How to Substitute Unsweetened Chocolate & Cocoa

by Mary Beth Magee ; Updated September 28, 2017

You can safely substitute one form of chocolate with a few adjustments.

chocolate image by Horticulture from

Even the most careful cook may find herself missing an ingredient in a recipe occasionally. Emergency substitutions can save a situation from becoming a disaster, particularly when the missing ingredient is a form of chocolate. Most forms of chocolate keep well for up to a year in a cool, dry place, according to Hershey’s.

Chocolate Substitutions

Substitute unsweetened chocolate for cocoa powder at a ratio of one square of unsweetened chocolate for each 3 Tbsps. of cocoa and 1 Tbsp. of shortening called for in the recipe.

Substitute cocoa powder for unsweetened chocolate by adding 3 Tbsps. of cocoa and 1 Tbsp. of shortening for each square of unsweetened chocolate specified in the recipe.

Substitute a 1 oz. square of unsweetened baking chocolate and 1 Tbsp. of sugar for a 1 oz. square of semisweet baking chocolate.

Replace 1 oz. of sweet baking chocolate with 3 Tbsps. cocoa powder, 4 tsps. sugar and 1 Tbsp. shortening.

Substitute cocoa by melting the shortening and stirring in the cocoa--1 Tbsp. shortening and 3 Tbsps. cocoa for each 1 oz. of chocolate or 1 cup of chips in a recipes calling for melted unsweetened baking chocolate or chips. Add 4 tsps. sugar if the recipe calls for melted sweetened baking chocolate or chips, 1 Tbsp. sugar for semi-sweet.

Replace 1 cup of semisweet chips with 6 oz. of semisweet baking chocolate chopped well with a serrated knife. Baker’s Chocolate suggests the pieces be about ¼ inch each to prevent uneven baking.


  • Exposure to fluctuating temperatures causes the surface clouding known as “bloom” on chocolate. Bloom affects the appearance but not the other characteristics of the chocolate. Avoid bloom by keeping the chocolate in a cool, dry place of fairly constant temperature.

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About the Author

Mary Beth Magee began her writing career with an article in the "New Orleans Times-Picayune" more than 40 years ago. She has been published in local and national media, including "Real Estate Today" and "Just Praising God." Magee holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology, with a focus on adult learning, from Elmhurst College.