Substitute for Unsweetened Chocolate

Amber Bracegirdle | Bluebonnet Baker

Need a substitute for unsweetened chocolate in a recipe? Here are some great alternatives!

If you find yourself in the mood for baking and realize that you don’t have any unsweetened chocolate to hand, then this article is for you.

We will look at what you can use as a substitute for unsweetened chocolate to achieve the same taste and texture in the finished dish.

Depression Cake Photo

Unsweetened chocolate is a pure form of chocolate with no added sugar.

You will typically find it used in recipes that have a high sugar content, where no more is required from the chocolate itself - think brownies, fudge, chocolate frosting and other chocolatey recipes.

Most bars of unsweetened chocolate weigh four ounces, so we have provided each substitution per ounce so you can adjust accordingly. 

Cocoa Powder

For that same intense chocolate flavor, but without the addition of sugar, you can use three tablespoons of cocoa powder mixed with vegetable oil, butter or shortening.

Dairy Free Chocolate Cake Picture

Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Baking Chocolate or Chips

You can use these as substitutes but be mindful that they contain sugar, so you will need to remove a a tablespoon of sugar from your recipe to balance out the sugar levels in your recipe.

Remember, this is per ounce, so if you need 3 ounces of chocolate, omit a tablespoon of sugar per ounce.

Homemade Chocolate Fudge Image

Chips will take a bit more time to melt, but they will get there.

When considering your sugar reduction, you will want to bear in mind that semi-sweet contains a 35-55% range of cocoa, making the flavor less intense but more sweet; that is, you may want to cut more sugar out when using semi-sweet.

On the other hand, bittersweet is usually anywhere between 60-72% cocoa, so it less sweet but has a richer, chocolate flavor.

Unlike unsweetened chocolate, you can eat semi-sweet and bittersweet right out of the package. 

Homemade Chocolate Fudge Pic

Carob Powder 

This is a great option for anyone who has chocolate allergies or any sort of sensitivities to caffeine.

Use three tablespoons of carob powder and a tablespoon of vegetable oil, butter or shortening per ounce of unsweetened chocolate called for in the recipe.

Carob powder does have a little sweetness to it, so you may want to reduce some of the extra sugar your recipe calls for to ensure it is not overly sweet. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies Photo

If you have been looking for some inspiration on what to make now you know how to substitute unsweetened chocolate if you don’t have it to hand, try out this unique cookie recipe:


Chipotle Chocolate Crackle Cookies Recipe

      18 Servings


  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Canola Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 ounces Unsweetened Chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon Wheat Germ, toasted
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup Confectioners Sugar


  1. Beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in a large bowl until combined. Mix in the melted chocolate.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour, wheatgerm, baking powder, salt and chipotle pepper. Slowly mix into the egg mixture, followed by folding the chocolate chips. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. 
  4. In a small bowl add the confectioners’ sugar.
  5. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and then roll into the bowl of sugar. Space 2-inches apart on a greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire racks before serving. 


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Amber Bracegirdle

About Amber

Amber is a native Texan, born to a family of fabulous cooks. She shares her love of all things Tex-Mex and Southern both on her blog, Bluebonnet Baker, and here on Food Fanatic. She heavily endorses the use of the contraction "y'all".