Guar Gum vs. Xanthan Gum

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Recipes

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.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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397 Responses to “Guar Gum vs. Xanthan Gum”

  1. I found a recipe for “Parmesan Oopsie Breadsticks” that calls for 1 Tsp. Guar Gum.
    Since it is a small amount, do I really need to add the Guar Gum or can I substitute cornstarch, Chia or Flaxseed?

  2. Hi!

    My bag of Xanthan gum says the usual of it keeping best in the freezer, so I put it there. My bag of Guar gum however says to store in a cool dry place. I saw you mentioned in earlier replies to store in the freezer (which I would prefer to do so to go along with everything else in there).

    Which really is the best way to store the Guar gum? Thanks!

    • Aram,

      Truly, xanthan gum and guar gum are both fine kept in the fridge. You don’t need to freeze either of them for good results. They’re not ingredients that will go rancid easily.

  3. I am making bread machine 100% whole wheat bread and have no vital wheat gluten. Can I use xanthum gum as a substitute for the vwg in whole wheat bread?

  4. Can i use xanthum gum in whole wheat bread, to sub for added vital wheat gluten? This is for Gluten baking, not gluten free. All the posts I see are for gluten free. Thanks. Does it work the same for 100% wheat flour?

    • Renee,

      I would not recommend it. If you can use gluten, it’s a much better option for bread baking than xanthan gum. If you can’t find gluten, you can try xanthan gum, but it will probably make your bread really tough.

  5. Hi Cassidy,

    I plan to make cinnamon rolls and think I should be using xantham gum in the filling to make it sticky. Is there a recommended ratio of gum to sugar/cinnamon?


  6. Hi Cassidy,

    I’m trying to make a pumpkin pie crust and would like to know how much guar gum I should put into the mix. And for other info, how much should I use if i wanted to use xanthan gum? And if I wanted to create a crumby pie crust how much guar gum and xantahn gum should I use for that?

    Many thanks,

    • Darren,

      They recommend about 1 tsp per cup of flour for guar gum. For xanthan gum, it’s more like 3/4 tsp per cup of flour. For a crumby pie, I’d recommend more like 1/2 tsp per cup of flour of either gum. They both work about the same, and for something like a crumb topping it won’t make much of a difference which one you choose.

  7. Which is more versatile? I need either guar or xanthan gum for a recipe but I dont want to use it once and then never again. Which would I use more often and works for different kinds of recipes?

  8. Okay, so it took me a little while to realize that the old man was different people.
    I was thinking to myself “Man he is wearing Cassidy out!”

  9. Hi Cassidy, reading your article, two things come to mind. I want to make the best g/f ravioli this week only, it’s a challenge. Most recipes list all purpose g/f flour as the main ingredient but after reading you, using a generic all purpose flour blend seems very unscientific given most flour blends use xantham gum (or no gum at all) and xantham seems counter-productive in “keeping” air bubbles which would only result in certain meltdown when rolling the dough. Wouldn’t Guar gum be better for a pasta dough and Xanthan gum problematic? Should I not use flour with Xanthan gum?

    • I’m so sorry, but I’m not an expert and gluten free pasta is really it’s own beast. I’d try to find a gluten free pasta dough recipe from the Internet and follow that.

  10. I am very sensitive to xanthan gum – get the same reaction as I do to soy which is not fun. I was just diagnosed with celiac about 6 weeks ago – I;m 79 years young. I want to start making my own bread as I can’t find any in the market that either doesn’t have xanthan gum or is hard as a brick. Will guar gum give me the same results in the bread?

  11. Hi! I saw in other comments to store opened xanthan gum in either the freezer or the refrigerator for maximum storage time. If I’ve been storing it in the refrigerator, how long would it keep? Thank you!

  12. I make a doctor-prescribed chocolate “meal substitute” shake in a blender for breakfast every day. Soy-based; not whey. (Metagenics UltraMeal Plus, if you’d like to know.) I’d love to thicken it with altering its nutritional profile (as would happen by, for instance, throwing a banana in). I’ve heard anthem gum is good for this – that it can thicken it to give it more of a milkshake viscosity and be more filling/satiating the it is alone, without adding any taste. Is that accurate? Any related advice? Thanks!

