Extra Helpings: Xanthan Gum


Florence asks: I’ve started baking gluten-free and a lot of recipes (including yours!) call for something called Xanthan gum. What is it and why do I need it… I don’t want more chemicals in my food!


No one wants more chemicals in their food, so I totally hear you. But Florence, Xanthan gum is not a chemical! It’s made by fermenting corn sugar with a tiny bacterial microorganism called (are you ready?) Xanthomonas campestris. It’s a completely natural carbohydrate.

Xanthan gum adds volume and viscosity to your gluten-free baking… in other words, it makes your dough sticky. Big food companies have been using it for years as an emulsifier and thickener.

I’m sure you’ve considered leaving it out, since it doesn’t seem like it’ll be easy to find in the supermarket. Well, if you are going to start baking gluten-free, and you want great results… find it and use it.

Actually, it is a lot easier to get these days than it was even a year ago. Bob’s Red Mill has it in half-pound bags… more than enough for a month’s worth of baking because a little bit goes a long way! You can usually find it on the ever-expanding gluten-free aisle or with the speciality flours.

One thing to keep in mind… Xanthan gum can be made from fermenting wheat and soy (as well as corn), so if you’re trying to be Gluten-Free… read the label!



I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com