What can I use instead of Arabic gum? The best substitutes for Arabic gum include other gum varieties such as guar, locust bean, xanthan, and tragacanth. Cornstarch and animal-derived alternatives like eggs and gelatin are highly versatile and offer similar results. Agar-agar is an excellent vegan option.
You can find it in chewing gum, cola, candies, ice cream, cake, cosmetics, and even paint! Arabic gum is an amazingly versatile and edible thickening agent, emulsifier, stabilizer, glazing agent, and glue harvested from the sap of the Acacia plant. Here are the 8 best alternatives to this often pricey and rare ingredient:
The Best Arabic Gum Substitutes
Think of Agar-agar as gelatin’s vegan counterpart. Also known as Japanese gelatin, China glass, or simply agar, this plant-based alternative is a gel-like substance derived from red algae (seaweed).
The nutritious gel is boiled, dried, crushed, and sold in the form of a powder, bar, or flakes.
Agar-agar is white, semitranslucent, odorless, and completely tasteless, making it a suitable option for food and beverages.
It is added to food as a stabilizer, thickening agent, and gelling agent for multiple dishes, including jellies, ice cream, mousses, cheesecake, gummy candies, jams, and soups.
As you cannot add agar-agar directly to a liquid or recipe, dissolve it in water by bringing it to a boil, then simmer until slightly thickened. Use 1 teaspoon agar powder or 1 tablespoon agar flakes to thicken 1 cup of liquid.
It will take approximately 1 hour for a recipe made with agar-agar to set at room temperature.
Cornstarch is an inexpensive and widely-available alternative to Arabic gum.
Dried corn kernels are ground into a fine, white, powdery flour. It is mainly used in the kitchen as a plant-based, gluten-free thickening and anti-caking agent.
Adding cornstarch directly to a hot liquid is not recommended because lumps may form. Instead, create a slurry by mixing cornstarch with room temperature or cool liquid before stirring it into the hot liquid. 1 tablespoon cornstarch will thicken 1 cup liquid.
Mixtures containing cornstarch need to be brought to a full boil. It will thicken as it heats and set as it cools!
With an opaque appearance, neutral flavor, and odor, cornstarch is an incredibly versatile ingredient worthy of a place in your pantry.
Use cornstarch as a replacement for Arabic gum to thicken sauces, soups, and gravies, as a binding agent in baked goods, or as glazing for fruit, cake, and candy.
The humble egg is another economical, easily accessible, and effective substitute for Arabic gum. The culinary applications for eggs go beyond a basic breakfast.
Eggs have similar properties to Arabic gum. The yolk is a superb thickening and gelling agent for puddings, ice creams, cakes, and sauces, adding rich flavor and creamy texture to food.
You can use 1 egg instead of 0.5oz/1.5g Arabic gum.
The egg whites assist with binding, aeration, and leavening, ideal for light and fluffy baked products like soufflés, cakes, and meringues. Egg wash is used for glazing nuts, pastries, and confectioneries.
Eggs fall short in terms of dietary preferences, as they are unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans. They may also alter the taste of the dish.
Gelatin is an extremely popular and versatile gelling agent that makes an excellent Arabic gum alternative. However, it is not considered plant-based, halal, or kosher since it is derived from animal collagen.
Unlike most gelling agents, gelatin is classified as a protein, not a carbohydrate. Gelatin is a translucent, flavorless, jelly-like substance. It is inexpensive, easy to use, and lower in calories.
Primarily used as a thickener, stabilizer, and setting agent, gelatin is available in leaf or powdered form. Soak leaf gelatin in tepid water to soften. Squeeze out excess water, then add to the hot liquid.
Dissolve one packet of gelatin powder in ¼ cup of cold water. Set it aside to thicken.
Heat the gelatin over low heat to liquidize again. Now you can mix it into your recipe. One packet of gelatin will firmly set 2 cups of liquid.
Use gelatin to replace marshmallows, jellies, gummy sweets, jams, soups, gravies, and more.
Guar gum is a natural, plant-based stabilizer, binder, thickening agent, and emulsifier.
It is sourced from the seeds of the legume of the Cyamopsis tetragonolobus (‘guar plant’), native to India. The seeds are dehusked and milled to form a white powder.
A little goes a long way: Guar gum has an incredibly high absorbency and water-retaining capacity, which means it bulks up and thickens quickly.
Guar should not be consumed in large amounts, as it can cause adverse side effects.
Aside from its neutral taste, guar gum is used to thicken hot and cold dishes, making it extremely versatile.
It can be a gluten-free, vegan, and affordable substitute for sauces, dressings, puddings, ice cream, and baked goods.
To use guar gum, mix it with the dry ingredients in your recipe. While whisking quickly, gradually add the mixture to the liquid ingredients. Guar gum is not ideal for recipes that include acidic ingredients.
Gum tragacanth is an underrated ancient gum with superb qualities and versatility. It is extracted from Middle Eastern shrubs of the genus Astragalus.
In addition to being vegan and gluten-free, this Arabic gum alternative is tasteless, odorless, and water-soluble.
With high water-absorbing abilities, gum tragacanth makes a superior thickening agent, stabilizer, and emulsifier. It also prevents the crystallization of jam and ice cream.
Gum Tragacanth is a must-have ingredient in a baker’s toolbox. The gum is kneaded into fondant or sugar paste for increased elasticity and the setting of decorations. It also behaves like an edible ‘glue’ for confectionery.
Use gum tragacanth to replace Arabic gum in beverages and salad dressings. It will emulsify the ingredients and prevent separation. The gum also stabilizes and thickens the consistency, enhancing the mouthfeel and shelf life.
Bear in mind that tragacanth is often costly and difficult to find.
Locust Bean Gum
Don’t let the name fool you; locust bean gum is a plant-based product sourced from the carob tree (also known as the locust tree). Carob beans are ground into a fine white powder that has similar properties to other gums.
Locust bean gum is somewhat sweet with subtle hints of chocolate. However, it won’t affect the dish’s taste since minimal amounts are used. Like Arabic gum, it dissolves in hot and cold water.
The gum is comprised mainly of indigestible fiber, which enables it to turn into a gel in liquid, helping to thicken foods. Locust bean is a fantastic thickening agent for vegan dishes, particularly non-dairy desserts.
The high fiber content provides additional health benefits. It may help to reduce blood sugar levels, improve digestion, and relieve reflux in infants.
Substitute Arabic gum with locust bean gum to thicken soups, puddings, and sauces.
The highly efficient thickening, emulsifying, and binding abilities make xanthan gum an incredibly popular food additive. It is found in multiple products, primarily vegan and gluten-free baking.
Although this gum is plant-based, it is not a naturally occurring substance. Xanthan is created by fermenting sugar with a strain of bacteria known as Xanthomonas campestris.
The fermented sugar forms a gel-like substance, which is dried and ground into a fine white powder.
Xanthan gum is simple and inexpensive to produce. It easily dissolves and thickens hot or cold liquids, and it can be heated, frozen, or thawed without altering viscosity.
Mix xanthan into sauces, dressings, and beverages to thicken and emulsify ingredients. Add to ice cream for a smooth and creamy mouthfeel and to prevent ice crystals.
Xanthan powder is excellent for gluten-free baking. Add ½ teaspoon per cup of flour to emulsify and bind ingredients and to add volume to the final product.