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Recipes, Special Diets on May 14, 2010 by

Guar Gum vs. Xanthan Gum

If you are new to Gluten Free Baking you may find yourself wondering, “What is the difference between Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum?” Both ingredients are frequently called for in gluten free recipes and can seem exotic at first, but they both serve the same general purpose as thickeners and emulsifiers. Quite simply, both these ingredients help keep your mixes mixed. They keep oil droplets from sticking together and separating, and solid particles from settling to the bottom. You can use just one or the other; or sometimes for the best results, you can use them in combination together.

In conventional recipes containing wheat, rye, barley or triticale flour, the protein, gluten in these fours serves the same purpose that guar gum and xanthan gum do in gluten free baking. Gluten protein is what traditional recipes rely on to thicken dough and batters, and trap air bubbles to make your baked goods light and fluffy. Xanthan gum tends to help starches combine to trap air, while guar gum helps keep large particles suspended in the mix.

One of the differences between the two products is where they come from. Guar gum is made from a seed native to tropical Asia, while xanthan gum is made by a micro organism called Xanthomonas Campestris.

In the kitchen, there are also important differences in using xanthan gum vs. guar gum. In general, guar gum is good for cold foods such as ice cream or pastry fillings, while xanthan gum is better for baked goods. Xanthan gum is the right choice for yeasted breads. Foods with a high acid content (such as lemon juice) can cause guar gum to lose its thickening abilities. For recipes involving citrus you will want to use xanthan gum or increase the amount of guar gum used.

In general, it is best to add both xanthan and guar gum to the oil component in a recipe, making complete mix of oil and gum before adding to the rest of liquid ingredients. Using a blender or a food processor is a great way to get the gums to dissolve properly.

The final difference between the two gums is the variation in quantities you will need for different foods. There are no hard and fast rules as to how to combine the two gums together, you’ll have to experiment yourself to see what works best in your recipes.

If you decide to use just one or the other, here are some helpful measurements for popular foods:

How much Xanthan Gum for Gluten Free Baking?
Cookies………………………………¼ teaspoon per cup of flour
Cakes and Pancakes………………..½ teaspoon per cup of flour
Muffins and Quick Breads………… ¾ teaspoon per cup of flour
Breads……………………………….1 to 1-½ tsp. per cup of flour
Pizza Dough…………………..…… 2 teaspoons per cup of flour
For Salad Dressings…Use ½ tsp. Xanthan Gum per 8 oz. of liquid.

How much Guar Gum for Gluten Free Baking?
Cookies………………………………¼ to ½ tsp. per cup of flour
Cakes and Pancakes………………..¾ teaspoon per cup of flour
Muffins and Quick Breads………….1 teaspoon per cup of flour
Breads……………………………….1-½ to 2 tsp. per cup of flour
Pizza Dough…………………..…….1 Tablespoon per cup of flour
For Hot Foods (gravies, stews , heated pudding)…Use 1-3 teaspoons per one quart of liquid.
For Cold Foods (salad dressing, ice creams, pudding) Use about 1-2 teaspoons per quart of liquid.

8/30/11 UPDATE: We are so pleased with the awesome response we get from this post and will do our best to answer any of your remaining questions. However, we have found that there are a lot of questions here that we don’t know much about- like ice cream making and salad dressings. Again, we will do our best, but we’re really only experts at baking with these two products.

6/11/12 UPDATE: Regarding corn in xanthan gum: The microorganism that produces xanthan gum is actually fed a glucose solution that is derived from wheat starch. Gluten is found in the protein part of the wheat kernel and no gluten is contained in the solution of glucose. Additionally, after the bacteria eats the glucose, there is no wheat to be found in the outer coating that it produces, which is what makes up xanthan gum. The short answer here is, there is no corn used at all in the making of xanthan gum.

Comments

Maven says:

I’m planning on doing a lot of reduced sugar or sugar free canning and preserving this season. I have found a recipe for picalily that uses Clear Jel in it. I was wondering several things:

1. Can xanthan gum powder be substituted for the Clear Jel in home, hot water bath preserving (i.e. like fruit pie fillings and other preserves)?

