What Is Xanthan Gum & Where It Comes From | Bob's Red Mill
What Is It? Wednesday: Xanthan Gum

What Is It? Wednesday: Xanthan Gum

We are very excited to bring you What Is It? Wednesdays! Every other Wednesday, we’ll explore a different ingredient or product in depth. We’ll be covering the benefits, uses, and common misconceptions about each. If you have any requests, leave them in the comments and we’ll work them into the schedule. 

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What Is Xanthan Gum & Where Does Xanthan Gum Come From?

The short, basic version is that Xanthan Gum is a coating from a particular bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris. This bacteria grows a protective coating. Think of it like an orange peel or the skin of an onion. It's a protective layer. When fed a particular food, this bacteria's coating becomes very sticky and makes a great binding and thickening agent in baking.

Most commonly, Xanthomonas campestris is fed glucose (sugar) derived from corn, soy, or wheat. The bacteria that grows our Xanthan Gum is fed a carbohydrate substrate produced from Non-GMO corn.

xanthan gum ingredientsWhy Use Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum works well in place of gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley that some people cannot tolerate). Xanthan gum helps trap the air bubbles created by leavening agents (baking soda, baking powder, yeast) to allow your breads and baked goods to rise. It helps thicken liquids, which is why it is often found in salad dressings and sauces. This thickening action helps hold gluten free baked goods together and keeps them from becoming too crumbly

, making it a popular substitute to regular flour when making gluten free goodies.

Is Xanthan Gum Gluten Free? 

Yes, our Xanthan Gum is gluten free. It's grown on Non-GMO corn and packaged in our dedicated Gluten Free Facility.

How Is It different from Guar Gum?

They're made from two different sources: xanthan gum from a bacteria and guar gum from a seed native to Asia. In the kitchen, there are important differences in using xanthan gum versus 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, especially those that use yeast. 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.

Read more about how they are different and similar in this post: Guar Gum vs Xanthan Gum.

How Should I Use Xanthan Gum for Gluten Free Baking?

Every recipe is different but our general recommendations are below. Note that depending on the other ingredients, you may find that the amount of Xanthan Gum needs to be increase or decreased. Too little xanthan gum and your baked goods will be crumbly, too much and they'll be rubbery. substituting xanthan gum for flour in baking

For liquids, it is best to add xanthan 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.

Why Is Xanthan Gum Expensive?

Xanthan Gum is expensive because it is costly to produce (we're talking specialized labs that must grow, then harvest, this ingredient) and there is a limited supply. Yes, it's spendy at approximately $15 for a half-pound, but you use very little in a recipe and a bag should last you six months (depending on how much you bake).

How Do You Clean up Xanthan Gum? 

We did some extensive testing on this! Read more here: How to Clean up Xanthan Gum

How Does It Affect My Body and Why Can't Some People Tolerate It? 

There have not been any significant studies to determine what effect xanthan gum has on humans, but I did find a good article that talks about the studies that have been done. It appears that there is little to support xanthan gum being harmful to adults, but it should not be fed to infants.

More and more, I meet people who cannot have xanthan gum. It upsets their stomach and causes gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Most commonly, these might be people who have a corn allergy. These are not all people who follow a gluten free diet. I have heard from several gluten free customers who initially blamed their issues on gluten, but later realized it was actually the xanthan gum. The symptoms are very similar. You'll see that more and more gluten free food bloggers are not using xanthan gum and are opting to use an alternative or leave it out altogether.

What Are Some Alternatives to Xanthan Gum? 

First, there is guar gum. It works essentially the same way, but you typically use more guar gum than xanthan gum. The people who cannot tolerate xanthan gum often have similar issues with guar gum. Other people are using psyllium seed husk, chia seed, flaxseed, or a combination of these. These work because of their high soluble fiber. When you add water, these ingredients gel up. This works well for binding and thickening for most recipes. Our friend Jean Layton, blogger and naturopath, swears by her Pixie Dust. Her recipe, found here, combines psyllium husk powder, flaxseeds, and chia seeds and produces marvelous results (we should know, we tested it to find out!). Depending on the recipe, you can sometimes get away with just leaving it out. Some recipes will be just fine without it. It takes experimentation, but, hey, that's what gluten free baking is all about!

