11 Best Cocoa Powder Substitutes

Cocoa powder

If you have cooked with cocoa powder, you may know how magical this ingredient is. It adds rich color and delicious flavor to your recipes, ensuring you enjoy your puddings, cakes, and smoothies to the fullest.

This powder has a pretty strong taste but isn't sweet like your bar of milky chocolate. Instead, cocoa powder has a slightly bitter taste that makes this ingredient blend well with other things in the recipe.

However, you may not always find the cocoa powder at your nearest store. What should you do in that case? Should you leave the idea of cooking your favorite dessert?

Luckily, there are many substitutes available for this powder. So, if you can't find it, you can get your hands on any of these for similar results.

The best cocoa powder substitute is unsweetened cooking chocolate, dark chocolate or hot cocoa mix. 

You can find instructions and other options below 🙂

Cocoa powder

11 Substitutes For Cocoa Powder

Some of the options might already be available in your pantry. However, for a few, you may need to travel to get them. In either case, know that these are the best alternatives that give your recipe the same flavor, color, and texture.

1. Unsweetened Cooking Chocolate

Cooking Chocolate

This chocolate is a common ingredient used by chefs worldwide. Cooking chocolate contains chocolate liquor and cocoa solids without any sugar.

The product only adds fats and color to your recipe. And you might have to add sugar as per your taste.

Using cooking chocolate is also pretty simple. You only need to melt and mix it with butter in a bowl. Once that's done, add the mix to your cake or brownie's batter to get the same taste and consistency as you may gain with cocoa powder.

When substituting cocoa powder with cooking chocolate, use two tablespoons of the latter to replace three tablespoons of the former.

2. Dutch Process Cocoa

Dutch process cocoa

This cocoa version dissolves easily and is comparatively less bitter than cocoa powder. It is also known as an alkalized cocoa powder with nil acidity.

The dutch process cocoa powder is neutralized by washing the original cocoa powder with a potassium carbonate solution. The resultant product is much darker and smoother than the basic cocoa powder.

That said, this powder doesn't react well with baking soda or yeast. To overcome this issue, add ⅛ teaspoon of any acid for every three tablespoons of dutch process cocoa powder.

If your recipe doesn't have baking soda or powder, you can replace one tablespoon of cocoa powder with one tablespoon of dutch process cocoa.

3. Carob Powder

Carob Powder

Also known as carob flour, carob powder is an excellent substitute for vegan recipes. Although it is slightly sweeter than cocoa powder, it still is an ideal alternative and a top choice for vegans.

Made with cleaning, soaking, boiling carob pods, and removing seeds, this powder is dairy-free and, therefore, also suitable for lactose-intolerant people. Once the seeds of the pods are removed, they are dried and ground to convert into a powder.

Carob powder is also caffeine-free, which is safe for people with high blood pressure. When replacing cocoa powder with carob powder, opt for a 1:1 ratio.

4. Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Chips

Do you want to make chocolate chip cookies at home? If yes, you can replace the cocoa powder with chocolate chips to enjoy a similar taste. These chips are small pieces of chocolate with various flavors and are mostly sweetened.

You can grind these chocolate pieces into powder to let them bind with the rest of the ingredients. For example, you can use almost half a cup of ground chips to replace three tablespoons of cocoa powder.

5. Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Not every dark chocolate might be suitable to replace your cocoa powder. However, bars with high cocoa content may be perfect replacements.

Dark chocolates have an intense flavor and a dark color. Moreover, a bar is rich in cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar with a bitter flavor. Dark chocolate is also a healthy substitute as it is rich in antioxidants.

Since dark chocolate has more coconut butter than regular cocoa powder, use two tablespoons of well-melted dark chocolate to replace three tablespoons of cocoa powder.

You may also have to adjust the quantity of sugar in your recipe depending on the quality of the chocolate.

6. Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot Cocoa Mix

This mix includes milk solids, spices, sweeteners, and cocoa powder. You simply have to add it to a glass of hot milk, stir it with a spoon and enjoy a rich flavor of chocolate.