2. If so, what ratio of it would I use to substitute 1/4C Clear Jel?

Maven,

I’m so sorry, but we just don’t have an answer for you about using xanthan gum in place of Clear Jel. I’m sorry we can’t be of more help. That’s just a bit out of our realm here. We’re really a lot more familiar with baking. I know it would work to thicken pie fillings, but I couldn’t begin to tell you how much to use in place of Clear Jel.

Also, you’ll be glad to know that xanthan gum does not use corn in its growth medium. Read my answer previously about the glucose solution that is derived from wheat (not to fear, though, there is no gluten in xanthan gum). Previously, the microorganism was fed a solution that used corn, but that is no longer the case for our xanthan gum.

Maven says:

PS: Cassidy I thought that xanthan gum was corn derived (same as dextrose). Not sure where I read that (tho recall finding it out after reading Omnivore’s Dilemna–as I went on an anti-corn rampage and omitted all corn from my diet minus Splenda and xanthan gum.

Dedre says:

Hello,

I want to use your quinoa flour to make a pasta dough, should I use the xanthan gum or the guar gum or both and what ratio?

We’d recommend using xanthan gum and using about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per cup of flour

Ruth Spyker says:

We use Bob’s Red Mill products for just about everything and love it all. Have recently gone vegan and want to make our own cinnamon ice cream with almond milk and figure we will need the “gums” for thickening since we can’t use eggs and heavy cream. Do you by chance have a good ice cream recipe? We made some with red hots that was good, but more like sherbet than ice cream, and way too much sugar. Thanks for any help you can give!

Ruth,

We’d recommend a small amount for your first batch and think of it as an experiment. Try starting with only 1/4 tsp. We’re bakers, so we’re not sure exactly how much to use, but I have heard that it helps the texture of dairy-free ice cream. I make my own vegan ice cream at home and have had success without using any xanthan gum, although now I’ll have to try some. Instead of milk, I use almond milk and in place of heavy cream, I use full fat coconut milk (in the can, not the milk substitute). It gives it a very nice creamy texture, though it’s best if you are using a stronger flavor like mint or a flavor that you wouldn’t mind having a slight coconut hint- like chocolate. I’ve pulled many recipes from this site: http://veganicecream.blogspot.com/ and had success, or I just take a standard ice cream recipe and sub the milk parts with almond milk and coconut milk (or soy creamer). Seems to work pretty well. In all honesty, there are loads of recipes out there that don’t use eggs at all and they come out just fine. Good luck!

Ruth Spyker says:

Thank you, Cassidy! We plan to make Cinnamon, and Peppermint, and Coffee, and probably vanilla bean. Hadn’t thought about using the canned coconut milk for the creamer, but sounds like it should work! Thank you so much! Will let you know how it turns out!

Patrick says:

Hi,

I make a home made vinegar based hot sauce from my garden, and after I cook and put it in the bottle, it likes to seperate after a few hours. I noticed at the store hot sauce bottles used xanthan gum. Why not guar gum? The biggest difference I see is the cost and sodium. Which would be better since I boil my pepper sauce down?

Hi Patrick,

I think Xanthan Gum tends to hold its properties with high heat better than guar gum. Since we’re really more of a baking company, I can’t give you a firm answer. If you can, try making a small batch using guar gum and see how you like it. It could be just the thing you’re looking for.

Shelby says:

I have a 2 year old with IgE allergic reactions to corn. I have researched and found a number of sources that say Xanthan Gum (in the United States) is a CORN derivative. The same child also has a peanut allergy and so we have to avoid all LEGUMES. Is Guar a legume? If not, WHAT IS IT?

Shelby,

I addressed this previously in the comments, but the microorganism that produces xanthan gum is actually fed a glucose solution that is derived from wheat starch. Gluten is found in the protein part of the wheat kernel and no gluten is contained in the solution of glucose. Additionally, after the bacteria eats the glucose, there is no wheat to be found in the outer coating that it produces, which is what makes up xanthan gum. From what I’ve been reading lately, there are some folks who just can’t digest xanthan gum and guar gum. It’s not a gluten issue, but it is a digestion issue. The same as how some folks can’t tolerate the bean flours or gluten free oats.