 

38 Comments

  1. Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen)
    Great post! I'm sharing this one!
    Reply
  2. Jody
    Do I need to add xanthan gum to your gluten-free all purpose flour blend?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Yes, you will need to add some kind of binder to replace the gluten- xanthan gum, guar gum, psyllium husk, etc.
      Reply
  3. Guar Gum Powder
    Nice Blog! this blog provides useful information about Xanthan gum and Guar Gum. Xanthan Gum is an alternative of Guar Gum. You know that Guar Gum is a natural product and xanthan gum is a laboratory product.
    Reply
  4. Sharon
    Thanks for posting this! Ive found it very helpful. My family and I love your products! My mom has an issues with wheat but can and does use your products. My dad is on a gluten free diet and your products actually make him feel better as your products dont contain bromide which gives him chest pains.. keep up the great work!
    Reply
  5. Caroline
    Do you use dairy (whey) as the medium for any of your xanthan gum? I have a severe dairy allergy and am on a strict diet, but still getting symptoms from something. I have been tested for allergies to everything I eat and dairy is the only thing so far that I have had an allergy to, desperate to find what has dairy in it that I am still being exposed to. Thanks for your help.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Hi Caroline,

      No, we do not use dairy at all with our xanthan gum. We do not even have any dairy in our gluten free facility. It's possible, though, that you can't tolerate xanthan gum. That's not uncommon and can cause similar gut reactions. If you're having anaphylactic reactions, it's probably something else, not the xanthan gum. Never hurts to try cutting it out for a month, though, and see if you feel better. Good luck on your search!
      Reply
  6. Shavon Smith
    Hi and thank you for researching different ingredients for us all. I had a question is xanthan gum yeast And also can you do a research on all leavening agents including washing products and items? Thank you so much and I will be sure to share this on Facebook and Twitter.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Thank you, Shavon. Xanthan gum is not a yeast. They are two entirely different forms of microorganisms. I'm not sure what you're asking in the second half of your question. Do you want us to write an article on using baking soda and baking powder for cleaning?
      Reply
  7. Jen
    I have found the very best thing to clean up xanthan gum that has spilled is a Norwex microfiber cloth! No smearing, no residual slime. It's amazing! I ditched my sponge after seeing how well the Norwex products worked on xanthan gum. :)
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Awesome! Thanks for the tip, Jen!
      Reply
  8. david shafer
    Is it an option that you make xanthan using a sugar medium not using soy or a grain?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      David,

      It may be an option, but we don't manufacture xanthan gum. If you can't tolerate xanthan gum, you might try psyllium husk or guar gum instead.
      Reply
  9. Moe Rubenzahl
    I already had xanthan gum, which I use in gluten-free baking, and wondered about using it for general thickening, as we now use corn starch, gelatin, flour, etc. I did some trials and found it's magical! Super-convenient. 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon and a hand blender are all you need to go from watery to wonderful.

    I was dismayed that I could not find a simple guide to using it, so I wrote one in my blog. Basically:

    - One bag will last forever, is shelf-stable
    - Works for hot and cold! Salad dressing, sauces, etc.
    - Use 1/8-1 teaspoon per cup of liquid. A light dose adds body; medium to thicken; more to gel. Easy to overdose: Go lightly.
    - Use a hand blender or blender and sift the powder into the whirring mixture, because it clumps easily.

    Full story: http://feedme.typepad.com/my_weblog/2016/01/xanthan-gum-magical-food-thickener.html
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      That's wonderful, Moe! Thank you for sharing!!
      Reply
  10. Vincent
    Is all xanthan gum the same or just this brand? I'm not interested in cooking with it, just concerned about it in foods I consume. I do not have an allergy to gluten, or soy, but I do have an intolerance and have noticed this ingredient in many gluten free foods.
    Reply
  11. Sharina
    Hello!

