Can carob powder be substituted for cocoa powder? 

In this article, we will answer the question “Can carob powder be substituted for cocoa powder?”, and what are the benefits of this substitution.

Can carob powder be substituted for cocoa powder?

Yes, Carob powder can be substituted for cocoa powder, especially in baking. It is important to remember that carob has a different composition than cocoa. It also burns easily, thus it is recommended to lower the temperature while baking.

What are the differences between cacao and carob?

Carob is a flowering tree that belongs to the Fabaceae family it has edible pods and is also deployed for its ornamental properties. Ripe carob pods are dried and sometimes toasted and then ground into a fine powder. This powder is sold as is or in the form of carob bars or carob chips as a substitute for chocolate bars and chocolate chips, respectively.

Carob is used as a cheap alternative to cocoa powder. Carob powder has a sweet taste, unlike unsweetened cocoa powder that tastes somewhat bitter. Carob is a natural sweetener with a flavor and appearance similar to chocolate. 

Carob is often used as a chocolate or cocoa substitute. Such usage is attributed to the fact that carob has the advantage of being caffeine and theobromine-free (2).

Cocoa is a source of micronutrients, for example, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B9, K, Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron, selenium, copper, potassium, and zinc. Potassium and copper have a cardioprotective role, especially in stroke and cardiovascular ailments. 

Iron is helpful for the prevention of anemia and magnesium has a role in pancreatic beta-cell functioning. Due to the presence of magnesium, cocoa has a preventive role against Type II Diabetes (5).

One and a half tbsp (25 g) of unsweetened carob powder contains 35 calories, 1g protein and only 13g of carbohydrates. In addition, it is saturated fat and cholesterol-free. On the other hand, a Tbsp (5g) of unsweetened cocoa powder has about 12 calories and 3g carbohydrates. It has 1g of fat and is saturated fat and cholesterol-free. 

The commercial carob powder contains approximately 10–12% moisture, 5% protein, 1.0% ash, 1.0% crude fiber, 0.5% fat and 80–85% galactomannan (1).

Carob powder has 3 times more calcium (52 mg) than cocoa powder (6.4 mg) and is caffeine-free. But they differ in taste, texture, and flavor.

What are the benefits of substituting cocoa powder with carob powder?

The benefits of substituting cocoa powder with carob is the lack of caffeine. You should substitute cocoa powder with carob powder to avoid caffeine, especially in the case of children and pregnant women. 

Cocoa is rich in alkaloids like methylxanthines, caffeine, and theobromine which can lead to insomnia, anxiety, and addiction due to its stimulant properties. Methylxanthines, acting on adenosine receptors in the central nervous system, enhance arousal, mood, and concentration levels (3). 

On the other hand, carob is caffeine-free. However, according to studies, the high doses of methylxanthines achieved by supplements may have a variety of actions in the body, while at the blood levels found after cocoa consumption, the effects are probably not relevant.

Another advantage is economical. Organic cocoa powder made with dark chocolate costs a lot more than organic carob powder. Choose carob powder over cocoa powder if you prefer something more nutritious and inexpensive at the same time.

What are the benefits of carob powder?

The benefits of consuming carob powder are related to its composition. Carob contains fibers and antioxidants.

 A Tbsp of carob powder provides 11% of the RDI for dietary fiber. Fiber promotes bowel movements, flushes out carcinogens from the gut, and keeps you full for longer, thus, regulating hunger patterns. Dietary fiber in diet can be beneficial in reducing inflammation and inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (1).

Soluble fibers make the stomach contents viscous and prolonged gastric emptying time. Studies have shown this to help reduce weight, improve BMI, lower body fat, and waist-to-hip ratio.

Carob powder is loaded with polyphenolic compounds especially in condensed tannins and gallic acid, which is responsible for gene expression modulating and protecting colon adenoma cells from the genotoxic impact of H2O2 (4). 

What are the disadvantages of substituting cocoa powder with carob powder?

The disadvantage of substituting cocoa powder with carob powder is the presence of anti-nutrients in the carob powder, such as phytic acid and protein inhibitors, which may negatively affect health (7).

Protease inhibitors decrease the performance of digestive enzymes, resulting in a lower protein digestibility. Phytic acid has strong affinity for binding ions such as calcium and zinc, avoiding its absorption in the intestine, which may lead to malnutrition.

Phytic acid also inhibits the absorption of iron, improving the risks of developing anemia. Compared to heme iron, the non-heme iron found in plant foods is poorly absorbed due to iron absorption inhibitors, mostly phytate (8).

Other FAQs about Cocoa Powder that you may be interested in.

Does cocoa powder go bad?

Can carob powder be substituted for cocoa powder?

What is non alkalized cocoa powder?


In this article, we answered the question “Can carob powder be substituted for cocoa powder?”, and what are the other substitutes for cocoa powder?


  1. Barak, Sheweta, and Deepak Mudgil. Locust bean gum: Processing, properties and food applications—A review. Int j biol macromol, 2014, 66, 74-80. 
  2. Yousif, Ali K., and H. M. Alghzawi. Processing and characterization of carob powder. Food chem, 2000, 69, 283-287.  
  3. Franco, Rafael, Ainhoa Oñatibia-Astibia, and Eva Martínez-Pinilla. Health benefits of methylxanthines in cacao and chocolate. Nutr, 2013, 5, 4159-4173.  
  4. Pawłowska, Katarzyna, et al. Effect of replacing cocoa powder by carob powder in the muffins on sensory and physicochemical properties. Plant Foods Human Nutr, 2018, 73, 196-202.
  5. Samanta, Sharmistha, et al. Dark chocolate: An overview of its biological activity, processing, and fortification approaches. Current Res Food Sci, 2022.
  6. Medeiros, Magda Leite, and Suzana Caetano da Silva Lannes. Chemical evaluation of cocoa substitutes and study of formulated chocolate drink powder. Food Scie Technol, 2009, 29, 247-253.
  7. Mahtout, Rosa, et al. Algerian carob tree products: a comprehensive valorization analysis and future prospects. Sustainability, 2018, 10, 90.  
  8. Messina, Mark. Understanding pulse anti-nutrients. INFORM Magazine. https://www. aocs. org/stay-informed/inform-magazine/featured-articles/understanding-pulse-anti-nutrientsjanuary-2020.

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