chia seeds and flaxseeds

Thank you so much to those of you who have written to say that you made the pizza recipe we posted last week and loved it. Hurray!

And to those of you wrote, confused, as to what chia seeds are or how flaxseeds work in gluten-free baking? This post is for you.

As some of you might have read in this earlier post, I have stopped using xanthan and guar gum in our baked goods. The first reason was directly for me: my body doesn’t seem to tolerate them very well.

The rest of the reasons are for you.

I’ve been hearing from hundreds of people that they don’t tolerate xanthan and guar gum well either. Some have written to say that they continued to have digestive problems after going gluten-free and tried cutting the gums after I wrote about it. I’m thrilled to hear that so many of you say you feel better. That’s what this is about.

But there’s more to it now.

You see, I’m finding over and over again that gluten-free baked goods made without xanthan or guar gum are better than with them. Our friend Kate came over this morning with a delicious berry pie, made with a gluten-free crust. Her face shone as she told me: “I left the xanthan gum out by mistake. It’s so much better! It’s finally pie crust.”

You know how a lot of gluten-free breads, even when they are good, have that texture of cornbread? A little gummy? Well, guess what? It’s the gums that cause that texture.

Here’s a photograph of a multi-grain bread recipe we’re working on over here, almost all whole grains, and no gums.

See the texture of the inside of the bread? It looks like bread.

(We’re going to give you this recipe this week. I’m so happy with it.)

And finally, I find that the folks who can eat gluten, and would like to bake for us, are stopped by one thing: xanthan and guar gum. They are so expensive. If someone wants to bake a batch of brownies for me, he has to go out and buy a $12 package of xanthan gum, which he will probably never use again.

Brownies don’t need any gums. I really believe that when people see gluten-free recipes without those strange ingredients, they are going to feel a lot more comfortable playing.

So far, Danny and I have found that most recipes don’t need any replacements or gums or additives. Cookies, muffins, quick breads, cakes, biscuits, flour for dredging fish or batter for fried chicken? Don’t worry about the gums. Just make sure you are working with the right ratio of flours to fats to eggs to liquid in your batter or dough. So far, everything gluten-free that I have baked uses the same ratio as the gluten recipes.

That’s huge.

(Think about how many traditional muffin recipes end with a stern adminition: “Do not overmix!” That’s because the recipe writer doesn’t want you to activate the gluten in the batter. Guess what? We don’t have any gluten in our flours. Mix and combine to your heart’s delight. You can’t make those muffins tough.)

Sometimes, when a baked good needs more structure, when it is something that truly relies on gluten, we are using some flaxseed or chia seeds in slurry form.

When is that? Breads, mostly. The bread you see photographed above is the same recipe from our cookbook, with our multi-grain flour blend instead, and 1 tablespoon combined flax seeds and chia seeds combined with 2 tablespoons of boiling hot water then whisked into a thick slurry.

That’s all it took.

I’m still learning about ground flaxseed and chia seed, so I can’t claim to be an expert on this. However, I am finding that whatever amount of xanthan or guar gum I would have used in a bread recipe, I substitute it with the same amount of flaxseed or chia seeds. Then I combine that with twice as much boiling hot water and stir. That’s it.

One of the parts of this I love most is that flaxseed and chia seed are healthy for us. Both of these ingredients make nutritionists happy when we include them in our diet. It is widely suggested that flaxseed can help to combat heart disease and cancer, along with its good effects from omega 3s and fiber. (By the way, use the golden flaxseed for baking. The brown flaxseed can turn your baked goods green.) Chia seed seems to be everyone’s new favorite healthy ingredient, although it has been around for thousands of years. (It was one of the foods of the Aztecs and Mayans.) Chia seeds are full of fiber and nutrition and are rich in omega 3s as well. They also last much longer in the cupboard than flaxseeds, so you don’t have to refrigerate them or throw them out too early.

(And yes, they are the same as the pets you might have kept in the 1970s: “Chi-chi-chi chia!”)

I like using foods that feel like real foods, something that might actually be good for me, instead of a strange ingredient that puts off people new to living gluten-free.

So that’s what we’re doing.

If you use flaxseed or chia seeds in your baking, I’d love for you to leave a comment here. We can help out the community by sharing our knowledge on this.

I still have so much more to learn.

174 comments on “chia seeds and flaxseeds

  1. Melanie

    Shauna,
    I love baking and bake about half the time gluten-free because my partner is gluten sensitive and I do some baking for friends (birthday cakes mostly) which need to be gluten-free. However, my partner is very sensitive to eggs, so I either stay away from recipes which contain eggs or replace them with a ground flax seed slurry. I usually use coconut milk (my partner also has issues with dairy) in the slurry. In my baked goods I never miss the eggs. If I think I may need some extra life (like in a cake) I use baking soda and acid (usually in the form of faux buttermilk (coconut milk with a little vinegar). I love to idea of leaving out the gums — I will certainly be going in that direction in the future. I love hearing about your ‘gumless’ journey. How about thinking about also doing without eggs?

    1. Laurel

      I’d love to see you do a new book without the eggs. So many people with gluten sensitivites also have problems with dairy (easily replaced), corn and eggs (something about the egg white protein not being digestible). So I use 1/4 C of chia seed gel rather than eggs but it doesn’t seem to work well if you need more than two. Anyway, I heartily second the notion.

      1. sally farb

        We are not GF but we do use chia gel in baking all the time and sub out the eggs. we do not have egg problems either but the gel gives better cup cakes! we use 1 cup of chia gel to sub out for 3 eggs in ordinary cake mixes even and it works like a dream! People just die over our cupcakes! They are so moist and yummy! Today i found a recipe for a spelt chocolate cake and it had Xanthan gum so I searched for a sub and found this site. Now i’ll just bake it up with out any worries skipping the gum and eggs and use my chia gel! Thanks!

      1. Sarah

        This was so helpful. I have found I also cannot tolerate the gums very well either — and they always seem to make the texture too gooey. Reading this reminded me that when I first started gluten free baking years ago I just made up my own recipes — gum free because I didn’t know any better. Having grown up in a bakery I knew many recipes by heart — so I just started substituting in gluten free flours. I had never heard of the gums and everything always tasted good. I was always surprised at how many people would say that gluten free baking was difficult. Then I decided to get serious about it and bought some cookbooks and did research and learned about the necessary and ubiquitous xanthan gum. And…suddenly gluten free baking became very difficult…tricky. You have to follow the recipes so carefully or else — total disaster! Sometimes things turn out well, but often things turn out weird –the texture is off, too gooey, won’t cook all the way through etc. I started to think I had completely lost whatever touch I used to have. This post has reminded me to go back to what I used to do before the whole xanthan brain washing. Who decided this was such a necessary ingredient anyway?

        1. Pamela

          Thank you so very much for the help!! I have just started cooking gluten-free and I really appreciate your blog. I just made my first waffles using assorted gluten-free flours and substituted chia seeds for the xanthum gum in the recipe. I am SO encouraged! The waffles turned out great and my family loved them.

    2. Nancy

      Melanie, I know your post is well over a year old, BUT, I’m interested in learning about using the baking soda and acid — do you have a formula you can share??

    3. katey @ superfoods

      Yes you can replace at least half the eggs in most baking recipes with coconut milk and flaxseed, I also add chia seeds. When using almond flour you need lots of eggs, the coconut milk slurry with flax/chia works great.

  2. Wendy

    I had purchased a hot cereal mix that contained chia, flax, buckwheat groats. I cannot remember the name, as it is all gone. It was very good, abit seedy. To make it the creamy substitution for the oatmeal I can no longer have, I used 2 tbsp. of cream of buckwheat, and 2 tbsp of the cereal mix, cooked in milk. Very, very filling. As tasty as you want to make it, I used 1/2 a banana and a tbsp of choc chips.
    I have stopped the gums as well and have noticed a less bloated feeling after eating those AWESOME whole grain muffins! great job, Shauna and Danny!

    1. Melanie

      If its the cereal I am thinking, a cooked one, its Red River Cereal. Filled with seeds. Just excellent.

    2. erin

      Wendy, could the cereal have been Ruth’s Hemp Foods — Chia Goodness? Never tried it, but wondering… your post made me curious to seek it out (:

    3. Nicole Hildebrand

      Might you be thinking of “Holy Crap” cereal? It’s made in the Sunshine Coast in BC. FABULOUS just on yogurt!

  3. Ina Gawne

    Shauna — thank you for this information. The wholegrain bread I make includes ground flax and Xanthan Gum. Next time I make my recipe, I will try your method with the boiling water and flax seeds, excluding the Xanthan. You mention this works well for cakes too? Cakes have always been my number one challenge! I must give this a try as well. Can you post a successful cake recipe?

