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Xanthan gum in ice cream making

Xanthan gum
in ice cream making

When it comes to ice cream making, there are many gums available to buy and choose from. Luckily, the one which is also the easiest to find, is also the one you will ever need: xanthan gum. Here you will find everything you need to know about it, so that you can make ice cream like a pro.

And please do ask us your questions. We ❤️ questions.

top xanthan gum ice cream recipes:

About xanthan gum:

Xanthan gum is just one of one the gums used in ice cream making. Pastry chefs and food industries around the world use a combination of gums to stabilise the ice cream mixture and create the creaminess and mouthfeel they want.

Xanthan gum is the only gum which when used on its own, it creates a terrific ice cream texture; all other gums need to be combined with at least one more gum for best results .

Most gums may be hard to find and expensive, but xanthan gum is widely used in gluten-free baking, so it is often available at the grocery stores (the baking aisle), at specialty shops or online. This makes it the easiest to find.

One more thing to love in xanthan gum is that you do not need much heat to use it; xanthan gum fully hydrates at approx. 52ºC/ 125ºF, whereas all other gums need to be added to the ice cream mixture at 85ºC / 185ºF. This makes xanthan gum the most convenient in using it, as it requires less cooking over the stovetop.

Xanthan gum creates a lovely ice cream body which churns beautifully, melts uniformly and keeps well in the freezer. It makes ice cream which is as good as a custard-based, only that you do not need to add egg yolks to create this creamy mouthfeel. 

Other gums used in ice cream making:

  • Carob bean gum
  • Locust bean gum
  • Guar gum

How do I use xanthan gum?

To add xanthan gum in your ice cream mixture follow these steps:

  1. bring the ice cream mixture to 45ºC-62ºC/ 113ºF-143ºF
  2. pour it into a blender’s jar
  3. with the blender on, sprinkle the xanthan gum over the surface
  4. blend for two minutes to fully hudrate the xanthan gum
  5. chill the ice cream mixture until completely cold.
  6. churn with your ice cream maker

Note that the ice cream mixture doesn’t thicken during blending. It will thicken slightly as it cools. 

How much should I use?

You can adjust the quantity of the xanthan gum in the ice cream recipe to your liking, depending on the texture you want to achieve:

  • To slightly stabilise the ice cream without affecting its texture and mouthfeel much, use 0.06% in total weight of ice cream mixture
  • to create a firmer texture, which has a fuller body and mouthfeel, close to a store-bought ice cream, use 0.12% in total weight of ice cream mixture 
  • for a stretchy texture similar to Booza/salep ice cream, use 0.22% in total weight of ice cream mixture

The no-thermometer method

When using xanthan gum for ice cream making, you need to bring the ice-cream mixture to the right temperature (approx. 45ºC-62ºC/ 113ºF-143ºF) before adding the gum. At this temperature, xanthan gum dissolves without clumping, fully hydrates during blending, and effectively stabilises the ice cream mixture.

If you do not have a thermometer, you can use a simple and foolproof method to bring the mixture to the right temperature without using one, which we have developed over the years. How does it work? Thanks to physics, you can calculate the temperature of a mix of liquids with different temperatures. But to begin with, you need two temperatures that you do not need a thermometer to measure.

Luckily, there are two temperatures in a modern home which are always the same:

  1. the one is the boiling temperature of a liquid, which is always approx. 95ºC-100ºC / 203ºF-212ºF ; 
  2. the other is the temperature of a liquid cold straight out of the fridge; that can be anywhere between 4ºC-14ºC/ 39ºF-57ºF in normal conditions (abnormal conditions include extreme hot weather; or frequently opening and closing the fridge’s door; those can disrupt the standard temperatures of your fridge).
 

What we do is divide in half the mixture that we want to stabilise with the xanthan gum; half of the mixture must be boiling hot and the other half fridge-cold. When you blend the two halves together, the blend instantly reaches approx. 52ºC/ 125ºF; you then sprinkle the xanthan gum and blend for two minutes to fully hydrate. 

