Best Cocoa Powder Substitute That Can Be A Lifesaver

Cocoa Powder Substitute

Numerous cake, brownies, and cookies recipes use cocoa powder as a primary ingredient in baking. However, when there’s a need to substitute cocoa powder, only limited information is known about the alternatives available.

So, I’m here with the cocoa powder substitutes to enhance your baking experience.

Learn more: Bittersweet Chocolate Substitutes

Best Cocoa Powder Substitute – My Top Suggestions

In the following segment, I’m going to unravel some alternatives to cocoa powder that will end the boredom in the kitchen.

Dark Chocolate

Let’s start with the basics, and this one’s a no-brainer. When looking for a genuine cocoa powder substitute, dark chocolate can be the answer to all the problems. It is my go-to when it comes to satisfying my chocolate cravings. It can be added to most of the recipes that call for cocoa powder and assures a wonderful outcome.

Swapping dark chocolate with cocoa powder results in a rich, strong flavor that makes the dishes even more appetizing.

Carob Powder

Carob is another popular cocoa powder substitute. It is on the sweeter side but can serve as an excellent substitute. Moreover, carob is 100% vegan and gluten-free making it a great alternative for those who are diabetic or lactose intolerant.

Using carob powder can yield results similar to cocoa powder. Some people may want to make cakes, brownies, and cookies a little sweeter; then, carob is the way to go.

When preparing brownies or cakes using carob powder, sprinkling some extra chocolate chips on top makes the dessert taste even better!

Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder

Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder has a deeper, lighter taste than cocoa powder. It is also alkalized, which means its pH level is neutral, making it a relatively healthier alternative.

It is preferred to add a rich flavor, and it works well with baking soda as it doesn’t cause any reaction in the baking process. Moreover, it is an excellent addition to chocolate cakes, brownies, and truffles.

It’s a great option for preparing chocolate beverages because it does not alter the bitterness of the drink.

Black Cocoa Powder

Black cocoa powder is acidic and has a strong flavor. It works well in brownies, chocolate cakes, and fudge. Moreover, it has a deep black savor, thus giving the baked products a more intense chocolate flavor.

The rich and deep flavor of black cocoa powder can be an ideal addition to baking, plus it leaves a great taste.

Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot cocoa mix is essentially cocoa powder with sugar, milk, and some added flavors. So it is highly likely to serve as a cocoa powder substitute. It is subject to be lighter in taste and can be used in cakes, brownies, and chocolate cookies.

Hot cocoa mix is also preferred by many when it comes to making chocolate beverages. Plus, it’s easier to handle too!

A recipe may need to be altered when using hot cocoa mix instead of cocoa powder since it has added sugar and milk.

Couverture chocolate

Couverture is high-quality chocolate that’s used frequently in the professional production of chocolate bars, candy, cakes, brownies, etc. 

This substitute is somewhat bitter. That being said, it’s the perfect option for dark chocolate lovers! Moreover, it has a high level of cocoa butter, making it ideal for baking.

Remember to go light with couverture chocolate since it can be a little too overwhelming for some because of its intense flavor.

Unsweetened Chocolate

Unsweetened chocolate comes closest to the cocoa powder in properties; however, there’s a thin line difference in their flavor. As the name suggests, it is slightly bitter and works well when adding to baked goods such as brownies and cake mix.

Also known as baking chocolate, unsweetened chocolate has vast applications to substitute cocoa powder for baking chocolate and vice versa.

Unsweetened chocolate can be used in brownies, cookies, cakes, and cupcakes to obtain the deepest cocoa flavor. It’s a great option for those looking for an intense taste!

Chocolate chips

Using chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder can have a significant impact on cooking. Chocolate chips are essentially chocolate that has been processed into smaller pieces or chips.

Chocolate chips can be combined with other ingredients such as milk and melted butter for a more delectable taste. It’s also an ideal substitute for those looking to bake brownies, cupcakes, cookies, etc.

For all the beginners out there, chocolate chips are a very convenient cocoa powder substitute. They work wonders in adding a hint of flavor to brownies, cookies, etc.


Molasses is basically a syrup that comes from processing sugar cane or sugar beets. Despite its bitter taste, it has several health benefits.

They work well when used to enhance the flavor of baked goods such as cookies and brownies. It’s also an excellent alternative for cocoa powder despite a few differences in its properties.

Use molasses sparingly because its taste is quite strong compared to the rest of the substitutes discussed so far. Although it has a smoky, bitter taste, it adds a unique flavor to baked goods, which makes it an interesting option!


I started with a basic one, so I’m marking an end to this list with a less conventional one. Nutella can be used as a substitute for cocoa powder when making brownies and cake mixes. Its use ensures a velvety texture which makes it perfect for frosting too! 

This hazelnut spread is an excellent alternative for cocoa powder because it adds a distinct chocolate flavor while keeping the taste light and delicious! 

Nutella is ideal for adding a rich, nutty flavor to brownies or cakes without compromising on texture.

Things to be mindful of

In this section, I’m providing some tips to keep in mind while using cocoa powder substitutes.

  • The best substitute for cocoa powder is one that suits an individual’s particular taste! Do not follow any type of substitute blindly.
  • Try to limit the number of substitutions because it might affect the texture and flavor of the recipe.
  • A good substitute should provide a cocoa flavor, texture, or color without compromising health benefits.
  • For those who are allergic to them, it is advised to use cocoa powder substitutes sparingly.
  • It is important to remember that cocoa powder substitutes are suggestions and not a rule.

FAQs On Cocoa Powder Substitutes

1. Are cocoa powder substitutes healthy?

Yes, they are; however, It also depends on the recipe. Different substitutes have unique properties, so having this knowledge is necessary to get the most out of them.

2. What is the best cocoa powder substitute for frosting? 

Nutella or milk chocolate are excellent alternatives to using in frosting. It will make frosting creamy and delicious while ensuring there’s no compromise on taste!

3. Cocoa powder vs. cacao powder, what’s the difference?

Cocoa powder is basically a chocolate powder that has been defatted and roasted. Cacao, on the other hand, is raw, unprocessed chocolate that contains its natural antioxidants and nutrients like magnesium and iron.

Summing it up

The information I imparted above can mark an end to the search for the right cocoa powder substitute. I’m pretty confident about these suggestions as they are tried and tested. 

Culinary skills are about exploring. So, experiment till the heart’s content. And who knows, maybe something delicious can be found while playing around with the substitutes I mentioned above.

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