  4. anna

    Thank you thank you thank you!
    The muffins…oh the MUFFINS!real muffins!!(blackberries and chocolate and some with toffee!) The pizza was (first one) undercooked and (second one) overcooked, but amazingly still good, so I’m gonna be trying again soon, I hope I’ll get it right this time :p I’m so glad I already ordered the book last week! it should be here on wednesday and I can’t wait to try more of your stuff. After my disastrous attemps with the Flying Apron recipes I decided I wasn’t buying any more books but all these new gum-free stuff sounded so good. I’ve been gf for about 7 years now, and still having digestive issues (and I am veeeery careful with the diet). So I’m giving it a try, so far I think I feel a bit better, but I need that bread!

    oh and I made ‘crepes’ with your Flour Mix and they were great! I filled them with mushrooms, greated cheese (one of those pizza mixes) and bits of goat brie. My gluten-eating boyfriend loved them so I think they’re our new “it’s late and I’m starving” food; quick, easy, and you can just fill them with left overs.

    You got me back into the kitchen :) thank you so much!

  5. Molly Stoltz

    Just another reason that vegans are doing something right that tastes delicious! I always use flaxseed meal as egg substitute in all of my baking. I made a loaf of bannana bread a few weeks ago that was absolutely delicious, completely lacking in “gums” and in dairy and eggs too!

  6. Nancy

    This really is huge news!! I’ve been shy about baking because every time it comes out funny but your muffins look amazing…I can’t wait to get baking.

  7. Zingzap

    I’ve been wondering about using those chia/flax of gums for a while. My first few attempts did not come out so well but I didn’t use boiling water on them… maybe that’s the trick. I have suspected gums are causing me trouble but after finally getting tested, out of the foods that were tested I reacted to 25 of them and the gums didn’t even get tested sooo.… who knows? But alternatives are great! I was getting frustrated so gave up baking for a while. I’ll be checking in and seeing how you are coming along with it. Thanks for doing what you do!!

  8. amy

    Thanks for posting this information. I have been trying to recreate many recipes and found the Xantham Gum added a weird after taste. When I have forgotten to add it, the recipe tasted the same as though I had used a wheat flour.

  9. Heather

    Hi Shauna: in your post, you said this: “So far, Danny and I have found that most recipes don’t need any replacements or gums or additives. Cookies, muffins, quick breads, cakes, biscuits, flour for dredging fish or batter for fried chicken? Don’t worry about the gums. Just make sure you are working with the right ratio of flours to fats to eggs to liquid in your batter or dough. So far, everything gluten-free that I have baked uses the same ratio as the gluten recipes.”

    Just to clarify, does that mean (1) without using gums, the ratio is 1:1, or (2) without the gums, the ratio is still 140 grams: 1 cup of flour, like I’ve been doing based on previous posts.

    PS, I just baked some banana bread from a regular recipe using 140 grams of your flour mix per cup and no Xanthan gum; for the first time (i’ve been doing this recipe for a while with different ratios), it was just like gluten quick bread! Thanks for this breakthrough.

  10. Jen

    Yesterday, I made the best looking, best tasting loaf of bread I’ve created in just over one year of being gluten free (celiac). I used weights, ratios, whole grain mix, and instead of gum I used 2 TBSP flaxseed meal, 1 TBPS chia seed meal, and 4 TBPS boiling water. It rose (!), it browned, it looks like bread. And it tastes good! It isn’t gummy or sticky, it is tender and has somewhat the texture of “homemade” gluten bread of old. I made it in a stand mixer with the dough hooks, and let it mix up for about 3 minutes once I’d added the eggs, oil, yeasty water, and the chia/flax paste. The chia/flax mixture was rather thick and pasty, think thick oatmeal texture almost vs. slurry. Running the mixer for a few mins to incorporate it evenly seemed to work well.

    As always, thank you! You bravely put your toe in the water for so many of us to leap in behind you:)

    1. Linda

      Shauna,
      I made the bread in your book today. I’m so happy with the way it turned out. BUT I would love to take out the gums as well. So from the previous reply I understand I should do 1 TBS golden flax meal, ! TBS chia seed meal and 4 TBS boiling water.
      So here is my question about the flour /starch. Your recipe has 270 grams of flour and 227 grams starch. Do I need to change this when I sub out the gums? If I wanted to do the Whole grain fours and starch as you posted in the muffin recipe do I just go total weight and weight as in 767 grams of the whole grain mix. I’m confused as I’m so new to this.
      Also a short word on what to do if the mix is too wet?
      Thanks, I’m really enjoying learning about GF baking.

  11. Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day

    I do a ton of gluten free ( and vegan ) baking.. I worked as a chef and baked muffins, cakes, pizza dough and brownies daily and I always used flax. I started out experimenting with Xanthan gum, but hated the texture it gave..so I began experimenting with flax. I have quite a few recipes on my blog.. for pizza dough, brownies, muffins, carrot cakes, chocolate cakes, microwave cakes, cornbread, yeasted flatbread, and they all use flax. I don’t want to clog up your comment section with links to my blog.. but if you do a search on my homepage it will take you to the posts where the recipes are.

    I find that my Go To measure is 1/2 c golden flax meal in most baking projects, which seems like a lot, but it works great!

    1. Birdie

      Hi there…a question about your 1/2 flax seed meal added to breads, do you add any boiling water to this or just use the meal dry in place of any gums?
      Thanks!

  12. Shuku

    While I’m thrilled that I can actually –bake– without the use of gums, since they’re so expensive and largely unavailable in my part of the world, I have to admit that I may be the only one who’s more than a bit depressed. Flax seeds and chia seeds are –not– cheap by any means here. In fact, one small can of chia seeds is almost 50 dollars in my currency and getting ground chia seeds is like asking for the moon. I’ve seen flax seed meal, although it’s difficult to find. I don’t know if I tolerate the gums well or not; they seem to be fine but I definitely would like to try baking without them just to see if it makes a difference with the bloating. And no, Amazon is not an option — customs here kicks up a ruckus. I will definitely try to get hold of both chia seeds and flax seeds to try, but I have to admit to the old familiar feelings of frustration all over again. Is there –anything– that might substitute? I guess I’ll have to play.

    1. aseafish

      Chia seeds don’t need to be ground, unlike flax. I sure can appreciate your concern over cost; there is little about gluten free baking that I would call inexpensive. I feel pretty lucky, though. Where I live chia and flax cost much less than the gums.

      1. Ann

        I bought some pricey chia seeds in a health food/nutrition store and then I saw some very reasonably prices ones in a Hispanic market–same thing exactly.

        1. Shuku

          Chia seeds and flax seeds aren’t something common in Southeast Asian cuisine, Ann. I went hunting today and I found flax seed meal, thankfully — it’s still pricy but if I make it last it’ll be all right. Chia seeds though, hopefully it WILL last since it’s a fairly biggish bottle.

        2. alea

          Shuku! I just read your comment and wanted to encourage you– there are other alternatives besides flax and chia. I use unflavoured gelatin all the time (usually 1 tbsp is enough), and for vegan alternatives, i use anywhere from 2–4 tsp of agar agar powder (ground seaweed powder), i let either one soak in my wet ingredients, and they turn out great! I don’t use any eggs or dairy either– give me a shout and i’d be happy to send you some recipes. :)

        3. Nat

          Shuku, I suggest you try basil seeds. I know that in some Southeast Asian cuisines there is a drink that involves basil seeds and water to make a gummy drink — called nam manglak in Thai for example — so basil seeds will probably be easier for you to find. I have not tried them as a replacement for flax/chia, but since they do get gummy with water, a ground basil seed slurry with boiling water might be able to replace the ground flax/chia slurry — you could experiment and find out!

      2. lee

        @ Shuku: try ordering from vitacost.com To get chia seeds sent from the US to france it was only $7.99 You can also get loads of GF products there (including flour act) cheaper than we buy in the grocery store in the USA. Of course, the heavier the item, the more expensive to ship. Good luck.

    2. Jean Ink

      Shuku -

      I have also used mung bean flour from an Asian market, sunflower seed meal which you can grind yourself very easily in a coffee grinder, and ground psyllium seeds which I buy in a health food store.

      Here are the approximate ratios: Mung bean flour — about the same amount as xanthan or guar gum (If you have ever had Asian bean threads, you can imagine how springy or stretchy the mung bean flour would be.)

      Sunflower seed meal — 1–2 Tablespoons per cup of flour

      Psyllium seed — 1 teaspoon per cup of flour, also try using in addition to either of the above for yeast breads

      I have excellent success using combinations of these. None of them need to be mixed with boiling water; you can simply add them to your flour mixture like xanthan or guar gum.

