Top 10 Substitutes for Cocoa

Substitutes for Cocoa
Photo by AlexanderStein

Cocoa, also called cocoa powder, has been used to add flavor and texture to chocolate and baked goods for centuries. 

However, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that cocoa powder became widely available. And was used as an ingredient in all recipes, from cakes to brownies. 

But if you’re avoiding cocoa or can’t find the ingredients you want to use, don’t fret! Many substitutes for cocoa powder can be used in any recipe that calls for it.

Check out this list of great replacements for cocoa powder!

Sweetened and Semi-Sweetened Chocolate Chips

Chocolate chips are great substitutes for cocoa. They can be used in baking or melted and used as a topping or filling. Chocolate chips come in both sweetened and semi-sweet varieties. 

So you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Some brands of chocolate chips even offer sugar-free options.

Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder

Dutch-process cocoa powder is a cocoa powder treated with an alkalizing agent. This treatment gives the powder a darker color and a milder flavor than regular cocoa powder. Dutch-process cocoa powder can be used in place of regular cocoa powder in most recipes. 

However, because it is less acidic, it may not work as well as regular cocoa powder in recipes that require leavening agents. Such as baking soda or baking powder.

When using Dutch-process cocoa powder instead of regular cocoa powder, you may need to add a little leavening agent. Dutch-process cocoa powder is available at most supermarkets and online retailers that sell baking supplies. 

Unsweetened Chocolate Chips

When a recipe calls for cocoa powder, you can almost always substitute an equal amount of unsweetened chocolate chips. The texture will be slightly different since chocolate chips are solid, but the flavor will be very similar. 

Therefore, if your recipe calls for melted chocolate, you can also use chocolate chips. Simply thaw them in a double boiler or the microwave.

Also, use a good quality brand of chocolate chips like Ghirardelli or Nestle Toll House. And you’ll be sure to have delicious results!

Dark Chocolate

When it comes to substitutes for cocoa, dark chocolate is probably the most obvious. After all, they are both made from cacao beans.

The main difference is that cocoa powder has been processed to remove most fat. While dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cacao and contains more fat.

Dark chocolate also has a richer flavor than cocoa powder. So it can be used in recipes that call for cocoa powder to make them more flavorful.

Carob Powder

Carob powder is made from the pods of the carob tree and has a chocolatey flavor. It can be used as a 1:1 replacement for cocoa powder in recipes. Carob powder is naturally sweet. 

So you may need to reduce the amount of sugar called for in your recipe. Carob powder is also high in fiber and calcium.

Chocolate Drink

When you think of chocolate, the first thing that probably comes to mind is candy. But did you know that chocolate can also be used to make a delicious and healthy drink?

Chocolate drink mix is an excellent substitute for cocoa powder because it’s already sweetened and has a richer flavor. Plus, it’s easy to find at most grocery stores.

Carob Chips

Carob chips are great substitutes for cocoa. They have a similar flavor and can be used in many ways. 

Plus, they’re lower in calories and fat, and they contain no caffeine. Here are reasons to give carob chips a try:

  1. Carob chips have a similar flavor to cocoa.
  2. Carob chips can be used in many ways as cocoa.
  3. Carob chips are lower in calories than cocoa.

Couverture Chocolate

Chocolate couverture is a type of chocolate that contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter than other types of chocolate. This gives it a smooth texture and rich flavor, making it ideal for baking and candy.

While it can be used as one of the substitutes for cocoa powder. It will affect the flavor and texture of your final product. 

Black Cocoa Powder

Substituting black cocoa powder for regular cocoa powder is a great way to get a deeper, richer flavor in your baking. It’s perfect for cookies, cakes, and even frosting! Here are some tips for using black cocoa powder as a substitute: 

  • Start by substituting 1/4 cup of black cocoa powder for every 1 cup of regular cocoa powder in the recipe. 
  • If the recipe calls for milk or water. You may need to add a little extra to compensate for the dryness of the black cocoa powder. 
  • Black cocoa powder can be challenging in stores, but it’s available online.

Raw Cacao Powder

Raw cacao powder is made from the whole bean, which is minimally processed. This means it retains all cocoa beans’ nutrients and antioxidants.

Raw cacao powder has a rich chocolate flavor and can be used in many recipes that call for cocoa powder. Therefore, If you’re looking for healthy substitutes for cocoa powder, raw cacao powder is a great choice.

Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate syrup is a great substitute for cocoa. It’s thick, rich, and chocolatey, and it can be used in a variety of recipes.

To substitute chocolate syrup for cocoa, simply use an equal amount of syrup in place of the cocoa powder called for in the recipe.

Chocolate syrup can be used in place of cocoa powder in cakes, cookies, brownies, and other desserts. It can also be used to make chocolate milk or hot chocolate.

