Recently I picked up a few different types of emulsifiers in bulk powder form when I saw them in passing at a catering wholesaler.

Having never used powdered emulsifiers before in cooking or baking, I figured I'd find pretty comprehensive instructions for their use on the web - but I can't.

I'm not a stranger to food science but nor am I a chemist. I understand that emulsifiers are at least sometimes prepared by pre-mixing them into a (heated?) liquid or fat and then using the resulting solution in the actual recipe, which may explain why a lot of commercial emulsifier mixtures are packages as tubes of gel or paste.

I've also checked several industry-level textbooks about emulsifiers and while they are fantastic for in-depth explanations of the chemistry behind each emulsifier, they do not (as you might imagine) provide guidance on how a lowly baker or cook would actually use a powdered form.

So does anyone know how to prepare and use a dry powdered form of any of the following in a real recipe?

Specifically I am most interested in enhancing baked goods and adding stability to sauces, but would also like to know how to use them for other processes such as sausage-making too.

  • E471 Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
  • E481 Sodium stearoyl lactylate
  • E482 Calcium stearoyl lactylate
  • E472e DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides)


  • 2
    I would ask Dave Arnold, known on Twitter and Instagram as @cookingissues. He also has a radio show/podcast called cooking issues, found here: heritageradionetwork.org/series/cooking-issues There is a lot of banter, but if you are patient it is worth wading through for the food/kitchen science. He is quite responsive to quick queries via twitter. You can call in or email longer question to the the radio show. You also might search the show archives. Finally, come back and post what you learn. We encourage the answering of your own questions.
    – moscafj
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 11:39
  • having listened to all of Cooking Issues' backlog, I'm reasonably sure they never talked about this issue. It's still worth listening, it just won't contain the answer! The idea of calling in/writing is great though, it's right up their alley.
    – Agos
    Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 10:46

1 Answer 1


Emulsifiers are a type of surfactant that helps combine oil and water. They are polar molecules with a hydrophobic side and a hydrophilic side (one side attracts fat and one side attracts water). They can be used in many, many ways, so it's difficult to answer this question fully, but I can give you a few examples.

First, I make almond milk all the time. It separates rather quickly, so I generally just shake it up right before use. But I sometimes put soy lecithin in it and put it in my Vitamix, heating it up (which helps with the emulsification) and blending in the emulsifier. This keeps the almond milk from separating in my fridge. The more I use the less separation I find.

You can use sodium stearoyl lactylate in breadmaking, mixing it with the flour before adding the other ingredients (whisk it together). This will give you a softer crumb, more volume, and a longer shelf life.

There are many ways to use common emulsifiers as well, such as egg yolks and mustard in mayonnaise. You can also use a little mustard in a vinaigrette, or egg yolks in a hollandaise sauce.

If you are making any food which is an emulsion (such as a forcemeat) and you're finding separation of the fat/water, try using an emulsifier.

  • Thanks for your answer, however from what I understand, the raw powdered form of at least some of these emulsifiers can't be used directly in recipes without some kind of processing first. I'm not sure if SSL is directly miscible with flour and water as you say but I know that monoglycerides, for example, are not. Some manufacturers do sell dispersable versions of them in the form of a powder consisting of emulsifier impregnated onto a carrier molecule such as starch, but I've yet to see instructions for using pure powdered emulsifier in recipes.
    – WackGet
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 2:07

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