    3. Suzanne

      I’m not sure where you live, but I own a bulk food store in Western NY, and we sell chia seeds for around $7.00 a pound and flaxseed for $1.37 a pound. I wonder what shipping to you would look like? Suzanne

  13. Bethany (pdxbee)

    Thanks for this post! I have been reading a lot about not using xantham or guar gum in gluten-free baking and I think I’ll probably make the transition away from them. When I bake, I add flax seeds or meal to almost everything. It’s one of the ways I get the fiber I need. You are 100% correct about most baked goods not relying on gluten for their structure or deliciousness. Thanks again for this post!

  14. Heather

    Since going Gluten Free recently I have been shying away from baking mainly because I found out that I am allergic to eggs as well. Now, I feel like I have a solution. Many thanks for opening my eyes and I’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes.

  15. Tracey

    Try a Chia Fresca if you want something refreshing! Chia seeds are a great resource and can do far more than make baked goods work GF.

    Basic drink is:

    * about 10 oz of water
    * 1 Tbsp dry chia seeds
    * a few teaspoons lemon or lime juice
    * honey or agave nectar, to taste (optional)

    Stir the chia seeds into the water; let them sit for about five minutes. Stir again, and let sit for as long as you like. The more it sits, the more gel-like the seeds and water become. Add citrus juice and sweetener to taste.

  16. Susan

    This is very interesting to me. When I first went Gluten free, I did without my breads because everything was SO DAUNTING. The recipes I found sounded like gibberish, and it was expensive! Xanthan gum was what EVERYBODY told me to use. I’ve come a long way, but still haven’t really figured it all out. I have yet to have a loaf of bread turn out well. I am anxiously awaiting more on this subject. :)

  17. Mercedes

    This is a head smacking moment for me. I’ve recently gone gluten-free to try to settle some IBS-like issues, and my husband and I have both noticed some, well…not suitable for polite company digestive responses to mixes and pre-made goods. I believe that xanthan gum may be the culprit!

    I had known that flax and chia could be used as egg-replacer for vegan baking, but it never would have occurred to me to use it as a texture sub for gluten flours.

    Thanks so much!

  18. Lisa

    Thanks, Shauna. I’m going to link this post to glutenfreecanteen’s post on x-gum. People have been wondering about it and how to bake without it. We’ve been using chia for a little while now and voila! terrific! Using it in breads or other hearty baked goods have proven to be successful. I love the color and the background note that it gives stuff. I’ve been baking pastry and other goodies sans the gums with great success. Using egg white where needed for that extra binding is working out well. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you leading the charge on moving past the gums — it has made a huge difference for us — we feel soooo much better. Matter of fact, we had grilled cheese over the weekend with a really great GF bread that we all love and the x-gum made me sicker than anything. I am guessing I lived with eating gums for so long that I just accommodated the yucky feeling. But I’ve been without gum since the New Year, and this was my first bite of gum since and I paid for it. So clear. Now, if we can get our favorite bread makers (that wonderful toasting and quick sandwich loaf) to leave out the gums.…wouldn’t that be something? Or at least make one type without gums… I’m easy. Anyway — thanks for this. Big hugs.

  19. Nela

    Have you tried the Chia seed flour? It’s like the flour of wheat but not gluten and taste completely normal. You can substitute the regular flour in recipes like cake, muffing, or cookies. It is an excellent product and offers Nuchia Foods. http://www.nuchiafoods.com

    1. Aunti Mi

      This looks interesting. Do you use the chia seed flour to bake cookies? I am trying to get away from the gums bc my girl friend, whose daughter is celiac, complains about the taste! Want to try the slurry and perhaps the chia flour but it looks cost prohibitive. Thanks for the link!

  20. Nina

    Very interesting — I haven’t quite figured out all my food intolerances, but since starting to bake my own gluten-free foods I have been wondering about my reaction to xanthan gum. Perhaps I’m not imagining it! (You know how you start to think you might be going mad or making things up…) Also when I added xanthan to one of my own improvised recipes (sort of banana buns), and to some pancakes, my boyfriend complained that they were somehow chewier than usual, and we’ve gone back to making them both without.

  21. Victoria

    I add flax seed meal to most of my GF baking products. It really ups the fiber and I can sneak it in without my kids even knowing!!

  22. Stacey

    On your blog, the pizza recipe calls for 1/2–1 cup water. But, in the cookbook the cracker recipe that you said could double as pizza crust calls for 1 3/4 cups water. Could you clarify please?

  23. Jenn Sutherland

    Thank you, Shauna! Just that little tip about how much flax/chia to use has already changed how I’m baking — and like you, the results have been even better, and my tummy is happy too! Hooray!

    1. Eponarae

      Salba is the commercial name for a variety of chia. It has a white seed coat, hence the name Salvia hispanica, var Alba.

  24. Tina

    Thank you for sharring. As is the norm, you have given us all more to chew on and process. I will be trying this out later this week. I may have to see if it helps my scones… they taste amazing but the texture is what we have termed muscookie. Muscookie is what happens when muffins, scones, and cookies fight and they all win. Not what I was aiming for when I created my “scone” recipe and I am going to be tweeking it over time. This is yet another tool that might help.

  25. Jenn

    What a revelation of a post! The gums may just be the reason I felt *worse* going gluten-free and eating GF baked goods. Plus, now I know what chia seeds are! Yay!

    So glad I don’t have to buy another $12 packet, and can stick to my trusty flax seed …

  26. Gabrielle Brost

    I have started baking without x-gum because I find that it my body does not like it, either. I am loving the results! I also love how the flaxseed slurry gives things a more “whole wheat” taste and is not at all gummy. I haven’t experimented with chia seeds yet but I definitely would love to since I am seeing lots of praise for this mini nutritional powerhouse. Plus, baked goods are better when you can actually pronounce all the ingredients ;)

  27. Ada

    Like several commenters above, I use flax as an egg substitute in baking. It doesn’t work when the final product relies on the structure of eggs, but works great as a binder. I go with 1 tablespoon of ground flax for 3 tablespoons of water as a substitute for one egg, and it works great! I once upon a time shelled out for the gums as well and I find they make everything too “gummy” when I use them, even in tiny amounts. If you’re concerned about eating them, watch out for commercial ice cream, since they’re often used to make the final product smoother.

  28. Mrs. Q

    I just ordered a package from Amazon.com and it arrived today containing chia seeds!! Too spooky that you mention it in your post! I’ve never tried them, but I thought they looked interesting.

  29. Laura

    Great post! I’d like to try chia seeds, as I’ve only been using flaxseed, which I love. Sally Parrot Ashbrook of Tilth for Health introduced me to using flaxseed meal in place of eggs since she’s allergic to eggs, and I’m vegan. I love the way the baked goods turn out with the flaxseed, and I love the fact that it’s healthy and whole lot cheaper than eggs, too. A bag of ground flaxseed lasts me quite a while. I have had some doubts about the gums for a while, too, but I was scared to leave them out. Now I feel much better experimenting with my trusted flaxseed by my side. :)

  30. Heather K.

    Thank you for posting this. I have been wanting to try out using flax seeds instead of guar gum and xantham gum and you give me a great starting point! So grateful!

  31. Jeanette

    I have been baking with flax seeds, substituting it for part of any oil/butter called for in recipes (3:1 ratio), which makes muffins/quick breads that much more nutritious. Recently, I have also been using flax seeds/chia seeds (ground up first and presoaked) as a substitute for eggs (we have an egg allergy in addition to gluten/dairy), and they’ve worked really well. My son has also enjoyed a Chia Coconut “Tapioca” Pudding I made, so easy and delicious as a treat.

  32. Flo Makanai

    I love it that you continue to bake without gums :)
    Just wanted to add that some people do not tolerate well flax seeds (and probably some others do not tolerate chia seeds), as just about any kind of food can be hard to digest for some people. So, by precaution, one should not use those seeds in each and every cake or bread or muffins, but should rotate and use them once in a while, probably no more than twice a week. But that’s no problem : it is possible to bake without gums AND without the seeds! I’ve just baked some of your fantastic whole grain muffins that way (without dairy and egg too ;) ). My younger girls brought a try to the poney club and to school, each muffin decorated with a little melted chocolate and heart shaped candies and it was all “oh” and “ha” and “oh may I have the recipe pleaaaaase”! Thanks Shauna. You’re helping us to have a life that tastes better :)

  33. Laura

    Hi. Love reading your post. I have a very dumb question. You can tell I am not a great cook. How do you boil 2 tablespoons of water. Do you just use a small pot? Then, how do you actually make the slurry with the seeds. Do you do this in the microwave. Could you please explain? Thanks so much. Laura

    1. Erika

      Hi Laura,

      Put your seeds in a bowl, then boil some water in a pot or tea kettle (don’t need to measure it–however much is fine). Now, when it’s boiling, measure out the 2 tablespoons of water and pour it over the seeds in the bowl. There’s your slurry!
      I’m sure you could boil the water in the microwave too–just be careful when you take it out because microwaves sometimes overheat the water and it “explodes” when you touch the container and you get hot water everywhere.
      Good luck!

