Recent studies revealed higher polymer flooding performance upon adding metal oxide nanoparticles (NPs) to acrylamide-based polymers during heavy oil recovery. The current study considers the effect of TiO₂, Al₂O₃, in-situ prepared Fe(OH)₃ and surface-modified SiO₂ NPs on the performance of xanthan gum (XG) solutions to enhance heavy oil recovery. Surface modification of the SiO₂ NPs was achieved by chemical grafting with 3-(methacryloyloxy)propyl]trimethoxysilane (MPS) and octyltriethoxysilane (OTES). The nanopolymer sols were characterized by their rheological properties and ζ-potential measurements. The efficiency of the nanopolymer sols in displacing oil was assessed using a linear sand-pack at 25 °C and two salinities (0.3 wt % and 1.0 wt % NaCl). The ζ-potential measurements showed that the NP dispersions in deionized (DI) water are unstable, but their colloidal stability improved in presence of XG. The addition of unmodified and modified SiO₂ NPs increased the viscosity of the XG solution at all salinities. However, the high XG adsorption onto the surface of Fe(OH)₃, Al₂O₃, and TiO₂ NPs reduced the viscosity of the XG solution. Also, the NPs increased the cumulative oil recovery between 3% and 9%, and between 1% and 5% at 0 wt % and 0.3 wt % NaCl, respectively. At 1.0 wt % NaCl, the NPs reduced oil recovery by XG solution between 5% and 12%, except for Fe(OH)₃ and TiO₂ NPs. These NPs increased the oil recovery between 2% and 3% by virtue of reduced polymer adsorption caused by the alkalinity of the Fe(OH)₃ and TiO₂ nanopolymer sols.