestyle books. She will contribute an article each month to this blog. Below she has provided not only gluten-free newbies with some great information, but for gluten-free veterans, as well!  Thank you so much, Carol for explaining the use of xanthan gum!

Dr. Carol Fenster

What is Xanthan Gum and Why Should I Use It?
By Carol Fenster, Ph.D.

One of the most frequent questions I hear from newly-diagnosed people is “what is xanthan gum?”


Definition of Xanthan Gum

The technical explanation is that xanthan gum is a polysaccharide, made from a pure culture fermentation of any carbohydrate (most likely corn) with the plant bacteria Xanthomonas Campestris. The mixture is then purified, yielding a polysaccharide gum.

Why Is Xanthan Gum Important?

Xanthan gum is the glue that holds our baked goods together by performing a function similar to gluten.

Picture millions of tiny cells or balloons in your batter or dough. As the leavening (baking powder, baking soda, or yeast) starts expanding, the cells created by xanthan gum provide little containers to hold the carbon dioxide released by the leavening agent. These cells provide a structure to hold the carbon dioxide and help your baked goods rise, instead of falling flat as a pancake.

The xanthan gum also acts an emulsifier by helping the water and oil stay together once they’re blended. That’s why we say it “stabilizes” the baked item. Knowing all this, you can see why xanthan gum as an “investment” in successful, gluten-free baking.

If Xanthan Gum Isn’t Right for You

In case you’re wondering…manufacturers assure us that there is very little, if any, corn left over. And, very little yeast or mold from the fermentation, either. So, this product is not likely to be a problem for those sensitive to corn or yeast. But, if it bothers you in any way—or you simply don’t want to use it—then don’t use it.

Try using another member of the gum family––guar gum, which is a legume called Cyanmopsis tetragonoloba. Guar gum performs similarly to xanthan gum in baking, but I use 50% more guar gum to achieve the desired result. In other words, if your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, use 1 1/2 teaspoons guar gum.

How Much Do I Use?

Some people think if “a little is good, then a lot is better.” Not so! If you use too much xanthan gum, baked goods turn rubbery and salad dressings resemble glue. After thousands of baking experiences, I’ve come to really appreciate xanthan gum and, while I tend to use a bit more now than I did in the past, I don’t overdo it. I think every baked item (yes, even cookies––nobody likes crumbly cookies!) requires some xanthan gum for optimum texture.

How Much Xanthan Gum?

Where? How Much? Tips for Success
Salad Dressings 1/8-1/4  teaspoon per cup of liquid Mix with dry ingredients first (e.g.; salt, pepper, sugar), then add liquids. Or, whisk into oil until smooth and then add remaining ingredients.
Cookies 1/4  teaspoon per cup of flour Especially important when honey is the sweetener because honey makes a softer cookie.
Cakes 1/2  teaspoon per cup of flour
Muffins, Quick Breads 3/4  teaspoon per cup of flour
Bread 1 to 1 1/2  teaspoons per cup of flour
Pizza 2  teaspoons per cup of flour
Thickener for Sauces 1  teaspoon in place of each table-spoon of original thickener (e.g., wheat flour or cornstarch). Mix with dry ingredients first (e.g., salt, spices) then add liquids. Or, whisk into oil until smooth and then add remaining ingredients.

Visit Carol’s website at www.Glutenfree101.com

21 Replies to “What is Xanthan Gum? Use of Xanthan Gum – How much to use?”

  1. I am vegan and I have many food intolerances…soy, dairy, eggs, white potatoes (mycotoxins), wheat (lectins and gluten), canola oil, beet sugar, all fodmaps…just to name a few. Yeast in particular is ta poison for me due to its high mold content and corn is tainted with GMO’s which wreak havoc on my system. I wanted to point out that xanthan gum can easily be replaced in any gluten-free baking recipe with 1 and a half teaspoons of baking powder and i/2 teaspoon of salt (for each cup of flour). Don’t let the “earth-friendly” bag of xanthan gum on the shelf lure you into thinking it is “safe”…it makes me violently ill, it is laced with toxins, .and it is not fit for human consumption. Just another “approved” product sold in the U.S. which results in a plethora of adverse side effects…be smart – baking powder and salt serve the exact same purpose.