The short answer here is, there is no corn at all in the xanthan gum.

Guar gum is technically derived from a legume, so that might not be a good choice for you. I have heard psyllium husk may work well in place of both of these ingredients, but we don’t sell it and I’m not overly familiar with it.

Terri says:

I have a question I’m making my daughters wedding cake & want to frost it with heavy whipping cream, I’ve been warned it won’t be stable & will melt quickly. Will either guar or xanthan gum help stabelize my frosting/icing? thanks Terri

Hi Terri,

Wow! I really don’t know if that would help or not. Here is an article that talks about stabilizing whip cream for cakes- this might be more helpful and useful than experimenting with xanthan gum: http://www.dianasdesserts.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/bakingtips.Frostings/Frostings.cfm

Daniel says:

Hello Cassidy,my question is can BRM xanthan gum ok to use in a 100 percent organic recipe?

Daniel,

Our xanthan gum is not organic. That said, I believe the organic certification laws allow some room for items that are not available as organic (like salt and baking soda, for instance). I have not ever seen an organic xanthan gum, so it might pass the test with your organic certifying agency. You’ll really have to ask them. Our xanthan gum is non-GMO, so it should satisfy their requirements.

Kelly says:

Hi. I’m confused. In one comment you said that you use non GMO corn to make your xanthan gum…and then in other comments you explain how you use a wheat starch derived glucose so there isn’t any corn in the xanthan. Do you use corn to create the xanthan? Thx.

Hi Kelly,

I’ll update our post. We’ve changed suppliers since this post was originally written. There is no corn in our xanthan gum.

Anisa says:

Hi,

Its amazing article, thank you very much for sharing.

Can I know how to use Xanthum Gum for making Thai chilli Sauce at home

Thanks in advance

-Anisa

Anisa,

As we said in the post, we’re baking experts and do not have a lot of experience using xanthan gum to make sauces. How much to use depends on how much liquid you are using. I’d guess that 1/4 tsp per cup of liquid is a good place to start. If you want a thicker sauce, try more xanthan gum. Too much and it will be very thick. It is best added by making a slurry, so combine the xanthan gum with a small amount of the liquid until dissolved before adding to the recipe. Good luck!

grover says:

how much Xanthan Gum would I need 2 use if I was making baked doughnuts with corn flour? TY!! 🙂

We recommend about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per cup of flour for baked doughnuts.

Wendy Taber says:

How much xanthan gum for making a an apple pie filling? TY!

Wendy,

We’d recommend about 1/2 tsp for apple pie filling. Good luck!

This story last weekend on NPR got me interested in guar gum, but I can’t find it anywhere in Tucson. Whole Foods said they had carried it but were out at the time I called, so I ordered some online:
http://www.npr.org/2012/06/30/156034895/the-season-of-ice-cream-tips-from-the-top

Michelle says:

I was wondering how much of each gum to use for ice cream if I am using both at the same time?

Michelle,

We’re not really sure. Here is an article about using the gums to make ice cream: http://www.icecreamgeek.com/?p=664

Connie says:

Which gum, xanthan or guar, is best for making bubble gum? And in what quanties?

Connie,

Honestly, I don’t know. You may try a Google search for homemade gum. We’re really a baking company, so our experience with gum is extremely limited.

sarah says:

How much Xanthan for Pie Crust? Making a quiche, so cookie crumb type crust won’t work. Recipes vary from 1/4 tsp to 2 tsp.

We’d recommend 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp per cup of flour.

Mechelle says:

How do you store it?

We recommend an airtight container in a cool, dry place, preferably the fridge or freezer.

Ruth Swain says:

Your information contradicts some of the information in Wikepdia…i.e. if you are allergic to wheat…do not use xanthum gum sourced from wheat…it also states that one of the sources for xanthum gum is corn.

