Home Substitutes 13 Cocoa Powder Substitutes Full of Chocolate Flavor

13 Cocoa Powder Substitutes Full of Chocolate Flavor

Try one of these delicious cocoa powder substitutes to give your recipes a chocolatey kick! Chocolate chips, baking chocolate, and dark chocolate all work well as replacements.

You can also swap out cocoa powder for cacao nibs, melting chocolate, or hot cocoa mix.

Chocolate Bar Pieces and Cocoa Powder
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So if you run out of cocoa powder, don’t worry! These chocolatey substitutes provide a similar flavor. By experimenting with different ingredients, you may even discover a new favorite.

Let’s take a chocolatey journey. Prepare to be amazed by these delightful cocoa powder alternatives!

What Is Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is a food ingredient made by grinding cocoa beans. It has a signature dark brown color and a strong chocolate flavor. It’s also very rich in antioxidants and low in fat. 

Cocoa powder is commonly used in baking and making chocolate-flavored beverages. There are two main types: natural and Dutch-processed. 

Natural cocoa powder is made from roasted cocoa beans. Dutch-processed cocoa powder is treated with an alkaline solution to reduce acidity. 

Both types can be used in recipes, but they have slightly different tastes.

Cocoa powder is a versatile ingredient. It adds depth and richness to desserts, such as cakes, brownies, and cookies. 

You can also use it in savory dishes like chili or mole sauce.

How to Use Cocoa Powder

  • Baking Ingredient: Use cocoa powder in cakes, brownies, cookies, and muffins for a rich chocolate flavor.
  • Hot Chocolate: Mix cocoa powder with hot milk or water. Add sweetener to taste, and enjoy a comforting cup of hot chocolate.
  • Chocolate Smoothies: Blend cocoa powder with bananas, milk, and ice. It makes a creamy and indulgent chocolate smoothie.
  • Oatmeal Enhancement: Stir cocoa powder into your oatmeal along with sweeteners and toppings.
  • Chocolate Energy Balls: Combine cocoa powder, nuts, dates, and other ingredients. This makes delicious and nutritious chocolate energy balls.
  • Chocolate Granola: Mix cocoa powder with oats, nuts, and sweeteners. Then bake it for a homemade chocolate granola.
  • Chocolate Facial Mask: Create a DIY face mask by mixing cocoa powder with honey and yogurt. It’s a nourishing and antioxidant-rich skincare treatment.
  • Savory Dishes: Use cocoa powder in savory recipes like chili, mole sauce, or spice rubs. It adds depth and complexity of flavor.
  • Chocolate Martini: Rim a glass with cocoa powder and mix it with vodka, chocolate liqueur, and cream. Chocolate martinis will be your new favorite!
  • Dessert Decoration: Sprinkle cocoa powder over cakes, cookies, or puddings. It adds a decorative touch and an extra hint of chocolate flavor.
  • Sprinkle it on Popcorn: Toss freshly popped popcorn with a dusting of cocoa powder for a sweet and savory snack.
  • Infuse it in Coffee or Tea: Stir cocoa powder into your hot beverages for a mocha-like flavor. It can be a delightful addition to your morning routine.

Best Substitutes for Cocoa Powder 

Heap of Chocolate Chips on a Wooden Spoon

1. Chocolate Chips

Chocolate chips are an excellent substitute for cocoa powder in certain recipes. This is especially the case with chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chips provide a rich chocolate flavor, but they also add a delightful texture. 

If you’re out of cocoa powder, don’t stress! Chocolate chips are a tasty alternative you won’t regret trying.

How to substitute: Use 2-3 ounces of chocolate chips for every 1.5 ounces of cocoa powder.

Blocks and Powder of Unsweetened Baking Chocolate on a Wooden Table

2. Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

Unsweetened baking chocolate is a good substitute for cocoa powder because they share similar properties. Both are derived from cocoa beans but are processed differently.

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Using unsweetened baking chocolate in recipes allows for an intense, pure chocolate flavor.

Keep in mind unsweetened baking chocolate contains cocoa butter, which is basically fat. Adjust the fat content in your recipe if needed.

How to substitute: For every 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, use 2 tablespoons of unsweetened baking chocolate.

Bars of dark chocolate

3. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has a similarly intense and rich chocolate flavor to cocoa powder. To use it as a substitute, finely chop or grate it and incorporate it into your recipe.

Dark chocolate also contains cocoa butter, which adds richness and smoothness to the texture of the dish.

Use high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa percentage similar to the amount called for in the recipe.

How to substitute: Use 4 tablespoons of melted dark chocolate for every 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Bowl of Raw Organic Cacao Nibs

4. Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs are small pieces of roasted cacao beans. They can be ground into a powder-like consistency. They also contain natural fats and antioxidants, which add richness to your recipes.

They can be used in baking, smoothies, or as a topping for desserts. Grind them in a spice grinder or food processor until they resemble cocoa powder.

However, be aware the texture and flavor will differ slightly from cocoa powder.

How to substitute: Substitute it with a 1:1 ratio.

Drinking Chocolate Powder on a Spoon Over a Wooden Table

5. Drinking Chocolate Powder

Drinking chocolate powder is a good substitute because it’s specifically designed for making hot chocolate drinks.

