Xanthan is found in almost everything from cosmetics to edible products such as ice cream and baked goods. This gum is made by fermenting corn sugar with a bacterium. It is a common additive that acts as a thickening agent, binder, as well as an emulsifier. Where a thickener does just that, a binder holds all the ingredients together and an emulsifier can blend those other ingredients that would remain separate, such as oil and vinegar. As such, xanthan gum is a popular ingredient in salad dressings. It is also common in baking especially gluten-free goods, that lack gluten’s binding capacities. As much as it is a useful ingredient many people do not have it on hand. There are other alternatives that you can consider and some of them are described below.
One of the best substitutes for xanthan gum in baking is psyllium husk which is made from the husks of Plantago ovata seeds. This ingredient is usually sold ground for baking purposes. Psyllium husk helps lower blood sugar, because it acts much like xanthan gum in your gut and that makes it a great substitute. Keep in mind that both xanthan gum and psyllium husk are soluble fibres that your digestive tract may not be able break down. Instead, they can form a gel-like substance which causes slow absorption. To replace xanthan gum with psyllium husk when baking, simply substitute every 1 part of xanthan gum with 2 parts of psyllium husk.
Another great substitute for xanthan gum in baking are chia seeds. When they are soaked, these seeds can form a gel much like xanthan gum. Chia seeds are some of the best substitutes for xanthan gum in baking because they pack lots of fibre and some important nutrients too unlike xanthan. You can use these seeds whole in order to add a bit of crunch and a mild nutty flavour to your recipe. Alternatively, you can grind them if you prefer a smoother texture for your finished product. To replace xanthan gum with chia seeds in baking, use a one to one ratio. You can also add two parts of hot water for every one part of chia seeds then stir it until the mixture becomes viscous. Make sure that you add about 10 to 15 minutes to your baking time in order to accommodate for using chia seeds.
Ground Flax Seeds
Also on our list of some of the best substitutes for xanthan gum in baking are flax seeds. Just like chia seeds flax seeds create a thick paste when combined with water. These seeds are also very easy to find and they are fairly cheap. On the downside flax seeds are not that good at binding, so you should either grind the seeds on your own or buy ground flax seed for your baking. You can find them in stores as flax meal. Mixing ground flax seeds with water activates the binding capacity. Keep in mind that ground flax seeds may make your recipe a little nuttier and slightly gritty in quality. In order to replace xanthan gum with flax seeds use a one to one ratio and also add 2 parts hot water for every 1 part flax for best results.
You can also consider using corn-starch in place of xanthan gum in baking. Corn-starch has a texture that is similar to that of xanthan gum. It is highly absorbent, and this makes it a great thickener in stews as well as gravies apart from baked goods. Although it is naturally gluten-free, some baking products may be contaminated with this protein. If you want to avoid gluten, make sure that you check the label for a certification. Unlike some of the other alternatives mentioned you do not need to mix corn-starch with water before you can use it. When using corn-starch in place of xanthan use a one to one ratio.
Another great substitute for xanthan gum in baking is gelatin. Gelatin can help firm up a lot of dishes because it is derived from animal collagen, a jelly-like protein that can help provide structure to connective tissues. You simply need two parts of gelatin for every one part of xanthan gum in your recipe. Gelatin is an excellent choice for a lot of baked goods such as breads and muffins. On the downside gelatin is not vegan or vegetarian for those that are on a strict diet. Since most gelatin comes from pig skin, it is also not the best substitute for people observing kosher or halal dietary practices.
Eggs whites act as both leavening and binding agents to help baked goods and other dishes rise and firm up. They can also be used as an alternative for xanthan gum in baking. You can use egg whites in almost any dish that may require xanthan gum. Egg whites are suitable for quick breads, batter breads, as well as cakes. However, they are not ideal for kneaded breads because they produce a light and fluffy texture. Since egg whites are an animal product they are not vegan-friendly. To use egg whites in place of xanthan use one egg white in place every tablespoon (4.5 grams) of xanthan gum.
Agar agar is derived from red algae and it can act much like unflavoured gelatin. You can consider using it in place of xanthan gum in baking. Agar agar can help with thickening a dish and forming a jelly-like texture. It is a plant-based ingredient that is a great vegan replacement for gelatin. You can find in stores as flakes, sheets, or powder. To use agar agar in place for xanthan gum use a one to one ratio. Make sure that you dissolve it in room-temperature water and heat it over low heat for about 3 to 5 minutes or until it is dissolved, then cool it before you use it. Take not that agar agar can produce a stiff or dense texture.