8 Best Substitutes for Cocoa Powder

Who doesn’t like chocolate, hot chocolate, or a creamy chocolate cake? I guess the answer is that you all like the sweet taste of the chocolate. Cocoa powder is the ingredient that gives a rich chocolate flavor and color to these recipes.

However, if your recipe calls for this powder and you don’t have it at hand or can’t find it anywhere, you can use dutch-process cocoa, carob powder, hot cocoa mix, or some of the following substitutes.

Substitutes for Cocoa Powder

When you are choosing a substitute for the cocoa powder you should have in mind that you will not get the same flavor or texture. Therefore, use the substitute which works best in your recipe to reach a similar flavor like when you would use cocoa powder. You can choose between these ingredients.

1. Dutch-process cocoa

Dutch-process cocoa is a good substitute for cocoa powder since it has a less bitter flavor and dissolves easily.

If you want to use it as a substitute in a recipe without baking soda, you should add some acid to help the leavening process because Dutch-process cocoa is not acidic like cocoa powder.

For 3 tablespoons cocoa powder use 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar, white vinegar, or lemon juice.

If you want to substitute cocoa powder in a recipe without baking powder or baking soda as ingredients, just use Dutch-process cocoa as a 1:1 substitute for cocoa powder. You will get a recipe with darker color and beautiful chocolate flavor.

Also check: Baking Chocolate Vs Chocolate Chips

2. Unsweetened cooking chocolate

Melted Chocolate

Unsweetened cooking chocolate is a common baking ingredient with a high content of cocoa solids and chocolate liquor. However, it doesn’t contain any sugar. So, it will only give your recipe flavor and fat. This is why you will have to use 1 tablespoon less fat in your recipe.

Melt the chocolate and add it to the mixture together with the butter. You will get a similar taste and texture as when you are using cocoa powder. As a substitute for 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder use 2 tablespoons melted unsweetened cooking chocolate.

3. Carob powder

Carob powder looks similar to cocoa powder. It has a sweet flavor and is usually used as a sweetener in baked goods.

Even if it doesn’t have the same bitter flavor, carob powder is one of the best substitutes for cocoa powder.

You will only have to use less sugar in your recipe for the added amount of carob powder. Substitute the carob powder as 1:1 ratio for cocoa powder.

4. Hot cocoa mix

The hot cocoa mix includes cocoa powder, sweetener, milk solids, and spices. You can make it with a cup of hot water or milk, and you will get a cup full of chocolate flavor.

The hot cocoa mix will not provide the exact flavor like a cocoa powder but you can use it as a substitute in many recipes. Use 2 teaspoons of the hot cocoa mix as a substitute for 1 teaspoon cocoa powder.

5. Hot chocolate mix

The hot chocolate mix is with rich chocolate flavor and provides a thicker texture than hot cocoa mix. It includes cocoa powder, milk powder, sugar, and creamer.

So, you will have to adjust the sugar in your recipe but the flavor will be similar to when you use cocoa powder. Substitute 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder with 2 teaspoons hot chocolate mix.

6. Chocolate chips

Chocolate chips

Chocolate chips are small parts of chocolate with many flavors like mint chocolate, peanut butter, dark chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate, and more. They work well in various desserts like cakes, muffins, pie, cookies, pancakes, and pastries.

Chocolate chips are made of sweetened chocolate with cocoa butter and they retain their shape after baking.

So, if you want them to bond with the rest of the ingredients in your meal, you can ground them to get a better texture. To substitute 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, use half a cup of ground chocolate chips.

Also check: 10 Best Substitutes For Chocolate Chips

7. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and cocoa solids. Quality dark chocolate is very nutritious and full of powerful antioxidants. It has rich and a slightly bitter flavor, similar to cocoa powder.

To replace 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, use 2 tablespoons of melted dark chocolate (it has more coconut butter than cocoa powder). If you are utilizing high-quality dark chocolate, you would not have to use less sugar in your recipe because it contains small amounts of sugar.

8. Coverture chocolate

Coverture chocolate has a high content of cocoa butter. It is a staple in the professional production of cakes, chocolate bars, brownies, barks, and candy.

This type of chocolate is good for dipping or tempering. It is perfect for baking but because of the high content of coconut butter, you will have to lower the amount of fat in your recipe for the amount of the added chocolate. Substitute 2 tablespoons of melted coverture chocolate for 3 tablespoons cocoa powder.

How is Cocoa Powder Made?

Everything begins with the cocoa beans also known as cacao beans. They are the seeds of the cocoa tree that are dried and fermented before the cocoa solids and butter is extracted from them.

Cocoa butter is the fat extracted from the beans and is with light yellow color and cocoa flavor. It is used for the production of chocolates, in cooking, and as an ingredient in health and beauty products. Cocoa solids are the dry parts of cocoa beans, which are ground into cocoa powder.

Natural cocoa powder has a bitter and acidic flavor and light brown color. To neutralize the acid and give it a milder flavor the cocoa powder is treated with alkalizing agents.

This cocoa powder is known as Dutch-process cocoa and has fewer flavonoids than actual cocoa powder with less bitter flavor and darker color.

The acidity of the natural cocoa powder extracted with Broma process is with pH level between 5,3 and 5,8. This makes it less soluble than Dutch-process cocoa who has a pH level between 6.8 and 8,1. Acidity affects how the cocoa powder interacts with the other ingredients, the flavor, and solubility.

The Dutch-process cocoa is a common ingredient in different recipes like chocolate drinks, ice cream, and recipes where the baking powder is used.

Natural cocoa powder is a common ingredient in baked goods like cookies, muffins, cakes, and brownies where baking soda is one of the ingredients.

Related Questions

Can I use hot chocolate instead of cocoa powder?

Hot chocolate is one of the substitutes for cocoa powder. You can use it in your cake or cookies, but you will have to use less sugar in your recipe.

Can I substitute flour for cocoa powder?

You can substitute flour for cocoa powder in baked goods. But your recipe will not get the same color and flavor as with cocoa powder.

Can I use coffee instead of cocoa powder?

Coffee has a different flavor than cocoa powder. But you can use instant coffee as a substitute for cocoa powder and save your recipe.

Can I use drinking chocolate instead of cocoa powder in a cake?

Drinking chocolate has a weaker flavor than cocoa powder but you can use it instead of cocoa powder in a cake. You will only need to adjust the sugar content in your recipe because drinking chocolate is sweet.


These are just some of the substitutes for the cocoa powder you can use in your recipes. You can use hot chocolate mix, or cocoa powder mix if you want a cup of hot drink.

The dutch-process cocoa, dark chocolate, Carob powder, unsweetened cooking chocolate, or some of the chocolates mentioned in this article make great substitutes if you want to make a baking recipe.

Whatever you choose have in mind that cocoa powder is helping in the leavening of the baked goods. So, when you use these substitutes you will get a different texture and flavor than the flavor when you are using cocoa powder.

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