There’s nothing like a comforting mug of hot cocoa or a fresh, fudgy brownie to snack on. Cocoa powder can be used to make the most indulgent sweets, and when they’re made right, it’s little wonder so many people around the world crave cocoa.
Do you want to make something comforting, chocolatey, and delicious? Then you’ll want to make sure you have an excellent cocoa powder on hand to use as a base.
In this post, we’ll help you pick the best cocoa powder for baking and hot chocolate by showing you several of our favorite options. We’ll also explain why we picked each option for you.
Sit back with a mug of hot chocolate and let’s dive right in…
If you’re more in the mood for snacking and less for reading, here’s a quick summary of our top cocoa powder choices:
- Best Overall Cocoa Powder for Baking: Anthony’s Organic Cocoa Powder
- Best Cocoa Powder for Brownies: Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa
- Best Dutch Cocoa Powder: The Cocoa Trader Dutch Processed Brown Cocoa
- Best Cocoa Powder for Hot Chocolate: Castle Kitchen Double Dutch Dark Chocolate
Read Also: How to Make Overnight Oats with Cocoa Powder
Top Cocoa Powders for Baking & hot chocolate
A huge part of the vegan lifestyle is working to understand exactly where your food comes from and what goes into it. In addition to helping you improve your health, you gain a greater appreciation for all the work that goes into the food that ends up in your kitchen.
That is precisely what makes all-natural food options like the Eat Well Premium Foods Cacao Powder so much more amazing. You’re probably used to seeing all kinds of additives and preservatives in your food, but that’s not the case here. The only ingredient on the bag is cocoa powder
It also comes in a resealable bag. If you don’t have another container to keep your cocoa powder in, you can simply leave it in the bag and seal it again as necessary.
- It’s made from entirely natural cocoa.
- Comes in a bag that you can open and reseal as necessary.
- Covered by a money back guarantee.
- Has a rich and chocolatey flavor.
- Some customers reported it’s so light, it has a tendency to spread out when the bag is opened and make a small mess.
If you’re looking for a brand you can always rely on to be organic, Anthony’s is a great choice. We put them on a lot of our lists for food products because we trust in their quality.
This is a large two-pound bag of unsweetened and completely organic cocoa powder. However, it comes in a variety of sizes if you feel two pounds is too much or too little for your needs. You can get it in a bag half the size, or you can choose the extra-large five-pound bag if you go through a lot of cocoa powder.
It’s a fantastic powder for baking. Customers have happily reported using it in cakes, cookies, and brownies with delicious results, so we’re confident you’ll enjoy it, too.
- No unnecessary ingredients – it’s entirely organic and non-GMO.
- Comes in one-pound, two-pound, or five-pound bags, so you can get exactly as much as you need.
- It’s tested in batches to ensure it’s completely gluten-free.
- Suitable for a range of dietary needs, including vegan, paleo, or raw.
- Imported from the Dominican Republic, which is well-known for its quality cocoa.
- There are some reports that the bag doesn’t always seal shut well, so you may want to consider pouring it into an airtight container or clipping it shut.
Just about everyone has had the familiar little box of Hershey’s Cocoa powder in their pantry at some point. As a vegan cocoa powder with a famous reputation, we couldn’t help but include it on our list.
Not only does it have a decadent taste, but the powder has a leg up on its competition when it comes to packaging. Instead of being in a resealable bag, it comes in a small tin with a plastic lid. This makes storage much simpler, as you won’t need to worry about a bag ripping or failing to seal shut.
The tin looks small, but you’re getting a surprising amount of cocoa in this particular package. It’s actually a six-pack, so you’ll get a total of six eight-ounce containers of cocoa powder.
- Includes six containers of cocoa powder.
- It comes in a can with a plastic sealing lid that is easy to store.
- The cocoa powder is both gluten-free and kosher.
- Suitable for use in baking and in hot chocolate.
- It’s easy to find this cocoa powder, so if you need more, you won’t have a hard time getting it.
- A few customers have mentioned that some of the cocoa powder cans were damaged in shipping and spilled all over the inside of the package.
The Cocoa Trader makes two kinds of cocoa for two different purposes. One is a darker black cocoa that’s used primarily as a coloring agent instead of for its flavor. The other is this brown cocoa we selected, which can be used for flavor because it’s traditional Dutch cocoa.
