How to Make Substitutions for Xanthan Gum in Baking

For the majority of people within the gluten-free baking community, xanthan gum is the holy grail of baking. It’s easily the most popular binding agent and most gluten-free recipes feature it as a crucial ingredient.

However, recently, there has been some controversy surrounding xanthan gum as it appears to cause allergy-like symptoms in certain individuals. Add that to the fact that it’s highly processed, its use is being viewed as contradictory to the healthy and holistic approach that is sometimes embraced by gluten-free bakers.

So it leaves us with a problem or perhaps a challenge. Are there alternatives to xanthan and if so, how can you use them in your baking to perhaps avoid the negative health effects that using xanthan may bring? Here are some alternatives and how to use them to substitute for xanthan gum in recipes.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are an excellent binding agent and can absorb up to 12 times their own weight in water. They form a gel-like substance which improves the consistency of dough and locks in moisture when baking breads, pastries and cakes.

They can be ground, although this is not necessary for the binding effect to take place. Chia seeds are also extremely high in fiber and can have a laxative effect. They are popular replacements for xanthan gum because while they have a nutty flavor, it’s mild and tends not to interfere with the flavor of the baked goods they are added to.

Substituting xanthan for these is simple as you use a 1:1 ratio. Just use the same amount of chia (in weight) as you would xanthan and you’re all set!

Psyllium Husk

Psyllium husk or psyllium fibre is a relatively new binding agent which is typically used as a xanthan substitute in breads. It has been scientifically proven to improve the structure of gluten-free dough and improve the texture, volume and rising of gluten free baked bread.

It is typically found as a dietary fibre supplement in most health stores and is used by athletes to lower cholesterol. A 5% psyllium fibre flour mix is best for baking breads (1 part psyllium to 19 parts of flour).

Konjac Powder

Also known as Glucomannan powder, Konjac powder is ground up konjac root which has been used in Asia as a dietary fiber for several hundreds of years. Like Psyllium fiber, it is used as a supplementary source of fiber as well as a thickener.

Its high fiber content lends it numerous health benefits which include the reduction of blood cholesterol and a lower bowel cancer risk. It also helps control blood sugar levels but its binding properties are most relevant for our purposes.

When used in baking, you can use the same amount of Konjac powder as you would xanthan gum (1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour for cakes and breads). For other baked goods like flatbreads or tortillas, you can increase the amount of Konjac you use to ¾ teaspoon per cup of four to get the desired consistency.

Flax Seeds

Flaxseeds are extremely popular in baking and also as a health supplement (flaxseed oil). They are a great binding agent and are easily found (because of their popularity). On top of all this, they are cheap to buy!

In their natural form, flaxseeds are not very useful as a binding agent. They have to be ground first and then mixed with hot water. The water has to be boiled first and then mixed with the flax to form a gel like paste known as ‘slurry’ which is then added to gluten free flour for baking breads and cakes.

For substitution, use the same weight of ground flax as you would xanthan gum. Then mix it in twice the amount of water (2 tbsp of ground flax mixed with 4 tbsp of hot boiling water).

Agar Agar

Agar Agar is a seaweed derivative which acts as a stabilizer, thickener and binding agent. It, like the other above mentioned agents, forms a gel-like paste when mixed with water. It is a popular vegan alternative to gelatin (another binding agent derived from animals) with excellent moisture retention properties.

It makes dough stretchy and elastic while making breads chewier. It’s recommended that you exercise restraint when using agar agar as it can retain so much moisture that breads and cakes end up soggy.

It’s worth noting that agar agar can be fairly pricey and a little difficult to find locally, so the internet is usually the best place to go. That said, it works a treat in baking because it has no odor, color or taste.

Agar agar is 80% fiber so it CAN have a laxative effect if too much is used. To use agar, you need to dissolve it in water first. Once it’s dissolved, you need to boil it (1-5 minutes for powder and 10-15 minutes for flakes).

So there are five great substitutes for xanthan gum that you can try out when you want an alternative to xanthan gum.

Next head over to 5 Alternatives to Xanthan gum and Guar gum in Gluten-Free Baking for more in-depth information about replacing gums in your baking. 

Instant Access to NEVER-Been-Published Gluten Free Bread Recipes!

Get these recipes and more for FREE just by joining our mailing list.

These yummy recipes are reserved for subscribers-only, they aren't found anywhere on the website!

Your email is totally private - never shared, rented or given out to anyone, at any time.

Print Friendly
Please share!Share on FacebookPin on PinterestGoogle+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Reddit
The following two tabs change content below.

Chrissy Lane

Gluten free living doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to light and fluffy breads and rolls. My gluten free bread recipes, tips and techniques will result in delicious, mouthwatering baked goods every time!

20 thoughts on “How to Make Substitutions for Xanthan Gum in Baking

  1. Heidi says:

    I was just reading the information on substituting xanthan with ground flax seed. It says to use the same weight in flax seed as you would xanthan and make a slurry by mixing with twice the amount of hot boiled water. Two questions 1) most recipes don’t use measurements of weight so are we talking a 1:1 ratio? and 2) the example was 2TBS flax seed mixed with 5 TBS hot boiling water. Doubling 2 should be 4. What am I missing? Any help would be appreciated!!

  2. Chrissy Lane says:

    Hi Heidi,

    Thanks for the questions!

    Yes, that is a 1:1 ratio, so whatever the recipe calls for for xanthan gum, you could use flax seeds.

    And then for when you mix it with the boiling water, as a general rule, it is ‘doubling the boiling water’, so you’re right – need to correct that 5 Tbsp, to 4 Tbsp. A little extra water is not a big deal though.