It doesn't substitute cocoa powder in all recipes because of its sweet flavor. However, you can use this mix conveniently in certain dishes with high sugar content.

Since they are slightly different, replace one tablespoon of cocoa powder with two tablespoons of hot cocoa mix.

7. Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate Mix

Thicker and richer than hot cocoa mix, a hot chocolate mix contains milk powder, creamer, sugar, and cocoa powder. While people enjoy this mix as a drink, you can also add it to your recipes.

However, since the mix is high in sugar, you need to be careful about its quantity. Avoid adding extra sugar to the recipe.

This mix doesn't taste as bitter or rich as cocoa powder, so use two tablespoons of this product to replace one tablespoon of cocoa powder.

8. Couverture Chocolate

Coverture Chocolate


This category of chocolate contains more cocoa butter than any other substitute. This chocolate contains 20% more butter than cocoa powder, making its texture more rich and smooth.

Since it has a high-fat content, the chocolate has a glossy appearance and melts faster. It also contains ingredients like milk powder, cocoa solids, and sweeteners.

A bar of couverture chocolate is a staple ingredient in most professional brownies, cakes, and candies. It is also considered perfect for baking your favorite chocolate goodies.

Be mindful of the quantity when using this option instead of cocoa powder. For example, if your recipe uses three tablespoons of cocoa powder, replace it with two tablespoons of melted couverture chocolate.

9. Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate syrup

When using store-bought chocolate syrups to replace cocoa powder, we recommend being careful when using the product. There are many syrups available, some with high cocoa content while others with low.

You need to ensure that the syrup you buy is of high quality and has a high cocoa content so it can easily replace cocoa powder.

Some syrups are also available with flavorings. They might not be suitable as a substitute for regular cocoa powder.

When using syrup, you should also be very careful about the quantity. For example, we recommend replacing one tablespoon of cocoa powder with one tablespoon of syrup if you use dark chocolate syrup.

Alternatively, you can increase the number of tablespoons provided the syrups are mild in taste or made with milk chocolate.

10. Espresso Powder

Espresso Powder

Do you know that you can also replace the cocoa powder with espresso powder? Created by grinding and brewing coffee beans, espresso powder has a strong and bitter taste, similar to cocoa powder.

Moreover, both products are acidic, with dark tones and similar textures. However, since espresso powder is made of coffee, it has a high caffeine level and a much stronger, bitter taste. Caffeine is unhealthy for kids; therefore, try to avoid it.

When replacing cocoa powder with espresso powder, add ½ tablespoon of the latter. This way, you can easily retain the original taste of the recipe.

11. Molasses


Also known as black treacle, molasses is a non-famous product but a good substitute for cocoa powder. This is a liquid sugar with a dark color, made from the extracted sugar of sugar cane and beet.

Since molasses tastes smoky and sweet, most people don't use it to replace cocoa powder. However, a tablespoon of molasses can easily replace two tablespoons of powder in many recipes.

When using this substitute, you need to be careful of two things. First, since the liquid has a high absorption capacity, it should be added wisely to baked goodies.

Secondly, molasses is high in sugar. This means you might not need to add extra sugar or sweeteners to your dish.

Final Takeaway

Cocoa powder is a common product, but sometimes its supply gets short due to the high demand. If you can't find a packet of your favorite powder, there are many substitutes that can easily fill its absence.

In this article, we have listed 11 cocoa powder substitutes for you. Some taste exactly the same, while others may require certain adjustments. For instance, you may have to adjust the sugar in your recipe to get a perfect one.

So, don't delay your baking plans; select a substitute that may strike your fancy.

adding cocoa powder to chili

Cocoa Powder Substitute

  1. Unsweetened cooking chocolate
  2. Dutch process cocoa
  3. Carob Powder
  4. Chocolate Chips
  5. Dark Chocolate
  6. Hot Cocoa Mix
  7. Hot Chocolate Mix
  8. Couverture Chocolate
  9. Chocolate Syrup
  10. Espresso Powder
  11. Molasses

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