    1. Hi leadingedgelanguage,

      Unfortunately, baking soda and salt do not act as a binder. However, ingredients such as eggs, hot water mixed with flax seed meal and more do. The healthiest, high-fiber binder is water mixed with psyllium husk powder. I hope this helps you and others.

      For non-GMO corn products, check out Bob’s Red Mill. Their products area all non-GMO. They also offer xanthan gum, but I if you are intolerant to xanthan gum, it is mostly the prodcut itself, not the corn.

      I hope this helps.


  2. I am on a Gluten free, histamine free and corn free diet. Xanthan gum is not a friend to me. It’s more of a nuisance.

    1. Hi Kimberly – I also just left a post on this site…xanthan gum is a horror for me too …just like you, i am also gluten-free and I learned how to bake an array of wonderful items through trial and error…now i have it “down to a science”…for each cup of gluten-free flour, add one and a half teaspoons of baking powder and i/2 teaspoon of salt…muffins, cakes, and breads will rise perfectly. There is not a need for xanthan gum.

  3. Hello,

    i made some Louisiana style hot sauce from pepper mash, mixed in half volume apple cider vinegar and its amazingly delicious! However, it is separated after only 2 days and im interested in using xanthium gum as a stabilizer (couldn’t find soy lecithin) but have no idea how much to use! Having a hard time finding any specfic info on how to mix with liquids only, as a stabilizer and not a thickener (a tiny thickening wont hurt). Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Joey,

      Mix about 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum with a little (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) cooking oil and whisk it into one of your cold/ not heated ingredients. Add additional gum and oil as needed.


  4. Dear Carol and carla ;
    How much xanthan gum can we use if we’re making a Muffin and at what moment we will add the gum.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Hyd,

      As you will see above, Carol suggests that you use 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of flour blend you use. You combine the gum with the flour blend. Then when the recipe calls for adding the flour, you will add them both together.

      I hope this helps.

  5. When your are using guar gum do you still need to use baking powder or baking soda in a recipe? And is it always 1 tsp. For every cup of flour?

    1. Hi Joanne,

      Yes. Joanne. Barking powder and soda are used for leavening; and xanthan gum and guar gum are used to hold everything together. To learn how to use gums, see these articles: http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/xanthan-gum-substitutes/ http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/guar-gum-vs-xanthan/ http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/xanthan-gum-how-much-use/.

      You can use guar gum or xanthan gum in equal amounts. It was once thought you needed to use more guar gum, but I have found this not to be the case.

      I hope this helps.


  6. How much xanthan gum would you use in thickening up a home made liquor which has a consistancy of coffee. How would you incorporate the gum into the liquid since there are no dry ingredients used. Any help be much appreciated.

    Thank you

  7. Given that kneading’s purpose is to hydrate, distribute ingredients and cause the gluten to develop, does ‘xantham’ dough also require a similar amount of kneading?

    1. James,

      When I first began developing gluten-free recipes I never kneaded dough because I read that it did not do any good due to the lack of gluten. However, I have discovered it smoothes cracks in gluten free dough (hydrates) just as it does in gluten dough. Not all gluten dough recipes are stiff enough to knead though. For stiff dough, go ahead and knead. However, good bread dough usually is so moist and soft, no kneading is required. I knead a stiff dough for about 5 to 7 minutes or until all seams disappear.

      I hope this helps you.


  8. Dear Carla and Carol~ First, thank you all your information, very informative. My question for you ladies; Is Xanthan gum powder safe to use in canning recipes? Corn starch and flour is no longer considered safe to use when it comes to canning. Any information will be appreciated. Thank you, Patty

  9. How much xanthan gum can you use if you’re making a meat pie? I want the pastry to be crispy and not crumble.

    1. Hi Savannah,

      Carol Fenster wrote this article and doesn’t answer questions here. You can visit her carolfenster.com to ask her questions. My advise is to follow suggestions for pie crust. And the best way to make it crispy is by using some shortening in the dough. See this recipe for a single pie crust in my quick and easy gluten free phyllo dough recipe at http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/gluten-free-phyllo-dough/. And if you use thinner crust, it will crisp up just fine.

  10. Thank you so much for this! I’m opening a gluten free catering business soon, so knowing this is really going to help me!

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