Xanthan gum is a common additive that you can find in everything from ice creams to cosmetic products. It is a complex polysaccharide made by fermenting corn sugar and works to bind baked goods or make them rise.
Xanthan gum acts as a thickening agent, binder, and emulsifier. The bonding properties of xanthan gum have made it one of the most integral ingredients in the baked goods industry. If you’re ever short and in a pinch, here are some alternative ingredients you can substitute for xanthan gum effortlessly.
#1. Psyllium Fiber
Psyllium fiber or psyllium husk powder is a dietary fiber supplement that you can find at most supermarkets in the healthy foods section. It’s popular among athletes because it helps lower blood sugar and promotes weight loss.
Psyllium fiber is an excellent substitute for xanthan gum if you’re using it as a binding agent, especially in bread. It helps bread rise higher and retain more moisture. It also raises the soluble fiber content of bread, thus aiding digestion.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 2 Tbsp. Psyllium Fiber.
Gelatin is a translucent, flavorless food ingredient that’s derived from the collagen of animal body parts, usually cows or pigs. In the kitchen, it’s commonly used as a gelling agent for fun foods like jelly and pudding. Gelatin is also used to make vitamin capsules, various medications, photographic films, and cosmetics.
Gelatin gives firmness to the dishes it’s used in because it comes from the same material used to hold parts of the body together. It’s also 100% carbohydrate-free, making it an excellent substitute for xanthan gum in keto-baked goods.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan gum = 2 Tbsp. Gelatin.
#3. Egg Whites
Egg whites are the most conventional and easily available binding agents in baking. They help baked goods to rise and develop a firm but fluffy texture, which is difficult without gluten. That’s what makes egg whites a good substitute for xanthan gum. Egg whites are also carbohydrate-free and rich in protein.
If you’re making quick bread, batter bread, or cakes, egg whites may be a better option for you than xanthan gum. It helps achieve precisely the kind of texture you want from these desserts. The only drawback is, egg whites are not suitable for vegan diets.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 1 Egg White.
#4. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a low-carb alternative to xanthan gum. They’re also loaded with fiber and a bunch of important nutrients.
Like psyllium fiber, chia seeds also form a gel when combined with liquids, making them a good thickening and binding agent. You will need to soak the chia seeds in hot water and stir until the mixture becomes viscous. It will take roughly 10-15 minutes to prepare chia for baking.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds.
Cornstarch is made from corn kernels’ starchy part, also called the endosperm. It’s gluten-free but very high in carbohydrate content. It has a similar texture to xanthan gum and is highly absorbent. Recipes for soups, stews, and gravies typically call for cornstarch as a thickening agent.
A couple of important things to note about cornstarch is that firstly, unlike some of the other substitutes, you don’t need to mix cornstarch with water. Secondly, it’s a terrible option for weight loss or health because it’s high in fructose. Cornstarch is also more absorbent than xanthan gum, so you need to make sure you store it in an air-tight container away from moisture.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 1 Tbsp. Cornstarch.
Agar-agar is the vegan version of gelatin. It is obtained from the polysaccharides in the cell walls of some species of red algae. A common additive used to thicken, stabilize, and/or texturize food, you can find agar-agar in various processed foods like doughnuts, jams, jellies, candy, puddings, meat products, icings, and ice cream.
You can use it in almost every recipe that calls for xanthan gum. However, if you use it to bake bread or cakes, you should expect chewier and stretchier dough. You need to be attentive about how much agar-agar can be used because going overboard will give you very soggy results.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 1 Tbsp. Agar-Agar.
#7. Konjac Powder
Konjac powder, also known as glucomannan, is an herb grown in certain parts of Asia for its starchy corm, which is a tuberous extension of the stem that grows underground. The corm is a rich source of soluble dietary fiber and makes a good substitute for xanthan gum to texturize or thicken foods.
The high fiber content makes konjac powder very absorbent, almost the same as xanthan gum so you can swap them evenly. However, if you’re baking goods that are supposed to be chewier like tortillas or flatbreads, you should add 50% more.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 1 Tbsp. Konjac Powder (For Normal Recipes).
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 1.5 Tbsp. Konjac Powder (For Chewy Recipes).
#8. Ground Flax Seeds
Like chia seeds, ground flax seeds also form a viscous binding substance when combined with any liquid. They’re also cheap and easy to find. Ground flax seeds are a rare plant source for omega-3 fatty acids necessary for heart health. They’re also low on carbohydrates, making them suitable for both vegan and keto diets.
The seeds need to be grounded and mixed with hot water otherwise they won’t bind your recipe. Bear in mind, ground flax seeds can also change the flavor of your recipe just a tad bit as they have an earthy, nutty kind of flavor.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 1 Tbsp. Ground Flax Seeds.
#9. Arrowroot Flour
Arrowroot flour is a special kind of starch with twice the thickening power of wheat flour. It’s derived from a tropical plant called maranta arundinacea and is loaded with carbs. It’s often used in recipes for sauces, puddings, and jellies, although sometimes you may find it in baked goods like cakes and cookies.
Arrowroot flour is very efficient as a thickening agent, so if you want to give your baked goods a crispier texture, it’s the best substitute for xanthan gum.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 1 Tbsp. Arrowroot Flour.
#10. Guar Gum
Guar gum, also known as “guaran,” is a polysaccharide extracted from guar beans. It is helpful for baking functions like thickening and binding. Guar gum is entirely free from carbohydrates and full of dietary fiber, making it a healthy alternative.
It’s not as absorbent as xanthan gum, so you may need to substitute more. For the best results, mix guar gum with oil before adding it to your recipes.
1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum = 1.5 Tbsp. Guar Gum.