Ruth,

Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not the end all of information. Our information comes from our supplier about how it is grown. It is not grown using corn, nor does it contain gluten. Gluten is what most people are allergic to when it comes to wheat allergies, because it is the wheat protein. If you aren’t comfortable trying xanthan gum, guar gum is a great alternative and won’t have the issues with corn or wheat.

Monica says:

Hi!

I make a lot of my own soaps, detergents and lotions. One of the ingredients that’s called for in a soap recipe is Xanthan Gum. I’ve read about Guar Gum and they both seem to do ABOUT the same thing.

Because I try to pinch pennies when possible, do you think using Guar instead of Xanthan would yield the same results?

Thanks for your time!

Honestly, I have no idea since we’re a baking company. I would imagine they’d work the same for this application.

bob says:

what if you cant get either of those gums? what can you use instead of those GUMS

Bob,

There is a whole trend in gluten free baking that avoids using either gums. Here is an article about this from Gluten Free Girl: http://glutenfreegirl.com/chia-seeds-and-flaxseeds/ Depending on what you are making, you may not need to replace the gums.

Jacqueline Kehl says:

I found a really good non-diary,gluten-free ice cream that is no longer sold–company is going out of business.

I am trying to make something similar. I am finding that if I add to much of the gums the cream comes out tasting like jello & if I do not add enough it taste like Popsicle’s.

Is there any thing I can add to change how the gums thicken?

Thank you!

Hi Jacqueline,

In an earlier life, I worked at a homemade ice cream shop where I learned a lot about what makes ice cream shine. The creaminess and thickness really come from the fat in ice cream, so you can get some very good results by choosing dairy alternatives that have more fat- such as using non dairy creamers (I choose soy or coconut) instead of the “heavy cream” often called for. Then, in place of milk, I use full fat coconut milk (the kind in the can, not the refrigerated section). It produces a creamy ice cream. I have had a lot of success making homemade non-dairy ice cream without the gums period. However, if you don’t feel that is sufficient, there are some great recipes out there using the gums. I’d start by trying one of those and experimenting from there. Using gums in ice cream: http://www.icecreamgeek.com/?p=664 Gluten Free Goddess: (she has lots of other flavors if you dig around): http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2012/08/peanut-butter-ice-cream-vegan.html

Michael says:

We buy a lot of creamy salad dressings (organic) and most all of them have guar gum, and often include oil and acid of some kind.
There are so many on the shelves of stores that it’s surprising not to see much if any recipes on the internet.
Doe anyone have any recipes or links to good salad dressing recipes using guar or xantham gum?

Michael,

We don’t have any in our recipe database and I couldn’t find any readily available. I’m sorry that we can’t be of more help.

Anna says:

I am new to gluten-free products and wanted to find other alternatives to xanthan gum to use in baking. I found some great info and ordered some guar gum and locust bean gum on this site http://www.xanthangumsubstitute.com. I was searching for ages trying to find recommended measurements for guar gum and I am so glad I came across your site, thank you so much for the info!

PF Buck says:

I have been successfully baking gluten-free for a year now. Using a rice flour formula I found on line, I have made cookies, cakes, quiches, and pies. Still haven’t ventured into breads or pizza yet.
3 cups Thai rice flour
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 1/4 teaspoons guar gum or 1 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
Hard to find potato starch so I’ve been using tapioca starch only to recently find that tapioca starch and flour are one in the same…?
But… It doesn’t seem to be a problem.

gramma'tical says:

I LOVE you guys but you have a spelling error in your explanation. Per ‘can cause guar gum to loose its thickening abilities’. ‘Loose’ should be ‘lose’.
Sorry. These things matter.
CHEERS!

Bill Young says:

Any guidance possible on the use of guar and xanthan to enhance the effect of gluten? I like wholemeal, rye, spelt, etc flours but their baking qualities are poor due to lower gluten content. I would also like to add things like ground outmeal which has practically none, I believe. Could guar and xanthan be the answer?