    Can the Pixie Dust recipe be substituted in for xanthan gum directly?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Sharina,

      I think that the pixie dust can be used as a one-for-one replacement, but I suggest posting this question on the site where the recipe is listed, Dr Layton will know for sure.
      Reply
  12. Mary
    I just purchased my first bag of xanthum gum because a recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon. It was $12.99 for 8 oz, which would last a lifetime except that Isee here it is best used within 6 mos - 1 year. Why don't you package this in very small packages like yeast to keep it fresh and allow for low usage? I don't bake much because I prefer to do without the empty carbs of bake goods except for special occasions.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      That's a great suggestion- I'll pass it along. It would be hard to use a bag within 6 months if you don't bake very often.
      Reply
  13. Valerie
    Good morning, please update your link for Jean Layton, blogger and naturopath - http://www.drjeanlayton.com/

    Thanks!

    Valerie
    Greenville, SC
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Thank you, we have updated the link.
      Reply
  14. BARARA HARRIS
    I have a real problem with Tapioca flour & Tapioca starch, which most gluten free products have. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHERE IT COMET FROM, HOW IT IS MADE AND WHAT COULD BE USED AS A SUBSISTUTE?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Our Tapioca Flour Starch is from Thailand. It comes from the crushed pulp of the Cassava Root. It's a white powdery flour, similar in texture to Cornstarch. You can replace cornstarch with tapioca 3:4 (3 tsp cornstarch = 4 tsp tapioca). We hope that helps. If you would like to know more, we suggest contacting our recipe specialist here at 1-800-349-2173.
      Reply
  15. Barb
    When you buy products, it has in its ingredients Xanthan gum, i'm allergic to soy, does Xanthan gum have soy in it?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Barb, no - there is no soy in our Xanthan Gum.
      Reply
  16. Tracie Warden Dengá
    Tracie Warden Dengá
    Is xanthan gum considered vegan?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Tracie - Yes, our Xanthan Gum is vegan.
      Reply
  17. Karen
    Is the xantham gum in your gluten free flour also from corn? I’ve been afraid to try it, not knowing where the gum comes from. Thank you
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Karen - The bacteria that grows our Xanthan Gum is fed a carbohydrate substrate produced from Non-GMO corn. While there's likely no corn in the finished product, our Xanthan Gum is processed and packaged in a facility that also processes corn products on shared lines. I hope this answers your questions but if not, our Customer Service team is happy to help. They can be reached at 1-800-349-2173 or [email protected]
      Reply
  18. Cindy Mansfield
    Cindy Mansfield
    How long would Xanthan Gum from the bulk bins last before I should throw it out?
    Should it be stored on my shelf in a airtight container or refrigerator or freezer?
    Thanks, Cindy Mansfield
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Cindy, our Xanthan Gum has a shelf life of 24 months. We recommend using within 24 months of purchase or about 6 months beyond.
      Reply
  19. emma noel
    Hello, I have noticed two different nutritional labels for this same product.
    One of the Xanthan Gum labels reads:
    -total carbs - 7g
    -dietary fiber - 0g
    Making the net carb count 7g per tablespoon.

    On a different Xanthan Gum label of your Xanthan Gum it reads:
    -total carbs - 7g
    -dietary fiber 7g
    Making the net carb count 0g per tablespoon.

    Since we are a keto household, I'm really most interested in the net carb count since I'd like to use this to make keto-friendly baked goods. However, the conflicting labels I've found (maybe one is old and no longer relevant?) makes me hesitant to purchase, especially when it is fairly pricy.

    So I have three questions:
    - Can you confirm which of the two nutritional labels is correct?
    - Isn't xanthan gum a soluble fiber? And as such, why would it not be listed under dietary fiber?

    Thank you.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Emma, under new FDA label regulations, xanthan gum is not considered a “beneficial dietary fiber” and cannot count as a source of dietary fiber. This is why previous labels listed fiber as 7g and new labels list the amount as “0.” Here is a link that explains in more detail. The packaging on our website reflects any new changes.
      Reply
  20. Rosemary
    Hi, I’m sensitive to alcohol so I was wondering if you use alcohol in manufacturing the guar gum because I really wanna buy it?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Rosemary - No, there is no alcohol used in the guar gum.
      Reply
  21. Jean Jenner
    I have for some time found I have an intolerance to some dairy products in particular butter, cream, cheese and even ice cream all of which cause some mucus which
    is unpleasant and can sometimes make eating out difficult. I have for some time been having goats milk at home and also coconut milk. I have been looking at using Xanthan Gum with baking but I also have brochiectasis and respiratory problems so would welcome your comments on the use of the gum or not
    Reply

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