This is a rich, flavor-filled cocoa. You can easily use it for baking or dissolve it in a hot glass of dairy-free milk to get an indulgent cup of hot chocolate.
Plus, this cocoa is nutrient-packed. Each serving includes antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are vital for a balanced diet. If you can get something healthy out of cocoa, we say go for it – that way, you don’t need to feel as much guilt when you bake a batch of brownies for yourself!
- Comes in two varieties that can be used for darkening baked goods or adding flavor.
- Filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Dissolves well in hot liquid, so it makes a great hot chocolate.
- You can get either a one-pound or five-pound bag depending on your needs.
- The black powder version is excellent for making home-made Oreo cookies!
- There are some reports of a gritty texture in frostings made with this powder.
- The bag can be kind of fragile and may be damaged in shipping.
Are you at your local store and struggling to find cocoa powder? Here is where to find cocoa powder in the grocery store.
Are you someone who strives to be as environmentally friendly as possible? In that case, you’re probably concerned about waste, and that’s what makes Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa a great pick.
In addition to being BPA-free, the bag it comes in is recyclable. When you’re finished using it, you can simply recycle the bag for a guilt-free disposal.
What’s more, the cocoa inside the bag is high-quality. Both home and professional bakers love to use this gourmet cocoa in baking or in smoothies.
- Suitable for baking a range of decadent sweets, including brownies and cakes.
- You can recycle the bag after using it up.
- The cocoa is certified by the USDA as organic and gluten-free.
- There is no BPA in the bag.
- In addition to the bag being environmentally friendly, the cocoa itself is manufactured in a facility powered by wind.
- There are a few reports of the bag being difficult to seal shut due to powder getting in the seal.
Being environmentally friendly isn’t the only thing you should consider when you’re trying to make ethical purchases. You should also, if you can, look for products that are Fair Trade certified, so you can be sure the people involved in the production were treated well.
That’s a guarantee you get with Equal Exchange’s organic baking cocoa. It’s completely fairly traded, giving you some peace of mind when you choose to purchase it.
It’s also imported from the Dominican Republic. Some people refer to it as the home of cocoa, so you can rest assured that this cocoa is amazingly tasty.
- Fair trade certified.
- It’s completely organic.
- You can get it in single or three-packs depending on how much you need.
- There are a variety of flavors to choose from.
- The cocoa is sourced from small Dominican Republic farmers.
- Excellent for baking.
- Some users stated that the cocoa powder tastes a little too sweet.
We know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we were instantly drawn to the packaging for this Divine Cocoa Powder. We’re sure you’ll probably be, too, because the canister for this powder is simply gorgeous.
Looks aside, it’s a quality product. It uses absolutely no artificial flavorings or preservatives, and it’s made from fair trade cocoa.
A word of caution, however: the container itself says that there’s only cocoa powder in the mix. The description, on the other hand, does say it may contain milk. Since the canister doesn’t say this, we still chose to include it on our list, but we just wanted to let you know in case you want to be extra-careful in avoiding dairy products.
- Made from fair trade cocoa, so you can feel good about purchasing it.
- Comes in a beautiful, artistic container that you can easily reseal.
- No artificial preservatives or colors.
- Available in different bundles with various amounts of cocoa powder.
- Great for making chocolatey baked goods.
- The can itself says vegan, but the description says it may contain milk, which is unclear.
One of our favorite flavors is a deep, slightly bitter dark chocolate. It brings more to the table than just the blatant sweetness of other chocolate types, and that’s why we picked this Castle Kitchen Double Dutch Dark Chocolate.
Specifically, this cocoa powder is made to melt into liquids. It’s ideal for whipping up a large mug of dark hot chocolate when you’re in the mood for something indulgent and sophisticated.
As a benefit, the cocoa powder is completely dairy-free, non-GMO, and natural. It’s also suitable for those with nut allergies, because it’s produced in a facility without nuts.
- The cocoa powder comes in a sturdy and resealable tin, so you won’t have to transfer it to another container.
- It’s non-GMO and gluten-free.
- Suitable for those with nut allergies, as the facility does not have any nuts in it.
- It dissolves smoothly into liquid, making it excellent for mugs of hot chocolate.
- There were a few complaints that the canister is only a little over half full when it arrives.
- Some people felt that it was a little too sweet for dark chocolate.
Is Ghirardelli cocoa powder better than Hershey’s?
