Binders like xanthan gum, guar, gum, and psyllium husk play an important role in gluten-free baking because they help hold ingredients in baked goods together and create the right texture. They act as a kind of edible “binder” so that your gluten-free treats are not only delicious but also hold their shape and stay enjoyable to eat.

A spoon of psyllium husk gel.

The most commonly used binders are xanthan gum, guar gum, and psyllium husk (whole or powdered.) The type and amount of gums you use can vary, influencing the structure and elasticity of the dough or batter.

Gluten-free flour lacks the binding properties of gluten, meaning baked goods don’t hold together the same way. To fix this problem, 1:1 gluten free flour blends must use a binder, aka a soluble fiber, or you must add one to your gluten-free baking flour.

All three have many culinary uses in the food industry. All of these binders act as a thickening agent in holding baked goods together. If you mix any with water, they make a gel…but you don’t want to do this with xanthan or guar gum because it won’t mix in consistently.

If you are new to gluten-free baking, I have a lot of helpful gluten free resources. I also have a lot of gluten free baking troubleshooting guides to provide a lot more guidance if a recipe goes awry.

What is Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a microbial polysaccharide produced through fermentation, often using bacteria like Xanthomonas Campestris. It has very little flavor and provides some stickiness and elasticity in gluten free baking. It is most commonly used in 1:1 gluten free flour blends.

Typically, only a small amount of xanthan gum is needed – usually around 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per recipe – to achieve the desired consistency. If you add too much, your baked goods will be gummy, so it’s important to mix xanthan gum thoroughly with the dry ingredients before adding liquids to ensure it is mixed in evenly.

If you can’t tolerate binders like psyllium husk, use xanthan gum as an alternative to psyllium husk in gluten free baking. Xanthan gum is a great psyllium husk alternative that will beautifully hold your baked treats together.

I use xanthan gum in my popular Gluten Free Bread Machine Bread Recipe. Xanthan gum is also used in the 1:1 store-bought gluten free flour blends I use to make my Gluten Free Yeast Free Bread and this Gluten Free Naan.

What is Guar Gum

Guar gum is a common thickener made from guar beans and can sometimes have a slight beany taste. Guar gum is less likely to work well in acidic recipes with citrus.

Guar gum is sometimes preferred by bakers, making recipes where a softer and more delicate texture is desired, such as in cakes, muffins, and certain breads. It tends to be less gummy than xanthan gum, providing lighter and fluffier baked goods.

Additionally, guar gum is a good option for those who are allergic to or want to avoid corn-based products. Guar gum can be substituted in

What Is Psyllium Husk

Psyllium husk is a simple ingredient…it is the outer coating (or the husk) of psyllium seeds from the Plantago ovata plant. This plant is considered an herb and is grown mainly in India.

Psyllium husk is often used in gluten-free baking as a binding and thickening agent, serving a similar purpose to gluten in traditional baking. When mixed with liquid, psyllium husk forms a gel-like consistency that helps improve the texture and structure of gluten-free baked goods.

Psyllium husk is most commonly used for baking breads, or if someone has an allergy or intolerance to gums. If you can’t have gums, psyllium husk is a great substitute for xanthan gum or guar gum!

🔑 Sandi says: Some brands of psyllium husk will turn your baked goods purple. This can also happen if you use too much psyllium husk. I love using Anthony’s brand, shown above, because it doesn’t turn purple.

Psyllium Husk is great for gluten free baking, but you have to be careful not to use too much, or it can have a laxative effect. This is due to its high fiber content. Only use small amounts as listed in the recipe you are following.

Here’s how psyllium husk is commonly used:

  1. Whole husks are added to the liquid to make a gel. This can be mixed into other wet ingredients and then into the dry ingredients. This gel can make dough springy and easy to shape and braid.
  2. Psyllium husk powder is finely ground psyllium husks. It can be whisked into the dry ingredients when making gluten free baked items. I use psyllium husk powder in my popular DIY Gluten Free Flour Blend.

I use psyllium husk powder in my Gluten Free Oat Bread and my Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread recipes. It also works really well in my Gluten Free Pizza Dough recipe!

Psyllium husk is not seen in 1:1 blends as often; it is more common in custom flour blends. Psyllium can be used in husk or powder form, depending on the recipe being used. Psyllium husk adds fiber to gluten-free baking, and I find psyllium husk works really well.

FAQ:

Is psyllium husk gluten free?

Yes, psyllium husk is considered gluten free.

Is xanthan gum gluten free?

Xanthan gum is considered gluten free and is used commonly in gluten free baking and commercially sold gluten free flour blends.

Is guar gum gluten free?

Guar gum is considered gluten free since it comes from guar beans.

Learn about egg replacers and how they bind in gluten free baking in my Gluten Free Guide to Egg Replacers.

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