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Does better batter have xanthan gum in it?

Batter is a key ingredient that comes in many different forms and is used to coat or bind foods during cooking or as the main component in items like pancakes and waffles. Better batter typically refers to a batter made with higher quality, fresher ingredients than your average pre-made mixes. Xanthan gum is a common food additive used as a thickening and stabilizing agent. So does better batter contain xanthan gum? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Batter?

Batter is a thin, pourable dough used in cooking and baking. It is made from a combination of dry and wet ingredients that come together when mixed to form a smooth, thick, scoopable consistency. The main ingredients in basic batter are typically flour, eggs, milk or water, leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda, salt, sugar or other sweeteners, and fat like butter or oil. The specific proportions vary by recipe.

Batter can be used to coat foods before frying like chicken, fish, vegetables, or doughnuts. It also serves as the foundation for baked goods like cakes, muffins, pancakes, and waffles. The additional rising agents cause it to expand when cooked, creating a light tender texture. Batters range in viscosity from thin and pourable to thick and scoopable. Thinner batters are used to make crepes or very thin pancakes, while thicker batters work well for fluffy pancakes, cakes, and waffles.

Key Functions of Batter

– Coating – Adheres a thin layer to foods for frying or baking
– Binding – Holds added mix-ins in place like in meatballs or falafel
– Leavening – Rises from gas bubbles during baking, creating an airy texture
– Tenderizing – Adds moisture and fat for a soft, tender crumb
– Flavor – Can carry sweet, savory, or other flavorings throughout

Common Types of Batter

– Pancake/waffle batter – Thick, pourable batter leavened with baking powder or soda.
– Cake batter – Thin, pourable batter with more sugar and fat than pancake batter.
– Tempura batter – Very thin, lightly bound batter often leavened with club soda.
– Beer batter – Uses beer for flavor and leavening.
– Choux pastry – An unsweetened dough used for cream puffs and eclairs.
– Fritter batter – Contains extra leavening and sometimes chunks of fruit/veggies.
– Popover batter – Has an extremely high proportion of eggs and milk.

What Makes Batter “Better”?

When a batter is described as “better”, it typically means it is made fresh using high-quality ingredients, in contrast to mass-produced, pre-made mixes. Here are some key characteristics of quality batter:

Fresh, Minimally Processed Ingredients

Better batter starts with premium ingredients like:

– Fresh eggs instead of reconstituted egg powder
– Whole milk or buttermilk rather than dry milk powder
– Real butter instead of hydrogenated oil blends
– Unbleached, organic flour over highly processed white flour
– Pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup
– Real vanilla extract vs. artificial flavors

Using fresh, less processed ingredients provides more authentic flavor in the final product.

Carefully Balanced Ratios

Better batter has carefully tested ratios of wet to dry ingredients, leavening agents, sweeteners, and fat. Too much of one component throws off the balance, so precision is key.

Minimal Artificial Additives

Quality batter contains few unnecessary stabilizers, emulsifiers, preservatives, or other artificial additives. These extras can mute flavor.

Handcrafted Technique

Better batter is made in small batches using careful mixing techniques to properly develop the gluten and emulsify the ingredients without over-mixing. Machines can’t replicate these nuances.

Freshly Made

Better batter is fresh, not stored long-term before use. Staling can degrade the quality, while fresh batter makes tender baked goods.

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is a popular food additive used as a thickener and stabilizer. Here are some key facts about xanthan gum:

– Produced by fermenting sugars with a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris. This creates a slime or goo, which is dried and ground into a powder.

– Has a long molecular structure that disperses evenly throughout liquids. This allows it to thicken and add viscosity at very low concentrations, typically around 0.5%.

– Forms strong bonds that help hold ingredients together, like in salad dressing or gluten-free baked goods. This provides structure and stability.

– Heat stable up to 200°F and acid stable from pH 3 to 10, making it versatile in many recipes.

– Odorless and tasteless so doesn’t affect flavors in food. Has a neutral bland flavor.

– Used in many commercial foods like yogurt, ice cream, sauces, dressings, gluten-free products, and more.

– Approved as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA and permitted in gluten-free foods.

Functions of Xanthan Gum

– Thickening agent – Increases viscosity of liquids even at low use levels. Provides body and texture.

– Emulsifier – Helps mix oil and water together in smooth, stable emulsions. Prevents separation.

– Stability enhancer – Fortifies foams and prevents ingredients from settling out. Maintains uniform distribution.

– Binding agent – Improves cohesion and adhesion in doughs and batters. Helps compensate for lack of gluten.

– Suspending agent – Allows solid particles to remain dispersed evenly throughout a liquid. Prevents sinking.

Does Better Batter Contain Xanthan Gum?

