Gums

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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287 Responses to “Guar Gum vs. Xanthan Gum”

  1. I am making orange (and lemon) syrups. The basic recipe is 2 C water, 2 C orange juice, 2 C sugar and juice of one lemon, mixed and simmered for 1/2 hour. The taste is great, but I thought I would like it a bit thicker, without cooking it down more. I was planning to use a bit of xanthum gum to thicken it, but read in a couple of places that xanthum gum doesn’t work in sugary liquids, and there are also problems with citrus. Do you have any advice on whether either xanthum or guar gum or both would work to thicken a citrus syrup? And if so, how much would you use?

    • Camilla,

      I’ve not had a problem using xanthan gum to make a pie filling (berry), so it should work fine for the sugary syrups. We’re not exactly sure about whether the citrus would affect this or not, but I do know that folks use xanthan gum to thicken liquids for folks who need a liquid diet. I would imagine it will work. I’d suggest xanthan gum over guar gum, but not sure how much to recommend. I’d start with 1 tsp and go from there. Let us know how it comes out if you can, we’d love to learn!

  2. Cassidy, I’m working with a local high school student who is interested in culinary arts and is working on her senior project about eating healthy while receiving food stamps. Is there someone at Bob’s who might be willing to do an informational interview with her? If you can refer us to someone, that would be great!

  3. My son is highly allergic to corn (among many others things). Everything I’ve researched claims that xanthan gum contains corn. Is this true or false? Thank you.

    • Melanie,

      Most xanthan gum is grown on a medium that contains corn or soy. Our xanthan gum is grown on a different medium and does not contain corn or soy. It should be fine for your son.

  4. I have allergies or sensitivities to both wheat and corn. (not just the gluten in wheat) I notice your 6/11/12 update indicates no corn, to which I am ecstatic…however, I notice that you say your medium is wheat starch, but indicate there is no wheat left at the end of the process. I am still concerned that your product could affect me. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you.

    • Honestly, we are not sure how this might affect you. We are not doctors and cannot advise you to try something that might cause an allergic reaction. The process of xanthan gum can be boiled down to this: xanthan gum is a creature, it eats wheat sugar (not protein), it then produces an outer “shell.” This “shell” is harvested and used to make xanthan gum. I recommend asking your allergist about this. I’m sorry that we cannot be of more help.

  5. I am looking for gluten and wheat free recipies. Pasta would be great! Should I use the Xanthan or Gar gum? I purchased KA gluten free flour and would like recipies from your product line as well.
    Thank you for your time.

  6. Hi,

    I trying to make rice milk and always results in a sedimentation formation. Which gum do you recommend to prevent sedimentation? Guar, Xanthan, or a mixture of both?

    Thanks,

    Miguel

  7. Cassidy –
    I am working on switching to GF ‘real’ (or ‘clean’) food and my concern is the Xantham gum is not ‘real’ because it is alcohol precipitated and I realized that since this is a processed item, is BRM’s xg GMO-free?
    Thank you.

  8. Hi there,
    Just a concern about the wheat part – my daughter has Celiacs disease, so I was dismayed to see that, am wondering now whether to switch over to Guar Gum, just to be safe.
    Thank you

    • Sarah,

      There is no wheat or gluten left in the xanthan gum after it is consumed. Our xanthan gum is safe for people with celiac disease. That said, I do know that some people cannot digest xanthan gum very well (gluten intolerant or not). If you feel more comfortable, guar gum is a good substitute.

  9. Can you keep xanthan gum past the exp date. If you use is past the date , how long past the date can you use it? Same question for baking soda. Had both of these Bob’s Red mill products awhile.

    • Wanda,

      If you have stored them in a dry, cool environment and a sealed container, they may be good for a while after the expiration date. Both will lose some of their functionality if they are no longer good.

  10. Tread carefully here…….according to the following article…..some people may exhibit cross sensitivity to xanthan gum if they are sensitive to the product from which it is cultured. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthan_gum . Health warnings on a product have been required for premature infants for enterocolitis…….it is a bowel stimulant……and workers who produce the product have exhibited lung problems. I use it…….but after reviewing the wikipedia article, I will be more careful in both use and who I give it to.

