Can Xanthan Gum Substitute Baking Powder

Xanthan gum is a staple ingredient for gluten-free bakers. It has a similar appearance and texture to baking powder, so you might think you can use it as a swap – especially when you realize you’re all out of it. 

Unfortunately, xanthan gum cannot be used in place of baking powder in baking. 

Although they are similar in many ways, xanthan gum is used as a binder while baking powder is a leavening agent. You can use other ingredients such as egg whites to replace baking powder.

Hello! I’m Michelle, and while I don’t need to bake gluten-free treats for myself, many of my close friends, family members, and clients are gluten-free. That said, gluten-free baking has become a big part of my journey – and I’ve enjoyed every second of it.

Let’s discuss xanthan gum and why it can’t be used as baking powder.

What is Xanthan Gum, and What is it Used For?

Xanthan gum is one of those must-have ingredients for gluten-free baking. After all, it acts as “faux gluten,” providing the necessary elasticity and stickiness required for structured yet beautifully moist baked goods. (Although it can be used as a thickening agent in other treats like ice cream, too).

Without xanthan gum, baked treats would turn into a crumbly and inedible mess from the get-go. 

But what is this handy gluten-free food additive? 

Xanthan gum is essentially fermented and dried sugar from a specific type of bacteria known as Xanthomonas campestris. Once the sugar has fermented, it becomes a gooey substance that is then dried and ground down into a fine powder – otherwise known as our beloved xanthan gum.

What is Baking Powder, and What is it Used For?

Baking powder is essentially a dry chemical leavening agent comprised of baking soda, acid, and cornstarch. (Hence, that’s why it is so easy to make your own baking powder from home).

That said, baking powder is added to baked goods like cakes and cookies to create the notorious “rise.” Without the presence of baking powder (or a similar substitute), treats would never rise, and you’d be left with a flat and disappointing result.

Can Xanthan Gum Substitute Baking Powder?

With that in mind, no xanthan gum can’t be a substitute for baking powder

Although the two ingredients may look and feel similar, they serve entirely different purposes.

If you try to replace the baking powder with xanthan gum, your baked goods will not rise the way they should. 

What Can I Use as a Substitute for Baking Powder?

If you’re out of baking powder and looking for a suitable substitute, you have many great options to choose from. Here are just a couple that you can easily find or make at home.

DIY Baking Powder

As long as you have baking soda and cream of tartar, you can make your own baking powder.

All you need to do is mix two parts baking soda with one part cream of tartar. You can also add one part of cornstarch to make a more thorough mix that works like a charm. 

This mix is gluten-friendly. As an added bonus, it’s also aluminum-free – which can’t be said for the store-bought variety. That said, you might consider making your own baking powder and storing it in an airtight container.

Baking Soda and Lemon Juice/Vinegar

Considering the fact that baking soda is a prominent ingredient in baking powder, it’s not surprising to learn that it can be used as a solid replacement for baking powder.

However, baking soda is far more potent than its powder counterpart. When using baking soda as a sub, you will want to use a third of the amount. For example, a tablespoon of baking powder would equate to a teaspoon of baking soda.

Mix a bit of lemon juice or white vinegar with the baking soda to create a base that works as baking powder.

Whipped Egg Whites

No baking soda on hand? Don’t panic. Whip some egg whites until they form a peak, and toss them into your batter. Make sure not to overmix, though, as this might hinder the eggs from doing their “job.”

What Can I Use Instead of Xanthan Gum?

Having issues with the other ingredient – xanthan gum? If your gluten-free recipe calls for xanthan gum, but you don’t have any, consider using one of these substitutes instead.

Psyllium Husk

Psyllium husk is an excellent swap for xanthan gum, as the two are pretty similar. This type of powder is created from the husk of a Plantago ovata plant’s seeds and can be used interchangeably with xanthan gum – just make sure to double up on the amount.

Ground Chia Seeds & Water

Thanks to their grand health benefits, chia seeds have become a prominent ingredient in most kitchen pantries. Not only are they packed with nutrition, but they can be used in place of xanthan gum in your gluten-free recipes.

Add two parts hot water to one part chia seeds. Consider grinding the chia seeds beforehand, so they don’t add a subtle crunch to your treat (unless that is the type of texture you’re going for).

When using chia seeds, you may need to add additional bake time (10 to 15 minutes).

Unflavored Gelatin

Gelatin is derived from animal collagen, which allows it to be an excellent option for providing structure to baked goods like bread, muffin, and more. Just double the amount of gelatin when replacing xanthan gum.

Keep in mind that gelatin is 100% gluten-free, but it is not vegan or vegetarian. It is also not suitable for Halal and kosher diets. While this may not matter to some, it will matter if you follow a specific diet. In this case, use another swap.

FAQs

Xanthan gum and baking powder are two entirely different ingredients and can’t be used interchangeably. Luckily, there are super simple substitutes for both xanthan gum and baking powder. If you still want to learn more, keep reading!

Can you bake with xanthan gum?

You can definitely bake with xanthan gum. In fact, it is almost essential for a lot of gluten-free baked goods to include xanthan gum. That’s because xanthan gum replaces the regular “gluten” in items like bread and muffin.

Can I leave out baking powder?

You should not leave out baking powder entirely. Use a substitute if you must. Otherwise, your baked goods are not going to turn out as desired. Baking powder is essential for leavening or “rising.” Now, imagine a chocolate cake without any rise – no, thanks!

Can you use xanthan gum with regular flour?

You can successfully use xanthan gum with regular flour.

How much xanthan gum to use with gluten-free flour?

As a general rule of thumb, you will need to use ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. It’s best to follow the recipe you’re using to achieve the desired (and wonderfully tasting) outcomes.

Final Words

Xanthan gum is a binder, and baking powder is a leavening agent. With that in mind, xanthan gum cannot be used as a substitute for baking powder. If you need to swap an ingredient for baking powder, consider using a DIY baking powder or whipped egg whites.

What’s your favorite baking powder substitute? Do you bake with xanthan gum? Share below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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