If cocoa powder is vegan, and you are a confirmed chocoholic, you and your apron will be covered in brown powder as you try out all our delectable chocolate recipes!
You know that fine, brown dust that spilled on your countertop before it landed inside the mixing bowl?
I’m talking about the powder with the intoxicating smell of chocolate. It’s amazing how a spoonful of this magic ingredient uplifts any dessert you make.
You don’t need to run to the store to buy chocolate chips or bars to transform your batter into a chocolate sensation.
All you need is a good sprinkling of cocoa powder.
A few scoops from that little jar can make a dynamite hot chocolate drink or brownies for the kids…and you, of course! (Who are we kidding?)
Cocoa powder gives foods and beverages an authentic chocolate flavor, adding richness, depth, and color without any of the fat and dairy items in other chocolate products.
And cocoa powder is one of the most valuable ingredients in your pantry.
But just how versatile is it, Sherri?
Well, since you asked, here’s a short list of what you can make with cocoa powder:
|Waffles||Granola Bars||Mug Cake|
|Fudge||Coffee Drinks||Fruit Topping|
|Milk Shakes||Smoothies||Cereal Topping|
|Whipped Cream||Yogurts||Popcorn Topping|
|Soap||Body Scrubs||Face Masks|
And if you love to bake and you adore chocolate, you might think of more things to add!
But if you’re following a vegan diet/living a vegan lifestyle, you’ll want to know for sure: is cocoa powder vegan?
What is cocoa powder?
Cocoa powder is a natural food derived from the tropical Theobroma cacao plant. The cocoa trees are grown only along the equator, mainly from the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Workers pick huge cocoa pods, break them open, and dig out the cocoa seeds. Then, the beans are piled together to sweat and shed their white, pulpy outer covering. This fermentation process is necessary for transforming the beans to chocolate perfection.
Once the fermentation is complete, the workers clean the cocoa beans and lay them in the sun to dry out. Then, the cocoa beans (or cocoa nibs) are packed in huge sacks and shipped to chocolate manufacturers worldwide.
Chocolate factories roast and crush the cocoa nibs into cocoa liquor. Don’t get excited; there’s not a bit of alcohol in this product! It looks like a dense chocolate paste, with a rich brown color, chocolate aroma, and a bitter taste.
When the cocoa liquor is pressed, it separates into two products: cocoa butter and cocoa solids.
These cocoa solids are essentially pure cocoa powder.
Is cocoa powder vegan?
Yes, it is!
No animal products are used during the harvesting, fermenting, and roasting process to convert cocoa beans into natural, unsweetened cocoa powder.
And yes, the brownie-baking marathon may resume!
Keep in mind that this is a natural product with no additives. The only ingredient on the packaging should be cocoa.
Powders used for hot chocolate drinks are more processed - we’ll examine those individually and let you know which ones pass the vegan test.
Types of cocoa powder
Did you know that cacao powder is not the same as cocoa powder?
Let’s explore various kinds of unsweetened cocoa powder made from cocoa beans:
It’s not a fancy way to label a bag of cocoa - it truly is a different product.
Cacao powder is cold-pressed from fermented cocoa beans but has never been roasted. The fact that no heat is used means it keeps its high nutritional value. Many vegans prefer this raw version.
Natural cocoa powder
This is the powder you’ll find more often - it’s the result of both fermentation and roasting at high temperatures. It loses some health benefits, but it has a less bitter taste and a more reddish-brown tone.
There are two other types:
- Dutch-processed or alkalized cocoa powder: This cocoa powder has been treated with potassium carbonate to reduce its acidity. It has a darker brown tone than regular cocoa powder.
- Black cocoa powder: This powder goes one step further with the alkalizing process, resulting in a very dark chocolate color, almost black, and a more intense chocolate flavor. You might recognize it from your favorite Oreo cookies!
And here’s the best news of the day: all of these unsweetened cacao and cocoa powders are vegan.
If it’s possible, choose cocoa powder brands that are ethically sourced or labeled as ‘fair trade’. These companies follow standards set by various Fair Trade organizations.
They support clean water and other necessities for local farm communities, fair wages for workers who are often exploited, and prevention of child labor, as well as environmental concerns.
Which brands of hot chocolate are vegan?
To enjoy vegan hot chocolate, you want to avoid dairy products, gelatin, and honey.