  11. Bridget Martinson

    My husband and son have Celiac disease. My husband does not tolerate xanthan gum and has the same symptoms as his celiac disease when he eats products with this in it. Guar gum is a much better substitution for him. It took me months to find out that xanthan gum was the culprit.

    • Another perspective: When I ingest gluten, my autoimmune system attacks two parts of my body: my intestines (I have Celiac disease) and my brain (yes, brain damage.) The response is swift and severe so I manage my diet very seriously. I have not had any problems with xanthan gum from Bob’s Red Mill (I haven’t tried other brands – I’m cautious.) I use it, I eat it, I love it! … my daughter, who also has Celiac and food allergies, has problems with xanthan gum. My conclusion has been: one can have food allergies or sensitivities to xanthan gum just like any other food. I do not pair xanthan gum with gluten or wheat problems, I pair it with “immune problems with xanthan gum.” It gets it’s own designation.

  12. I’ve been diagnosed with a contact allergy to xanthan gum. Do you know if I can still eat baked goods that contain it? The dermatologist seemed to think the chemistry of xanthan changes after baking. Do you know? Thanks in advance.

    • If you have an allergy to xanthan gum, you should not eat baked goods with xanthan gum. We do not know how much the chemistry would change, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

  13. Is there a healthier substitute for Xanthan gum. We want to make gluton free bread.
    Thanks in advance.
    Pat and joe

    • Jonathan,

      We’re not really sure. We haven’t had to do that yet. We’d suggest a small amount, like 1/4 tsp per cup of flour of xanthan gum. If you try it, let us know how it comes out.

  14. Does it bother anyone else that Xanthomonas campestris is black mold found on vegetables like broccoli. Also that is the most infectious and devastating disease for green vegetables in the world. So why is it a good idea to scrape the ooze that this black mold excretes and put it in our food?

  15. Zorb,

    Might you be a troll? Just because Xanthomonas campestris is an infectious & devastating disease for green vegetables doesn’t mean it’s harmful to us, if that’s what you mean. There are plenty of products from various microorganisms that are used by us, and many of them started out as some kind of “ooze”. The antibiotic penicillin, for example, comes from a mold that grows on produce. Do your research, or choose not to use it, but don’t go around trying to scare people. If you’re worried about what modern technology is doing to our food supply, perhaps you should be concerned about the large increase in food allergies – it jumps 10% every year. That’s something worth being worried about, and worth doing something about it.

  16. Hey, guys. Maybe you can help answer this.

    I make my own homemade toiletries and use guar gum as the thickening agent. It works great, but I do have to make smaller batches since it can’t keep that long. I’ve noticed in many of my store-bought shampoos that they use xanthan gum and not guar. So now I’m wondering: whereas guar gum is just milled seeds, xanthan gum requires a little TLC from a laboratory to come into being — and might this give xanthan gum the advantage to a longer shelf-life?

    • Thanks for your question. Our area of expertise is using these gums in baking and cooking; we don’t have information about how they work in homemade shampoos. As far as shelf life as food ingredients, xanthan gum and guar gum are the same (24 months, when stored properly).

  17. 4HungryBunnies

    I had great success in using your xanthan gum for yeast bread, pizza crust, and especially flour tortillas. But after a while I started reacting to it much like it was gluten but on a lesser level. Then after research I found that xanthan gum is fed wheat or corn or soy in order to be made. As you state and I read other places that none of that remains in the final product. But if that were really true, it would not cause me to react. Sadly, I had to discontinue using xanthan gum for baking and I do not buy any products that contain it. I am gluten and corn inherent and casein intolerant and over all am very sensitive. I was hesitant to try guar gum as I read that many people who have issues with xanthan gum also have an issue with guar gum. But as I tried other things to replace the xanthan gum in my baking (psyllium husks, chia seed & flax seed), nothing was properly doing the job and products were failing. I decided to give guar gum a go and just see what would happen. It’s been pretty successful with no adverse affects thus far. I am quite happy!

    • We are so glad to hear that guar gum is working out for you. Many people with celiac disease cannot tolerate either of the gums, so I am happy to hear that guar gum works well for you. I know some people have great success using buckwheat flour as a substitute.

