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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401 Responses to “Guar Gum vs. Xanthan Gum”

  1. Great resource! Last week I made gluten free biscuits with xanthan gum, but it was a little too much so that the biscuit was a tad chewy. I also noticed that using a combination of guar gum and xanthan gum (more guar, little xanthan) in cookies work nicely.

  2. This article explained a lot that I didn’t “get” about GF baking – thanks so much!

    I’d love to try baking molded cookies (using a cookie stamp or cookie mold) with a gluten-free recipe. In a wheat-flour based recipe, there is a small amount of egg, no baking powder, no baking soda, and one has to watch the amount of sugar, in order to keep the cookies from either puffing up or spreading out, and losing detail.

    Maybe I’m asking for trouble here to even try this, but I thought I’d ask if anyone knew of a GF recipe that might work.

    Thanks! 🙂

  3. I started to make homemade hot sauces and I see that many different brands on the market use xanthan in their sauces. I guess it’s to maintain the consistency of the product. So I would like to know that I must add this while the sauce is hot or can I add it if it’s cold? Can some one assist me?

    • @Robert Xanthan Gum should work just fine when working with cold products. Making a slurry with a small amount of your liquid before adding it to the main batch will help it dissolve properly.

  4. Very informative. I noticed they mentioned that xanthan gum is better for products with high acid content. Has anyone used guar gum for salad dressings containing vinegar and/or citrus? I was wondering if it can be done or should I just stick with xanthan gum? Thank you!

  5. I would like to know if making a cookie from a Grandmother receipe, I did use the GF Flour and Xanthan gum as it says, the only problem is that is was very dry. Does an extra egg help or more oil or more sugar. I am only 3 weeks new of eating Gluten Free the only other problem is I can’t have Peanuts or any Tree nuts.

    • Hi Michele,

      Without knowing a bit more about the original recipe, it’s hard to say why the dough was so dry. It may be that you’ll need to cut back on the flour by 1/4 cup or so. Otherwise, I would suggest increasing the oil or water (if called for) in the recipe by 1 Tbsp at a time until you reach the right consistency. If it calls for milk or water, I’d increase those instead of oil. I don’t think adding an extra egg will solve your problem- it may change the recipe entirely.

  6. Not only do I have a severe wheat allergy, but also soy. I’ve used xanthum gum and guar gum interchangeably for many years, and in most of the bake recipes I’ve done, I’ve seen no significant difference between the two, with one exception being cakes. In my experience xanthum holds flours together, like coconut and quinoa, better than guar gum. However if you have a sever soy allergy like I do, be warned: Whenver I used xanthum gum in cold recipes, like a cold dessert, dressing, or dip, I experienced extreme gastric problems. I’ve even done a torture test where I mixed the same exact ingredients but only changed out the xanthum or guar gum. And like clockwork (literally, I can time it), I always have problems with the xanthum gum. However, when cooked or baked, I have very little or no problems with xanthum gum. Go figure.

  7. I was trying to convert my Nonni’s Italian Christmas cookies with my gluten-free flour and guar gum. The cookies would crumble and explode. I read your post and I used the tip on mixing xanthan gum with the oil first, so I mixed it with my vegetable shortening. I realized I was one egg short, so I left it in the mixer for a 1/2 hour while my husband went out to buy me another egg. It made all the difference in the world. The cookies are tender, moist and delicious. I’m going to try the same with my bread recipe. Do you think the extra time made a difference? Thanks!

    • It’s hard to say what caused the perfect texture- you’ve changed two variables here. One, you mixed the xanthan gum with the liquids and two, you let it sit for an extra half hour. If you’ve got the time and ingredients, it may be worth the experiment. Adapting recipes to be gluten free is not a perfect science and what works for one recipe and what works for another might be entirely different. My main concern here is that bread recipes can be very particular about the ingredients and time and it might not work very well. I’d recommend a visit to this forum Post the original recipe and ask for advice. It’s a great group of people.

  8. I am trying to alter my Grandmother’s banana bread recipe to be gluten free. How much xanthum/guar gum do you think I need to alter this recipe?

    Wet Ingredients:
    1/2 C Butter
    1 1/4 C Sugar
    2 Eggs

    Dry Ingredients:
    2 C Flour
    1/2 tsp Salt
    1 tsp Baking Soda
    1/3 C Oil

    Thanks for your help. I am excited to be learning how to bake Gluten Free.

