How to Make a Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Substitute

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What can you do when a recipe calls for semi-sweet baking chocolate squares and you don’t have any on hand? Well, that depends on the recipe. Sometimes semi-sweet chocolate chips can be substituted but, if you are making candy, they might not melt as well, and there may be some difference in consistency and sweetness. To be on the safe side, try this substitute for 1 ounce of semi-sweet baking chocolate instead.

What You'll Need

Just three ingredients—1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 teaspoons melted butter or shortening (or 2 teaspoons vegetable oil)—mixed together and you have an excellent substitute for semi-sweet chocolate.


In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and melted butter or shortening (or oil if using instead) until well mixed. You will have the equivalent of 1 ounce/square of semi-sweet baking chocolate.

For larger quantities, simply double, triple or quadruple the amounts to arrive at the amount you need.

Depending on the recipe, you can simply add the ingredients to the baking mix rather than combining them in a separate bowl before adding them.

Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Substitute Variation

If you like sweeter baking chocolate, use a proportion of 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder to 1 tablespoon sugar to 1 tablespoon sugar to 1 teaspoon melted butter or shortening (or oil). This will equal 1 ounce of semi-sweet baking chocolate.

Other Semi-Sweet Chocolate Substitutions

If you don't feel like making your own semi-sweet baking chocolate substitute, try one of these options:

  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: If you have semi-sweet chocolate chips on hand, they can stand in for semi-sweet baking squares in a pinch. But they might not melt as well and are therefore not a good substitute for using in candy recipes. Some cooks find they are sweeter than semi-sweet baking squares, so you might want to adjust the other ingredients. You can substitute them ounce for ounce, so you will need to weigh the chips rather than measure them in a measuring cup.
  • Bittersweet Baking Chocolate: You can substitute bittersweet baking chocolate ounce for ounce for semi-sweet baking chocolate, and you probably won't detect too much of a difference, but you might need to add extra sugar to the baking mix but no added butter or oil.
  • Unsweetened Baking Chocolate: Add 1 tablespoon of sugar per 1 ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate and substitute it ounce for ounce for semi-sweet baking chocolate. You won't need any added butter or oil.