  13. I have a recipe that requires both Xanthan an Guar Gum.

    I have recently had surgery and cannot get out to purchase the Guar Gum. It requires 1 tsp, can I substitute an additional tsp of Xanthan Gum, or how much should I put in if it is OK?


  14. Just started making protein shakes and use powdered peanut butter to control the amount of sugar intake. I find that the shakes have an extremely thin consistency.

    Which would you recommend buying the xanthan gum or the guar gum to help thicken up the shakes?


  15. Emily O'Hoolihan

    Making pasta with 2 cups tapioca starch and 2 cups almond flour. It has called for 2 tbs + 2tps xanthan gum but can’t find it anywhere to buy it! Have got some guar gum though – can I use that in stead in the same qty?!

  16. Patty MacLeod

    How much guar gum for almond coffee creamer? My recipe makes 1.5 cups almond milk creamer. I am hoping this will thicken it up slightly so it is more cream like

  17. Great informative blog! I just became the proud owner of a package of guar gum and a package of xanthan gum. The wife and I make our own mayonnaise, with a whole egg, vinegar/lemon juice, and healthy oils. We both want to reduce our egg yolk consumption, so we want to try home made mayo using guar or xanthan gum as an emulsifier.

    But I read in the write-up at the top of this blog, that acidic liquids cause a problem with guar gum and xanthan gum.

    • You shouldn’t need guar gum at all to make Simple Syrup. That should thicken on its own with the sugar. Plus, simple syrup is a rather thin syrup and doesn’t need to be thick.

  18. Good afternoon! I’m making some vegan dressings for canning; do these elements work well when stored for more than a week? I read that it can keep the oils from separating- but will that work with temperature changes?

  19. I was served a creamy thick pudding-like (mousse-like) dessert for diabetics that the hostess said was just guar gum and coconut milk, that’s all (no sweetening). She showed me a packaged mix she bought from a British grocery now out of business. I tried a pinch of guar gum with 2 envelopes plain Knox gelatin and combination 12 oz. coconut water and 12 oz. coconut cream, but it didn’t gel, though otherwise tasted the same. What I want to duplicate was so creamy good and easy to make that I really want to make it. I suspect there was also dissicated unsweetened coconut in her mix. How much guar gum is needed to thicken 3 cups of liquid?

    • Here’s my guess- that you only need the guar gum and the coconut milk and just skip the knox gelatin and coconut water. Canned coconut milk is pretty thick and I’d guess that 2 tsp of guar gum for 3 cups of liquid should thicken that right up like the pudding you’re after.

  20. Hi,

    Maple syrup, honey, or simple sugar syrup does a great job for granola by coating helping creating clumps.

    Instead of sweet, I want to make salty granola. The first batch I made couple of weeks ago came out great. However, only issue I experienced was salt and other spices I added was not sticking to oats properly (I used little vegetable oil) and the end result was all loose and no clumps.

    This time I was thinking about adding little guar gum in oil. Will this work.

    Basically, I am looking for a salty syrup that would do the job of what maple syrup does for granola.

    Thanks and Regards

    • It’s going to be challenging to get granola clumps without sugar of some sort. Everyone here agrees that you should not use any guar gum in this recipe, but instead look for something like this savory granola from Bon Appetit: It uses an egg white to help create clumps and only the lightest touch of sugar. If you need more help, please feel free to call us at 800-349-2173, but we’re pretty sure you’ll get some undesirable results with the addition of guar gum.

  21. What thickener and how much of it should I use in caramels to keep the oil from separating from the caramelized sugar in warm weather? How should I add it?

    • It really depends on your recipe; if it is a gluten free recipe, you may need to use xanthan gum or guar gum to keep it from crumbling apart in addition to eggs or egg substitutes. If it is a wheat flour based recipe, they may only need to use eggs or an egg substitute. You can email for further assistance, as well.

  22. Any idea on whether guar gum or xantham gum would be better for keeping oat milk from separating? Also, if I used guar gum, would it still be able to survive a trip through the microwave to make hot chocolate, or would it have to be xantham gum if I was going to do that?

  23. Why don’t you sell these gums in smaller quantities–like a 2 ounce spice jar? That would last me over a year. If I honor the “use by” date on your 8 ounce packages, I have to toss most of it out. A waste of money for me..

  24. Is it possible to use Xanthan Gum to ‘recue’ my mango pudding which doesn’t set?
    How much should I use?

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