If you’re looking for a lower-sugar option, sugar-free chocolate syrup is also a good choice. Use an equal amount of sugar-free syrup in place of the cocoa powder called for in the recipe.


Molasses is an excellent substitute for cocoa. It has a deep, rich flavor that is perfect for baking. Plus, it is relatively inexpensive and easy to find. 

However, molasses does have a few drawbacks. It can be tricky to work with and can make baked goods denser. If you are looking for substitutes for cocoa, molasses is a great option.


Nutella is a hazelnut spread that can be used as a cocoa substitute. It has a chocolatey taste that can be used in baking or simply eaten with a spoon. Nutella is easy to find in most grocery stores and is relatively inexpensive.  

When substituting Nutella for cocoa. Use 1/3 cup of Nutella for every 1 ounce of unsweetened cocoa called for in the recipe. If the recipe calls for cocoa powder, use 1/4 cup of Nutella for every 1 ounce of cocoa powder.

Hot Chocolate Mix

The hot chocolate mix is one of the great substitutes for cocoa. It’s quick and easy to make and tastes just as good as the real thing. 

Plus, it’s cheaper than buying cocoa powder, and you can find it at most grocery stores. Here’s how to make hot chocolate mix.

When you’re out of cocoa or looking for a change, give one of these hot cocoa mix substitutes a try. You might be surprised at how delicious they are!

Chocolate Protein Powder

If you’re looking for delicious and nutritious substitutes for cocoa, chocolate protein powder is a great option. Chocolate protein powder is made from natural ingredients and is rich in vitamins and minerals. 

Plus, it’s a great source of protein and fiber. Here are some tips for using chocolate protein powder as substitutes for cocoa

Regular Chocolate Bar

If you’re out of cocoa and looking for a substitute, regular chocolate bars are a good option. You can use them in place of cocoa powder or melted chocolate. 

Therefore, if you’re using a chocolate bar as a substitute for cocoa powder, use a regular chocolate bar. If you’re substituting melted chocolate, use one tablespoon of chocolate per ounce called for in the recipe.

Espresso Powder

Espresso powder is a fine, dark powder made from coffee beans that have been roasted and ground. It’s used to add a coffee flavor to desserts. 

But it can also be used as a substitute for cocoa powder. Here are some tips for using espresso powder as one of the good substitutes for cocoa powder: 

  • Start with half the amount of espresso powder that the recipe calls for cocoa powder. 
  • Add more espresso powder to taste if you want a more robust coffee flavor. 
  • Espresso powder can make desserts very bitter, so be sure to add sugar or another sweetener to offset the bitterness. 
  • If you’re using espresso powder in a recipe that also calls for baking soda. You may need to reduce the amount of baking soda by half.


Tahini doesn’t have the same nutritional value as cocoa. It does contain some essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, it has a similar flavor and can be used in many of the same ways.

Dried Figs

Dried figs are great substitutes for cocoa. They are packed with nutrients, have a deep flavor, and can be used in many recipes. Plus, they are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are a versatile, creamy nut used as a cocoa substitute in baking and cooking. When substituting macadamias for cocoa, use equal parts of the nut. 

And add it to recipes in place of the cocoa powder. Macadamias will give your baked goods a buttery flavor with a hint of sweetness.


When it comes to finding substitutes for cocoa, cashews are a great option. They have a similar flavor profile and can be used in many ways. Plus, they’re a good source of healthy fats and antioxidants. 


Peanuts are a common allergen, so many people cannot enjoy the taste of chocolate that contains them. Peanut butter is a great way to get that same taste without cocoa.

You can also use other nuts, such as almonds, cashews, or hazelnuts. Therefore, if you want to avoid nuts altogether, you can use seeds, such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

You can also use dried fruit, such as raisins, dates, or figs. And finally, you can use spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or peppermint extract.

How do you reduce the bitterness of cocoa powder?

  1. By using a different type of cocoa powder.
  2. By adding more sugar to the recipe.
  3. By adding more fat to the recipe.
  4. By using a higher quality cocoa powder.
  5. By using less processed cocoa powder.
  6. By substituting some or all of the cocoa with carob powder, which is naturally sweeter and often tastes like chocolate.
  7. By using unsweetened natural cocoa and sweetening it with another sweetener. Such as honey or maple syrup after cooking (as opposed to adding sugar during preparation).
  8. One final substitute is almond flour. Though this one may alter the taste profile significantly, depending on how much you use.


Whether you’re looking for a healthier option or trying to cut back on sugar, there are plenty of substitutes for cocoa. From carob to mesquite powder, there are plenty of options. 

And while some substitutes may not taste exactly like cocoa. They can still be used in a variety of recipes to create delicious treats. 

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