That works every time, and it is an easy way to use xanthan gum without a thermometer. And fear not for minor differentiations in the above temperatures, as xanthan gum is quite forgiving. In fact 52ºC/ 125ºF is the temperature we prefer for convenience; other than that anywhere between 45ºC-62ºC /  113ºF-143ºF is perfectly fine.

Example:

Say you want to make fior di latte ice cream with:
500 g milk + 350 g cream + 150 g sugar = total weight 1000 g.


What you need to do is:


1. Divide in half the ice cream mixture: this is 1000g ÷ 2 = 500 g

2. Keep the one half in fridge-cold temperature and bring the other half to boiling-hot temperature

3. What to include in the boiling-hot half: it only makes sense to include all the sugar because sugar must be dissolved and it does so efficiently only when heated. The sugar is 150 g. So we need (500 g boiling hot half – 150 g sugar =) 350 g of liquid to boil with the sugar. This 350 g can be milk or cream; we usually prefer to boil milk, as we use pasteurised heavy cream which tends to turn yellow during boiling. So the 500 g boiling half in my case is 150 g sugar + 350 g milk. 

4. What to include in the fridge-cold half: the rest of the ingredients. This is 350 g heavy cream + 150 g milk (from 500 g milk in total)

5. Pour the fridge-cold half into the blender’s jar to have it ready and bring the milk and sugar to a boil. As soon as the milk+sugar comes to a boil, pour it into the blender with the cold milk+cream; this instantly brings the total mixture to approx. 52ºC / 125ºF, which is a good temperature to sprinkle the xanthan gum in without clumping.

6. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over the surface of the mixture with the blender on, blend for 2 minutes to fully hydrate it and you are set.

If there are other components in the ice cream mixture, like nut paste, chocolate etc these can be added after blending in the xanthan gum.

You can use this method with almost any ice cream recipe by playing around with the ingredients; not sure how to do it? Check our strawberry ice cream recipe, with strawberries, cream and sugar for inspiration.

All xanthan gum ice cream recipes

all your xanthan gum ice cream recipes in one place

with milk, cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and xanthan gum

with milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean, and xanthan gum

with milk, cream, sugar, and xanthan gum (a.k.a. Fior di Latte flavour)

with strawberries, milk, cream, sugar, and xanthan gum

This is not a xanthan gum ice cream recipe; it is just blueberries, milk, cream, and sugar. But we would hate us if you missed it, so we put it here. Blueberries contain pectin which thickens the ice cream mixture, making the addition of xanthan gum needless.

with chocolate, cocoa powder, milk, cream, sugar, and xanthan gum

with chocolate, milk, cream,  sugar, and xanthan gum

with cocoa powder, milk, cream, sugar, and xanthan gum

with white chocolate, milk, cream, sugar, and xanthan gum

with milk, cream, sugar, and xanthan gum

with coffee beans, milk, cream, sugar, and xanthan gum

with lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and xanthan gum

with bergamots, milk, cream, sugar, and xanthan gum

Questions, please!

( We ♥️ questions )

6 Responses

  1. Hello, and thank you so much for this information, which I have scoured the Internet without success, to find!
    For the low-end amount of xanthan gum to use, you have .06% of the weight of the ice cream. This would be half of one percent of the ice cream. Did you actually mean .06 x 100, or 6% of the weight? If it were really .06%, I would not be too surprised, as a very small amount of xanthan gum seems to go a very long way!

    Another question I have is, do you have a good recipe (with or without xanthan gum) for dairy-free, sugar-free ice cream that is scoopable out of the freezer? Or is that like asking if you can make pigs fly?

    I have a Cuisinart recipe (that came with my ice cream maker) that I like, but it uses sugar (also uses tapioca starch, no eggs). I experimented with soaked 3/4 C. cashews blended in part of the liquid (soy milk base) (to make it a tad creamier – the original recipe produced a slightly too “icy” texture for me) and adding a Tbsp. of coconut oil – and used Lakanto golden raw sugar (erythritol/monk fruit mixture) to replace the sugar (1:2). I did not use any xanthan gum. Churned well in the ice cream maker, but came out hard as a rock from the freezer, with a long time before it could be scooped. In other words, “failed experiment.”

