Tylo Powder Substitutes

Tylo powder, also known as CMC powder, is a versatile ingredient used in cake decorating and confections to help gum paste, fondant, and sugar paste achieve a smooth texture and dry consistency for molding intricate shapes and figures.

Tylo Powder Substitutes

What Is Tylo Powder and Its Uses?

Tylo powder, also referred to as CMC powder, is the brand name for carboxymethylcellulose (CMC), a versatile food additive derived from cellulose. It has a fine, white powdery texture.

CMC is valued in sugarcraft and cake decoration for its gelling and thickening properties. When added to ingredients like fondant, gum paste, and sugar paste, tylo powder binds moisture to create a smooth, elastic texture that firms up quickly.

This enables bakers and sugar artists to make intricate decorations that hold their shape through handling and drying without deforming easily. Common uses for tylo-enhanced sugarpaste include:

  • Molded figures and figurines - Tylo creates firm, pliable fondant for shaping detailed figures that retain fine features without drooping.
  • Flowers - The elasticity provided by tylo allows thin sugar petals to be shaped without tearing or losing form.
  • Cut-outs and accents - Tylo provides sturdiness to shaped fondant pieces for cake decor and toppers.
  • Pastillage - Added tylo gives the crisp, snappy texture needed in pastillage for sugar showpieces.

Tylo powder also has excellent adhesive properties. When mixed with water, it can be used as edible glue to join fondant pieces and attach decorations to cakes.

Its neutral taste and appearance make tylo an ideal choice for achieving flawless textures and shapes without distorting flavors.

Why Substitute Tylo Powder?

While tylo powder is beloved by cake artists and confectioners for its versatility, there are times when a substitution is necessary:

  • Availability - Tylo powder can be difficult to source depending on region and must often be ordered online. Substitutes can provide more accessible options.
  • Affordability - Pure tylo powder is relatively expensive. Alternative ingredients offer cost-saving options.
  • Dietary restrictions - Tylo powder may contain traces of potential allergens like gluten, nuts, and dairy. Substitutes accommodate more dietary needs.
  • Desired effects - Alternative ingredients provide unique properties that may be better suited for some recipes and techniques.
  • Flavor - Some substitutes like gum tragacanth have a subtle flavor that may enhance certain pastes.

Substituting gives bakers flexibility when tylo powder is impractical or unsuitable. With the right ingredients and adjustments, excellent results are still achievable.

Tylo Powder Substitutes

Many handy ingredient substitutes can mimic the firming, stabilizing, and smoothing effects of tylo powder for your cake decorating needs. Here are some of the most popular options:

CMC Powder

CMC powder is the direct alternative to tylo powder, as tylo is a brand name for CMC. They are identical products.

CMC stands for carboxymethylcellulose, the key ingredient in tylo powder. Replacing tylo with CMC powder gives virtually the same results.

CMC is produced by modifying cellulose with carboxymethyl groups. Like tylo powder, CMC binds moisture, provides elasticity, and dries quickly when added to sugarpaste.

CMC powder can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a seamless sub for tylo powder in any recipe.

Gum Tragacanth

Gum tragacanth is a natural gum obtained from the sap of legume shrubs native to the Middle East. It contains polysaccharides that provide thickening and gelling effects.

It shares many structuring properties with tylo powder and makes an excellent substitute in cake decorating uses:

  • Adds strength, elasticity, and pliability to fondant and gum paste.
  • Smoothes and firms sugar paste mixtures.
  • Sets and dries rigidly to hold shapes in decorations.
  • Functions as a binder when mixed with water for edible glue.

Gum tragacanth requires longer drying time compared to tylo powder. Using 1 teaspoon per 500g fondant provides a good substitution ratio.

Gum Arabic

Gum arabic is another plant-derived gum that can successfully stand in for tylo powder. It is extracted from acacia trees and contains an emulsifying polysaccharide compound.

