Home » Recipe Index » Best Substitute for Cocoa Powder

Best Substitute for Cocoa Powder

It’s happened to the best of us. You’re halfway through a recipe, and you swore that you still had cocoa powder in the cabinet… But it’s nowhere to be found!

Or maybe you have dietary restrictions or sensitivities that prevent you from using cocoa powder. Whatever the reason, you don’t need to panic or resign yourself to chocolate-free recipes.

There are plenty of great cocoa powder replacement options at your disposal that may be right in your kitchen!

Cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and baking chocolate on a black table

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, please read my disclaimer.

If you have one of the below, keep reading on how to use them!

  • Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Baking Chocolate
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Carob Powder
  • Cacao Powder

What is Cocoa Powder?

Cocoa powder is a dried, powdered chocolate ingredient used in desserts and baking.

It’s made from cocoa tree seeds that have been dried, fermented, and ground into a powder once separated from the fat (which is used to make cocoa butter).  

Some things to know about this chocolate staple: it’s relatively high in caffeine, has an incredibly potent chocolate flavor and isn’t at all sweet. 

Looking to make brownies without any cocoa powder on hand? Try this super fudgy brownie recipe that requires no cocoa powder!

Can I Replace Cocoa Powder with Hot Chocolate Mix? 

Substitute hot chocolate using a 1:1 ratio, but remove some sugar from the recipe.

You can! This is a great cocoa powder substitute if you’re making a drink or a sweeter dessert, as hot cocoa is much sweeter than cocoa powder on its own. 

However, the chocolate flavor in hot cocoa isn’t particularly strong, so don’t expect a particularly potent cocoa taste.

You can certainly use more of the mix to try and get a stronger flavor, but you’ll also end up with a much sweeter dessert in turn. I recommend taking out half as much sugar as you add in the hot cocoa mix to your recipe.

So, if you use 1/4 cup of hot cocoa mix, remove 2 tablespoons of sugar from the ingredients.

Best Substitutes For Cocoa Powder

Which alternative ingredient you use will depend largely on the recipe you’re trying to make! Read through the list below to learn which substitute for cocoa powder will work best in your dish.

Melted chocolate in a pan with chocolate baking bars around it

Baking Chocolate

For every 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, replace it with 1 ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate. Remove 1 tablespoon of butter, shortening, or oil from the ingredients.

Baking chocolate is a fantastic substitute for cocoa powder. It actually contains cocoa powder and imparts a strong, robust chocolate flavor in whatever it’s added to. 

The ratio is simple: use 1 ounce of melted unsweetened baking chocolate for every 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. Your recipe will be slightly wetter with this replacement, so reduce the amount of fat or other liquid ingredients. 

Chocolate chips in a bowl and spoon on top of a cutting board

Chocolate Chips

Substitute every 3 tablespoons cocoa powder with 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, melted.

Similar to baking chocolate, chocolate chips can be used to achieve a rich cocoa taste when used as a substitute for cocoa powder. 

The key to using morsels as a substitute for cocoa powder is to opt for dark chocolate, which has a rich and bitter flavor. You can make replacements at a 1:1 ratio.

carob powder on a spoon

Carob Powder

Use a 1:1 ratio of cocoa powder to carob powder in your recipe.

You may have never heard of this cocoa powder substitute before! Carob powder has a taste similar to cocoa and has the closest consistency out of all of your possible cocoa powder replacement options. 

However, it is also sweeter! Replace at a 1:1 ratio, but bear in mind that you may need to use less sugar if you don’t want to overdo the sweetness. 

Do not use carob chips in replacement of cocoa powder.

Cacao powder on wooden spoons with cacao beans on the side

Cacao Powder

Substitute cacao powder at a 1:1 ratio.

This isn’t a typo – this actually is a different ingredient! It’s also less processed, full of antioxidants and nutrients. As a result, it’s also more bitter. 

Despite the name, the two don’t have too many similarities. Aside from the bitterness, cacao is also more acidic. 

This substitute for cocoa powder doesn’t interact with liquids, baking soda, and baking powder the same way that cocoa powder does, so the exact replacement ratio depends on the recipe being made. 

Can I Use Flour In Place Of Cocoa Powder? 

I would recommend this option as your last resort and run to the store if you can!

You can use flour as an alternative to cocoa powder when baking. However, you’ll end up with an entirely different dish at the end — you’re taking out the chocolate after all!

Use a bit less flour than the amount of cocoa the recipe calls for. Additionally, you may have to add additional liquid or a cocoa powder alternative if you still want that chocolate flavor.

Choosing the Best Substitute for Cocoa Powder

While you weigh your cocoa powder substitute options, you should consider what kind of recipe you’re making and the flavor you’re going for:

  • Making Beverages – A drinkable recipe is all about give-and-take, bolstering flavors, and sweetening as needed. Meltable chocolate and syrups are your best options here. Wait to add any sweeteners until the end! 
  • Making Desserts – Sweeter recipes are great candidates for some of these replacements with added sugars: hot chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips or baking chocolate, or even chocolate syrup.
  • When Baking – If the cocoa powder is playing the role of flour in cake or another baked sweet, then just a bit of baking chocolate isn’t really going to cut it! In this instance, to avoid a soupy mess, you’ll want to use a powdered substitute to keep the consistency where it’s supposed to be.

Other Substitutions You May Need:

Photo of author

About centskitchen_3

I’m Samantha, a stay-at-home-mom of 2. I’m here to make being in the kitchen so much easier for you!

More Posts by this author.

Leave a Comment