      1. Raele

        Erika,
        Your reply to Laura touched my heart because it was so kind, respectful, and patient. Just lovely. Thanks for being a thoughtful and considerate contributor, and person.
        :) Raele

        Laura,
        Many people believe microwaving changes the energy of water (and anything else) in a negative way. If you have a teakettle, I’d opine that’s the way to go; for so little water, it’s just a quick!
        :)

  34. Sini

    You make gluten-free baking always sound so uncomplicated — probably ’cause it really is! Most of the people think it would be difficult, almost impossible, to make good-tasting gluten-free products which also have the right consistency. I am totally into gluten-free baking lately although I don’t have to life on an gluten-free diet. It is refreshing to find new flours and seeds and learn how to deal without gluten. Exciting. And it is ever so wonderful to see when someone living on a gluten-free diet realizes how easy it is to make your gluten-free products at home. So many have lost their love for baking after the diagnose they had.
    Will try to leave the gum out next time!

  35. Beth

    Sooo.… I just made a batch of biscuits using a “gluten” recipe, but substituting 70% whole grain/30% starch for the flour by weight. I didn’t add any gums because this says biscuits don’t need it. And yet these biscuits are dry, crumbly, and falling apart. Anybody know what I’m doing wrong? Do baked goods that don’t normally have eggs need an egg added in place of some of the liquid?

  36. Julialuli

    Shazam! I made quiche for dinner tonight and left xanthan gum out of the pie crust recipe I always use. Kate was right! The best crust yet and the dough was really easy to handle. Also, we made a family favorite over the weekend, Swedish Pancakes (kind of like a crepe only bigger and sweeter) without xanthan gum and just reduced the liquid. Amazing! Thanks for all your knowledge, Shauna. My GI system thanks you:)

  37. Morri

    Last V-Day was my first V-Day with any SO. But this wasn’t any SO, this was the same SO I have had since 1/24/2010 and the one I have today. For some reason I took this relationship more seriously (and oddly enough, less) than the others. We clicked, we saw eye-to-eye (literally and figuratively; he’s 5’4″, .5″ taller than me), our birthdays were three days apart. I was anti V-Day before he came into my life… now it’s V-Day every day.

    I bring this up because he did the most romantic thing for me last year. My being gluten free didn’t discouraged this “meat and potatoes and two thick loaves of bread for dinner” Russian twenty y.o. (at the time). In fact, I get a call from him while he’s at Wegman’s asking if buckwheat is gluten free on the 13th. I ask why, and he says don’t worry about it.

    The following morning, he taught me to make buckwheat blinis for breakfast, filled with jam and whipped cream. We sat there, gobbling up blini after blini, murmuring happy “my stomach is full” sounds. This was one of the many times I realized this was the man I’m to spend the rest of my life with.

    Happy early V-Day, Shauna and Danny and Lu!

  38. Joana

    Shauna, I just used your gluten-free AP mix to make the olive oil muffins from Smitten Kitchen. They are sooooo good! I’ll let you know how the next experiments go.

  39. Ruthann

    I am allergic to wheat, eggs, and flax. I am able to use spelt.…but eggs substitution continues to be a problem. I will have to try chia seeds. They seems to be from a family of plants that I have not reacted to previously.

  40. Annette Frey

    I have a gluten-free dog biscuit company and have always deliberately chosen not to use gums, since they are often not tolerated by people and dogs. I’ve never used gums or seed in either of of our biscuits.
    I’ve only used flax to substitute for eggs (we are also egg free) in cake-type desserts. I hadn’t heard of using it, or chia to replace the gums but will try it in the pupcakes recipes we are working on. Will need to research chia and dogs to be sure it’s safe for them, then test it.
    Will report on the experiments!

    1. Jabbara

      Most of the quality dog foods have flax seeds now. Some of us are noticing our dogs seem to react to them though.

  41. Nita

    I started using chia seeds instead of flax seeds as an egg substitute awhile ago and I found that I get much better rise out of bread, pancakes, etc when I use chia. Shauna…what made you decide to mix chia and flax? I will definitely give this a try.

  42. ~Mrs. R

    I find this so ironic! In my favorite cookbook, a 1962 version of Joy of Cooking there is a gluten free muffin recipe! Yup, way back in 1962. And they didn’t have access to the gums then. These muffins are terrific, tender and not overly sweet. I am looking forward to more recipes without the gums! My version of this recipe is also dairy free.
    http://honeyfromflintyrocks.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/rice-flour-muffins-gluten-free-dairy-free/
    Blessings,
    ~Mrs. R

  43. Susanne Stoffel

    In somey of the German gluten free recipes they use Psyllium as a binding agent. It adds healthy fiber to your baked goods and is inexpensive.

  44. Jill

    thank you for figuring out your distress with the gums!!! I am now going to bake without them and see if anyone feels any different (we don’t feel bad, but sometimes you don’t feel great but don’t realize it, as most with Celiac disease know…)

    I use chia gel (1/3 c seeds + 2 c water) as an egg replacement–about 1/4 c gel per egg, as I don’t use a lot of dairy . I’ve tried grinding the seeds and not grinding, and unless you don’t like the look of whole seeds, it doesn’t seem to make a big difference. I still used the gums, though…the next loaf of bread will be gum free, and we’ll see how it goes! I also throw some ground flax (ground in a coffee grinder) in just for health reasons and because I think it tastes good.

  45. mel

    I’ve used ground flax seed+water before as an egg substitute (when out of eggs or halving the recipe and needing just half an egg!) with good results. However I had a really bad reaction after eating chia seed soaked in almond milk, and won’t try it again. So it’s true that people react differently, and thank you for writing so honestly from your own experiences.

    Since I’m not a fan of xanthan or guar gum either, I’m really looking forward to seeing more recipes without them!

  46. carmen

    I am so glad to have found this site.My daughter has been diagnosed as gluten intolerant and now thanks to your site I can look forward to many gluten free recipes.Thank you very,very much!

  47. amsuka

    Hi Shauna! Thanks for your post on chia. I bought some a while ago and have have been slowly playing with it. Yesterday I made some banana bread using a mixed slurry of chia and flax, no xanthan gum. It was fantastic! Next up for me is to perfect the amount needed in bread. My last attempt had the bread too gummy — never thought I would be saying THAT about Gluten Free bread LOL!!
    To be honest your description of what xanthan gum actually is was a surprise, and became a huge turn off for me. I am so happy to have an alternative that also ups the nutrition quotient in my baking. The Gluten Free web-world is amazingly generous and optimistic-yourself included. Thanks for sharing your journey!
    –amsuka

  48. Lecia

    This story really touched me, Shauna. And, I love your idea of compiling love stories — I cannot wait to read them.

    Thanks for the shout out about the valentines. xo

  49. MollyT

    I’ve been using psyllium husks in my gluten-free bread. It’s not quite indistinguishable from the artisan breads I used to bake, but it’s getting closer.

  50. Marc

    I just wandered in here from ruhlman’s site and the timing is perfect. I’m hosting a GF baking lab day at our church on the 26th. I’m getting all the stuff together and have set up a dry storage area (well, a big Rubbermaid tub) to store it in. We’re starting with your book and now I’ll be adding the seeds and the slurry to the repetoire.

    If you’d like, we’ll pass on the results!

    Best wishes and Happy Valentine’s Day!
    Marc B

  51. mommyweiss

    Our family has a vegetarian and gluten free diet. With two toddlers, I’ve always added ground flax seeds to baked goods because they’re an excellent vegetarian source of omega-3 and other brain-growing nutrients. I don’t like using gums, either. I’ll have to try this method on my next loaf of bread.

  52. Laura Fesmire

    I went hunting for chia seeds last night to no avail. Can I use all flaxseed in the recipe instead of a combination of chia and flaxseed?

  53. Ann from Montana

    For those who can’t find chia seeds — they are available on Amazon. I buy a large variety of GF items on Amazon. Sometimes you must buy a case of something but once you know you like a product and it has enough shelf life, it is ok — for me anyway. And often the price is much better than a miniscule amount from my local…though I try to support my local as much as I can as well.