Bill,

Both gums can aid with the rise and texture of breads, however, I would recommend experimenting with adding more gluten to your breads first. This is an easy way to increase the gluten without delving too deeply into the unknown. It’s much less expensive and more likely to return the result you want. We sell it, but you can also find it in many grocery stores that stock a more robust baking aisle. http://www.bobsredmill.com/vital-wheat-gluten.html?&cat=2.

Julie Green says:

Hi,
My friend is using guar gum dissolved in water or in caplets to facilitate weight loss. It gives her a full feeling so she doesn’t overheat. This was suggested to her in the book “Maximum Metabolism” Robert Giller. Is this safe? I have googled it and I only find that you should be conservative in you quantity.

Hi Julie,

I’m sorry, but we don’t know about using guar gum this way.

Julie E says:

When making frosting, I was recommended to use guar gum to stabilize the frosting as it is hot out. Can you suggest how much to add to a frosting which uses 1 stick of butter?

AmandaCarter says:

Hi Julie,
We haven’t tried using guar gum in frosting, but we can give a general recommendation. To stabilize a loose item that will be used once cooled, you will typically want to add 1 – 2 tsp per quart (4 cups). We do advise to add the guar gum to a dry product or cool liquid before adding to the mixture to avoid lumps.
Thanks,
Amanda C.
Bob’s Red Mill

Taylor G. says:

If I am making gluten free crispy sugar cookies that make about 4 dozen. Does it matter if I don’t put in 1 cup of potato starch and 4 teaspoons of guar gum?

AmandaCarter says:

Hi Taylor,
Omitting those ingredients will definitely make a difference in the texture of your cookies. If you are looking for substitutions, you could ry xanthan gum for the guar gum and tapioca flour for the potato starch.
Thanks,
Amanda C.
Bob’s Red Mill

susan says:

Just wondering when making pudding with xanthan gum, does it need to be heated or boiled to have thickening effect or can it be adding to cold liguid and then chilled and eaten? Is it safe to eat uncooked?

AmandaCarter says:

Hi Susan,
For pudding, we would suggest using guar gum as a thickener rather than xanthan gum (unless the recipe has citrus or other highly acidic ingredients, which decrease the thickening properties of guar gum). It’s best to add guar gum to the oil component in a recipe, making a slurry of oil and gum, then add the liquid ingredients. Use a blender, electric mixer or food processor to mix the guar gum with other ingredients and they will thicken almost instantly. Use about 1-2 teaspoons per quart of liquid.
Thanks,
Amanda C.
Bob’s Red Mill

serge says:

what would be better for making gravy? I had originally thought Xanthan Gum because its good for hot foods, but what if i want to make a gravy without using heat by simply blending a cold stock & some xanthan or guar?

AmandaCarter says:

Hi Serge,
We recommend guar gum for gravy (use 1-3 teaspoons per one quart of liquid).
Thanks,
Amanda C.
Bob’s Red Mill

Katie says:

Is it safe to bake with xanthan gum while pregnant? I’ve been using it and just read somewhere that it could be harmful.

AmandaCarter says:

Hi Katie,
We haven’t heard this about xanthan gum, but if you are concerned about it we suggest you discuss it with your doctor to decide what is best for you.
Thank you,
Amanda C.

Lindalee says:

is there any way to get trapped air bubbles out of xantham and water mixture I use to thicken my babies milk?

Tesh says:

Hello
I have a problem here I got both guar and xanthum in my kitchen ….and the labels for both are missing …..I DNt know which one is what…..
Both have diffrent colors ….can u plz help how ocean I diffrentiate both of them……

Thanx

AmandaCarter says:

Our Guar Gum has a bit of a creamy yellow color; our Xanthan Gum is more of a pure white color. Hope this helps!

Yvette says:

I have been told there is a xanghan gum that is corn free. Do you happen to know where I can purchase this? I am allergic to wheat and corn.

Thanks!

AmandaCarter says:

Hi Yvette – Our Xanthan Gum is corn free. Although wheat starch is used to feed to the micro-organism that our Xanthan Gum is derived from, the Xanthan Gum itself is wheat free as well.

