Role of Xanthan Gum in Vegan Baking

by Teresa Bergen

Xanthan gum is one of those ingredients that stumps label-reading consumers. It pops up in a range of products, from ice cream to salad dressing. In vegan baking, xanthan gum, combined with other ingredients, make up an egg replacer. Xanthan gum is more important in gluten-free baking, as it imitates the role of gluten by giving dough viscosity and elasticity.

About Xanthan Gum

If you wanted to make xanthan gum, you’d allow a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris to ferment on sugar. This forms a gel, which you would dry and mill into powder. Scientists classify xanthan gum as a polysaccharide, otherwise known as a long string of sugars. One tablespoon of the powder contains 30 calories.

Replace Those Eggs

To veganize a recipe, you can replace eggs with this alternative containing xanthan gum. To replace two eggs, sift together 1 tablespoon of corn or tapioca starch, 1 tablespoon of potato starch, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon of xanthan gum. Pour in 1/2 cup water and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Whisk until frothy and well blended. This substitution works in cakes and muffins.

The Xanthan Advantage

Using this egg replacer made with xanthan gum results in moist baked goods. And it has the advantage of not altering the flavor of cookies. Many vegan bakers have regretted adding a banana to a recipe, replacing the egg but introducing an unwanted flavor. Flax seeds, another common egg replacer, can impart a nutty flavor you don’t want in delicate cakes and pastries.


Always add xanthan gum to your dry ingredients because it doesn’t mix well with water. If you’re experimenting with alternative flours other than wheat, you’ll only need a little xanthan gum to get that chewy quality. For example, add 1/3 teaspoon xanthan gum to 1 1/2 cups almond flour and 1 1/2 cups potato starch.

About the Author

Teresa Bergen writes about fitness, health, yoga, travel and the arts. She is the author of "Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide" and has written hundreds of articles for publications online and off. Bergen also teaches yoga, spinning and group fitness classes, and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.

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