  54. Nina

    As I said above, this post was really helpful. But… could I just question the word “slurry”?! I know what you mean and technically it’s probably accurate for the consistency, but here in the UK it usually means a kind of sludge made from farm manure. Not something you’d want to put in your food! Maybe it’s just a translation issue, but I thought I’d let you know.

    1. shalom

      The definition of slurry is a suspension of solid (insoluble) particles in a liquid, as in a mixture of cement, clay, coal dust, manure, meat, etc. with a liquid, as water or oil.
      Since flax and chia are insoluable, the term fits. I’ve also heard a water flour mix referred to as a slurry. Slurry is more of a term to describe a thickish solution than a specific mixture. Kind of like the term ‘starter’ may be used to refer to a sourdough starter or a yogurt starter which are two different items.

  55. SarahB

    Thank you so much for this post! The timing is just perfect too– my little boy, who is allergic to wheat, seems to have developed an allergy to guar gum and I was just clueless about what to do. I’d been afraid to try xanthan gum on him since he’s also allergic to corn (I know some can still tolerate it though), but I will be trying chia seeds! (He’s reacts to flax.)

  56. Dorothy Kinne

    Hi! I have been a chia enthusiast since I learned about them in 2006 at Bauman College in Berkeley, CA I have a blog about chia that I recently started, and have been testing chia as an egg and fat replacer in cooking and baking; someday soon I would like to publish a book on the topic. Great job here! http://chiamama.blogspot.com

  57. Gretchen

    This is SO exciting… I’m also allergic to corn and while I can tolerate it occasionally, I haven’t really liked the possibility of reacting to xanthan gum sourced from corn. I also just plain don’t get a good consistency when I try to bake with xanthan gum. A lot of this is probably because I’m a really bad baker, but it just has a slightly funny texture even when someone else does the baking.

    It’s REALLY interesting that I might be able to actually use some of those delicious looking ratio-based gluten recipes that I always skip, too.

  58. Emily

    I have a question. I’ve just made two loaves of bread using fresh-ground golden flax seeds (I grind them in a coffee grinder never used for coffee) plus the boiling water for a slurry, though in consistency it’s more like a wad of stiff glue. When I taste it just after mixing, it’s nice: nutty, wheaty. A few minutes later, it smells faintly but distinctly of gym locker. I know flax oil oxidizes really quickly; is that what’s happening here? And is there any way to mitigate it, like with a lid or something?

    I wish I could try chia, but at my grocery store it was about 12 times more expensive (literally!) than the flax seeds.

  59. Carina

    Emily, Chia prices differ outrageously; more than any other GF ingredient I’ve seen. Ethnic markets (latio is good for chia), health food stores, and omline retailers typically sell chia for many times cheaper than most grocery stores. I’ve comparison shopped it thoroughly in my area, and the best local price of $1.25/oz is handily bested by $.30/oz bulk buy on Amazon. Since I use 3-4tbsp of chia per day as beverage (the chia fresca recipe someone mentioned above), the large quantity works well for me. If you need less, maybe there’s another local GF baker near you who’d split an order?

  60. Aunti Mi

    Shauna, thanks for this info. I have been relying on the gums bc my first batch of cc were a flop — flat and stuck to the baking sheet — when I just subbed in gf flour and left the rest of my recipe as it was. I went right to the gums and it was an easy fix. Now, I am intrigued about chia seeds. I actually LOVE chia. Introduced to it in Mexico as a leaf either blended into fruit drinks or sautéed w eggs. It rocks!!! Never see chia leaves at the store here (Chicago). Eager to try the chia slurry. thanks!!!!

  61. Clarissa

    Even though I am still using guar gum and xanthan gum in many of my recipes, I am including ground flaxseed, ground chia seed and psyllium husk. I grind the flax and chia as I need it. It is fresher that way. Too much chia will make your bread gummier. Start out with 1–2 teaspoons of ground chia and 2 tablespoons of flax. One of the whole foods markets in our area is selling the psyllium husk by bulk. It adds a great texture to bread at 1–2 tablespoons per batch. If you add more, it will give your bread a harder crust. Great for a french bread recipe.
    On occasion I use fenugreek gum/powder and methyl cellulose. Fenugreek gum does have a flavor to it and characteristics of guar gum. It is made from fenugreek seeds and can be found at Indian or Asian markets. I did track down a refined fenugreek gum product from gumsper.com. Fenugreek gum is great to add along with water chestnut flour/starch to a flouring mixture for fried chicken. The fried chicken comes out crispy and not as oil logged.
    Methyl cellulose/E4 type has helped inhibit dough collapse and bread crumbing rate. It isn’t quite the natural product like the rest I list here, but it does help with those two issues tremendously. Citrucil or a generic equivalent is your more accessible source for this type of methyl cellulose. Different types of methyl cellulose powders can be obtained online.
    I have used gum acacia/gum Arabic and it has qualities more like gelatin.
    It is my understanding that many of the emulsifiers are pH sensitive. I add a quarter teaspoon of cream of tartar or citric acid to help that, to also help with freshness, and to add lightness to the bread dough rather than add vinegar to my recipes.
    You may have to add more liquid to your recipes when using any of these emulsifying ingredients.

  62. Heather

    To me, corn is only half of the issue as to why people cannot tolerate Zanthan Gum. If you check it out, say on WiseGeek, you’ll see this: “Seriously, xanthan gum derives its name from the strain of bacteria used during the fermentation process, Xanthomonas campestris. Xanthomonas campestris is the same bacteria responsible for causing black rot to form on broccoli, cauliflower and other leafy vegetables. The bacteria form a slimy substance which acts as a natural stabilizer or thickener.”

    I’m pretty sure I don’t tolerate slimy bacteria :)

    source: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-xanthan-gum.htm

  63. rose

    I have a grandson who is allergic to eggs. I read on the net about flax seed being used to sub for egg , so I began using black flax seed for my baking needs. It works great but my only problem with it is the flax doesn’t really hold the cake together very well. Also there is always a heaviness to the product. It always taste good though. I use 1 tbls ground seed to 3 tbls tap water. I also make a slurry and add to my mix. I would like to know however if you know of something else I could use to take the place of the egg in a recipe that will hold the final product together better

  64. Nancy

    So glad to finally find some idea of amounts of flaxseed to use and directions for using it in place of xanthan and guar gums. I just recently had to go gluten free and am wanting to revamp family recipes for those of us who are GF and really wasn’t to keen on having to buy xanthan and guar gums. I will be checking back for mor on this and other GF ideas. Thanks

  65. Mary

    Hello Shauna,

    My question: if the flour blend I am using includes flaxseed meal, can I still replace the eggs
    in a bread recipe with flaxseed eggs? Would it make the bread gummy?
    Thank you,
    Mary

  66. Ronnie

    Tears in my eyes. :-) I have a severe food allergy (anaphylaxis) to vegetable gums (xanthan, guar, acacia, etc.) so this makes me so happy to read and try. Thank you thank you thank you!

  67. Lina

    I just made Buttermilk Gluten Free Pancakes using Chia Seeds and Flax Seeds thanks to your website. They were absolutely delicious wonderful texture. My family loved them. Thank you for sharing the little things that make a big difference. I never liked the texture with the Xanthum Gum.

    1. Maria Jaisle

      Very helpful information. Thank you sooo much!!!!
      I have a question, though: I really like Chia Seeds, but haven’t been eating them since I found out, that I had Celiac Disease. It says, that they are prepared on same equipment as Wheat.
      I have had reactions to other gluten free products, that used the same equipment as wheat.
      My Chia brand is: Bob’s Red Hill. Or can you recomment another safe brand?
      Would very much appreciate your help with this!

      Thank you very much,
      Maria Jaisle

  68. renee

    i use chia seeds and flax seeds in place of gums as well and its awesome! i grind the seeds then soak in water till they turn goopy. i agree that using real foods is best whenever possible. thanks for spreading the healthy food gospel!!
    :)

  69. Tammy Russell

    I used flax seeds in a breakfast muffin mix I made this morning for some friends, not one muffin remained! The texture was perfect, no-one knew that they were gluten free and everone wanted the recipe! I totally agree with you about the gums! Love your blog, thanks for being such an inspiration!

  70. Lynnie

    Hi! Thanks for the great info! I love Chia its amazing sprinkled over salads and is so nutrious and useful.
    I noticed a few others talking about corn, egg and dairy allergies. I have Gluten/Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats, Spelt, Buckwheat, Corn, Rice, Beans & Legumes, Vinegar, Dairy and Pork allergies to name a few!! I have discovered along with Chia, Quinoa (‘keen-wah’) and Amaranth. Thankfully God made many different seeds and grains that are useful as flours.
    I am still working on how to change everything so that I can eat it, thankfully I love to cook… but it would be nice to not have to overthink everything. I also have to be careful of Fructose for one of my daughters!
    Any suggestions anyone has would be great!