[…] Xanthan gum and guar gum info — at Bob’s Red Mill […]

Kristine says:

I’m having a lot of trouble getting my diet on track with my recent allergy discoveries. I read on someone’s blog that Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum is derived from soy sugar and …something else! Is this true? I am allergic to gluten and soy. From what I read on the website, I can’t really tell. Thanks.

AmandaCarter says:

Hi Kristine – Although wheat starch is used to feed to the micro-organism that our Xanthan Gum is derived from, the Xanthan Gum itself is gluten free.

[…] 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (I use Bob’s Red Mill) (Learn about baking with xanthan gum here) […]

WendeeJohns says:

If the xantham gum is gluten free, is it wheat free as well?

AmandaCarter says:

Yes, our Xanthan Gum is wheat free.

Jennifer Baker says:

Which is best to use to make gluten free pasta? I assume Xantham from your article.

How much would one use per cup of gluten-free flour.

And, can you translate that to grams or ounces per pound of gluten-free flour.

Thank you

AmandaCarter says:

Hi Jennifer,

Our recipe specialist, chef Sarah House, responds to your questions:

“Xanthan gum and guar gum can both be used to prepare gluten free pasta dough. You will want to use about 1 tsp xanthan gum per cup of flour or 1½ tsp guar gum per cup of flour. Product weights can be found on our nutritional labels: 1 Tbsp of xanthan gum weighs 9g and 1 Tbsp of guar gum weights 10g.”

I hope this helps. Thanks!

Craig Daniels says:

As I keyboard in this comment, I’m trying to make gluten-free bread in a Zojirushi bread machine –with the following observations:

* The suggestion to mix xanthan gum into the shortening ahead of time can’t be born of experience: a sticky, thirsty mess which would have required far more than the usual amount of shortening. Instead (next time) I’ll add the xanthan gum to the dry ingredients so it’s well distributed.

* Perhaps partly due to the slow absorption of of non-wheat flours (rye, corn, oat, barley this time), but also because of the dire thirst of xanthan gum, I ended up more than doubling what would have been the normal amount of milk (or water). It has to start out like a thick batter/slurry to come out right in the end.

* That xanthan gum is potent stuff as an elastic binder for bread! The loaf rose beautifully. I suspect that about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour would be a better ratio (and only doubling the water) –instead of 1-1/2+ tsp that I used.

Craig

Craig Daniels says:

Here’s a follow-up installment on that loaf of wheat/gluten-free bread.

* I restarted our bread maker machine enough times that I confused its mind, so to be safe, my wife and I popped the well-raised loaf into our wall oven (at 375 degrees).

* It occurred to me that, since a big purpose of kneading wheat bread is to bring out and activate the gluten, perhaps well mixed/blended xanthan gum bread only needs to be kneaded and raised but once –?

Craig

[…] those cooking glutenfree I found this neat article on the Bob’s Red Mill Blog on Guar Gum v. Xanthan Gum.  It had some good reference material about how much to use in various baked […]

Craig Daniels says:

I’m posting another interim report –with my 3rd loaf of rye bread in the Zojirushi (model BBCC-X20) bread maker as I write.

The first loaf looked nice but tasted bad and was perpetually gummy/tacky inside. More baking and even a day of heat drying didn’t help. The stuff stuck to our bread knife –had to be scoured off with a Brillo pad. The seagulls wouldn’t eat it.

I backed off to 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour (the industrial minimum of 1/2 of 1% by weight) and the results were tolerable to eat –with about 75% of the rise I wanted.

There was still a tendency to be tacky inside (worse when toasted), so the 3rd loaf uses no xanthan gum –and molasses instead of sugar. My wife says it will work. I think it won’t raise enough. We’ll know in the morning.

(Our dry active yeast is from-the-store two days ago fresh.)

Craig

AmandaCarter says:

Craig, thank you for sharing your experiences! Looking forward to hearing how the third loaf turns out.
– Amanda

[…] those cooking glutenfree I found this neat article on the Bob’s Red Mill Blog on Guar Gum v. Xanthan Gum.  It had some good reference material about how much to use in various baked goods.  Beyond that, […]

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