It’s formulated with cocoa powder, sugar, and sometimes other flavorings for a ready-to-use mix. Using drinking chocolate powder is a quick and convenient way to add chocolate flavor to your recipes.

Simply adjust the sugar content in the recipe, as drinking chocolate powder is usually sweetened. It adds a smooth and creamy texture to your beverages. Yum!

Remember drinking chocolate powder may contain additional ingredients like milk solids or artificial flavors. This will slightly alter the taste and texture compared to using pure cocoa powder.

How to substitute: Substitute it at a 1:1 ratio.

Bowl of Melted Chocolate and Coca Blocks and Powder on a Table

6. Melting Chocolate (Couverture)

Couverture chocolate is often favored by professional bakers and chocolatiers for its exceptional quality.

It contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter, which gives it a luxurious and glossy finish. This adds a rich and creamy chocolate flavor to your recipes, similar to cocoa powder. 

This velvety texture enhances the overall mouthfeel of your recipes. It creates a delightful and indulgent experience. 

How to substitute: Use 4 tablespoons of couverture for every 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

A Cup of Hot Cocoa Mix

7. Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot cocoa mix is a great substitute to save the day when you’re out of cocoa powder.

It’s actually a combination of cocoa powder, sugar, and a touch of salt. It has a rich, chocolatey flavor. Plus, it’s pre-mixed, so it cuts down on prep time. It’s an easy and convenient alternative. 

However, hot cocoa mix usually contains thickening agents to give it that gooey texture. Be sure to use less baking soda than usual when substituting.

How to substitute: Substitute it at a 2:1 ratio. Adjust if needed.

Bowl of Carob Powder and Carob Pods on a Wooden Table

8. Carob Powder

Carob powder is derived from the carob tree and is naturally sweet. This allows you to cut back on added sugars in your recipe. 

Additionally, it’s caffeine-free and offers a wealth of nutrients, including calcium and fiber.

The flavor of carob powder is slightly different from cocoa. But it can still provide a satisfying chocolate taste.

It’s honestly one of my favorite substitutes. It’s so good, you won’t believe it’s healthy!

How to substitute: Substitute it at a 1:1 ratio.

Chocolate Spread on a Small Jar

9. Chocolate Spread

Chocolate spread is a good substitute because it contains cocoa as a primary ingredient. It’s a convenient option as it combines cocoa powder with other ingredients like sugar and fats.

Using chocolate spread adds a creamy and sweet chocolate flavor to your recipes. Who doesn’t love that?

Simply adjust the sugar content in the recipe to account for the sweetness of the spread.

Chocolate spread can be used in baking, as a frosting, or as a topping for desserts.

How to substitute: Swap chocolate spread with cocoa powder at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio.

Dutch Press Cocoa on a Wooden Bowl and Spoon

10. Dutch Press Cocoa

This type of cocoa is treated with an alkaline solution to reduce acidity. This results in a milder and smoother taste. It offers a deeper and more complex chocolate flavor compared to natural cocoa powder.

When using it as a substitute, adjust the acidity levels in the recipe accordingly.

Dutch process cocoa is commonly used in baking. It’s used in recipes requiring baking soda as a leavening agent.

How to substitute: Substitute it at a 1:1 ratio.

Chocolate Syrup on a Bowl

11. Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate syrup is another good substitute for cocoa powder. It offers a concentrated chocolate flavor and sweetness.

It’s already in a liquid form, making it easy to incorporate into recipes. Using chocolate syrup adds a rich and decadent chocolate taste to your dishes.

However, it has a very high sugar content. Use less of it or adjust the sugar accordingly.

How to substitute: Substitute it at a 1:1 ratio.

Espresso Powder on Portafilter

12. Espresso Powder

Espresso powder adds yummy depth and richness to your dishes. It enhances the flavor profile with a slightly bitter and robust taste.

If you ground it finely, it mimics the texture of cacao. However, because it’s usually very concentrated, it can get quite bitter.

I recommend adding a tiny bit of sugar on top to counteract it.

How to substitute: For every tablespoon of cocoa, use ½ tablespoon of espresso powder.

Molasses on a Glass Bowl

13. Molasses

Molasses provides a unique and distinct flavor profile when used as a substitute for cocoa powder. It adds a deep, rich, and sweet taste to recipes.

It doesn’t replicate the exact flavor of cocoa powder. But molasses still contributes a unique complexity to certain dishes.

Its thick and syrupy consistency also enhances the texture of baked goods and sauces.

How to substitute: For every 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, use 1 tablespoon of molasses.

13 Cocoa Powder Substitutes Full of Chocolate Flavor

The best cocoa powder substitutes are chocolate chips, melting chocolate, and baking chocolate. All work in a pinch!


  • Chocolate Chips

  • Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

  • Dark Chocolate

  • Cacao Nibs

  • Drinking Chocolate Powder

  • Melting Chocolate (Couverture)

  • Hot Cocoa Mix

  • Carob Powder

  • Chocolate Spread

  • Dutch Press Cocoa

  • Chocolate Syrup

  • Espresso Powder

  • Molasses


  • Select your favorite cocoa powder substitute.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a delicious recipe in 30 minutes or less!
Cocoa Powder Substitutes

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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