It helps fondant and gum paste achieve a smooth, pliable texture for molding and shaping decor elements. Gum arabic improves elasticity and binds moisture like tylo powder.

However, it may not dry and harden as rigidly as tylo powder or gum tragacanth. Using a 1:1 ratio provides a starting point when substituting with gum arabic.


A common household ingredient, cornstarch serves as a handy substitute in a pinch. Made from corn, cornstarch contains starch that provides thickening power.

When mixed with fondant, cornstarch binds moisture to firm and harden the texture. This allows molded shapes to hold their form better.

About 1-2 teaspoons per 500g fondant provides adequate firming. Cornstarch dries faster than tylo powder, so monitor fondant carefully to avoid over-drying.


Gelatin is an animal-based protein derived from collagen. When added to water, it forms a thick gel that provides excellent binding and moisture retention.

In cake decorating, gelatin mimics tylo powder's gelling properties to give fondant and gum paste more structure and stability.

Keep in mind that gelatin is not vegetarian, while tylo powder is vegan-friendly. Use sparingly, about 1 teaspoon per 500g, as it thickens more aggressively than tylo powder.

Xanthan Gum

A popular food additive, xanthan gum is produced by fermenting sugars. It is loved in gluten-free baking for its ability to mimic the elasticity of gluten and bind moisture.

The same properties make xanthan gum a suitable stand-in for tylo powder in stabilizing fondant and gum paste mixtures. It helps prevent tears and drooping when shaping decor pieces.

Xanthan gum is often easier to find than specialty tylo powder. Use approximately 1 teaspoon per 500g fondant as a starting point.


Gum-tex is a commercial product made from plant-derived karaya gum. It shares the moisture retention and adhesiveness of tylo powder.

Adding gum-tex to fondant or gum paste recipes allows easy molding and shaping while providing precision and stability in the finished decorations.

Gum-tex improves pliability without becoming overly sticky. It can be substituted 1:1 for tylo powder in recipes.

Meringue Powder

Meringue powder, made from pasteurized egg whites, can provide some of the thickening and moisture retention of tylo powder when alternatives are scarce.

Because meringue powder eventually dries crisp, it works best for decorations that need to be sturdy but not excessively hard.

Use approximately 1/2 - 1 teaspoon per 500g fondant as a starting point when substituting with meringue powder.

Other Substitutes

Some other ingredients that can potentially stand in for tylo powder due to their adhesive, gelling, or thickening capacities include:

However, these alternatives' availability, cost-effectiveness, taste impact, and setting qualities vary. Specific adjustments may be required to achieve the ideal texture.

Using Tylo Powder Substitutes

While the above ingredients can generally mimic tylo powder's effects, using substitutes requires a careful approach:

Ratios and Recipes

  • Start with smaller amounts - Substitutes often set faster and firmer, so begin with less than the tylo powder amount and increase gradually if needed.
  • Adjust ratios - The level of moisture binding can vary between substitutes, requiring more or less per fondant amount to achieve the desired texture.
  • Note drying times - Substitutes set and dry at different rates, some faster than tylo powder. Allow time for any substitute to take full effect.
  • Avoid overmixing - Once a substitute firms up fondant, handle gently to prevent over-stiffening.
  • Follow recipes - When using an unfamiliar substitute, consult specialized recipes for quantities suited to that ingredient.

Technique Adjustments

  • Knead thoroughly - Ensure substitutes are evenly incorporated for smooth, consistent fondant.
  • Work swiftly - Many substitutes begin drying quickly, so mold shapes faster than with tylo powder.
  • Allow longer drying - Substitutes like gum tragacanth take more time to set fully. Be patient for decorations to harden before detailing.
  • Store fondant properly - Wrap and seal modified fondant well to prevent drying out between uses.
  • Consider环境 - In very humid or dry climates, the amount of substitute needed may vary.

With practice and observation, you can master the nuances of working with different tylo powder alternatives.