    1. Hello Sandra! I mean .06% of xanthan gum of the ice cream mixture’s weight. As you said, a tiny amount of xanthan gum goes a long way!

      No, there is no such thing as dairy-free and sugar-free ice cream which is scoopable out of the freezer. A dairy-free and sugar-free ice cream would be ok to eat within a few hours of churning, but not after sitting in the freezer for a lot longer than that.

      Sugar does more in ice cream than sweetening it: it traps the free water in the ice cream and prevents it from getting icy. By reducing or replacing the amount of sugar, the water molecules stay free in the ice cream; the result is that rock that came out of your freezer.

      Thank you for stopping by and asking; we love questions!
      Hope we helped!

  2. Thank you, Lisa – yes, that helps! I guess I’ll just stick with the Cuisinart dairy-free ice cream recipe, which is quite easy: just dairy-free milk, tapioca starch, sugar, a pinch of salt, and vanilla extract; and it does freeze pretty well. But one thing I find odd – the recipe doesn’t tell you to heat the tapioca starch in the dairy-free milk (I use soy). Do you think that they left that out by mistake? I left a question on their site about it but didn’t hear back. In any case, I’ve tried it both ways (heating and not heating the tapioca starch in the milk), and there hasn’t seemed to be too much of a difference. I like the recipe, but the ice cream does turn out to be a bit icier than I would like. Do you think a pinch of xanthan gum would make it a little smoother (less icy) without changing the overall result very much?

    I hope you’ll consider writing about the other gums when making ice cream, and how they compare.

    1. Tapioca starch needs to be heated to thicken the ice cream mixture. Also, the ice cream mixture should significantly thicken with the tapioca starch when heated. If it doesn’t, this means that the quantity is not enough. You should need about 20 g (3 tbs.) of tapioca starch for every 1000 g of ice cream mixture. If the recipe calls for less than that, then it is only natural that the ice cream is icy because stabilisers like tapioca starch and xanthan gum act like sugar: they trap free water and prevent the ice cream from getting this icy mouthfeel. You can either increase the tapioca starch (but do heat it) or use xanthan gum! Or why not; a little bit of both! 😉
      And yes, I do want to write for the rest of the stabilizers as well! I just don’t have yet all the experience I need. All the information on this website come from a lot of personal work and research and although I wish I was faster, truth is that they always take more time than I would like them to.

  3. Hello I purchased an ice cream maker about 5 months ago (funnily enough the same model that is presented in your guides) but after my first batch I realized my ice cream has tons of ice crystals. Your recipe with xanathan gum (I tried strawberry) is the closest I have ever gotten to ice Creme with no ice crystals, and it tasted amazing!!! But once the ice cream set over night thousands of tiny ice crystals formed (these are only detectable when eating the ice cream and has that “stepping-on-snow” feeling when eating). Do you have any suggestions to remove ice from the equation?

    My only other lead at the moment is using invert sugar instead of regular table sugar, but your recipes mention the exclusive use of table sugar, do you still stand by this suggestion?

    1. Hi there!
      When ice crystals form in your ice cream maker, it suggests that the water content in the mixture is higher than it should.
      If you’ve followed the recipe precisely by using the correct fat content in the heavy cream and whole milk, weighing the ingredients accurately, and not reducing the sugar, then the issue might lie with the strawberries. The strawberries may lack sufficient sugars, especially if they are off-season, underripe, or of lower quality. To check, taste a strawberry – if it’s sweet and soft, that’s good; if it’s acidic and firm, that might be the problem. To address the excess water, try boiling down the strawberry syrup for 2-3 minutes to reduce it.

      If you have invert sugar on hand, adding 15 to 30 grams could also help. Our recipes are designed with table sugar in mind, as it’s the most commonly available option for homemade ice cream. So, for accurate results, we recommend sticking with table sugar, because alternate sugars may throw off-balance the recipe, in which case one would need to recalculate the formula to make it work.

      Hope this helps! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have more questions. 🙂

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