The 5 Best Chocolate Extract Substitutes

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What is Chocolate Extract?

Chocolate extract is a flavoring created by soaking cocoa beans in alcohol. It is usually used in dessert recipes to enhance and add depth to chocolate flavor.

How is chocolate extract used?

Chocolate extract is usually used in variety of dessert recipes, from brownies, homemade Nutella, chocolate pudding, mousse, cookies, frosting… any recipe that includes chocolate! The extract is usually used in addition to chocolate to add dimension and richness to the chocolate. Usually only a small amount is needed as the flavor is concentrated, and the alcohol is not a significant amount and/or burns off when heated.

Chocolate Extract Substitutes

1. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Unsweetened cocoa powder makes an easy and convenient substitute. You probably have cocoa powder on hand, or you can find it any grocery store. Plain old Hershey’s will work, but the powders with the best, most rich flavor are Ghirardelli, Guittard, and Equal Exchange. Around 1 tablespoon cocoa powder is equivalent to 1 teaspoon chocolate extract.

2. Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs, either whole or finely crushed, add a great richness and dimension to any chocolate flavor. Cacao nibs are pieces of crushed cacao, or cocoa beans, and are usually found in health food stores, or Amazon. They have a slightly bitter, but rich chocolatey flavor. Of course, a slightly less exotic substitute would be just plain old semi-sweet chocolate chips. Around 1 tablespoon cacao nibs is equivalent to one teaspoon chocolate extract.

3. Chocolate Syrup

Another chocolate product you might already have on hand is chocolate syrup. A little chocolate syrup can add a rich decadence to already existing chocolate flavor. Just be sure to remember that the syrup will also add sweetness, too. You can substitute it 1:1 for chocolate extract.

4. Chocolate Liqueur

Chocolate liqueur can be a great chocolate extract substitute, because it is mainly cocoa flavor and alcohol, the same ingredients as the extract. Chocolate liqueur is not something you likely already have on hand, and can be expensive, though. If you do happen to have some, go ahead and substitute it 1:1 for chocolate extract.

5. Vanilla Extract

It might seem wrong, but vanilla extract can actually bring out and compliment chocolate flavor. It’s obviously not the same as chocolate flavor, but you’d be surprised at the depth that real vanilla extract can bring to a flavor profile. It’s also much more widely available than chocolate extract. You can substitute it 1:1 for chocolate extract.

Read below for a chocolate extract recipe if you’d rather make it yourself.

Easy Chocolate Extract

Recipe by LilyDifficulty: Easy
Prep time





  • Gently crush up the cacao nibs or cocoa beans so they can more easily release their flavor.
  • Place your cocoa beans or cacao nibs in the jar with the alcohol of your choice. Seal tightly and make sure all the cocoa is submerged in the alcohol.
  • Store in a cool, dark place for about 3 to 6 months. This length of time depends on how strong you want the chocolate flavor.
  • When the mixture is as to your liking, strain out the cacao beans and transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze overnight.
  • The next morning, scrape off any fat or scum off of the top. Store your extract in a cool, dark place.

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