Is there anything better than chocolate? From delectable chocolate cakes to hot chocolate that warms your body in the wintertime, cocoa powder has become a kitchen staple for bakers and chocoholics alike.

The only problem is, if you’re constantly whipping up chocolate cakes, truffles, and other scrumptious delicacies, you’re likely to run out of cocoa powder eventually.

Thankfully, there are plenty of great cocoa powder substitutes out there, some of which even come with notable health benefits! We’ve compiled a list of our favorite cocoa powder substitutes below so that you’ll never find yourself going hungry when faced with a cocoa powder shortage.

cocoa powder shaken through filter
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These substitutes are similar in flavor, and are sure to soothe your sweet tooth — just like cocoa powder would.

SubstituteFlavor Profile
Carob PowderEarthy and nutty in flavor — slightly bitter in comparison to cocoa powder. Makes for a great low-fat cocoa powder substitute.
Unsweetened Baking ChocolateContains cocoa and is similar in flavor, though it must be melted down before you use it. Might be a little less chocolatey than cocoa powder.
Hot Cocoa MixGreat for sugar-heavy recipes — not the best for recipes that require precise measurements.
Chocolate ChipsSuper similar flavor, though you’ll need to pay attention to the sugar, milk, and cocoa butter content.
Dark ChocolateMakes for a great unsweetened cocoa powder substitute — very similar in terms of flavor.
Chocolate Protein PowderPerfect for simple recipes. Contains artificial chocolate flavoring, so may not be the best choice if you’re looking to get that rich chocolate flavor.
Espresso PowderContains caffeine, but is an ideal choice for coffee lovers. Like cocoa powder, it’s acidic, bitter, and dark in color.
NutellaSweeter than cocoa powder, and includes hazelnut flavoring — great for brownies and cakes.
Raw Cacao PowderThe unprocessed version of cocoa. It’s quite bitter in comparison to cocoa powder, but makes for a great substitute.
Couverture ChocolateUnsweetened cooking chocolate that’s not the most ideal cocoa powder substitute, but works well for frosting recipes.

Why Would You Want To Substitute Cocoa Powder?

The main reason most people would want to substitute cocoa powder is that they’ve run out of it. Realizing that you’re out of cocoa powder when you’re preparing to make a delicious baked good can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to be!

You might also want to substitute cocoa powder if you’re trying to be health-conscious. Carob powder, for example, is a healthier alternative to cocoa powder, but it tastes almost exactly the same.

Keep in mind that some substitutes will likely work better than others, especially depending on what you’re making.

The Best Cocoa Powder Substitutes And When To Use Them

Cocoa powder is primarily a baking ingredient, so you won’t have to worry too much about the flavor changing when you use a substitute like raw cacao powder or unsweetened baking chocolate.

The texture is probably going to be a little different if you use Nutella or hot cocoa mix in place of cocoa powder, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might even discover that you prefer the added sweetness of hot cocoa mix or the nuttiness of Nutella.

Feel free to experiment with different substitutes. Baking is more precise than cooking, but it’s still about figuring out what best suits your individual tastes!

Carob Powder

Derived from dried and roasted pods of the carob tree, carob powder stands as a well-liked and health-conscious alternative to cocoa powder. It’s also low in fat, which is always a plus. Comparable to natural cocoa powder, carob powder is also often used as a natural sweetener.

It’s both pleasant and subdued in flavor, though it tends to be slightly more mild and bitter than cocoa powder is. It works especially well in recipes for brownies, cookies, cakes, and fudge.

Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

Unsweetened baking chocolate is made from cacao beans, and makes for an especially great cocoa powder substitute. The really great thing about unsweetened baking chocolate is you can choose your sweetness level.

The different varieties are semi-sweet, bittersweet, milk, and even white chocolate. Unsweetened baking chocolate will probably be your best bet, though, if you’re looking for a good cocoa powder substitute.

Hot Cocoa Mix

Not a lot of people know what hot cocoa mix actually is. It mainly depends on the brand, but most hot cocoa mixes are a combination of sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s going to be a bit sweeter than regular cocoa mix, but it’ll still be delicious.

