Functional ingredients can be unforgiving at times. If you haven’t done your research or don’t have a good starting recipe. It can be really difficult to nail a recipe on the first try. I’m talking about a special functional ingredient that is supposedly a miracle ingredient. Xanthan gum is an ingredient that we get asked about a lot. Xanthan gum is easy to use and becoming more readily available. There are time that a recipe can just feel… off when using xanthan gum. So we commonly get asked, is there a way to swap xanthan gum for another ingredient and get the same results? Let’s cover some basic tips that will help you swap out xanthan gum for other functional ingredients.
“How can I replace xanthan gum in my recipe?”
All Gums are Not Created Equal
We will just be covering Xanthan gum in this article since attempting to untangle the large web of thickeners would be too much for one article. The first thing you must ask yourself is; Am I trying to replicate or improve my current recipe? Let’s say you like how xanthan gum works but can’t seem to get your hands on it. To replicate the effects of Xanthan gum you will need to discover what it is you like about the ingredients properties. In an effort to replace Xanthan gum where you may use it to perform a certain function, this will require more work.
From experience xanthan gum is going to be most people’s current thickener. Xanthan gum is great in very low quantities but can have some issues when used at higher ratios. If you needed to replace Xanthan gum you could but it will require some testing and understanding. What can you replace Xanthan gum with that will give you the same effects?
This is where we run into issues, because people assume each gum/thickener acts the same way. In reality none of them are an exact match. Guar gum is the most common replacement that people switch to but here is the issue, their texture and usage ratio are very different. Xanthan creates a very unique texture and is potent. In recipes that use low ratios it can be replaced with many different gums/thickeners to get similar viscosity. 0.05-0.35% of xanthan gum is the equivalent of ~2-5 times that of other gums. Now as we reach the higher ratios, as used in gluten free baked goods. Replacing the Xanthan gum can be incredibly difficult.
Xanthan gum provides a huge structural improvement to gluten free dough. In this case we are going from a mild thickener to a structural component. Most other gums won’t give any improvement to the structure of a dough. In this case we have found another gum that will improve this in these instances. I’m Free Perfect Gluten Replacement is a 1:1 replacement for xanthan gum in gluten free recipes. It’s a type of methylcellulose and works in a similar way with an improved mouthfeel. I wanted to bring this up because ingredients that are used for replacement will have it listed on the label. On top of that a 1:1 replacement for any gum is difficult as I stated before. So the best course of action is to test in small batches until you find the proper amount for your recipe. Check out our helpful usage chart to see if you are in the proper usage ratio range for the ingredient you have chosen.
When looking to improve a recipe this can be a little easier. Most gums are used in low ratios and can be swapped out until you find what you are looking for. Now of course that’s not a luxury we all have. Not all of us can buy every gum and test dozens of batches until we have the most perfect recipe. So many of us turn to message boards and internet searches to help with the quest for recipe perfection. What I suggest doing is look at the recipe and see what the ingredient brings to the table. If an ingredient is a bit too slick (slimy) and you want it to be creamy this is an easy fix. Different gums have different textural properties. Tara gum has a smooth texture that people find ideal for ice creams. This can easily replace xanthan gum. Once again stick within the usage ratios and you should be able to find the correct texture you are looking for.
When you are in need of a replacement or an upgrade there are many products to help you. It’s all about knowing which one to choose. So until next time, keep cooking.
Check out this helpful chart to get more information on ratios, recommended uses, and more!