  18. I have been storing my Xanthan gum in an airtight container in my cupboard, assuming it was okay as it does not say to refrigerate it. After researching it, refrigeration seems to be the recommended storing method so I am going to move into the refrigerator. Is my Xanthan gum as fresh as it would be if I were refrigerating it? I have had it for only about a month. Note that it was just in the bag resealed before it was move into an airtight container for several days.

    • Yes, your xanthan gum should be just fine. I would imagine that the main reason for refrigeration is to control the moisture levels. If you’ve moved it to an airtight container, it should be fine. If you ever have any problems with it, please feel free to call us at 800-349-2173.

  19. How would you recommend storing Xanthan Gum? I just read the above post about refrigeration. Is that best or is it ok to store in an airtight container in the cabinet? Also, I just opened a bag of your glutten free flour. I saw a post somewhere to put it in a zip lock bag in the freezer. Is that what you recommend. It isn’t something I will use everyday.

    • Hi Clara,

      For xanthan gum, an airtight container in the fridge is probably the best way to keep it fresh. I would recommend the same (or the freezer) for GF AP Flour.

  20. I have a few bags of guar gum that expired a week ago….can I use these bags over the next year? When must I stop using them? Also, does the same apply to contain gum?

    • Sophia,

      Your guar gum is probably fine. I recommend sticking your guar gum in the freezer to help keep it fresh. I wouldn’t recommend using these for much more than a few months longer.

  21. Interesting info on xantham gum. I bought some a while back (1 year) and have had it stored in an airtight container in my cupboard. ( No Idea it had to be refrigerated). Is it time to dump what I have?

    Also, a recipe I have says to use Vital Wheat Gluten… is there a difference between this and Xantham gum? The box does not say to refrigerate. Can you offer some advice?

    Thank you for your time,
    Olga

    • Xanthan gum is just best stored in refrigeration, but yours may still be good. With something like xanthan gum you’ll know if it is no longer working. Same goes for gluten. It is best kept refrigerated, but will be fine without. These are two very different products that work in the same way- to give dough elasticity and support leavening agents by stretching around the air bubbles and lifting the baked good. Call us at 800-349-2173 for more info.

  22. I add 1/2 tsp guar gum per cup of flour for perfect crepes and great pie crust! It is not just the recipes that rise that do better with these :) I am just starting with guar gum, but like 4HungryBunnies I also have so far had no problems with it so far and am finding it helps make my food lovely.

  23. I have Fibromyalgia and have found that one of the conditions associated with this is IBS and that a GF diet has helped considerably. On the question of Xanthan and Guar gums, could not something like File (made from sassafras leaves and used as a thickener) be used as well? What about Arrowroot (also a thickener)? Thanks for any suggestions.

  24. I mixed your Xanthan Gum with water to create a gel so that I can just add in what I need to thicken liquids. I am storing the Xanthan Gum with water gel mixture in the refrigerator. Once mixed in this way, how long can I store this in the refrigerator?

    Thanks!

  25. Hi I need some help about if I can use the guar and xanthan gum for a cookie I make and I’m trying to see if the product can give the dough some elasticity that need in my dough please if someone can call me at 313-525-7777 thank you

  26. On the pkg. of xanthan gum, it states that it is processed in the same plant as soy and tree nuts. Is it processed on a dedicated line? I have a child allergic to wheat, soy, and tree nuts. I need xanthan gum to make baked goods with rice flour.

  27. I was wondering if I can have products that have Guar Gum in it.I found out recently that Im gluten,lactose,and fructose intolerant.If there is advise that would help.thank you

  28. Hi there,

    I’m making potato rolls for thanksgiving and I’m trying to figure out how much xantham gum to use in the recipe. It’s a yeasty dough with potato and milk in it that rises overnight and you bake the next day. There are 6 cups of flour in it, which I will change to GF all purpose flour. How much xantham gum should I add?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Christina,

      Having spent the weekend playing with Xanthan gum, my best guess is to add about 4 tsp. If you add too much, they’ll be really chewy. If you don’t add enough, they’ll be hard. If you have time, I’d definitely recommend a trial run.