  71. christah cato

    Gonna use them in chocolate chip cookies! Going with ground flax, and sugar free too with agave :)

  72. Des

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

    My son is gluten intollerant/allergic (don’t know if it celeiac or something else, just know he CAN’T eat it…) my husband is sensitive to gluten and so is my mom.
    So I have been trying to make a bread for my little guy (he LOVES toast, especially with eggs) and I have a hard time with it, it upsets my tummy, and so I have been in a delema.…I want to be able to have a sandwich, but I can’t have gluten bread in my house (my son will get up in the middle of the night and eat it, even though he can’t handle the gluten because he LOVES bread so much), and I can’t stomach the gluten free breads.…..

    I was beginning to wonder if I am not sensitive to the gums, or if it is all in my head…I now think it is the gums.

    I tried the pizza crust recepie from here, without the gums. And it was better than anything we have tried thus far.…I either over or under cooked it (made 2 pizzas) but otherwise it was wonderful, and it didn’t upset my tummy :)

    I was going to try the sandwich bread, but I didn’t have enough time, so I took some of the ideas and modified another GF recepie that I had been using. I did the stiffened egg whites, and the flax seed slurry (I get them from my sister, her husband farms them so nice and fresh.…), but I forgot the ice cubes.…it turned out really good. Definately going to try again today, but this time the recepie here.

    Thankyou soo much for the gum free ideas. We have loved putting fresh ground flax into our breads for years (ups the fiber, nice flavor but not supper heavy, and we can get dad to eat it as we can’t get him to eat most whole grain bread), and now I have even more reason to do it :)

  73. Lisa

    Hi,
    Can anyone tell me how much slurry to use in place of xanthan? If a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of xanthan, how much slurry is that? I have tried googling it but haven’t found anything but how to make the slurry.

    Thanks!

  74. farzana

    The 3 times I used the flax slury my loaves turned out gummy. I tried to replace 3 eggs as I have allergy to it. I used 6 TBSP flax with 3/4 water. Am I wrong anyone?? Maybe I shouldve adjusted the water. IDK. When I use real eggs my loaves turn out beautiful!!! Except I get exczema & cant stop sneezing the next day! At least I dont get a headache (from wheat & gluten)

  75. Sim

    I recently made blueberry muffins with almond flour. The recipe asked for 3 large eggs, so I substituted with 3 tbls of flax meal + 9 tbls of water and made a slurry. The recipe also asked for 1/2 cup of olive oil. The author said the muffins would be moist but I found that the muffins were too oily. The only thing I can think of is that maybe the flax seeds have oil and that created too much? I’d be interested to see if any one else has had this problem when substituting with flax seeds? Thanks:)

    1. shauna

      Sim, I would guess that the flax made them oily. If an author tells you the muffins will be moist, you don’t want any more moisture in there! That’s a case where I’d use egg replacer, or another dry substitute.

  76. Rachel Salcido

    I see you put a conversion for xanthum and flax but what about a basic bread recipe that is not gluten free but you want to convert it to gluten free. How much flax slury per cup of gluten free flour do you need? Do you still need to bake the bread in a high walled pan to maintain structure or like in sourdough recipes can you just pat into a ball and throw it in the oven?

  77. Libby

    Someone may have already mentioned in a previous comment, but I’m headed to bed and dont have time to look at all of the comments. ; )
    A farmers market in my city makes chia seed muffins with chia seed flour and brown rice flour blend. They also sell the chia/rice flour, supposedly you can substitute the chia/rice flour blend cup for cup for wheat. I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to soon.
    The premade muffins that I purchase are dense, but wheat muffin –like, they do have a distinct flavor, part of that could be the blend of the rice flour.

  78. Bunberry

    Hello! Case in point, check out Bea’s gluten free baked goods at latartinegourmande.com

    The financiers & the amaranth, quinoa & dark chocolate cake are my favorites.

    There is no xantham gum in her recipes. Can’t see it working for people who don’t do eggs though. In French form, she can make eggs do her bidding.

    1. lee

      she uses xantham gum in her pie crusts. Her chocolate cake recipe has no flour, hence no need for xantham. Eggs work to hold everything together if you are making small items like muffins…

  79. Carla

    Hi! I made some carrot cake muffins yesterday and added xanthan gum to see how the texture would be affected. Surprise, thism morning the carrors are green! What is even more strange is that the carrots touching the paper liner or on top exposed to air are still orange. Has anyone seen this happen? I am wondering what kind of chemical reaction is happening. My husband isn’t so sure it’s safe to eat emrald green carrots muffins, but they tast good!!

  80. Helen

    Just trying to cook and live gluten free because of many gut problems. So shocked that most of the gluten free recipes have Xanthan or guar gum. Is making it hard because these gums really contribute to the problems. Want to find a white bread recipe that is light, have made one that is great tasting but heavy. Help!

  81. MrsBunberry

    Revisted this post since I’m about to make the gluten free chocolate bread recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. I’ve had success without any gums in the recipes by Beatrice Peltre so I am sure the gums are just not necessary. (Haven’t tried Peltre’s tart recipes yet which call for some xantham gum but I’m sure there’s a way around that)

    With all these replies talking about multiple food allergies & whatnot–anyone try the GAPS diet? Sounds like their GI’s need a complete overhaul. It is not an easy diet. Especially at the beginning. And it is not for those whose religion is deep in vegetarianism or veganism. But to be a momentary omnivore so that I can live food-allergy-free one day is a dream of mine. If only I can get over giving up sweets long enough to see this diet through, I’d be on my way. Will probably choose gluten free even after a cure though, given how bad for you wheat truly is. :)

  82. Lisuzu

    I am new to blogs and have been unable to find the recipe for these flax/chia muffins. Please help!
    Finding health in gluten free,
    Thanks!

  83. lee

    Hi Shauna,

    Have you been able to make a loaf of bread (rather than a roll or a muffin, i.e. something small) with the slurry? Just asking bc the slurry hasn’t worked for me. When i make my GF sourdough bread with the slurry for instance, i get a loaf of crumbles. Normally this bread closely approximates the real thing (when using xantham) and makes a beautiful looking boule. There are no eggs in the bread, so am thinking that the slurry only works with small items and perhaps using eggs. Would love to hear your experience on actual loaves of bread. I have read through all the comments and actually haven’t seen anyone say, wow, makes a terrific loaf of bread yet. I am in france and ordered the chia seeds from America to try and have been disappointed in them as a substitute for xanthsm. Thanks.

    1. shauna

      Lee, I think that it’s the lack of eggs that’s hurting you here. I make loaves of sandwich bread all the time with chia or flax, although my preferred ingredient now is psyllium husk. They don’t even need a slurry. Just throw them in as a dry ingredient. My sandwich loaf uses eggs and it comes out well. But a friend of mine who can’t eat eggs tried it and it didn’t work. Eggs really are pretty vital in this baking. But we’re working on it!

  84. taja

    so glad i found this site, I took a food allergy test and found out I was sensitive to gluten foods, but im also have a food allergy to all gums, when i eat these foods i dont like them, my body doesnt digest them well at all, so glad to find other alternatives, i did find one brand of bread that you can mix up or they also have some of it frozen– Chebe, that is what i usually use, but they dont have hambuger buns and it is too hard to make sometimes, so i end up buying the gum breads which make me feel sick after i eat them, im going to try puttint flax seed in , this is great!

  85. JC

    Great blog and website. Thanks for all the good advice — am learning to bake all this for my husband’s new health game plan — so it is very helpful.
    I’d like to make a pitch for using CAGE-FREE eggs only! One, you’ll find enormous difference in the quality and taste and nutrition; Two– I have seen what the inside of a battery cage facility looks like! It is a living nightmare. Please don’t pay for that fellow bakers! They can’t abuse birds or other living animals unless we pay them to do it. Unless the cartoon says — CAGE FREE — then you may be assured it comes from a place that would give you nightmares. Let’s end this. It is worth the extra 70 cents. Support Humane Farmers!
    Flax Seed is a Miracle Food: I get the Premium Gold Organic True Cold Milled Flax Seed (to preserve nutrients) 3lb bag at Costco and keep it in the fridge. Lasts for half a year. Add a handful to granola, cereal, breads, salads, yogurt, smoothies — even sandwiches (great on almond butter) and dips like hummus. If you know anyone suffering from bowel problems, ask them to try adding a handful of cold-milled ground Flax Seeds to their diet every day — they may be amazed at how easily a multiplicity of symptoms disappear!
    I am thrilled to learn from you that I can also use it to replace the nasty old Xantham Gum!
    Keep writing!

