Xanthan Gum is a popular additive – that I use in many of my keto recipes – as an alternative to cornstarch or other non-keto thickeners, however I often get asked if Xanthan Gum is safe and healthy. So, let’s do a quick dive into what xanthan gum is and how to use it as a gluten-free and keto-friendly cooking and baking additive.
What is Xanthan Gum?
Xanthan gum is used in many foods we eat – and also in commercial products like wallpaper glue — but that doesn’t mean it’s not healthy because it’s an effective thickener for non-food items. The FDA has approved the additive as safe in foods, and it is a great option for those on a keto or gluten-free diet.
A soluble fiber that’s created from fermenting sugar, a little of this powder goes a long way when using this in foods as a thickener or stabilizer. Our bodies can’t breakdown soluble fibers, so it essentially travels through our systems without adding any carbs, calories or nutrition. Most of the recipes I add it to include 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon at most to thicken them up. For example, in my keto simple syrup, I use only a pinch and it works like magic. For Thanksgiving, I used a 1/8 teaspoon in our turkey gravy and didn’t have to add flour or additional ingredients to get a thick and glossy gravy that didn’t separate. Because xanthan gum is tasteless and blends well, you don’t get the grittiness or pasty effects that can come with adding flour or other non-keto thickeners.
Beyond it’s effectiveness in foods as a keto and gluten-free cornstarch alternative, xanthan gum has also been found to control blood sugar, mainly because it slows digestion as it travels through the digestive tract – though for this effect, it has to be used in larger doses however this also makes it very optimal for keto recipes.
As a xanthan gum alternative, I have used Guar Gum as well in recipes and it doesn’t work quite as well in my opinion.
I like the Anthony’s brand that I bought on Amazon – keep in mind a little goes a VERY LONG way with this stuff — so a 1 pound bag will likely last you years…even with all the recipes I use it in, I have barely made a dent in my bag!