  9. Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan Gum says that it is made from Xanthomonas campestris bacterium. However, it doesn’t say what the bacterium ferment to lead to the Xanthan Gum. Does Bob’s Red Mill xanthomonas campestris bacterium ferment glucose, sucrose, lactose, or something else to lead to the Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan Gum?

    • Hi Janet,

      Xanthomonas campestris ferments glucose to create xanthan gum. The medium used is corn-based or soy-based, depending on the supplier. I hope that helps answer your question. Let us know if we can be of further assistance.

  10. Hi admin, I have a small request. I was simply just googleing for information about the subject you wrote and found this post. Some great material you posted here. May i please share this post on my own new site I’m creating? This would be terrific :). I will check back once again afterwards to find out how you responded. Thank you, Kennith Mccormick

  11. Darlena Del Mar

    I am making a flourless chocolate cookie substituting zylitol for the powdered sugar. The cookie drys out immediately and I was told to use the xanthan gum. What will it do to the cookie and how much should I use since there is no flour to use ad a gauge? Thanks.

    • Hi Darlena,

      We need more information about your recipe to be able to advise you on how much xanthan gum to use. While it may not have traditional flour, what kind of starches and/or dry ingredients and in what quantities are you using? That will help us know how much gum to recommend.

  12. Hi,
    I have a question. Your xanthan gum is VERY different from all other xanthan gums on the market.Would you explain why that may be.Bobs is very strong and produces more of a gel like consistancy in the batter.

    • Hi Rebecca,

      You know, I’m not really sure why ours would be any different than any others on the market. Just to be sure, you’re comparing two xanthan gum products not guar gum and xanthan gum? Do you recall the other brands? That might help me track down an answer. Thanks!

  13. Hi Cassidy,

    We make a really nice chilli sauce that we are starting to sell to family and friends as they love our recipe. Recently though we have realised that the sauce tends to separate inside the glass bottle after a while. I have been told that I need to use xanthar gum to keep the sauce from separating, but I am not too sure when I have to do it (when ingredients are boiling or at the end of cooking, before blending?) or how much I should add per litre of sauce? Would very much appreciate your help here!

    • Claudia,

      Xanthan gum will work either way, but to be on the safe side, I recommend adding it after boiling near the end of cooking. It should be added using a slurry to prevent clumping. I don’t have an exact measurement per litre, but a good rule of thumb is about 1 tsp of Xanthan Gum per 1 Tb. of original thickener, or per cup of liquid. Since we sell this as a baking ingredient primarily, we aren’t as well versed in using it for sauces. I definitely recommend experimenting with a small batch first to find the right consistency. I’ve used small amounts for pie fillings and they gel quite nicely. Best of luck!

  14. Caludia, I think for your specific case since you are not wanting to thicken the sauce too much, using just 1/2 tsp per cup may work best. You will want to let the mixture stand after adding the xanthan gum for a few hours so it can properly dissolve. Good luck!

  15. I have found that many of my GF baked goods have a slightly bitter or acrid flavor. I assumed it was the xantham gum. Do you have any recommendations for reducing this flavor. Would replacing or splitting my xantham gum with guar gum solve the problem?

  16. We have not heard of xanthan gum contributing to taste, just texture, so I am not sure if this is the culprit. I would recommend checking the other ingredients as well. To replace Xanthan Gum with Guar Gum, you will want to use 1 ½ times the amount. You can try using this instead in a recipe and see if it helps out the taste. Let us know how it works out!

  17. Could you give your opinion as to which of these two would be best suited to thicken a hypoallergenic formula (Nutramigen) Thanks! It’s 1tbsp gum per 8oz water to make it a gel consistency before adding to the formula, btw

    • Hi Kristin,

      Our best guess would be to use guar gum. 1 tsp per 8 oz should thicken the formula a lot. You may have to experiment a bit, as this is our best guess and not a guarantee. Good luck!

  18. Thanks so much for all of the great information and explanation!
    I was just wondering, does the xanthan or guar gum need to be added to a liquid first (you mention oil), or can it be mixed with vegetable shortening, which is also a fat but is solid.
    Thank you!

  19. Please help me understand how to make the slurry you refer to in the above posts. I attemped to add guar gum to my homemade yogurt and it clumped badly. It even clumped when I tried adding it to a small amount of liquid first. Also, would you recommend adding it to the yogurt before incubation or afterward? Thanks!

    • Hi Vicky: here is the answer from our customer service team:
      Guar Gum naturally clumps when added to liquid since it is such a strong thickener. To help with this, I have heard adding the Guar Gum to a salt shaker and shaking it onto the liquid while whisking works well (since you add the powder slower while stirring it in). I have also heard adding salt or sugar helps prevent clumping as well, but not sure how this works. If there are small clumps, the mixture can sit for awhile and then whisk. We have not tried using Guar Gum in a yogurt application, so I am not sure when it should be added. I would guess before incubation.