    What is a big thing to keep in mind with these seeds is that they need to be ground very fine, to a powder, really, otherwise you risk having a seedy taste in your end result.

    Hope that answers your questions!

  3. Heidi says:

    Thank you so much for your response! It is a great help as I am new to gluten free cooking. It is challenging and I am finding that some of the ingredients are costly so it helps that I can use a less expensive substitute!

  4. Chrissy Lane says:


    Yeah, the cost of some of these ingredients can get pretty high. We’ll try to come up some tips for curbing the cost.

    Thank U for the questions!

  5. Sarah says:

    Thank you SO much for your posts on substitutes for xanthan and guar gum. I am the first in my family that is gluten free and we’ve been finding it rather difficult to find things for me to eat (I’ve had salad for dinner almost every night for the past week) and our budget is tight so we can’t afford some of the pricey ingredients. It’s super nice to know there is a cheaper alternative!

  6. Chrissy Lane says:

    Hi Sarah,


    So glad you enjoyed it AND found it helpful!

    Thank u for the kind words!

  7. Patty says:

    I don’t have xanthan gum and I was going to use chia seeds that I do have. It says to use 1:1 ratio in weight. Chia seeds as you know are extremely light weight but I have no idea how heavy xanthan gum is so I have no way to determine how much chia seeds I need to equal 2 teaspoons of xanthan gum. I love these substitutes but they would be easier to exchange them if you gave the exchanges in ways other than weight. Also, since chia seeds double their size would you need more liquid?
    Thank you for your help.

  8. Chrissy Lane says:

    Hi Patty,

    This does need some clarifying – so what you would do is take 1 tablespoon of your ground chia seeds and mix it with 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Let that mixture sit for 15 minutes or until it becomes gel-like.

    Then measure out how much you need to replace the xanthan gum on a 1:1 basis. So like 2 teaspoons of xanthan equals 2 teaspoons of chia mixture.

    Does that make sense?

  9. Lisi Sanabria says:

    OMG! This site is amazing! You are wonderful, thank you all so much for what you are doing here, for the rest of us strugling with the gluten free life; sharing free information, recipes, advise And much more.
    I live outside the US in a third world country, so for me is specially hard to find all the ingredientes And flours; not to mention the pricey they get in the “specialty ” stores. Lately I wasn’t able to bake me some goods, because they didn’t have the xantan gum. But we are blessed with chia and flax seeds available at the local markets; at a fair price. I am very happy right now, thank you, thank you!

  10. Rebekah says:

    I prefer to use Glucomannan powder instead of xanthan gum but I don’t know what the ratio is for substitution. The recipe I’m looking at calls for 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum. Any thoughts on how much Glucomannan powder? I could use psyllium husk but I don’t know the ratio for that either. Can you help?

  11. Chrissy Lane says:

    Hi Rebekah,

    With Glucomannan powder, I would definitely start small – maybe use 1/4 tsp.

    For the psyllium husk, use 1 tsp. to one cup of gluten free flour.

    Hope this helps!

  12. Lynn says:

    How should I mix in the chia seed/water mixture into my mix? I tried stirring it into the water as I figured it needed to be mixed in well. My bread turned out flat/sunken in and very dense. Not good. Also, how to get it evenly distributed in the dough? It’s not yeast which is live and will grow throughout the entire dough and rise it. I appreciate it when a concept/idea of a way of doing something is explained all the way thru, in this case how to mix it in would be very much appreciated. Vegan, non-gluten, and almost medication free due to diet…..(off 4 meds!)

  13. C.J. Brady says:

    Hi Lynn,

    Thanks for your comment!

    With the chia seeds, you would mix them first with the water – so use 1 tbls. of chia seeds and 2 tbls. boiling water. Mix and let it sit until the mixture becomes a gel consistency. Then add it into your recipe.

    Hope that helps!

  14. Seth says:

    1:1replacement with Guatemala gum works well too

  15. Wendy says:

    What is the ratio of xanthan gum to ener g egg replacer? I will be using the egg replacer as a binder for my vegan patties. Thank you

  16. Patricia says:

    This is such a helpful site. Just the kind of information I’ve been looking for.
    I am making spreadable vegan butter and the recipe calls for 1/4 tsp of xanthum gum. I have agar agar powder and flakes. How much of either should I use to replace the xanthum gum?

  17. C.J. Brady says:

    Hi Patricia,

    Glad you enjoy it!

    To answer your question, you would double the amount of the agar agar powder in place of xanthan gum. So try 1/2 tsp. of agar agar powder.

    Thanks again for the kind words!

  18. Linda says:

    I put xanthan gum in my home made raw milk ice cream to make it creamier. My husband complained that my homemade ice cream wasn’t as creamy as the store bought, and I found a suggestion on someone’s blog to use xanthan gum…which DOES work. But, if there is a better substitute I would much rather use it. Which substitute would you suggest. Thank you for this website…good stuff in it :-)

  19. Dee says:

    You can buy Agar-Agar VERY inexpensively in Asian markets like Ranch-99, and Indian stores. Any place you have people from Vietnam and other parts of Asia live there are Asian markets. These are very inexpensive. It’s used in ‘coconut jello’ and other deserts in Vietnam and other parts of Asia.

  20. kari says:

    HI there, have enjoyed these comments. I’m trying to convert one of my mother’s yeast roll recipes to gluten free and I’m wondering what the ratio of agar agar would be to replace the Xanthan gum? Does it also need to be in boiling water and then added?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *