Top 4 Cocoa Powder Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Cocoa powder substitutes are important since cocoa powder seems to be one of those ingredients you always have in stock – until you don’t. A key ingredient in many chocolate dessert recipes, discovering possible alternatives to cocoa powder is essential for any chef with a sweet tooth.

If you are looking for cocoa powder substitute because of an allergy or just the lack of it in your kitchen you can check out the list of some amazing substitutes!

Cocoa Powder Substitutes

The best cocoa powder substitutes include solid cacao, carob powder, hot cocoa powder, and sweetened chocolate among others.

Solid Cacao (or Unsweetened Baking Chocolate)

Cocoa powder, solid cacao, and baking chocolate are made from cocoa solids and the latter two can be used to substitute cocoa powder. When using solid cacao or unsweetened baking chocolate, it is important to consider the extra fat content. Adjust any fatty ingredients (such as butter, shortening or oil) in your recipe by removing one tablespoon according to each ounce of baking chocolate or solid cacao.

Cacao nibs in a white measuring cup on a wooden counter

Cacao nibs Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Note: When substituting solid cacao, cacao nibs, or baking chocolate for cocoa powder, it is best to melt the solid bar fully before adding it to the mixture.

Carob Powder

Carob powder form is an easy and direct substitute for cocoa powder, and you can use the exact amount of carob powder as is listed for cocoa powder. Although it is similar to chocolate in richness and has a similar flavor, it is fruitier, less bitter and therefore not to everyone’s taste.

Hot Cocoa Powder

The hot cocoa powder is a ready-to-drink mix of cocoa powder, sugar, milk solids and sometimes other spices. As a substitute, it is best to increase the amount of hot cocoa to get the full chocolate flavor and reduce the levels of sweetener elsewhere in the recipe to compensate for the sweetness of the cacao powder. This is best done according to taste, as the ingredients for hot cocoa powders vary greatly.

Sweetened Chocolate

Sweetened chocolate is a good substitute of cocoa powder. Like the unsweetened baking chocolate and cacao, sweetened chocolate needs to be melted before being added to the recipe.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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