    1. shalom

      Just because the carton says cage free doesn’t necessarily mean they are living in better conditions. The chickens may not be kept in cages, but they may be very crowded in a building. Also, some have a small door so the chickens can go outside “if” they want to “when it is open”. Neither one of these are truly cage free. They also feed the chickens grain (usually heavy in soy) which is not the natural food for chickens. You have to thoroughly check the source of the eggs — if they will ‘lie’ on the carton, they will also ‘lie’ over the phone.

      The best eggs are free-range where the chickens are outside eating their natural diet of bugs and grasses. They may get a grain supplement (preferably soy free) in winter when their food is scarcer.

      I read about a farm where they rotate cows, goats (it might have been sheep) and chickens (they have a movable chicken coup) through several pastures. Each one helps prepare the field for the next one (cow manure draws bugs for chickens, chickens fertilize the ground for the grasses, etc).

  86. Lisa

    I am really excited to see when you post more gum free recipes and thankful for this information! I use chia seeds and flax seed meal all the time. So I already have them as staples in my home. BTW– Your site was one of the first ones I stumbled on when I had to go gluten free. I think I tried one of your quick marionberry breads and was thrilled when it came out so yummy. I love the detail in your recipes and food combos you guys come up with. Bravo job! Thanks for all your hard work.

  87. Paige

    I love the idea of using real foods instead of the gums–& truth be told, they don’t agree with me. Like one of the earlier commenters, though, I’m not sure how to replace xanthan gum with the slurry. Specifically, how much slurry do you use when replacing xanthan gum? Also, if it’s a recipe where I can leave out the gum but not replace with slurry, do any of the other ratios change, or do I simply omit the gum? Lastly (& perhaps most importantly!) your fig newton recipe from 2006 calls for xanthan gum–can I just leave it out or does it require slurry replacement? I REALLY REALLY want to make these!!!
    Thank you!!

  88. Lyndsay

    I stumbled onto this post in a search for a substitution to xanthan gum. Just this one article is going to do so much towards helping me to get this thing better understood. I am having a particularly hard time because I am not just gluten free, I am a candida (yeast) sufferer. Two surgeries with antibiotics closely following pregnancy was all my system could handle. Then two years later a new surgery with antibiotics for it and the pretesting, etc., and more treatment and strategic dietary changes. I thought I had it under control again, but I made the mistake of having just two small alcoholic beverages, and I am right back on the yeast wagon. This time I am taking a new approach after doing more reading, I hit the right links this time, and I am using gluten free as a foundation. My first altered recipe I conjured up was to take a gluten free Bisquick and the regular Bisquick muffin recipe to make some gluten free, sugar free muffins with the GF Bisquick, Stevia, unsweetened almond milk, and a little applesauce (the one cheat). They really weren’t too bad. My two year old even liked them, as well as my expensive sesame crackers, darn the luck on both. My husband and I are also in shell shock over the expense we have gone to already. I got so excited when I saw the gluten free bread, but then I was crushed to read they had yeast in them. I am having similar crashes when I read the ingredients on other products and find vinegar, soy, sugars, corn, etc, so baking and cooking for myself is the way to go in most cases.

    I have been perplexed to say the least looking at the recipes I keep seeing, and trying to work around the many things I can’t put in them. This one little bit of knowledge about leaving out the xanthan gum is going to help me tremendously. Thank you very much for this information.

    1. Penny

      I came across the above website to replace the yeast. I use baking powder and organic vinegar, but I also have used lemon juice. It works just like yeast without the wait for it rise. I hope this helps.

      Penny

  89. Wendy

    I was just checking to see if there were any substitutes for xanthan gum and came across your post. Thank you so much, this is so exciting for me! I have always tried to stay away from the most processed flours and use whole grains. I love to bake, so going gluten free has been very disappointing fo rme. Many of the flours are very processed and ot healthy (if you want a nice light fluffy baked good) or the healthy grains are very distinct in flavor and distract from your baked goods. Then to top it off we are supposed to add xanthan gum. I am still working with the whole flour thing but it is a relief to know that I have a different option for the xanthan gum! Thanks so much!

  90. Evon

    Fabulous information! So helpful.. Thank you very much for your effort and concern and shared to everyone :)

  91. Katie from Midwest Mama (in Israel)

    Thank you Shauna! I need to bake without gums in order to sell my gf products to the public and I was becoming quite discouraged with baking disaster after baking disaster. I used my favorite “traditional” banana muffin recipe with a teaspoon of ground flax mixed with boiling water in place of the xanthan gum I would normally add. Perfect texture and no weird after taste. Thank you again!

  92. Lauren

    Thank you for this post. I am literally in the middle of making a gluten-free bread for my daughter and wondered if something could replace the xanthan gum. I’ve never used it, but the sound alone makes me nervous. I’m going to try flaxmeal instead! Thanks again!

  93. cred

    I just found your site while in search of info about guar & xanthan gum. Thanks for this information– happy to leave it out or sub with chia or flax. (just a note about the flax: while it is still beneficial as a source of fibre, the omega-3’s are destroyed while heating. To get the benefits of the omega-3’s, you need to consume them raw ie. ground and added to a smoothie)
    I am just starting to gather information to try elimination of dairy & gluten– I will be stopping here for awhile researching. Thanks!

  94. Tabatha Clow

    Instead of using xantham gum and guar gum, do you substitute apple sauce or just make sure that the flours and liquids are balanced?

    (Please forgive if you have answered this question before, I just found your site.)

    1. shauna

      Tabatha, it’s a good question! For any of the recipes I developed before with xanthan gum, I use an equal amount of psyllium husk. It works better, actually! Any new recipes we have developed since I have given them up are created by ratio, so the gums aren’t necessary.

  95. A.M.

    Heat destroys omegas in flax. I am unsure about in chia as it is much less common and much more expensive here in Canada so I haven’t looked into it much yet. I know with flax that if you go to a health food store to buy them they store them in the refrigerator because even being at room temperature destroys or quickly degrades the omegas. They also degrade more quickly once ground so it is best to grind them right before use or freeze the ground flax (the last being a tip from a vegan friend). Flax also has to be ground for the omegas to be bio-accessible. You can use ground flax in things like yogurt and my vegan friend even sprinkles it on salads for the omega benefit, but your method still gives a ton of benefit because of the fibre and I’m excited to possibly try this as I have gluten sensitive friends! I even looked up silken tofu breakfast shake recipes as I 1) don’t like most protein powders and 2) I can’t eat most of them because they have corn syrup and corn is my worst food sensitivity and some of them called for ground flax and I didn’t see a single one with gluten content! I know with chia seeds they say to soak them to make the omegas bio-accessible, which you can do directly in the liquid of whatever you are making rather than in water, which makes them turn out a strangely– a bit like tapioca pearls with a hint of nutty flavour (I was not a fan, but I’m not huge on tapioca pearls).

  96. Rebekah

    I have just started to replace my gums (guar/xantham) with seed (specifically, chia). What a difference! My cookie dough was like regular dough and tasted like cookie dough instead of like soured earwax. I’m doing a search to better gage how much of the seed to use per batch of bakin. In experimenting I simply measured I Tbls ground it in my coffee grinder and mixed it in with tghe flour. I didn’t even think to add boiling water. The cookies tasted great! I can’t wait to try more. Baking is so much more fun when it tastes good.

  97. Aimee

    My doctor recently told me to stay away from flax seed, just like soy, they are high in plant estrogens and these are not helpful for those trying to combat or prevent breast cancer found in family history. I have loved adding these, but will do some more research on the chi-chi-chi-chia seeds :)

  98. AJ

    Hi!
    Thanks for your blog. I have been making gluten free bread and cakes for about two years now and I have never used gums. Maybe it´s because it´s not for sale here so when we make glutenfree breads/cakes we just substitute regular flour with the glutenfree flour of my choice. And it works great!

  99. lisa

    I was looking at the Healthy bread in 5 mins./day recipe for the boule and it calls for xanthan gum. I was hoping to be able to sub something in its place, do you think flax or chia would work? Is flax better than chia or vice versa? Do I need to use the ground form or chia or can I use the whole seeds? Thanks so much for all this info., I am new to the world of GF as my child was recently diagnosed with celiac.

  100. Hettie Lane

    Question: Do you use flax seed and chiA seed combined or use one or the other. One place in your notes indicates they are combined but in another it says “or”.

    “1 tablespoon COMBINED FLAX SEEDS AND CHIA SEEDS combined with 2 tablespoons of boiling hot water then whisked into a thick slurry.”

