Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum is used in baking for its thickening and stabilizing properties.

Xanthan Gum

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum, also called xanthan, is a polysaccharide water-soluble gum used for its thickening and stabilizing properties. It is a viscosity builder, humectant and  textural enhancer. It binds to more water to create a moister product.


Xanthan gum is produced by a bacteria, called Xanthomonas campestris. When the bacterial fermentation is accomplished, the liquid is pasteurized to kill the organisms, and the gum is recovered by the precipitation with isopropanol or ethanol.1


  • Soluble in both cold and hot water
  • High viscosity at low concentrations
  • Highly pseudoplastic
  • Soluble and stable in acidic systems
  • Solution viscosity stable from 0 to >100 oC, even at low Ph
  • Compatible with high concentrations of salt (stable in high-salt systems)
  • A high degree of solution pseudoplasticity (a rheological property that makes it ideal for stabilizing emulsions and suspensions)
  • A Newtonian plateau at low shear
  • Resistant to action of enzymes found in food systems
  • Synergetic interactions with k-carrageenan and locust bean gum and, to a lesser extent, with guar gum
  • Good freeze-thaw stability


Xanthan is widely used as a food gum. It has high viscosities in comparison with most other polysaccharide solutions. It is used more extensively than any polysaccharide other than starch because of its unique and useful properties.

Xanthan gum has many useful properties like emulsifying (for creams and frostings), thickening (for pies), water retention (frozen dough), increasing viscosity (gluten-free products and wheat bread with bran), and reducing water activity (pies and cakes).

In cake and related mixes, xanthan provides recipe tolerance, an increase in cake volume, and moisture retention.1 However, use of too much xanthan flour-based systems may result in denseness, gumminess, graininess, or other undesirable changes in texture.1 Use levels in dry mixes are typically less than 0.1% (finished formulation weight).1

In gluten-free systems, Xanthan gum can increase product viscosity and gas retention properties.2 It also has positive effect on bread crumb color during storage.2 Its usage in gluten-free systems is usually lower than 1%.

FDA regulation

Xanthan gum may be safety used in food if it meets the prescribed conditions, regulated by FDA in the article 21CFR172.695.3


  1. BeMiller, J. N. “Chapter 10 Xanthan.” Carbohydrate Chemistry for Food Scientists , 2nd ed., AACC International Inc., 2007, pp. 263–270.
  2. Naji-Tabasi, S., and M. Mohebbi. “Evaluation of cress seed gum and xanthan gum effect on macrostructure properties of gluten-free bread by image processing.” Journal of Food Measurement and Characterization, vol. 9, no. 1, 2014, pp. 110–119, doi:10.1007/s11694-014-9216-1.
  3. US Food and Drug Administration. “21CFR172.695 – Code of Federal Regulations.” Accessdata.fda.gov, 1 Apr. 2017, www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=172.695. Accessed 22 August 2017.