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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365 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!

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