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Fats & Oils You Can Substitute for Cacao Butter in Chocolate

substitute for cacao butter in chocolate making

Unable to find or use cocoa butter for chocolate-making? In this article, we explain what fats and oils you can substitute for cacao butter when making chocolate, and their advantages and disadvantages.

Although chocolate should ideally made with cacao butter since that’s the natural source of fats in chocolate, there may be times that you cannot or would prefer not to use cocoa butter for chocolate craft. This may include lack of access to food-grade cocoa butter, prohibitively high cost if you are producing chocolate on a commercial-scale, or perhaps a food sensitivity.

Regardless of your reason for avoiding cocoa butter, in this article, chocolatier Simon Knott walks you through fats and oils that can successfully be used as substitutes for ccocoa butter when making chocolate, along with their advantages and challenges.

Fats & Oils You Can Substitute for Cacao Butter in Chocolate

By Simon Knott, Professional Chocolatier

Cacao butter in cacao seeds evolved to provide a rich nutrient source as seeds germinate. Of the many vegetable fats, cocoa butter is unique because it has a melting point that mirrors the human body. The fatty acid proportions in cocoa butter define this melting point, including 35% oleic acid, 35% stearic acid, 25% palmitic acid and tiny percentages of several others.

Chocolatiers understand the appeal of this melting quality, which they express in their creations for chocolate lovers. If it’s so ideal, why then, might someone seek out a substitute for cacao butter when making chocolate?

Why are Substitutes for Cocoa Butter Used in Chocolate Production?

Softer Chocolate Texture

If a softer finished chocolate product is required, such as in colder climates, then including an alternative, such as coconut oil, will help to make the chocolate less hard.

Cheaper Manufacturing Cost

Chocolate’s fluctuating and high price led manufacturers to find cheaper alternatives. Commercial cocoa butter alternatives are divided into three categories: Cocoa Butter Substitutes (CBS), Cocoa Butter Replacers (CBR), and Cocoa Butter Equivalents (CBE).

coconut oil in chocolate
Coconut oil is a popular substitute for cocoa butter, but produces a softer-textured chocolate.

What’s a Good Substitute for Cacao Butter when working with Chocolate?

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains similar proportions of fatty acids to cacao butter, making it a popular substitute. However, its lower melting point will soften the chocolate texture. Coconut oil has a slight coconut flavour, so it can only be used in recipes where this is acceptable.

Advantages of Coconut Oil:

  • Similar makeup to cacao butter, but it must be used sparingly as it will inhibit tempering.
  • Its mild sweetening effect is a good alternative to sugar
  • Chocolates have a particularly smooth mouth feel


Butter is frequently used as an alternative to cacao butter, especially in home recipes. It doesn’t mimic the properties of cacao butter, but its richness and creamy texture can be advantageous in some recipes. As with coconut oil, its melting point is lower than cacao butter, affecting how easily chocolates melt and their softness. Butter can only be used in small quantities as it will affect the tempering of the chocolate.

Advantages of Butter:

  • The distinctive flavour and richness of butter work well with some chocolate recipes.
  • Butter is a cheap and readily available alternative to cocoa butter.
shea butter substitute for cacao butter
Food-grade shea butter is a popular substitute for cacao butter in vegan chocolate.

Shea Butter

The Shea tree grows in Africa’s dry savannas. Shea butter, extracted from shea nuts, has a rich, creamy texture and a slightly nutty flavour. It is used commercially as a CBE, blended with palm and mango fats. More than 90% of shea butter is used in confectionery, with the remainder used in cosmetics. Large confectionery multinationals like Hershey and Nestlé have joined forces to work with growers on sustainability and supply chains.

Advantages of Shea Butter:

  • Shea butter has additional useful commercial qualities, such as improving melting curves and product shelf lives.
  • Often used as a component in raw chocolates and vegan recipes.

Safety Notice: Most Shea Butter sold for domestic use is intended for making cosmetic products; ensure the brand you purchase is food-grade.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is versatile and used throughout the food industry. It is productive and cheap to grow. Concerns over deforestation and wildlife habitats associated with cultivation have seen major changes. Sustainable palm oil production is a growing trend. Palm oil is used as a cocoa butter substitute in commercial chocolate production due to its similar consistency and texture.

Advantages of Palm Oil:

  • Its similarity to cacao butter, low cost, and neutral flavour demonstrate why palm oil is so popular in confectionery.
  • Palm oil is semi-solid at room temperature, which gives chocolate fillings or spreads a smooth and creamy texture.
  • Palm oil aids product consistency and reduces fat migration and blooming.
mango butter is a new cocoa butter substitute
Mango butter is a new cocoa butter substitute that shows excellent promise for chocolate-making.

Mango Butter

Mango butter, extracted from mango seeds, is a newcomer to cacao butter substitutes but already demonstrates potential as each seed contains up to 7-15% butter. It is widely cultivated in tropical Asian regions. Mango butter is solid at room temperature, with a smooth texture and sweet, nutty flavour.

Advantages of Mango Butter:

  • Mango butter is like cacao butter, meaning the substitution proportion can be higher.
  • Mango butter can extend shelf life and reduce chocolate production costs.

Safety Notice: Most Mango Butter sold for domestic use is intended for making cosmetic products; ensure the brand you purchase is food-grade.

Which is the best substitute for cacao butter?

When choosing a cocoa butter substitute, one must evaluate the required factors. The following list indicates the best alternative for different parameters:

Chocolates made in hotter climates

Be mindful that using coconut oil as a substitute for cacao butter will soften the chocolate and lower its melting point, particularly noticeable in warm climates.

Artisan chocolates

For making artisan crafted chocolates, Butter is a readily available and cheap substitute for cacao butter that works well with various recipes.

High-level substitution

If you need to substitute a large quantity of the cacao butter, then Mango butter can be substituted for cacao butter in proportions up to 80%.


This completes our guide to substitutes for cocoa butter that you can use in making chocolate, we hope you’ve enjoyed this article from chocolatier Simon Knott.

To learn more about the properties and processing of cocoa butter, check out our article on how to make cocoa butter. Or delve deeper into the food science aspects of chocolate making, learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using soy lecithin in chocolate.

Happy chocolatiering!

Article Author

  • Simon Knott

    Simon Knott studied a BSc Hons in Catering Management, Food Science, and Nutrition at Oxford Brookes University and started writing in 2006, specialising in food and drink. He worked as Food & Drink Editor for two county magazines, interviewing chefs and local food producers. In 2010 Simon started a company making traditional fudges and chocolate products. The company quickly grew, supplying local outlets and Simon was awarded five Gold Great Taste Awards for his products. Simon recently completed a Diploma in Copywriting, and continues to write about food and drink, business and skiing.

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