Hot cocoa mix isn’t the most ideal cocoa powder substitute in the world for recipes where you have to use precise measurements, but it’s great for simple recipes.

Chocolate Chips

Chocolate chips are super versatile, and they come in a lot of different varieties — including both unsweetened and sweetened. When using chocolate chips as a substitute for cocoa powder, you’ll want to check whether or not they contain milk, sugar, or cocoa butter — these things can make more of a difference than you might think!

Chocolate chips are probably the best option when it comes to achieving the flavor that cocoa powder carries. You’ll probably want to use unsweetened chocolate chips to get the best results possible.

Dark Chocolate

Hard-core chocolate lovers will always have a dark chocolate bar or two on hand. You may not have thought that dark chocolate would be a good substitute for cocoa powder, but it absolutely can be! Like cocoa powder, dark chocolate isn’t too sweet. It also contains less sugar and cocoa butter than chocolate chips and other variations of milk chocolate.

Dark chocolate is an ideal ingredient for sweet treats like brownies, cookies, and chocolate mousse. When you find yourself in a cocoa powder pinch, this is probably going to be one of your best options in terms of both flavor and texture.

Chocolate Protein Powder

This is an interesting choice, for sure, but it’s also a healthy choice. Chocolate protein powder contains plenty of — well — protein. In terms of flavor, it might make your desserts taste a little different (not in a bad way, but it’s definitely something to be aware of).

Chocolate protein powder is going to be the best option for simple recipes. There’s a lot of artificial flavoring added — which again, isn’t bad — but if you’re looking to get an especially rich chocolatey taste, you may want to opt for a different substitute.

Espresso Powder

Coffee lovers unite! Espresso powder is the only non-chocolate option on this list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t similar in taste to cocoa powder. Like cocoa powder, espresso powder is bitter, strong, and acidic in flavor.

The main drawback of using espresso powder as a substitute for cocoa powder is that it contains quite a lot of caffeine. If you don’t want to be jittery or are baking for a kid’s birthday party, you might want to consider using a different substitute.


Pretty much everyone loves Nutella (unless you have a hazelnut allergy). This creamy spread is quite different in texture, but it still makes for a great cocoa powder substitute. If you like hazelnuts, that’s an added bonus, as the hazelnut flavor will certainly shine through if you use it to make cake or brownies.

You also can’t go wrong with using Nutella if it’s chocolatey-ness you’re after. Keep in mind, however, that it’s a bit sweeter than cocoa powder and has a much higher fat content. It’s a great option for a special treat, but you may also just want to stick to spreading it on your morning toast. It’s up to you!

Raw Cacao Powder

This is basically chocolate in its purest form. It’s the unprocessed version of cocoa, which means it’s quite rich and quite bitter. Bitterness aside, it makes for an excellent cocoa powder substitute. In terms of flavor, raw cacao powder is very similar, and the texture is pretty much exactly the same.

Raw cacao powder tastes great in brownies, cookies, cake, and plenty of other sweet treats. You really can’t go wrong with this one! We don’t recommend trying to eat it on its own, though. It’s likely to leave a rather bitter taste in your mouth!

Couverture Chocolate

We’d recommend using couverture chocolate as a cocoa powder substitute if you don’t happen to have any other substitutes available. It’s not the best option, but it’ll certainly do in a pinch!

It’s typically used for making dips and frostings, so if you’ve been looking for the perfect topping for your cake or cupcakes, look no further. Couverture chocolate is slightly sweeter in taste, and it sure smells delicious. Give it a try sometime!

Final Thoughts

Cocoa powder is a key ingredient for those of us that love chocolatey treats. If you’re out of cocoa powder, though, there are plenty of ingredients you can use in its place.

As always, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. You might just discover that you love Nutella, couverture chocolate, or hot cocoa mix more than you thought you did!

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About Drizzle Me Skinny

Kate founded DrizzleMeSkinny in 2014. Since then she has shared nearly 1000 weight watchers friendly recipes with DrizzleMeSkinny's over 500,000 social media followers.

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