Why Xanthan Gum Can Be A Great Substitute For Eggs

If you do any gluten-free baking, you're likely already familiar with xanthan gum. You may also recognize the additive's name from perusing the ingredients lists of many familiar food items. But even if you recognize the name or have used xanthan gum in a few baking projects, you might not know what xanthan gum actually is — or why it makes a great substitute for eggs.

Xanthan gum, as the baking pros over at Bob's Red Mill explain, is a bacterial coating. The bacteria xanthomonas campestris grows this protective exterior layer that, under the right circumstances, is sticky and thick, making it a great addition to food items that need a little help staying all in one piece. Xanthan gum is often found in gluten-free baked goods, preventing them from being too crumbly, as well as in liquids like sauces that need a thickening agent.

Often, eggs are used as a binding agent in baked goods, making xanthan gum a great substitute for eggs in these instances. As Better Homes & Gardens explains, just use a fourth of a teaspoon of xanthan gum dissolved in a fourth of a cup of water for each egg your recipe calls for.

When not to use xanthan gum as an egg substitute

However, xanthan gum is not a suitable egg substitute in every instance. Since xanthan gum is a binding and thickening agent, it's not going to work well if that's not how your recipe is using eggs. Some recipes instead use eggs as a moistening agent, leavening agent, or for their color or flavor, per Better Homes & Gardens.

Since store-bought xanthan gum comes as a powder, it's not going to help you add moisture to a recipe. And since it's not exactly tasty and it's a dull white color, it won't help on the color or flavor end of things either. However, it can be used in combination with other leavening agents to accomplish a lighter, airier texture in egg-free dishes; for leavening, Bob's Red Mill suggests using xanthan gum in combination with baking soda, baking powder, or yeast.

Want something to replace your eggs that will provide your recipe with some much-needed moisture? Better Homes & Gardens recommends unsweetened applesauce or tofu.