What can I use instead of xanthan gum in bread?

Quick Answers

Xanthan gum is a popular ingredient in gluten-free bread recipes. It helps provide structure and a chewy texture. If you don’t have xanthan gum, some alternatives include:

  • Guar gum – Similar properties to xanthan gum
  • Psyllium husk powder – Absorbs water and provides thickness
  • Chia seeds – Form a gel when mixed with liquid
  • Flaxseed meal – Binds ingredients and adds fiber
  • Gelatin – Helps with moisture retention and structure
  • Extra eggs – Help bind and add moisture retention
  • Vital wheat gluten – Provides stretchiness and structure (not gluten-free)

The amounts will need to be adjusted from the xanthan gum amount in the original recipe. Start with small amounts and adjust as needed. Test for the right texture.

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is a popular food additive that is commonly used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier. It is made from fermenting glucose or sucrose with a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris. This fermentation process creates a gooey substance that can be dried and turned into a powder.

In bread baking, xanthan gum helps mimic the stretchy gluten found in wheat breads. Since gluten-free flours don’t contain gluten, xanthan gum helps give the bread structure, trapping air bubbles and resulting in a chewy texture. Just a small amount of xanthan gum can have a big effect.

Too much xanthan gum can result in a bread texture that is overly gummy. That’s why it’s important to use the right amount for the recipe you are making. Xanthan gum works synergistically with other ingredients in gluten-free bread.

Why Find Xanthan Gum Substitutes?

There are a few reasons you may want to find substitutes for xanthan gum:

  • You don’t have xanthan gum on hand – Making a substitution allows you to still bake your bread recipe.
  • Xanthan gum allergy/sensitivity – Some people have negative reactions to xanthan gum.
  • Avoid processed ingredients – Xanthan gum is a processed food additive that some people like to avoid.
  • Cost – Xanthan gum can be more expensive than some substitutes.

Using substitutes requires adjusting the amounts and possibly some trial and error. Get to know how the substitutes behave before swapping into your favorite recipes.

Guar Gum

Guar gum is made from the ground endosperm of guar beans. It is high in soluble fiber.

Guar gum is one of the closest alternatives for mimicking the properties of xanthan gum. It acts as a thickener and emulsion stabilizer.

Guar gum forms strong hydrogen bonds like xanthan gum does. This allows it to thicken liquids and help with moisture retention and texture.

Use about 25% less guar gum in place of xanthan gum. Guar gum has a stronger thickening power. Start with a small amount and add more as needed.

Guar gum may be easier to find than xanthan gum since it has other common uses. It can often be found near the baking goods in the supermarket.


  • Closely mimics xanthan gum
  • Improves moisture retention
  • Easy to find


  • Can make bread gummy if too much is used
  • Doesn’t stabilize as well at higher temperatures

Psyllium Husk Powder

Psyllium husk comes from the outer coating of psyllium seeds. It is a great source of soluble fiber.

When psyllium husks come in contact with water, they form a gel-like substance. This makes psyllium husk useful for providing thickness, moisture retention, and helping bind ingredients together.

Psyllium has more binding power than xanthan gum. Use about half the amount of psyllium husk powder as you would xanthan gum.

Since psyllium husks absorb a lot of water, be sure to account for extra liquid in your dough. Too much psyllium husk can make bread dense and rubbery.

You can find psyllium husk powder in the vitamin/supplement section or with other fiber supplements. It works well in combination with other xanthan gum substitutes.


  • Provides thickness and binds ingredients
  • Improves moisture retention
  • Adds fiber to bread


  • Can make dense bread if too much is used
  • Has a stronger flavor than xanthan gum

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are known to form a gel when mixed with liquid. This makes them useful to add thickness and moisture retention to bread dough.

Grind chia seeds to a powder before adding to bread. This allows them to blend in smoothly.

For every 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum, substitute 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. The ground seeds will absorb liquid, so you may need a tiny bit more liquid.

Chia gel is not as strong as xanthan gum for trapping air bubbles. Use chia seeds along with another substitute for best results.

Chia seeds add extra nutrition to bread with protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Look for chia seeds in the baking aisle or health food section.


  • Forms gel for moisture retention
  • Provides added nutrition
  • Easy to find


  • Doesn’t provide as much structure as xanthan gum
  • Needs to be ground finely

Flaxseed Meal

Flaxseed meal is made from ground flaxseeds. It acts as a binder in gluten-free bread recipes.

Substitute 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal for every 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

Flaxseeds are mucilaginous and retain moisture well. Flaxseed meal also adds fiber and nutrients to bread.

Since flaxseed meal absorbs liquid, you may need to slightly increase the amount of water in the dough.

Look for golden flaxseed meal as it has a milder flavor than brown flaxseed meal. You can find flaxseed meal in the baking aisle or with health foods.


  • Binds ingredients
  • Adds nutrition
  • Improves moisture retention


  • Doesn’t help with rising as well as xanthan gum
  • Can add a noticeable flavor


Gelatin is made by boiling collagen rich bones and tissues. It forms a matrix that thickens liquid.

Gelatin can improve moisture retention and add chewiness in gluten-free bread. Use about 1 teaspoon of gelatin per 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

Keep in mind that gelatin only sets when it cools. It won’t have much effect when added to hot liquid.

Gelatin works well when combined with other substitutes like psyllium husk powder or chia seeds. Unflavored gelatin can be found with baking ingredients or with JELL-O.