Choosing the right ingredients for your baked goods or hot chocolate comes down to a few factors. You may be concerned about looking for specific dietary elements, such as gluten-free or vegan cocoa powder. You may also be on the lookout for whichever is the best deal monetarily.
So, when you get torn between two giant brands like Ghirardelli and Hershey’s, how do you decide between them?
It mostly comes down to a matter of personal preference. Many people see Ghirardelli as being the more “gourmet” of the two brands, with a richer flavor and wide variety of options. Ghirardelli cocoa powder comes in a huge range of styles and flavors, including things like dark chocolate, white chocolate, and sweet chocolate.
If you're looking for a unique and specific flavor, Ghirardelli can be better. Many customers also say its flavor is deeper and richer than Hershey's.
However, if you just want something that's affordable and readily available, Hershey's cocoa powder is still perfectly acceptable.
How do you pick the best cocoa powder?
Like we discussed above, there are plenty of factors you can consider to ensure you get the best cocoa powder for your preferences specifically.
Perhaps the easiest starting point is price. You can start by checking out a range of cocoa powders online to get a feel for how much they cost, then decide which price range is most comfortable for you.
Another thing to think about is what you’re going to use the cocoa powder for. If you want to use it in baking, you’ll likely want to look for an unsweetened cocoa powder that won’t overpower your recipe.
On the other hand, if you want to dissolve it in liquid for hot chocolate or smoothies, you may want something with a sweeter taste or flavoring. There are many types of cocoa powder that include intriguing flavor elements, such as spicy or minty blends.
Be sure to think about the packaging, as well. Resealable bags can be perfectly fine, but many customers have issues with the seal actually catching and protecting the cocoa powder from the elements. Tins with lids are often the better choice because they seal well and have minimal risk of being punctured.
Finally, don’t forget to factor in your dietary needs. If you or anyone else in your household has a nut allergy, for instance, you’ll want to look for cocoa powder manufactured in a nut-free facility. A similar concept applies to all other dietary needs, such as those looking for Kosher cocoa powder or those who can’t eat gluten.
How can you tell if cocoa powder is high-quality?
Finding cocoa powder that’s truly high in quality can be tricky. It’s easy just to grab the first thing you see that says “premium” or “gourmet” on it, but if you want something that’s really good, you’ll need to dive a little deeper.
One important consideration is the fat content. If you’re not using a lot of fats in your recipe, you’ll need a high-fat cocoa powder to counteract that, so look for something that’s anywhere from 20-25% fat.
You’ll also want to look at the acidity of the cocoa powder. A cocoa powder’s acidity will impact its taste, appearance, and how well it can dissolve in liquid.
A professional baker will look for coco powders with a pH level between 7.5 and 8. These tend to be Dutch cocoa powders, which are processed in such a way as to reduce their acidity. The result is something that’s excellent for baking or dissolving in liquid.
Can I use baking cocoa instead of cocoa powder?
Dividing cocoa powder into categories – cocoa powder and baking cocoa – is a little deceptive. Both are essentially cocoa powders. They are both made by processing cocoa beans to remove the cocoa powder and grinding the dried remains.
More often than not, however, Dutch cocoa powder is what’s used in baking. If you don’t have Dutch cocoa powder on hand, you can make a substitute out of unsweetened cocoa powder and baking soda. You can find the exact measurements and ratios for doing so in this cocoa powder substitution guide.
Is there a substitute for cocoa powder?
Don’t have any cocoa powder whatsoever in your pantry? No need to worry – this doesn’t mean making a delicious chocolate cake is utterly impossible.
If you have semi-sweet or unsweetened chocolate chips, you can use them in place of cocoa powder. Every three tablespoons of cocoa powder will need a single ounce of said chocolate.
As you can see from this guide alone, there are many types of cocoa powder available to you, whether you just want to make a simple mug of hot chocolate or bake something a little more complex. You can use cocoa powder in a huge range of recipes, including things like gooey brownies, moist chocolate cakes, decadent pies, and cookies.
Our personal favorite cocoa powder on this list is Anthony’s Organic Cocoa Powder. It’s perfect for those with a variety of dietary restrictions, and it has antioxidants in it that you can feel good about consuming. In addition to being great for baking, many customers have reported it can make a delicious cup of hot chocolate with the addition of some sweeteners!
If you’d like to learn even more about the cocoa people eat every day, be sure to read our guide to where cocoa beans are grown.