  20. Hi Cassidy,
    I make an Italian oil and vinegar based salad dressing and am considering using xanthan gum so the creamy dressing stays creamy.
    1.I add red wine vinegar, water and spices in the blender
    2. then add oil. Do you think I can add the xanthan in step 1 (my slurry-around 1 1/2 cups of liquid) , along with the spices?
    Thanks so much!
    GREAT SITE! Glad I found it!

    • Hi Renee!

      I’d recommend adding the xanthan gum in step one. I’d probably make a small slurry with it before adding, but it should work just fine. Good luck!

  21. Hello. I have the Red Mill Xanthan Gum and was wondering if I can use it in thickening fruit without having to cook it? For instance for a pie filling or just to can fruit in jars. Thank you.

    • Hi Becky,

      We actually have not heard of using the Xanthan Gum in this way. The product does thicken instantly, but we are not sure if it will create the consistency you are seeking. We think it would work, but we’re really not sure. I’m sorry that we can’t be of more help. Please do let us know if it does work. Thanks!

  22. Xanthan and Guar gums are used in wheat/flour based commercial baking. I see it all the time. I’ve done some experimenting with 1/8 tsp of Xanthan gum in a cake recipe. What happens is when the cake bakes, it SWELLS, but then calms when it cools. I believe this retains some texture in the end result. I’ve not added guar gum into a cake mix yet.

    I think it would be interesting to understand what commercial bakery consultants do to “doctor” up a traditional recipe, using these ingredients and how to do this ourselves.

  23. I’m trying to bake gluten free bread and ordered multi-purpose gluten-free flour and GUAR GUM. Can’t find a recipe that uses guar gum instead of xanthan gum. Do you know if I can use guar in place of xanthan with good results?

  24. I’m making vegan corn flour with corn meal pancakes. I want to use guar gum. Will guar gum work fine? Do I add it to the dry ingredients or to the wet?

    Thanks so much!

  25. Hello:

    I wonder if you can help me. I just turned gf and is trying to bake. However I am getting sick with the baking I am making. I have evaluated the different ingredients I have used. Do you think that the Xanthan gum is making sick. Please advise.

    • Hi Dana,

      Some people cannot tolerate xanthan gum, but it truly could be any number of things. Here are some things that should also be looked at: are your baking pans/dishes new and dedicated? are you carefully checking ingredient lists for hidden sources of gluten? are you using products that may not be fully gluten free (shared equipment)? are your reactions gluten reactions or is it possible that it is another food issue- many folks also have issues with milk, eggs, soy with their gluten issues. I don’t know what your life is like, but if you feel confident that xanthan gum is the variable, leave it out. We’re not doctors here, but we have talked to A LOT of people with celiac disease. Here is what I would do- get scientific with it, try something that you didn’t bake with xanthan gum in it. Do you still get the reaction? If yes, it sounds like xanthan gum is not going to work for you. Here is a post by Gluten Free Girl who cannot tolerate xanthan gum or guar gum and how she discovered it and what she is doing to get around using those ingredients: Best of luck!!

  26. I printed out the “xanthan gum cheat sheet” and taped it to my bag of xanthan gum…needless to say it has been very helpful! I was wondering though, how much xanthan gum would you recommend per cup of flour for a pie crust or pastry type dough? Thanks for the great article!!

  27. Hi Cassidy,

    Im making some limoncello cookies and because its so acidic due to the lemon and maybe the vodka thats in the juice. how much xanthan gum would you recommend per cup of flour? Thank you! such great information in your article.

    • Hi Alan,

      At this point, your guess is as good as mine. I’d start with the recommended amount- about 1/4 tsp per cup of flour. The worst thing that would happen is crumbly cookies. A quick search showed folks using that amount of xanthan gum per cup of flour in cookies that use fresh lemon juice and others that use alcohol. I’m not sure what texture these cookies should be, although they sound wonderful, so I would start with the standard and if that doesn’t yield the results you seek, try a little more. I’m sorry that we can’t be of more help! Good luck!

  28. I have a question about using flour in gluten-free recipes. Why is it OK since flour has gluten? I noticed that you measure the gums your are comparing per cup of regular flour. Can you explain? Thanks!

