What is it? 

Xanthan gum is a vital part of any gluten-free kitchen. When you look at it as an ingredient, it’s a polysaccharide, which means it’s a complex sugar made up of simpler sugars. This structure is what gives xanthan gum its powerful use in gluten-free cooking in the kitchen: it’s sticky.

Imagine you are baking a traditional, gluten-full cake. You mix wheat flour, butter, and other ingredients together to make the batter, pour that batter into a pan, and place the pan into a hot oven.

The heat of the oven causes a chemical reaction to take place, where all the flour particles get connected together in a delicious, spongy network that is soft but stays together. In a poisonous cake like this, the substance that holds this spongy goodness together is gluten from the flour, which is what makes wheat flour “sticky.” 

Sadly, gluten-free flours don’t have their own built-in “glue,” like wheat flour does, and this leads to recipes that don’t stick together as we would expect them to. Often, this means we end up with a cake, pie, or cookie that practically falls apart, and we don’t get the yummy texture we want for our baked goods.

This is where xanthan gum comes in. When you add it to a recipe with a gluten-free flour, it replicates the “stickiness” that keeps everything together. And while the previous example shows why it’s great for baked goods, it also helps in dishes that would normally be thickened or kept together with dairy, like sauces and dressings. Xanthan gum also works as a vegan gelatin substitute, as it is derived from simple sugars, not animal products.

How does it work? 

Xanthan gum is packaged as a dry powder and is not overly sticky by itself. Its stickiness is activated by adding liquid. And, unlike other thickening agents, the liquid does not need to be hot or cold to trigger the stickiness (compare this to a cornstarch slurry that has to be boiled to thicken up).

However, because the xanthan gum will get sticky right when you add any temperature liquid, it has the tendency to clump up. Instead, it is important to mix the xanthan gum with other dry ingredients first, so that it is equally dispersed before adding any liquid.

However, sometimes you might want to use xanthan gum to thicken something that is primarily a liquid, like a sauce or juice. If you want to use it this way, be sure to use a blender or food processor to mix the xanthan gum into the liquid, adding small amounts at a time and whisking the liquid, keeping it in motion to avoid clumping.

Do you always need to use Xanthan Gum? 

While xanthan gum is vital to some recipes, not all gluten-free dishes need the extra stickiness. Also, some people don’t care for the texture, and decide to forgo using it completely. 

So, feel free to experiment with it, to see what result you ultimately want. Just be aware that if you decide not to use xanthan gum in a recipe that calls for it, you will get a very different result than the recipe’s creator did. 

How to measure it?

When using xanthan gum for baking, it is typical to use about ½ tsp of xanthan gum per cup of flour or dry ingredients that you use in the recipe. For cookies, try using ¼ tsp per cup of flour instead. If you’re adapting a recipe yourself, you may need to adjust this accordingly through trial and error.

For liquid applications, use a blender or food processor to gradually mix ⅛ teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of liquid. For example, for a sauce, you could blend xanthan gum in oil and then add any soy or rice milk that the recipe might call for. Again, trial and error might be necessary to get the right ratio, especially if you are adapting a recipe yourself.

Our Flour Blends Don’t Have Xanthan Gum Added in So You Get to Decide 

Here at Eating Gluten Free, we use our All-Purpose Flour in many of our recipes. Some people ask us why our flour doesn’t include xanthan gum in its mix. We keep it separate so that our flour can be as versatile as possible, because not every recipe needs to include xanthan gum. Also, some people prefer to not use xanthan gum in their cooking, and we want as many people to be able to use our flour as possible.

Xanthan Gum Packaged in a Dedicated GF Facility Tested to 5PPM 

Xanthan gum is an extremely useful part of any gluten-free pantry. It helps to make recipes taste as good as they used to before removing gluten from your diet.

Our own Eating Gluten Free Xanthan Gum is tested to 5ppm, which means it far exceeds the FDA standards for being gluten-free. Everything we sell is packaged in a dedicated facility that is also on an allergen-free line. So, our products are free from nuts, milk, seeds, fish, sesame, and more.

Order a package of our Xanthan Gum today, and find out what a difference it will make for your gluten-free recipes!