Bittersweet Baking Chocolate Substitutes

Various types of chocolate bars

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If a recipe calls for bittersweet baking chocolate, and you don't have any on hand, just grab one of these ingredients from your pantry to whip up a simple substitute. It'll save you a trip to the store so you can enjoy your treat sooner. Be advised that different forms of chocolate will melt differently, so try to substitute chocolate chips for chips, squares for squares, and so on.

illustration showing substitutions for bittersweet baking chocolate

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Best Bittersweet Baking Chocolate Substitute

Replace the bittersweet chocolate called for in your recipe with an equal amount of semi-sweet chocolate. The two are actually very similar in taste and composition, so you shouldn't notice any real difference in your recipe.

Baking chocolate squares will work best, but semi-sweet chocolate chips can be used in a pinch. Just know that chocolate chips are designed to be melt-resistant, so it'll take a bit more effort to get them to melt. For this reason, they work better in cookie and brownie recipes. It's best to stick to baking squares when you're making something like pudding.

Three tablespoons of chocolate chips are the equivalent of one ounce of baking chocolate

Replacing Bittersweet Chocolate With Cocoa Powder

Bittersweet chocolate can also be replaced with unsweetened cocoa powder. However, since cocoa powder contains almost no fat and absolutely no sugar, you'll need to add those things to make it work.

To create a good substitute for bittersweet chocolate, add one tablespoon of cocoa powder, one tablespoon of sugar and two teaspoons of butter to your recipe for each ounce of bittersweet chocolate that you're replacing. There may be small differences in the texture of the finished product, but all in all, this substitute should give you a good result, and plenty of chocolate flavor.

If you need to replace more than a couple of ounces of bittersweet chocolate, go with the first substitute. This will keep the fat, chocolate solids and sugar at or very near the level intended in your recipe. When you get into replacing large amounts of chocolate, it's important to pick a substitute that won't alter the chemistry of the recipe.

And of course, unsweetened chocolate may also be used as a substitute for bittersweet chocolate. Just combine 2/3 ounce of unsweetened chocolate with two teaspoons of sugar for each ounce of bittersweet chocolate that you're replacing.

Bittersweet and Semi-Sweet Chocolate

A bit of cacao is the only difference between these two flavors. The FDA requires bittersweet chocolate to contain at least 35 percent cacao, but most manufacturers make their bars with 50 to 60 percent.

The term "semi-sweet" isn't regulated by the government, but most bars have between 15 and 35 percent cacao. Semi-sweet chocolate also tends to have a bit more sugar than bittersweet, though this isn't always the case.