    • Nick,

      We did not mean to give the impression that we’re referring to wheat flour here. Flour can be made from any number of things, many of which are gluten free- brown rice, sorghum, garbanzo beans, etc. When we say 1 tsp per cup of flour- we mean any kind of flour or combinations of flour. You can use the gums in conventional baking and the general rule is X amount of Xanthan Gum per cup of flour (whatever type that might be). I hope this helps. For further assistance, please contact our customer service team at 800-349-2173

  29. Thank you for all of the information on xanthan vs. guar gum, it has been extremely helpful but what I really need to know is how much xanthan gum should I use in making the dough for cinnamon rolls, thanks in advance for your response.

  30. I’m new at making gluten free breads for my granddaughter cause her allergies all recipes call for xathan gum , what is confusing is do I put the amount of gum the recipe calls for or do I do 1 tsp per cup of flour that the gum package says to use ? Confusing please help thanks

    • Use the amount called for in the recipe. Our rules of thumb for xanthan gum are designed more for when you are converting a recipe. Since every recipe is a little different, I’d just go with what your recipe calls for.

  31. Hi there! HELP? I am trying to make a crispy sandy style shortbread cookie with dark rye flour. I know it’s not gluten free, but rye is lower in gluten than wheat and i find that it’s not binding properly, as the outside of the cookie crumbles apart and feels kind of oily. i am also using coconut oil instead of butter. do you think xanthan or guar can help? if so, do i add it to the oil or the rye mix? I also add arrowroot. any advice would be appreciated.

    • Hi Heidi,

      I am really sorry, but you’re getting into territory we don’t have much experience with. I’m guessing part of the issue is the oil you’re using, but I’m really not sure if xanthan gum or guar gum will fix the problem. If you do try to experiment, definitely add the gum with the dry ingredients. Good luck!

  32. Thank you for publishing all of these helpful responses to how to cook without gluten and how to use xanthan gum and guar gum. My question is why would you add guar gum to something like gravy? And it does not show an amount of xanthan gum for gravy, stew, icecream or pudding. Does that mean that these things require guar gum but not xanthan gum?

    • Hi Kathy! Because we’re mostly a baking company, we haven’t spent a lot of time playing with xanthan gum or guar gum in gravy. I’m not sure that you would even need either for gravy. I think you could, but in my personal experience with gravy, I haven’t ever needed an additional thickener. If you want to use the gums in gravy, ice cream, stew or pudding, you’ll want to start with a slurry and I’d start with no more than a tsp. Once you’ve made a slurry with a small amount of liquid and the gum, slowly add it to the rest of the liquids. I’ve only tried this with ice cream and it worked alright- I didn’t see a big difference in the end result- in fact it seemed like the ice cream got harder in the freezer than when I did not add the gum. I’m sorry that we can’t be of more help.

    • Hi Rich,

      Shelf life on xanthan gum is 24 months. There should be a sell-by date on the side of the bag which is the expiration date. That may be missing. I’d not recommend using a bag that smells like vinegar, that’s a pretty good indication that it’s rancid.

  33. Hello,

    Another new gluten free user here. I want to attempt to make bread with my new bread machine. First, does Bob’s make guar gum, and is it ok to use in making bread? Or is xzanthan the only gum one should use? This is a great informative sight.

    • Hi Carolyn. Yes, we do make guar gum and you can use it in gluten free bread baking. Guar gum works very well. If you have a recipe that calls for xanthan gum and you’d like to use guar gum, simply leave out the xanthan gum and use the suggested amount of guar gum in the chart above for bread baking.

  34. Is a safe food additive guar gum and xanthan gum is xanthan gum to even broader application of its outstanding performance in the baking and beverages, jam.Guar gum pasta outstanding performance to make the noodles more lubrication, solid.Compound, the two products can produce better results, it is recommended to try.

  35. Is xanthan gum ok for individuals who have a corn sensitivity? It is my understanding that some still have problems with the proteins or gluten in corn. I don’t really know the exact details of how xanthan is produced so I don’t know if there is any corn components left in the final product.

    Thank you for creating this page.

    • 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. From what I’ve been reading lately, there are some folks who just can’t digest xanthan gum and guar gum. It’s not a gluten issue, but it is a digestion issue. The same as how some folks can’t tolerate the bean flours or gluten free oats.

      The short answer here is, there is no corn at all in the xanthan gum.

  36. YAY!!!! thanks for the comparison. After being nut, peanut, and wheat-free for 2 or 3 months, we got another curve ball and are wheat, egg, milk, corn, nut, and peanut free (as of yesterday). Thanks for comparing the two. That gives us a lot of versatility in baking

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