  29. I’m making pecan tassies and added a half tsp of xanthan gum to 2 cups of Bob’s gf flour.. After mixing the butter and cream cheese with it, the taste is very metallic. Will this disappear after baking or should I toss it?

  30. Hi Cassidy,

    I am experimenting on a marinade for meat and this marinade contains some acidic ingredients like pineapple juice. Which one would you recommend I use as a thickener? Will they keep their integrity during and after the high heat canning process? Thank you.

  31. When in Argentina we had the pleasure of eating a homemade soy milk whipping at a vegan restaurant called Picnic . It was ……. whewwww…… sooo good. So I have just bought both the Redmill gums to begin my career of dessert chef (amateur). I will try to keep you posted for variations. Then on to the gluten free baking. Page bookmarked, check.

  32. Hi,

    I just bought some of Bob’s Red Mill Guar Gum because my husband suffers from postprandial hypotension (low blood pressure after eating). High carb meals particularly bring it on, due to the dilation of the blood vessels with increased insulin production. I read on medical websites that guar gum helps alleviate the condition.

    But my question is not medical. We want to sprinkle a teaspoon of guar gum into his morning breakfast cereal with milk, and wondered how that would affect the texture and flavor – will it thicken, if eaten cold, and will the guar gum make the cereal taste beany or bitter?

    • Hillary,

      That’s a great question and we don’t really know the answer. I would not imagine it would taste beany or bitter, but it could start thickening the cereal. You’ll have to let us know what you discover!

  33. How about of using Pasta…?

    xanthan gum or Guar gum smells good and at the same time tastes unbeatable.. This has become one of my favourites…I too wanted to know more about yummy recipies….If you can mail me…

  34. I realise this sounds a bit odd but how long does the gum remain edible when mixed with a liquid? ie: can the mixture go bad when wet mixed?

    • I don’t have a definitive answer for you, but a pretty long time, I think. It’s used in so many salad dressings and sauces that I have to think it has a pretty good shelf life.

  35. I want to use an heirloom ‘einkorn’ wheat flour. The protein in this wheat is weaker than modern wheat protein is. I am thinking that use of xanthan gum would assist the dough to rise more than it does without assistance. Is this a correct assumption? If so, do you have a suggestion as to how much xanthan gum to use per 6 1/2 cups of flour?

  36. Trying to use less syrup or honey to make my own granular bars, I find it pretty hard to make the ingredients stick together to form a bar. Some recipes suggest xanthan gum

    Any thought and recommendations (such as the amount used to make things stick based on a cup of oats and a cup of nuts, for example)? Thanks.

    • Hi George,

      That’s a new one for us. I’m not sure how much to use. Have you tried adding dates? That might work well in place honey or syrup. That’s really the base of Larabars. Otherwise, I’d start with 1 tsp per cup of ingredients and give it a go.

  37. I want to make some shakes and smoothies using only water/ice and artificial fruit flavorings. Will either adding xanthum or guar gum to the drink thicken it up, or would I need some other ingredient. Do either of those gums add any flavor at all?
    Thanks

  38. Hi Cassidy,

    I need to make gluten free lady locks and while I’ve never baked gluten free before, I’m hoping to get some guidance where to start. Lady locks, aka clothespin cookies, if you aren’t familiar, are similar to cream horns – they are a pastry wrapped around either a clothespin or a form – baked for 15 mins then filled with a buttercream filling. The ingredients for the pastry are just flour, water, egg, sugar, salt and then crisco which is added to the dough after rolling out and then it rest – 3x.

    Do I need to add either of the gums to this do you think?

    Thanks,
    Colette

    • Hi Colette,

      I’d recommend adding just a small amount of gum per cup of flour- no more than 3/4 tsp for the whole recipe. That should give it a little binding power and help keep your pastries from crumbling.

  39. Ann Saunders

    Xanthum gum, is that like nutra sweet or equal? The byproduct of bacteria , meaning the excrement of bacteria, used for it’s sweetness? Many have debilitating reactions to that!!!!!!

    • Ann,

      If you read the post, you’ll see that it is actually an outer coating on the bacteria and it is not used for its sweetness. Some people cannot digest it, but I it’s certainly not everyone.

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