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The 10 Best Cocoa and Cacao Powders to Add to Your Pantry

Cocoa, cacao, and chocolate powders very often get confused for the same thing; however, they all have significant differences. One thing they do share, though, is that all three contain naturally occurring antioxidants that have been proven to improve your mood, blood pressure, and energy levels. Let’s get granular, starting with cacao powder.

Cacao is the bean in its rawest form, which cocoa and chocolate are derived from. Cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted beans. If you’re looking for nutrition, this is the form of powder you want to consume. It is high in fiber and protein, and also has a higher calorie and fat content because the nutrients remain. These are the “good fats” (monosaturated) your body wants. This form of powder also has the highest level of antioxidants since the beans are unroasted. Cacao is a great addition to your morning coffee or smoothie.

Cocoa powder, in the raw form, is essentially the same as cacao powder except it is made from roasted beans. As mentioned, the roasting process slightly alters the nutritional values of cacao and gives the cocoa a richer flavor more similar to chocolate. The cocoa drink mixes the you may be used to making chocolate milk or hot chocolate with are cocoa powder mixed with sugar.

Chocolate is made by combining cocoa butter, which is extracted from the bean during the powdering process, with either cacao or cocoa powder and sugar. There are obviously many variations to this process (milk chocolate, white chocolate, etc.), but these are the main components.

When it comes to these powders, not all cocoa powder is created equal. Depending on the source and processing protocol, you will see varied results. Some blends are bitter, while others are sweet. Fine powders may be preferred to coarse consistencies. Some swear by internationally imported varieties. Organic blends may be prioritized for those with specific dietary regimens. We’ve rounded up the best choices for those who need to stock their pantries with the best of the best cocoa powders.

Best Richness in Flavor: BetterBody Foods Organic Cacao Powder

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A wise way to satisfy your chocolate cravings, this cacao powder is both healthy and indulgent. Highly rated and adored, this premium powder is pure quality. An excellent balance of sweet and sensible, BetterBody cacao is gluten-free, non-GMO, USDA organic, and even kosher certified. It tastes incredible in baked bread, cakes, muffins, and cookies. For even more variety, try blending it into a shake, or adding a scoop to your waffle or pancake mix. A little bit goes a long way, so you won’t need to restock in a hurry!

Best For Baking: Ghirardelli Premium Baking Cocoa

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When you think of Ghirardelli, you probably imagine decadent brownies and silky truffles. You’re not too far from the mark with the brand’s premium baking cocoa. This box is flavorful, rich, and vegan-friendly. Providing more of a roasted chocolate flavor, it is recommended highly for cakes and other baked desserts. Each box is sustainably sourced and uses Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which neutralizes acidity for a smoother taste. For those with a finely-tuned sweet tooth, Ghirardelli’s cocoa should be top of the list.

Most Trusted Powder: Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa

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Few brands have the kind of clout that Hershey’s does when it comes to chocolate. This gluten-free unsweetened powder provides surprising health-conscious benefits in addition to practical use. Most utilized for desserts, frostings, and hot chocolate, this cocoa powder has no sugar, no sodium, and no saturated fats. Another great benefit is the resealable canister, which makes storage simple. This blend is a time-tested, frequent favorite of chocolate lovers everywhere.

Best Cocoa Powder For Health: Navitas Organics Cacao Powder

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The pinnacle of nutrient-dense cacao powder can be found with the Navitas blend. There are few that can come close to touting the same credentials. This cacao powder is climate pledge friendly, fair-trade certified, as well as keto and paleo-friendly. Grown in Sierra Leone, one serving contains powerfully nutritious balances of magnesium, iron, fiber, and antioxidants. The localized formulation process is an important reason for the wholesome outcome. Third-party testing is conducted on each batch to verify quality. As an ethical benefit, the Navitas brand invests in cacao co-ops, reforestation planting, just labor practices, and more.

Best Overall Texture: Venezuelan Gourmet Baking Cocoa Powder

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Luxe in flavor and aroma, this cocoa powder contains subtle notes of fruit. Each batch is processed with alkali to reduce acidity, making it a wonderful ingredient for puddings, pies, mousses, and more. Since the blend is 100% Venezuelan, it is classified as one of the best in the world. According to the International Cocoa Association, Venezuelan chocolate derivatives are among the highest in quality worldwide. This premium blend is dairy and sugar-free, so you don’t have to compromise nutrition for taste.

Best Vegan Cocoa Powder: Terrasoul Superfoods Raw Organic Cacao Powder

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This certified, organic cacao powder comes in a convenient resealable bag. Each batch is lab-tested for quality and freshness. What really sets the Terrasoul powder apart is the expertise in ingredients that result in a rich, vegan-friendly product. A serving is perfect for a smoothie bowl, baked goods, and even homemade skincare. Though it does tend to deliver more of the bitter chocolate taste that some crave, it packs in wholesome vitamins and minerals intended to promote your personal wellness. If you tend to shop as close to Mother Earth as possible, this is likely going to be a fast favorite.

Best Value to Quantity: Good & Gather Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

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A trustworthy cocoa powder that won’t invade your wallet can be found with Good and Gather. This kosher product does not contain any of the 8 major allergens and is ready to eat upon opening. Boasting a classic chocolate flavor, you can safely pair this blend with fruit, coffee, beverages, and baked goods. Many loyal users have touted this cocoa as superior in tarts and brownies. A resealable container holds 8 ounces of cocoa. This unsweetened powder is made in the USA.

Pastry Chef’s Favorite: Baker’s Cocoa Powder

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Bakers everywhere, rejoice! This aptly named cocoa powder is the crown jewel of confectionary creations everywhere. The premium, unsweetened cocoa is most beloved for intermediate to advanced level cakes, as well as sumptuous hot chocolate and creamy icing. Easily scooped or poured, the satisfying flavor can be linked to the fine consistency of the powder. This smooth blend integrates seamlessly with batters and other dissolvable mixtures. Each serving size is about a tablespoon, which means your canister will go a long way.

Best Overall Taste: Equal Exchange Organic Baking Cocoa

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When you’re considering consumable goods, everyone has an opinion. Some like their chocolate sweet, others bitter, and others still prefer a different flavor profile altogether. The Equal Exchange baking cocoa has passed the test in appealing to the widest range of taste buds. Balancing low sugar content with the imported powder is key. Each batch is derived from Peru and the Dominican Republic. Since the company itself deals only in worker-owned co-ops, you can trust the source to be localized and reviewed for pure, organic results.

Most Versatile Powder Blend: Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking and Baking Powder

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Why buy hot chocolate mix and cocoa powder separately, when there is a formulation that caters to both? Guittard cacao powder is a fan favorite, and for good reason. The blend is only 51% sweet ground cocoa, which supports top-quality flavor for your cup. This powder is also excellent when added to a morning cup of coffee for a sweeter, gentler beverage. Additionally, each case is non-GMO certified and gluten-free.

Steven Johnson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven Johnson is a chef-turned-content strategist. He now helps companies attract and retain more customers through content…
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