Guar Gum Powder vs. Xanthan Gum

Guar gum powder and xanthan gum are two of the most commonly used food additives and ingredients in gluten-free cooking and baking.

Guar Gum Powder vs. Xanthan Gum

They serve similar purposes as thickeners and emulsifiers, but have some key differences that impact how they perform in recipes.

Guar Gum Powder

Guar gum powder is extracted from the seeds of the guar plant, which is primarily grown in India and Pakistan. It is made by grinding the endosperm portion of the guar seed into a fine powder. Guar gum is a natural polysaccharide made up of galactose and mannose sugars.

Some key properties and uses of guar gum powder include:

  • Excellent water-binding abilities due to its high molecular weight
  • Effective thickener and emulsion stabilizer
  • Improves moisture retention in baked goods
  • Widely used in ice creams, pastry fillings, yogurt, salad dressings
  • Also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, paper, textiles, mining

Guar gum produces a smooth, creamy texture and is highly stable at low pH levels. It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for consumption.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide produced by fermenting sugar with a bacterium called Xanthomonas campestris. The fermented product is then dried and turned into a fine powder.

Notable properties and uses of xanthan gum:

  • Powerful thickening and stabilizing agent even at low concentrations
  • Creates highly viscous solutions and prevents separation of liquids
  • Withstands wide range of temperatures and pH levels
  • Used as emulsifier and thickener in sauces, salad dressings, meat products
  • Also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, oil drilling fluids

Xanthan gum can produce a slimy texture if too much is used. It is approved for food use but is not considered a natural additive.

Differences Between Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum

While guar gum and xanthan gum share some similar uses and properties, there are several key differences that impact their performance and applications:

Source and Production

  • Guar gum comes from a natural plant source, the guar bean, while xanthan gum is produced through bacterial fermentation.
  • Guar gum production involves mechanical processing of the bean seeds. Xanthan gum requires a multi-step laboratory fermentation process.

Chemical Structure

  • Guar gum has a higher molecular weight compared to xanthan gum.
  • The structure of guar gum is susceptible to breakdown at high or low pH levels. Xanthan gum is more stable across a wide pH range.

Solubility and Viscosity

  • Guar gum is soluble in cold water while xanthan gum requires heat to dissolve fully.
  • Xanthan gum solutions have a higher viscosity at lower concentrations compared to guar gum.
  • Guar gum loses viscosity at high temperatures needed for baking. Xanthan gum retains viscosity better when heated.

Interactions and Compatibility

  • Guar gum demonstrates good synergy when blended with xanthan gum. Combining the two can provide improved texture and stability.
  • Guar gum lose effectiveness when used with citrus juices or vinegars due to the low pH. Xanthan gum is not impacted by acidic ingredients.
  • Guar gum is compatible with calcium-rich dairy products. Xanthan gum can become stringy in yogurt or milk.

Taste and Mouthfeel

  • Guar gum has a more neutral taste compared to xanthan gum. The bean source gives it a slightly beany or earthy flavor.
  • Xanthan gum can impart a slippery, slimy mouthfeel when used in large amounts. Guar gum provides a richer, creamier texture.


  • Guar gum is more affordable than xanthan gum. The average price of guar gum is $1-3 per pound compared to $5-8 per pound for xanthan.

Applications of Guar Gum vs. Xanthan Gum

Based on their different properties, guar gum and xanthan gum each work better for certain recipes and food products:

Baked Goods

Xanthan gum is preferred for gluten-free breads as it provides elasticity similar to gluten for the yeast to inflate bubbles and give a better rise. Guar gum does not perform as well in baked bread products.

For cakes, cookies, and pancakes, guar gum produces a more tender, moist crumb while xanthan can create a gummy texture. Using a blend provides both lift and softness.

Dairy Products

Guar gum is the better choice for yogurt and ice cream as it keeps milk proteins suspended evenly for a creamy look and feel. Excess xanthan gum can make dairy slimy.

Sauces and Dressings

Xanthan gum is ideal for emulsifying and thickening salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. It stabilizes the mixture of oil and water while producing a rich texture. Guar gum tends to thin out in acidic ingredients.

Frozen Desserts

Guar gum is commonly used in commercial ice cream as it lowers the freezing temperature to create a smoother, easier to scoop product. Xanthan gum is not as effective for slowing ice crystal formation.

Gluten-Free Flours

A small amount of xanthan gum is often added to gluten-free flour mixes to replicate the binding and moisture retention abilities of gluten. Guar gum does not provide the stretchy texture needed.

Choosing the Right Gum for Your Recipe

When deciding between guar gum vs xanthan gum for your recipe, consider these factors:

  • Acidity level - guar gum loses potency at low pH
  • Heating methods - xanthan holds up better to high baking temperatures
  • Presence of dairy - guar gum works better with milk and yogurt
  • Desired texture - xanthan gum makes a slightly slimier gel
  • Budget - guar gum is more affordable

For most recipes, you can swap guar gum and xanthan gum measures at a 1:1 ratio. However, the results may vary depending on the food chemistry and ingredients involved.

Many gluten-free cooks keep both guar gum and xanthan gum on hand in their pantry to combine as needed for different recipes. Start by using small amounts - 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour - then adjust according to the texture produced.

Key Takeaway: Guar gum and xanthan gum have distinct properties that make each better suited for certain recipes and food products. Consider the chemistry involved when deciding which to use.


Is guar gum or xanthan gum better for keto recipes?

Guar gum is the better choice for keto recipes as it contains fewer net carbs per serving compared to xanthan gum. Guar gum also has a higher amount of fiber.

Can guar gum be used as a substitute for cornstarch?

Yes, guar gum can replace cornstarch as a thickener in recipes. Use about 1/3 the amount of guar gum as the cornstarch measurement. Guar gum will produce a thicker texture.

Do guar gum and xanthan gum contain gluten?

No, both guar gum and xanthan gum are gluten-free even though xanthan is sometimes made from corn. They are safe alternatives for gluten-sensitive diets.

Which is healthier, guar gum or xanthan gum?

Guar gum is considered the healthier option because it comes from a natural source while xanthan gum is highly processed. Guar gum also provides dietary fiber, but excessive amounts may cause digestive issues.

Can you use too much guar gum or xanthan gum?

Yes, using excessive amounts of either gum can lead to undesirable results. Too much guar gum yields a gritty or snotty texture. Too much xanthan gum produces a slippery, gummy or slimy consistency. Start with small amounts and add more as needed.


While they serve similar purposes as food thickeners and stabilizers, guar gum and xanthan gum have distinct differences in terms of their sources, chemistry, functionality, and applications.

Guar gum offers a more neutral taste and creamier texture, while xanthan gum provides greater heat resistance and acid stability. Xanthan gum is also more effective at mimicking the abilities of gluten for baking.

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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