Chocolate Substitutes When You Need a Chocolate Replacement for a Recipe
When a cocoa craving strikes, we want it, like, 5 minutes ago. But what happens when our pantry staples are fresh out of cocoa powder, chocolate chips, or chocolate bars for those decadent dark chocolate recipes, white chocolate desserts, or milk chocolate creations? Enter: chocolate substitutes for all of your chocolate recipe needs. Whether you’re seeking a substitute for baking chocolate for cakes, pies, or tarts, or are in need of a substitute for chocolate chips to re-create Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, these chocolate replacements will help you skip a trip to the store (or save money on a special grocery delivery). Most importantly, you'll have fewer minutes between you and a luscious cure to your craving.
The Best Chocolate Substitutes, Plus 1 to Chocolate Replacement to Skip
Need chocolate for a recipe but don't have any on hand? The following chocolate substitutes can help you adjust your recipes to account for any unavailable chocolate sources.
Substitutes for Unsweetened Chocolate
These chocolate replacements should work in most recipes that call for unsweetened chocolate, but if you’re making a super chocolatey treat, stick to replacing no more than half with the cocoa powder mixture, as these chocolate substitutes can impact the texture.
Chocolate replacement for 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate:
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or melted shortening
- 1½ ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (you may want to omit 1 tablespoon of sugar from the rest of the recipe)
Substitutes for Semi-Sweet or Milk Chocolate
Both semi-sweet and milk chocolate consist of chocolate plus sugar, vanilla, and emulsifiers to keep them in bar or block form. Any solid chocolate (bittersweet, semi-sweet, or milk) can generally be swapped in and out in equal quantities. Just be ready for a slight difference in flavor.
Chocolate replacement for 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, semisweet chocolate, or milk chocolate:
- ⅔ ounce unsweetened chocolate + 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened or Dutch-process cocoa powder + 3 tablespoons sugar + 1 tablespoon melted butter or shortening
Substitutes for Chocolate Chips
Nearly every recipe for chocolate morsels includes stabilizers to help them keep their signature shape even while baked at high temperatures. That makes them ideal for cookies, cakes, brownies, and other desserts that you enjoy their texture whole, but not the best for smooth chocolate sauces, custards, or puddings. This is also helpful to keep in mind as you consider substitutes for chocolate chips in recipes; the swaps below will work just fine, however, they may melt a bit more into the final product if it’s heated.
Chocolate replacement for 1 ounce chocolate chips:
- 1 ounce chopped sweet baking chocolate, dark chocolate, or milk chocolate
- 1 ounce chopped unsweetened chocolate + 1 tablespoon sugar
Mexican Chocolate Substitutes
Popular in mole sauces and some spiced desserts, if you don’t have a block of Mexican chocolate, it’s easy to mix up an alternative from other baking staples.
Chocolate replacement for 1 ounce Mexican chocolate:
- 1 ounce semisweet chocolate or cocoa powder + ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1 drop almond extract
White Chocolate Substitutes
Little else can act as a white chocolate replacement besides other shapes and sizes of white chocolate.
Chocolate replacement for 1 ounce white chocolate:
- 1 ounce white chocolate chips
- 1 ounce milk chocolate, chopped or chips (note that the flavor will change substantially, but still be delicious)
Chocolate Substitutes for Cocoa or Dutch-Process Cocoa
Hot cocoa mix is different than cocoa powder, so save that for your mug. Standard cocoa is ground unsweetened chocolate in a powdered form, with most of the cocoa butter removed. Dutch-process is cocoa treated with an alkalizing agent so it’s less acidic, smoother, and darker in hue. If a recipe calls for 3 tablespoons or less of either type of cocoa powder, they can be used interchangeably. Otherwise, follow the chocolate substitute ideas below.
Chocolate replacement for 1 ounce cocoa powder:
- 1 ounce Dutch-process cocoa powder. If the recipe calls for baking soda, replace that with twice as much baking powder to make up for the loss of acidity. If the recipe already calls for both soda and powder, no need to make any alterations.
- 3 tablespoons carob powder
Chocolate replacement for 1 ounce Dutch-process cocoa powder:
- 1 ounce regular cocoa powder. If the recipe calls for baking powder, replace that with half as much baking soda to neutralize the acidity of your standard cocoa powder. If the recipe already calls for both soda and powder, no need to make any alterations.
- 3 tablespoons carob powder
The One Chocolate Replacement to Avoid
Do not substitute chocolate syrup for melted chocolate in any recipe. (Plus, let’s be honest, the flavor of some of these ice cream toppings—especially those made mostly with high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup—isn’t as rich.) The consistency is different and the results will be less than optimal. Your best bet for a substitute for melted chocolate is to melt down chips or chopped pieces of any similar chocolate style. Learn the best way to melt chocolate and try a homemade chocolate sauce recipe that tops anything you can buy in a squeeze bottle.
What is a Healthy Substitute for Chocolate?
Portion control is your best bet when considering chocolate substitutes that trim down on the calorie count—but not the flavor. Our Test Kitchen suggests using fewer mini chocolate chips in any recipe that calls for standard-size chocolate chips or chocolate chunks mixed into the batter, such as a cake or cookie. As a substitute for chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips go further so it doesn't seem as though there are fewer of them.
Chocolate replacement for ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips:
- ¼ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
Unsweetened chocolate is high in heart-healthy antioxidants, so our on-staff dietitians give you the green light to indulge in up to 1 ounce per day. That said, if you’re seeking a slightly lower-carb, lower-calorie, and lower-fat option, think carob or cocoa powder, which offer the chocolate flavor minus most of the butter fat (some of which we add back in for a suitable chocolate replacement that will perform in a similar way). Because both powders are sweeter than cocoa, opting for either of the substitutes for unsweetened chocolate reduces the sugar in the recipe by 25%.
Chocolate replacement for 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate:
- 3 tablespoons natural, unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, canola oil, or butter
Next time you're in a pinch use one of these substitutions to ensure the dessert course can still be part of the menu.