    “substitute it with the same amount of flaxseed OR chia seeds. Then I combine that with twice as much boiling hot water and stir.”

    1. shauna

      Hettie, you can do either! Some folks don’t like flax seeds or cannot find chia seeds. I find that any combination works well.

  101. Michele

    I mde my first gluten free zucchini bread and it did not rise very much,correction — it didn’t rise at all. I taste good,but kind of flat. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated!
    Thx,
    Michele

  102. Katherine Green

    I am so excited to have found this. I have just gone gluten free and although tons of my coeliac symptoms have gone, my digestive problems have not, but I have been using xanthan gum to bake my bread so I am so thankful to you for this post, thank you. Just praying this is the answer now! :)

  103. Marie

    I have been baking with chia seeds and flour for four years. I think sometimes I laugh and call myself the chia lady. I think you are right on with using it as substitution for eggs and as well as adding more protein and if not baked but used in jellies or sprinkled on-top of cereal or just used in water to allow the body to be more hydrated when working outside you can get a good dose of omega fatty acids. Great article.

  104. Tara

    I recently went Gluten Free and I’m loving it!! I found a recipe for Gluten Free Naan Bread and hesitated making it because it called for Xanthan Gum. I was seaching for a substitute and was delighted when I found your blog. When I replaced the Xanthan Gum with ground flax seed and let it sit for 30 min to rise a bit, the bread fell apart when I went to put them in the frying pan. Any advice for substitution is much appreciated. I also used brown rice flour so I wasn’t sure if I should have combined it with another gluten free flour? Thanks :)

    1. shauna

      Hey Tara, I’m afraid the culprit was probably the brown rice flour. You have to combine flours to make this work. Take a look at the video we did on how to make your own gluten-free flour mix. Try that mix with psyllium, instead of flaxseed. And see how it goes!

  105. Mandy

    I like the idea of using chia seeds in a recipe — never thought of that, great advice! I’ve been searching for xanthan gum substitutes for a while and have randomly tried different ingredients. I actually found on this site http://www.xanthangumsubstitute.com/ that I could use locust bean gum, so I tried it in a muffin recipe and it turned out great. The locust bean gum gave the muffin a sweet cocoa taste and I only had to use a little quantity so it was cost effective.

  106. Michelle

    Hi Shauna, I know this post is well over a year old but I’m hoping you will still help me out. I don’t understand how to make the flax & chia seed slurry. You said to combine 1 Tbsp of both seeds with 2 Tbsp of boiling water. Do you mean 1 Tbsp of each or an equal amount of each to total 1 Tbsp? — I’m not good at math at the top of my head so I don’t know how many tsp of each that would be, right now. — I plan on making some gluten free chocolate chip cookies but I don’t like the idea of putting xanthan gum in it. It sounds like some sort of science experiment. Why on earth would I want to put something in my cookies that I can’t pronounce and comes from the black crap on broccoli? Everywhere I’ve looked online says there really isn’t a substitute for the gum, that without it everything comes out in crumbs, except you. But I’m a little concerned about putting the slurry into my mix and when the best time to do it would be. I’m also going to use agave nectar (amber) to replace the sugars and I would like to replace the eggs, but I don’t know what to put in their place. Can you help me please? Thanks!

  107. Sheila

    So, for example, if substituting 1 tbsp xanthum gum with chia seeds…do you substitute the equivalent of 1 tbsp dry seeds before water is added to expand it? Or do you use 1 tbsp of the chia slurry? Thanks for your help. :)

  108. Melissa

    Does anyone have an easy bread recipe using the all purpose gluten free flour? Most seem to have several different flours involved. And I would also like to sub the gum for chia seeds, but don’t know how much. Thanks!

  109. Jeanette

    Just a note about eggs! I hear this comment sooo often, people have allergies to all types of food now a days. We live on a farm and raise our animals without antibiotics, now herbicides or synthetic fertilizers on our fields, etc. We also avoid GMO products in our feed and we have found over and over again, that so many people are not allergic to our eggs, etc. I some how have a feeling it is inter related. One super happy customer’s husband hadn’t eaten eggs for years because he got stomach cramps every time he ate an egg. Well, she convinced her husband to eat one of our organic eggs and guess what! No cramping! So, I just wanted to pass that on, that sometimes people just need to go organic and then their body can tolerate certain foods.

  110. Grace D.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us! I searched for a xantham substitute simply because I did not have any around, and I am pleased to hear about this subsitute! I tried making some cornbread without anything and it turned out good, but next time I’ll try this trick. Thank you. Love that the substitute naturally comes with health benefits too :)

  111. Leslie

    I use flax meal in practically everything, and my kids have just gotten used to it (they’ve had to!) and enjoy the nutty flavour. I read about and now use it as an egg replacer, as well .
    2 1/2 tablespoons flax meal into 1 cup hot water, let sit for 5–10 minutes before using. Makes the equivalent of 2 eggs.
    Your bread looks delicious!!!

  112. Joleanna

    THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for writing this! I’ve been an occasional vegan baker for a few years and had success using flaxseed instead of eggs but now I have to bake GF for my son and I have yet to make anything b/c i don’t want to buy/use gums. Thanks again, can’t wait to try your recipes! :)

  113. Rudolph

    Chia is as you note a healthy and beneficial replacement for thickeners like xanthum gum and guar gum both of which tend to be fillers and stabilizers, but add no nutrition to the baked good. I have been cooking with chia (from central Mexico) for about ten years now. I realized chia would be a great addition to pizza dough, muffins; pumpkin, banana, camote (sweet potato), coconut or capomo (bread nut from the mountains of Mexico) quick breads after I discovered that chia had been used in tlaxcalas (tortillas) for at least 2,500 years in Mexico. I tried the tlaxacala made with chia and found a tender, even billowy flat bread made with masa. When the Spaniards arrived in Tenochtitlan (near now Mexico City) they found cilos filled with maise, beans, amaranth and chia. You can guess how important these foods were to feed the more than a quarter million people living in that ancient city. What is important to note when buying chia one needs to be sure it comes from north central Mexico and is grown at 1,200 meters and higher. Why you ask? Chia is grown (it is a kind of mint or sage) can be grown and is grown is a number of places below this elevation and as a result their Omega 3 content is quite low while the Omega 6 is quite high. The chia grown in central Mexico contains 63% fat…the greatest portion of which is the good ole Omega 3. In other words one can get the rich benefits of chia if purchased from the right place where it grows at the correct elevation (also south of the 20th parallel), or your body will have to make some conversion of Omega 6 into Omega 3 if there is no other source. Excellent bread making addition, that chia.

  114. Marianne

    Thank you so much! My daughter had Celiac disease. We have known for about r years, and I am recently wanting to cut out the processed ingredients required in her baked goods. This is certainly helpful! I am excited to give it a try!

    I have a question for you (I need to read your blog more because you may have answered this already). I worry about all the starches in her baked goods. Are they harmful? Are they necessary?

  115. Michelle

    Thanks so much! I’ve been gluten free for over 1.5yrs now and never bake or have breads because I don’t like the starchy ones in the store and don’t want to pay $14 for xanthum gum! I recently ordered some gluten free coconut bread online for a special treat and can’t wait to try it, but can’t afford that regularly either.
    This article is such good news to me!

  116. Carey

    Thanks everyone…very helpful!

    My favorite go-to recipe for baking a gluten & dairy free snack for my friends is this:

    http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/dessert/cake/chocolate-mint-cupcakes-no-gluten-dairy.html?p=26

    (Actually, I bake it even when we don’t have to worry about gluten because it is sooo amazingly yummy!)

    But, we now have some kids in our group with egg allergies, so I am searching for a nut, sesame seed, gluten, dairy, soy & egg free treat recipe. I was hoping to do sugar cookies that all the kids could eat for Valentine’s day. Thanks to this post, I may try replacing the egg in my recipes with flax or chia seed… have to check with the mom with the kids with sesame seed allergies first.
    Thank you!

  117. Carolyn

    Hi. I am so thrilled to find your site! We are a gluten free family that can not do gums but on top of that we can’t do eggs or dairy. After doing some reading online I decided to experiment with pectin and potato starch. I baked a cake recently using shredded apple (with peel) creamed into coconut butter and then used potato water ( saved from boiled potatos earlier in the day) and vegan sour cream for the liquid. The cake was moist even 4 days layer, rose nice and high and had delisous flavor without detecting the apple. I don’t know enough about baking to know exactly what I did (lol) and I am about to attempt choc cupcakes for some little princesses in our family so I hope I can recreate the results. Any thoughts or information you can give me to make these ideas more uniform? Thanks!! Happy baking!