Cacao Nibs Specialty Ingredient Glossary and Guide

Cacao Nibs Definition, Uses, Recipes, and Buying Guide

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Cacao nibs are bits of cacao bean that remain after the dried, fermented beans are roasted, cracked, and shelled. Typically, cacao nibs are further processed into the chocolate liquor that ultimately becomes chocolate, though the antioxidant-rich nibs are increasingly available to chefs and home cooks. With their appealing crunch, and a deep flavor reminiscent of coffee beans and chocolate, cacao nibs work well in both sweet and savory recipes.

The embrace of antioxidant-rich superfoods, coupled with the increasing popularity of the ​raw food diet, has made it possible to find raw cacao nibs, which are treated to low-temperature processing instead of roasting.


  • Add cacao nibs to biscotti or cookie recipes.
  • Sprinkle cacao nibs over ice cream.
  • Mix cacao nibs into homemade trail mix or granola.
  • Use cacao nibs to decorate frosted cupcakes.
  • Blend cacao nibs into smoothies.
  • Grind cacao nibs into savory spice blends.


Where to Buy Cacao Nibs

In keeping with its raw foods ethic, Navitas Naturals forgoes roasting for low-temperature processing, and partially ferments its cacao beans to eliminate bitter notes before grinding the beans into nibs. Along with plain cacao nibs, Navitas offers a sweetened version - the nibs are coated in raw cacao liquor, then coated with organic sugar cane juice.

In addition to 4- and 8-oz retail sizes, Navitas sells its cacao nibs in bulk. Buy online at USDA Organic. Certified Kosher. Gluten-free.

Scharffen Berger broke ground in the late 1990's - and helped spur a passion for chocolate connoisseurship - when it began producing artisanal "bean-to-bar" chocolate.

Now, the same cacao nibs that are at the heart of its much-lauded chocolate are available to home cooks and chefs. Buy online at

Want the crunch of cacao nibs and the sweet, smooth melt of chocolate? Sweet Riot's Baking 'Peaces' are an interesting hybrid of cacao nib and chocolate chip - they're cacao nibs covered in 65% dark chocolate. Order online at

TCHO's unusual approach to chocolate puts emphasis on appreciating the flavor notes inherent in different cacao beans. That's why you'll see "Citrus" emblazoned on each tin of TCHO's organic roasted nibs — they're carefully roasted and processed to develop the intriguing citrusy notes in cacao beans estate-harvested in Madagascar's Sambirano Valley. TCHO also offers a chocolate-drenched version of its nibs; they're cloaked in TCHO's "Fruity" dark chocolate, which hails from Peru. Order online at