Pros and Cons of Common Substitutes

Not all tylo powder swaps are created equal. Here is a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages associated with some popular options:

CMC Powder

  • Pros:
    • Identical results to tylo powder.
    • Easy 1:1 substitution ratio.
    • Provides optimal texture.
  • Cons:
    • Can be tricky to source affordably.
    • Contains potential allergens.

Gum Tragacanth

  • Pros:
    • All-natural gum with subtle sweetness.
    • Sets rigidly to hold shape.
    • Improves elasticity well.
  • Cons:
    • Longer drying time.
    • Slightly more expensive.

Gum Arabic

  • Pros:
    • Plant-derived and vegan.
    • Binds moisture and smooths fondant well.
  • Cons:
    • May not dry as stiffly as tylo powder.
    • Can create tacky textures if overused.


  • Pros:
    • Common household item.
    • Provides good stiffening effect.
    • Dries fondant rapidly.
  • Cons:
    • Not as strong as tylo powder.
    • Can over-dry fondant if overused.


  • Pros:
    • Excellent moisture retention.
    • Sets fondant very firmly.
  • Cons:
    • Not suitable for vegetarian diets.
    • Can congeal fondant if excess is used.

Finding the Best Tylo Substitute for Your Needs

With an array of possibilities, choosing the right tylo powder alternative depends on factors like:

  • Availability - What can you conveniently and affordably source?
  • Recipe needs - Does the application require slow or fast drying? Maximum elasticity? Neutral flavor?
  • Cost - How much does ingredient quantity and quality matter?
  • Dietary needs - Are vegetarian/vegan/kosher options required?
  • Environment - Will high humidity or heat impact drying and setting?
  • Personal preference - Does a natural or artificial additive fit your style better?

Weigh your criteria, sample substitutes in small batches, and take notes on performance. With informed experimentation, you can discover your perfect tylo powder understudy.

Key Takeaway: Compare substitutes based on availability, cost, drying time, dietary factors, climate, and suitability to your decorating needs.

While tylo powder may be the gold standard, skilled sugar artists can craft stunning edible art with alternative ingredients. Understanding the spectrum of tylo powder substitutes equips you with options to elevate your cake decorating anywhere, anytime.


Can I use cornstarch instead of tylo powder?

Yes, cornstarch can substitute for tylo powder as an accessible pantry staple. It stiffens and dries fondant effectively. However, it may produce a texture that is not as smooth or flexible as tylo powder.

What can I use if I don't have gum tragacanth?

Gum arabic makes a good alternative to gum tragacanth, as it provides similar binding, moisture retention, and flexibility. Xanthan gum or small amounts of gelatin also mimic some of its effects.

Does gum-tex work the same as tylo powder?

Gum-tex contains similar gelling and adhesive polysaccharides as tylo powder. It can be substituted 1:1 in fondant recipes to provide improved elasticity and pliability for shaping decorations.

Can I use gelatin instead of tylo powder for fondant?

Yes, gelatin creates a firm gel that helps stabilize and harden fondant. However, it sets faster than tylo powder. Use sparingly, about 1 tsp per 500g fondant, reducing any liquid in the recipe to avoid over-stiffening.

Is agar a good vegan substitute for tylo powder?

Agar, made from seaweed, can provide a vegan alternative to tylo powder thanks to its gelling properties. It may create a more brittle texture compared to tylo powder’s flexibility when used in fondant. Adjust ratios as needed.


Tylo powder undoubtedly provides superior texture, pliability, and adhesive properties that elevate cake and confection decorating. However, a lack of access or suitability doesn’t have to stall creativity.

With a well-stocked pantry, specialty shopping, and thoughtful testing, tylo powder can be successfully substituted to make flawless fondant flowers, life-like figurines, and intricately decorated sweets.

Products like CMC powder, gum tragacanth, and gum arabic offer the most seamless alternative thanks to their similar composition and gelling traits. Household ingredients like cornstarch and gelatin also produce adequate mimicry in a pinch.

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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