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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323 Responses to “Guar Gum vs. Xanthan Gum”

  1. Hi Cassidy,

    I only use guar gum in making ice cream and so need very little at a time. How do you recommend storing the guar gum for maximum longevity? Thanks!

  2. I am planning to use guar gum ( or xanthan gum ) – purchased both, in ice cream and sorbets. How much and how properly combine it with ice cream base?How to and how much to use with sorbet? Will it affect flavor?

    • That’s not really a question I know how to answer. It depends on what you mean by healthy. Guar gum has much less sodium per serving, but xanthan gum has a healthy dose of dietary fiber in each serving.

  3. I have a syrup recipe with sugar, cinnamon, karosyrup and vanilla. I use 8 cups if water to a boil with 3/4 tsp vanilla in the recipe and use 1/2 tsp of xantham gum to keep the cinnamon suspended, however the cinnomon eventually settles to a slimy film on the bottom if the bottle. If I add any more xantham gum it becomes more jell like. Would guar gum help this and can you give me an idea if how much of each to add.

    Thanks, Tony

    • Tony,

      I am sorry, but this is getting pretty far out of our area of expertise. We really only know how much to use for baking. I’d recommend finding someone who knows more about creating your own syrups.

  4. Looking at the nutrition label there is a significant amount of Sodium in your xanthum gum, why? There is no sodium in the chemical makeup of Xanthum gum.

    • Teri,

      I’m not sure why it is so high in sodium, but we have had this product analyzed at a lab for nutritional information. Perhaps something to do with how it’s procured?

  5. Just wondering if I could substitute guar gum or xanthan gum for clear gel in a recipe for homemade canned salsa? If so would I follow the directions posted for use in hot liquids-gravies etc.?

  6. Xanthan Gum

    Other Names: Bacterial Polysaccharide, Corn Sugar Gum, Goma Xantana, Gomme de Sucre de Maïs, Gomme de Xanthane, Gomme Xanthane, Polysaccharide Bactérien, Polysaccharide de Type Xanthane, Polysaccharide Xanthane, Xanthan, Xanthomonas campestris. compliments of WEBMD.

    People with corn allergies need to be aware of this..

    I guess they found a cheaper way to produce it by using corn..

  7. I just read the 6/11/12 update regarding corn in the making of Xanthan Gum. I have a degree in Microbiology and Medical Laboratory Technology and I have worked in multiple labs over 20 years, including the BC Centre of Disease Control. Glucose used in food manufacturing, including being used as a substrate to grow Xanthan Gum, is often derived from corn and the biggest worldwide manufacturer of Glucose is China, a country that has more lax safety standards than in North America. Corn is the cheapest source to produce glucose available world wide and the most widely used in glucose production, so it is not exclusively produced by wheat, as claimed in this article. As a person who is allergic to corn myself, it is dangerous to print claims such as this without researching the facts first. Please take down this update, as it is not correct.

  8. I used Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan Gum for years before stopping all Xanthan Gum use due to lack of information as to whether or not it was non-GMO, or that it was grown/fed using non-GMO corn or wheat or other ingredients. Can you definitively state that Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan Gum is 100% non-GMO? I would love to start using this product again!

    • At this time, we have guarantees from our supplier that this product is non-GMO, however, you may feel better waiting until it displays the Non-GMO Verified stamp from The Non-GMO Project.

  9. What do you think of guar gum having a 10% contamination of soy usually. It comes from India generally and I have read that there can be as much as 10% soy contamination of it. This concerns me if it is true as that soy is likely GMO soy. Could you investigate this and see what you can find out?

    • We have guarantees from our suppliers that our guar gum is non-GMO. All of our products will be going through the verification process with The Non-GMO Project. I am sure they will be able to verify the GMO status of our Guar Gum.

  10. I am wondering what the fuss about GMO really is if there has been no substantial scientific evidence to prove that it is harmful to humans.
    I think it’s great that your product is not made with corn but also that, though I have a wheat allergy and a corn allergy, that the xantham gum is still considered safe in your opinion. Than you for your information.

  11. There are more choices for commercially produced GF bread products than ever before, but most, I find have an almost slimy texture unless toasted.
    Is that unfamiliar texture due to too much gum in the recipe? Or could it come from using the wrong kind of gum?

  12. HI! I have a question. I was just told that I have an allergy to Guar Bean/Gum…. does this mean I cannot use Xanthan Gum?
    Thanks for your help.

  13. Can you please share ways to substitute xantham for eggs? I am developing a baked quinoa veggie patty recipe. The grain mixture is dry and I don’t want a batter. I want to bolster the eggs I do add. Thank you.

    • Hi Niki,

      We are not really sure and you’re going to have to experiment. I’d recommend starting with adding 1 tsp to the recipe and go from there. What an interesting way to use xanthan gum. If you have luck, please report back so we can hear how it went and what you did.

  14. I’m making homemade coconut milk, from the coconut itself, and it separates extremely bad, it says in your article to use 1-2 teaspoons for quart of liquid, how much would you suggest for this, I’d like to use as little as possible since i have a lot of stomach issues, thanks in advance

  15. Hello,
    I’ve tried your Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking flour for cookies and like it so much I’d like to get bold and *try* substituting it 1 to1 in my bread machine recipe for yeast bread. …but I imagine I’d need to add some more xanthan gum. Usually I’d add 1 t xanthan gum per cup of flour, but there’s already xanthan gum in the 1 to 1 mix, so I’m not sure. Can you help me out with a suggestion?

    • Nancy,

      Your kind words about our mix are so nice to hear. Thank you. Our test kitchen recommends adding ¾ tsp xanthan gum per cup of flour called for in the recipe to make yeasted breads.

  16. Thank you, Cassidy. I’m still tweaking breadmaking with the 1 to 1 mix, but boy does it make some outstanding gluten-free flour tortillas!
    Thanks for the help.

  17. I am making up some sauce recipes, and I would like to use non-GMO xanthan gum. Does non-GMO xanthan gum stand up to high heat, and high acidity?
    Thank you.

  18. I have bought guar gum and xanthan gum from local health food stores, in small weighed packages. How long can I store this before its usefulness expires? Some is a few years old. I got busy baking a lot when I discovered I had celiac, but have since bought mostly commercially prepared products. Should I throw it all away?

    • Typically, we do not recommend eating a product after it’s sell by date. It might still work, but we can’t really know for sure without trying it. If it smells funky at all, though, please do not use the product.

  19. I was wondering what the difference between gluten, xanthan gum, and guar gum was. Also do these different substances have slightly different tastes

    • They all have different sources, but essentially do the same thing in baked goods. Gluten is best used in baking, while the other two gums can be used to thicken sauces, soups, ice cream, etc. All three have little to no flavor.

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