Whether or not a high-quality homemade or bakery-style batter contains xanthan gum depends on the specific recipe and desired texture. Here are some considerations:

Gluten-Free Batters

Gluten-free flours lack the gluten proteins found in wheat. Gluten provides elasticity and structure in baked goods. Xanthan gum can help mimic some of these functions in gluten-free batter by providing viscosity, structure, cohesion and stability. So most gluten-free batters will need xanthan or another gum for proper binding and rising.

Thick Batters

For thick batters like waffle, pancake, or cake batter, a small amount of xanthan gum can help provide viscosity and create a smooth, scoopable consistency. It helps support added chunky ingredients in the batter as well. Without xanthan or other thickeners, these batters may be too thin.

Egg-Based Batters

Egg-rich batters like popover or quiche batter get some structure from egg proteins. But xanthan gum can still improve stability in these by reinforcing the protein network. Just a pinch prevents excessive spreading in the oven.

Frying Batters

Tempura and beer batters need to adhere to foods and get crisp exteriors when fried. A bit of xanthan gum helps with adhesion and moisture retention for optimal frying performance.

Dairy-Based Batters

The proteins in milk and buttermilk provide some thickness to batter. But for very light, thin batters like crepes or coating batters, xanthan gum helps prevent runniness and improve consistency.

Gluten-Containing Batters

Batters made with wheat flour get structure from gluten development. So xanthan gum may not be needed. However, a small amount can still enhance moisture retention and smoothness.

Guidelines for Using Xanthan Gum in Better Batter

When using xanthan gum in homemade batter recipes for improved texture, here are some tips:

– Start with a very small amount like 1/8 teaspoon xanthan per 1 cup of flour. It is potent at low concentrations.

– Whisk the xanthan gum in thoroughly with the dry ingredients to prevent lumps. Hydrate well as it thickens.

– Allow to sit and thicken after mixing. Batter may thin out again if left to sit before cooking when using xanthan.

– Consider reducing other thickeners like flour or starch when adding xanthan for stability instead.

– Add extra liquid if batter becomes too thick. A little xanthan gum goes a long way.

– Combine with guar gum or psyllium husk fiber to reduce gumminess from xanthan alone.

– Store batter in the refrigerator if allowing to sit before baking to prevent over-fermentation.

The Role of Xanthan Gum in Commercial Batters

Unlike homemade batter made in small batches, mass-produced commercial batters often rely heavily on ingredients like xanthan gum to achieve consistent results batch after batch. Here are some reasons xanthan gum is commonly found in pre-made batter mixes and refrigerated batter products:

Shelf Stability

The stabilizing power of xanthan gum allows commercial batters to maintain an even consistency during prolonged storage and distribution. It holds up well at cold and room temperatures.

Standardized Texture

Xanthan gum gives companies precise control over the finished viscosity and texture of batter for brand consistency from batch to batch.

Machinery Compatibility

The viscosity provided by xanthan gum allows large-scale industrial mixing equipment to thoroughly incorporate ingredients in commercial production.

Gluten-Free Formulations

To create gluten-free batter products, companies rely on xanthan or other gums to provide binding, moisture retention, and mimick the functions of gluten.

Cost Effectiveness

Xanthan gum provides thickening and stability at very low concentrations, keeping production costs down. It is affordable and has a long shelf life.


Xanthan gum serves as a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free thickener and stabilizer in various specialty batter products for allergy-sensitive diets.

Examples of Xanthan Gum Content in Commercial Batters

To understand how extensively xanthan gum is used in mass-produced batters, here are some examples of xanthan content from popular brands:

Krusteaz Gluten Free Pancake Mix

Xanthan Gum 1.5g per serving
Guar Gum 0.5g per serving

This gluten-free mix relies on xanthan and guar gums to provide elasticity and binding. Xanthan improves moisture retention and rise.

Birch Benders Pancake & Waffle Mix

Xanthan Gum 1g per serving

The gluten-free varieties of this keto-friendly mix use xanthan gum as the sole thickener and binder.

Hungry Jack Buttermilk Pancake Mix

Xanthan Gum 0.32g per serving

This mainstream pancake mix includes a small amount of xanthan gum for added moisture retention and smoothness.

Aunt Jemima Original Pancake & Waffle Mix

Xanthan Gum 0.14g per serving

Classic breakfast brand Aunt Jemima adds a trace amount of xanthan gum for viscosity control in their traditional batter mix.

The Bottom Line

So does better batter contain xanthan gum? The answer depends on the specific recipe, desired texture, and production methods. Gluten-free batters, thick batters, and commercial batters are more likely to include xanthan gum as a stabilizer and for consistent performance. High-quality homemade batters can go either way depending on the ingredients and ratios used. A small amount of xanthan gum can improve smoothness and moisture retention in batter, but isn’t strictly necessary with proper formulation. While homemade batters emphasize fresh, minimally processed ingredients, commercial producers rely heavily on xanthan gum for standardized results and shelf stability.