Strict vegans may also stay away from certain sugars (treated with bone char) and emulsifiers like mono- and diglycerides (if they are animal-derived).
You can make your hot chocolate drinks from any of the cacao and cocoa powders above - simply add vegan milk and sugar.
But what about the ready-made hot chocolate drinks and mixes that tempt you during cold winters and festive holidays? Are any of those vegan-friendly?
Coffee Shop Hot Chocolate
Pass on the Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s hot chocolates - those contain dairy ingredients and cannot be modified.
If you’re looking for dairy-free Starbucks drinks, you’ll be thrilled to know that their hot chocolate is vegan, as long as you choose plant-based milk and skip the whipped cream.
Store-bought Hot Chocolate Powder
Unfortunately, most ready-made hot chocolate mixes start with dutch-processed cocoa powder and add milk products and other non-vegan ingredients like marshmallows.
- 365 Organic
- Land O’Lakes
- Nestle Rich Chocolate
- Swiss Miss
- Trader Joe’s
But the good news is that some brands include products with vegan-friendly ingredients*:
- Sillycow Farms
*Even though these brands offer a few vegan options, always double-check the ingredients list of the hot cocoa mixes before you buy.
Is cocoa powder healthy?
Dark chocolate is one of the few sweet treats that are actually healthy for you.
Researchers rave about its cancer-fighting antioxidants and positive effect on the heart in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure.
But since it has saturated fats from the cocoa butter and added sugar, we can only eat it in moderation. Scientists recommend dark chocolate with at least 70% of cocoa solids.
Cocoa powder, in its pure form, has no sugar or fat. You can take this powerful ingredient, add other wholesome foods and take advantage of all its nutritional benefits.
How can I use cocoa powder in the kitchen?
Cocoa powder will last for about 3 years in the pantry but with these enticing vegan recipes below, it probably won’t last more than a month!
Smoothies & Drinks
- Running on Real Food shows you a classic hot chocolate using cocoa powder AND vegan chocolate chips
- My banana almond butter cacao smoothie satisfies your sweet tooth naturally and the crunchy cacao nibs are fun to chew. You can also use peanut butter if you’re out of almond butter
- Orchids and Sweet Tea has gorgeous milkshakes that taste as good as they look!
- My vegan brownie bites are perfect in school lunches or with a tall glass of coconut milk
- Ve Eat Cook Bake tosses in dried dates for low-sugar, sticky, gooey brownie goodness
- These brownies from Crazy Vegan Kitchen feature huge chunks of vegan chocolate in every bite!
- Behold the magnificence of chickpea flour and cocoa powder! My vegan chocolate cookies are easy to make and hard to put down
- These double chocolate chip cookie dough bites with a sweet chocolate drizzle are heaven in a bite
- Forkful of Plants bakes cookies with an irresistible combination of oatmeal, peanut butter, and chocolate
- My chocolate nice cream will send you back to the freezer more times that you will admit!
- What Great Grandma Ate shows you how to make a lush batch of Mexican hot chocolate ice cream
- Sprouting Zen’s chocolate vanilla ice cream cake is ideal for special occasions
- You won’t need to set your alarm clock to wake up for a cup of decadent chocolate peanut butter overnight oats
- Feasting on Fruit packs this overnight oats recipe with sweet dates, crunchy pecans, and chia seeds
- Coffee, chocolate, yogurt, and oats? Oh, it’s happening! The Green Creator shows you how.
Muffins & Cupcakes
- Try these mouth-watering vegan double chocolate chip muffins with an easy recipe for flax egg substitute
- Gluten-free Palate’s cupcakes have a coffee kick you’re going to love!
- This spectacular cupcake creation from Addicted to Dates will have you practicing your cake decorating skills
- Test out your dark cocoa powder in Plant.Well’s recipe for a velvety chocolate cake
- This incredible mini cake from Ela Vegan will melt your heart!
- The Big Man’s World shows you how to make a chocolate zucchini cake with yummy tips on how to tailor it to your diet
Is there any vegan cocoa powder left in that jar? I’m sure you put it to good use with these inspiring recipes.
Most cocoa powder is vegan, and it’s an incredibly useful (and delicious!) chocolate flavoring to have in your kitchen.
Now you may also be wondering...Is cocoa butter vegan? Find out more about cocoa butter, the primary ingredient used in chocolate making.
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