  • Helps retain moisture
  • Easy to find
  • Improves chewiness


  • Doesn’t hold air bubbles for rise
  • Must dissolve fully when heated


Eggs help provide structure, leavening, and moisture retention in baked goods. Extra eggs can help make up for some of the binding abilities lost when omitting xanthan gum.

Eggs contain lecithin which is an emulsifier. This helps bread retain moisture and develop volume.

For each teaspoon of xanthan gum, you can substitute in 1 extra egg. Egg yolks tend to work better than whites since they contain more fat and emulsifiers.

If your recipe already contains more than 2 eggs, take care adding too many more. Excess eggs can make bread chewy or spongy.


  • Help bind and leaven
  • Add moisture
  • Easy to use ingredient


  • Can cause dense or spongy texture if too many are used
  • Don’t mimic xanthan gum perfectly

Vital Wheat Gluten

Vital wheat gluten is a powder made from gluten proteins that have been rinsed of starch. It helps bread stretch and rise.

Vital wheat gluten contains 75-85% protein compared to regular flour which has 10-15% protein. All this extra gluten provides elasticity to dough.

Add about 1 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten for every 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum. It is essential to include a binder like eggs or psyllium husk powder too.

Note that vital wheat gluten contains gluten, so it is not suitable for gluten-free breads. It can be found in the baking aisle.


  • Provides stretch, structure and rise
  • Works well combined with other binders


  • Not gluten-free
  • Can make bread tough if too much is used

Combining Substitutes

Using xanthan gum alternatives works best when you combine a few different options together. Try to mimic the different properties of xanthan gum for the most success:

  • Thickening/binding – Ingredients like flaxseed, psyllium husk, chia seeds
  • Stretch and rise – Egg whites, wheat gluten, gelatin
  • Moisture retention – Eggs, gelatin, guar gum

Here are some examples of substitute combinations:

  • Psyllium husk powder + gelatin + egg
  • Chia seeds + guar gum + egg white
  • Flaxseed meal + wheat gluten + egg yolk

The exact amounts will depend on the original recipe. Start with small amounts of each substitute and adjust to the right consistency.

Tips for Replacing Xanthan Gum

Here are some top tips when substituting for xanthan gum:

  • Use about 25% less guar gum as xanthan gum
  • Try ground chia seeds or flaxseed meal for binding
  • Add moisture with eggs, yogurt, or gelatin
  • Boost rise with extra leavening or wheat gluten
  • Mix a few substitutes together for best results
  • Make adjustments to get the right dough consistency
  • Account for extra hydration from ingredients like psyllium

Start by substituting just a small amount of xanthan gum to see the effect. Take notes so you can replicate or adjust in the future.

Example Xanthan Gum Substitution in Bread

Here is an example of how you could substitute xanthan gum in a bread recipe:

Original Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Substituted Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp psyllium husk powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For this recipe, the xanthan gum is replaced with psyllium husk powder and ground chia seeds to act as binders. An extra egg is added for moisture and lift.

The amounts of substitutes can be adjusted to get the right dough consistency and bread texture. Play around with different substitute combinations in your recipes.

Finding the Best Substitute Combination

Finding the right substitute combination and amounts will take some experimentation. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Start with small amounts of substitutes and work up
  • Make one substitution at a time to understand effects
  • Adjust hydration and leavening agents as needed
  • Knead dough well to evenly distribute substitutes
  • Check bread texture and moistness when cooled
  • Take notes so you can replicate successes

Test out 1-2 options at a time in your existing recipes. Evaluate the aroma, taste, and texture when samples are cooled.

Be patient finding the right blend and ratios. Vary the substitutions and amounts until the bread matches what the original xanthan gum provided.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I just leave out the xanthan gum completely?

Xanthan gum provides important structure and moisture retention in gluten-free breads. Leaving it out completely would likely result in a bread that is very dense and crumbly. Using substitutes helps mimic xanthan gum so you achieve a better end product.

Do I have to combine multiple substitutes together?

It is recommended to use a combination of 2-3 substitutes to get the best results. No single ingredient can perfectly mimic everything xanthan gum does. Combining options like psyllium for binding, gelatin for moisture, and eggs for lift will provide a better bread texture.

Which substitute combinations work the best?

Some good combinations are psyllium husk with eggs, chia seeds with guar gum, and flaxseed with wheat gluten. Play around with different options tailored to your specific recipe. Getting the measurements right will take some trial and error.

Should I adjust the other ingredients when I substitute?

You may need to adjust the amount of liquid or leavening agent slightly. Substitutes like psyllium husk absorb more moisture, so you may need more water. Adding extra egg whites can allow slightly less yeast or baking powder. Make minor adjustments as needed for dough consistency.

Why does my bread turn out dense when substituting?

Using too much of ingredients like psyllium, chia seeds, and flax meal can make dense bread. Reduce the amounts and add a small amount of extra leavening agent if needed. Insufficient mixing can also result in dense spots. Knead the dough very well when substituting to evenly distribute ingredients.


Xanthan gum is a key ingredient in gluten-free bread recipes. Thankfully, there are a number of potential substitutes when you run out or want to avoid xanthan gum.

Guar gum makes the closest replacement, but other options like psyllium husk, chia seeds, flax meal, gelatin, and eggs can also fill in. Combining a few substitutes together helps mimic the different properties of xanthan gum.

Finding the right amounts of substitutes takes experimentation. Adjust liquid, leavening, and cook times as needed for the new ingredients. With some trial and error, you can successfully substitute for xanthan gum in your gluten-free bread recipes.

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