Xanthan gum is one ingredient that's making a name for itself in gluten free cooking. Used in all sorts of recipes ranging from dressings to muffins, it's a must-have ingredient if you're avoiding gluten. Widely available and easy to work with, in small amounts, xanthan gum works excellent as a thickening agent for sauces, to create light foams and to keep ingredients from separating when making smoothies, dough and batter.
Its neutral flavor mixes well with nearly any cuisine without changing its original taste, and it helps add a smoother texture to liquid-based treats like ice cream. In addition, when combined with gluten free flours, xanthan gum produces a lot of the structure gluten would add, helping doughs keep their intended shape and rise during the baking process.
Now, we understand that using any new baking ingredient can be intimidating, especially when you're not even sure how to pronounce it (zan-than), but there's no need to worry. Xanthan gum is a simple-to-use ingredient that will ensure that your recipes turn out as great as you'd like. Continue reading to learn how to use xanthan gum in your baked goods. From flatbreads to fluffy cakes, we're confident that once you use this ingredient, you'll begin adding it to all of your gluten free recipes.
What Is Xanthan Gum?
So, now that you know the benefits of xanthan gum, you may be wondering where it comes from and what does xanthan gum do? While this ingredient may sound like it was produced in a lab, it's actually pretty natural. Xanthan gum is created when the sugar glucose is fermented with a bacterium found in cabbage known as Xanthomonas campestris.
During fermentation, a white powder is formed that is then sold as xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is unique in its ability to hydrate and disperse at any temperature. Because it does this so quickly, it is one of the few ingredients that you can instantly see results from. However, while xanthan gum powder will work with liquid of any temperature, it may have trouble hydrating if the liquid is overly sugary. This is something to make a note of when creating sweets high in processed sugars.
How Much Xanthan Gum Should You Use?
The amount of xanthan gum needed for each recipe will vary depending on why you're using it. Here are a few of the most common uses for xanthan gum and their respective amounts.
Using Xanthan Gum as a Thickening Agent
Thickening with xanthan gum is easy. To thicken up your recipes, blend the xanthan gum into the liquid that you'd like to thicken, then stir it around, and it will thicken instantly. When used to thicken soups, sauces and creams, the amount of xanthan gum needed will vary depending on the desired consistency. Generally, for thin sauces, a ratio of 0.1% to 0.3% works best. For thicker sauces, a ratio of 0.3% to 1% is commonly used. The more xanthan gum powder added, the thicker your sauce will be. Just be careful not to add too much. Xanthan gum in large amounts will negatively impact the texture of your good and may cause digestive upset.
Making Xanthan Gum Foam
Light foams add texture and flavor to dishes, taking the presentation of the recipe to the next level. As xanthan gum works to thicken liquids, it can also help trap air bubbles and stabilize foams. To make a xanthan gum foam from a liquid, you'll want to begin by thickening the liquid with xanthan gum. This can be done with an immersion or standing blender. Then, once the xanthan gum has been dispersed into the liquid, introduce air to the mixture by whipping or blending it. This will create foam that will add a unique element of texture to your dishes. While xanthan gum foam is firmer when cold, it can be used with hot and cold dishes.
Amount of Xanthan Gum to Use in Baking Recipes
When baking with xanthan gum, there are a few things to consider. First, if you're baking with a pre-made gluten free flour blend, you'll want to check if it has xanthan gum incorporated into it already. For example, our Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour combines a handful of gluten free flours with xanthan gum to take the guesswork out of gluten free baking. If that's the case, then no additional xanthan gum will be needed.
If you're baking with a single gluten free flour like almond flour or creating a blend from scratch, then the amount of xanthan gum needed will vary. Typically for yeasted bread and pizza doughs, 1 teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of flour will be enough. For cakes and muffin recipes, ½ teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of flour is needed.
Where to Buy Xanthan Gum
Luckily, xanthan gum is a widely available product and can be found in nearly every supermarket. Additionally, you can purchase xanthan gum online. Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum can be found both online and in certain stores. Use our store locator to check if a product is available near you.
Xanthan Gum Recipes
Now that you know how to bake with, cook and froth xanthan gum, it's time to start using it in your recipes. For example, use xanthan gum to replace gluten in grain-free goods and thicken sauces. Whether you're new to xanthan gum or have been using it for a while, the delicious recipes below are sure to impress you.
Gluten Free Noodles
Pasta is often one of the most common foods we get asked about when following a gluten free diet. While traditional pasta contains gluten and is off-limits for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, there are ways to make it gluten free. Gluten free pasta can be made in several different ways. However, we've found that the method that produces the most similar results to traditional pasta is using xanthan gum. Using xanthan gum with gluten free flours will help bind the ingredients together and create a pasta dough that can be stretched, molded and dried into any noodle shape you'd like.
To create a bowl of gluten free pasta that everyone at the table will enjoy, try making these Gluten Free Pasta Noodles. Made with just four simple ingredients, this pasta recipe is one that even novice cooks can make with ease. In this recipe, our Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour, Xanthan Gum, eggs and water create a lightly flavored pasta that tastes nearly identical to traditional kinds. In fact, it tastes so similar that those who aren't gluten free won't be able to tell the difference. Top these noodles with everything that you would your typical bowl of pasta, or get creative and make a homemade pasta sauce to pair with it
When transitioning to a gluten free diet, it can be hard to let go of any carb-heavy food product. Pasta, crackers, cookies and bread top the list of most missed gluten free foods. While there are several different varieties of gluten free bread available on shelves, many gluten free bakers prefer the flavor of homemade bread. While making gluten free bread might be a bit more challenging, it's not impossible. Adding xanthan gum to your at-home gluten free bread recipes will allow for a more pliable dough that's able to rise as needed.
Start with this Everyday Bread recipe if you're ready to test out your gluten free baking skills and make a loaf of bread sans grains. Made with our Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour (a blend of garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, whole grain white sorghum flour, tapioca flour and fava bean flour), all you need to do is add xanthan gum for it to be a success! This bread recipe tastes great when used to make sandwiches, toast, croutons and more. Bake this bread for your upcoming gathering, or enjoy a delicious breakfast or dinner side.
Now that you better understand the many ways that xanthan gum can be used to create gluten free goods, using it in your next recipe will be a breeze. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, have a healthy and happy day!
Do you love baking with xanthan gum? We'd love to hear about all of the beautiful dishes that you create. Let us know more about how you cook with this ingredient in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you!