Whether you’re looking to experiment with new flavors or need to find a cocoa powder substitute due to dietary restrictions, there are many options available to help you achieve the desired taste and texture in your baked goods.
What is Cocoa Powder?
Cocoa powder, an unsweetened chocolate product, adds a rich chocolatey taste to desserts and beverages. During processing, the cocoa butter is extracted from the cacao beans, resulting in the remaining dried solids that are ground into the product known as cocoa powder.
Types of Cocoa Powder
Natural Cocoa Powder
Natural cocoa powder is made by pressing roasted cacao beans to remove most of the fat. The resulting powder is slightly acidic with a bitter taste.
Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
Dutch-processed cocoa powder, also known as alkalized cocoa powder, is treated with an alkalizing agent to neutralize its acidity. This process produces cocoa powder that is darker in color and has a milder, smoother flavor.
Black Cocoa Powder
Black cocoa powder is an ultra-processed version of Dutch-processed cocoa powder. It has an intense, dark color and a strong, bitter flavor. It is often used in recipes for baked goods such as Oreos and other chocolate cookies.
Common Uses for Cocoa Powder Substitute
- Baking cakes, cupcakes, and brownies
- Making chocolate sauces and frostings
- Adding to smoothies and shakes
- Sprinkling over oatmeal or yogurt
- Making hot chocolate drinks or other hot beverages
- Coating truffles or other candies
- Using as a coffee or tea flavoring
Reasons Why You May Need a Cocoa Powder Alternative
- Allergy or intolerance to cocoa or chocolate
- Dietary restrictions, such as a low-carb or sugar-free diet
- Unavailability of cocoa powder in your area
- Personal preference for a different flavor
- Cost considerations
13 Best Cocoa Powder Substitute Options
1. Carob Powder or Chips
Made from the carob tree pod, carob powder and carob chips have a similar taste and texture to cocoa powder but are sweeter. You can use it in many different recipes as you would cocoa powder. Find out about its benefits from Healthline.
2. Raw Cocoa Powder
You might be hesitant to grab raw cocoa powder, but it is the same thing as cocoa powder, except there are no added sugars or filler ingredients. Use it in smoothies for a healthier option or in baking with some added sugar to balance out the bitterness. Be Good Organics explains the health benefits of raw cocoa powder.
3. Hot Cocoa Mix
Hot cocoa mix has a lot of additional ingredients in it, so using it in a recipe where texture isn’t a concern, use it in a 2:1 ratio and adjust your sugar since it has a lot of it in the mix. Spark Recipes show you how easy it is to use in a smoothie.
4. Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
Although powder substitutes may be easy to measure, there are other substitutes that are equally delicious but require a little adjustment in terms of ratio, such as baking chocolate. Made from ground-up cacao beans, unsweetened baking chocolate has a flavor profile similar to that of cocoa powder, albeit without any added sweeteners. Better Homes & Gardens show you exactly how to replace the cocoa powder with solid chocolate pieces.
5. Chocolate Chips
Leaf TV shows you how to use normal chocolate chips to replace cocoa powder. It is important to know that chocolate chips are sweetened, so you will have to adjust the sugar or sweetener in your recipe to avoid the sugar content being overwhelmingly sweet.
6. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a close substitute for cocoa powder if you’re in a pinch. It has far less fat and sugar than regular milk chocolate, ensuring your final recipe isn’t as sweet as it would be if you used regular milk chocolate. The Bake School guides you on how to replace the cocoa powder with dark chocolate.
7. Chocolate Syrup
Chocolate syrup might be ideal to use in hot beverages or liquid desserts since it will affect the texture of your recipe and be much sweeter than cocoa powder. Herseyland shows you a few creative ways to use chocolate syrup.
8. Chocolate Flavored Whey Protein Powder
There are a few interesting recipes that use chocolate protein powder as the base of the recipe, and you can find some over at Drink Wholesome. It is best to use a replacement recipe that uses chocolate protein powder as opposed to a direct substitution.
9. Espresso Powder
Whilst espresso powder will not add a chocolate flavor to your recipe, in baked goods, it can add a richness that may work well and taste great. Martha Steward has a few great tips on how to use espresso powder.
10. Hazelnut Chocolate Spread
You can add the hazelnut chocolate spread to your recipe for a luxurious and rich chocolate taste, but be awarer that it contains a lot of sugar and fat, which you will have to adjust. Sally’s Baking Addiction shows you how to make delicious chocolate frosting using hazelnut chocolate spread.
11. Chocolate Malted Milk Powder
If you’re in a pinch and have this on hand, you can use it to replace cocoa powder in a few recipes where you won’t mind the malted barley taste, as it can be a bit overwhelming. Food Network uses malted milk powder to make chocolate pudding.
12. Couverture Chocolate
Couverture chocolate is a specialty chocolate with a higher content of cocoa butter, making it ideal to use in technical baking recipes. Read Cacao gives you a complete overview of the ingredient.
13. Black Cocoa Powder
Black cocoa powder is heavily alkalized cocoa powder, which means it will require some adjusting on your part in your recipe. You might also need to adjust your baking soda or baking powder in your recipe when using black cocoa powder. Salt and Baker has a guide to help you navigate the adjustments required.
5 Tips for Cocoa Powder Substitution
- Experiment with different substitutes to find the one that works best for your recipe.
- Adjust the quantity of the substitute based on its strength and sweetness.
- Be mindful of the texture and consistency of the substitute, as it may differ from cocoa powder.
- Add additional sweeteners or flavors to enhance the taste of the substitute, and if you are using sweeter alternatives, lower the sweetener in your recipe.
- Use high-quality ingredients to achieve the best results.