Xanthan is a food additive used mainly as a thickener and stabilizer. It can be found in a powder form that dissolves in most liquids.

Dissolved in a liquid, xanthan induces thickening effects on a liquid by making the liquid more viscous. However, xanthan thins out and a xanthan solution becomes less viscous if the liquid undergoes motion—shearing.

Xanthan can also stabilize emulsions and keep particles suspended in a solution. Such properties make xanthan gum a perfect addition to salad dressings.

Additional information

  • Accepted as safe food additive in US.
  • Namesake of the Xanthomona campestris bacteria.
  • The property where xanthan solutions become less viscous when shearing occurs is known as pseudoplasticity.


Xanthan can be added to liquid solutions. The following percentages provide a guideline for what percentage by weight the xanthan added to a solution should be. For example, if you have 100g of liquid and want to turn it into a thin, running sauce, add 0.25g of xanthan.

  • 0.25% thin running sauce
  • 0.5-0.8% foams (when mixed with viscous solutions like cream, percentages as low as .05% can be used)
  • 0.7-1.5% thick sauces