Chocolatiering DIY Chocolate Making

How to Make White Chocolate from Scratch: Step-By-Step Guide

how to make white chocolate from scratch

Learn how to make white chocolate using professional techniques, with chocolatier Simon Knott. Using only 3 ingredients, it’s easier than milk or dark chocolate.

In this comprehensive tutorial, Simon shares his full process for making professional-grade white chocolate at home, from scratch. He explains how to choose quality ingredients and the role they play, and detailed steps for bringing it all together. He also share tips for how to make white chocolate that is vegan-friendly, by substituting alternative milk powders.

How to Make White Chocolate

Article by Simon Knott, Professional Chocolatier

In the overall history of chocolate, white chocolate is quite a recent product, and although its exact story isn’t clear, it seems it was a product brought about through the idea that “necessity is the mother of invention”.

Following the ravages of the First World War, large stockpiles of leftover milk powder were going to waste, until the company Nestlé in Switzerland took the opportunity to combine it with sugar and cocoa butter. White chocolate first hit the commercial market somewhere around 1936. There are a few previous historical mentions of white chocolate, some going back to the end of the previous century, but they are mostly small-scale productions.

So, what is white chocolate made out of?

To some, white chocolate has always had a slightly uneasy relationship with dark and milk chocolate. This is mostly because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids and, therefore, shouldn’t be classed as chocolate at all.

US Food and Drug Administration regulations stipulate that dark and milk chocolate must contain at least 35% cocoa solids, while white chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa butter. Legislation has been passed so that for white chocolate to be legally called ‘white chocolate’ or ‘white couverture’ the only fat it can contain must be cocoa butter, with no other additions.

The mild flavour of white chocolate makes it an ideal canvas for augmenting other flavours such as nuts, dried fruit, citrus, turmeric and even herbs like rosemary and dill.

what is white chocolate made out of ingredients
When you make white chocolate yourself, you can enhance it with almost any flavors that take your fancy.

The science of how to make white chocolate

Commercial production

The commercial mixing process of white chocolate takes place in a wet grinder, sometimes called a melanger. This consists of a metal drum with two circular stone wheels suspended over but in contact with the base of the drum. The first two ingredients are added to the grinder: the melted cocoa butter and granulated sugar. Depending on the model, when the grinder is turned on, the two stones rotate around the drum, or the drum itself rotates around them. The stone surfaces have been smoothed but still have enough abrasion to slowly grind the sugar crystals to a very fine powder. Sugar crystals are very hard, so reducing them to powder takes considerable energy input. Consequently, the grinding process may take more than a day to complete. This is still considerably quicker than making dark or milk chocolate, where the cocoa solids and sugar need two or three days of grinding to achieve the same smoothness.

Once the cocoa butter and ground sugar have reached sufficient smoothness, the remaining cocoa butter is added along with the milk powder. After further grinding, the three ingredients will have been reduced to a mix of tiny particles. Thousands of minute sugar crystals blend with the tiny fat globules of milk powder and cocoa butter to form a silky-smooth suspension. When completely amalgamated, the white chocolate formed can be flavoured with vanilla, tempered, and molded into the finished chocolate products.

How to Make White Chocolate at Home

Equipment for making white chocolate

You will need the following kitchen equipment:

  • Scales to weigh out ingredients
  • Spatulas to stir
  • Food processor or a liquidiser
  • Double boiler or saucepan and glass bowl

Food processor vs melanger

A good home food processor or a liquidiser will perform well when making white chocolate on a small scale. If you use granulated sugar, the blades will take longer to grind the sugar crystals to a fine powder. Remember how hard and gritty granulated sugar is when you bite it between your teeth.

Don’t be tempted to switch on the food processor and leave it to work. The sugar won’t provide as much resistance as a liquid ingredient, such as soup, so that the motor will be spinning at full speed. This can quickly damage the motor. Instead, try to use short pulses combined with a few longer times for more effective grinding.

If you have enjoyed making a few batches of white chocolate at home with a food processor, you might want to consider buying a wet grinding machine or melanger. It can be used for making dark, milk and white chocolate and takes the grinding process to another level using two circular stones in a rotating drum to provide the grinding action. Tabletop models are available for about $280, creating a professional, quality white chocolate product. You can read my buying tips and model recommendations in my article on chocolate melangers here.

Double boiler vs microwave

Melt the cocoa butter using a double boiler rather than a microwave. Cocoa butter is prone to scorching, so the gentler heat of a double boiler is better. Choose a medium-sized saucepan and a glass bowl that fits inside it. Heat about 1½ inches of water in the saucepan and place the glass bowl over it. The bottom of the glass bowl shouldn’t touch the water’s surface.

Essential Ingredients

So, what is white chocolate made out of? As mentioned earlier, white chocolate does not contain cocoa solids, as with milk or dark chocolate. The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • Cocoa Butter – chopped into small pieces
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Full-fat or Whole Milk Powder (dairy-free milk powder may be substituted)

If you’re measuring your ingredients by mass (cups), it’s easy – just use equal parts of each. If you prefer to measure by weight, the measurements for Metric and US are below.

IngredientMetric (g)US (oz)Cups
Cocoa Butter170g6 oz3/4 cup
Sugar150g5.3 oz3/4 cup
Milk Powder95g3.3 oz3/4 cup

There is more detailed information on each ingredient below the method, if you want help selecting quality ingredients or have questions about how they work in the white chocolate. In that section, there are also tips on using dairy-free milk powders, if you want to make vegan white chocolate.

how to make white chocolate professional

Method – How to Make White Chocolate

Step 1: Melt cocoa butter

Fill the saucepan with about 1½ inches of water and bring it to a boil.

Put the cocoa butter into the bowl and place the bowl over the saucepan.

Reduce the heat to a very slow simmer to melt the cocoa butter without contaminating it with steam. Stir it occasionally with the spatula. Once melted, if the cocoa butter contains any impurities, pass it through a fine sieve to remove them.

Step 2: Process sugar and milk powder

Add the granulated sugar and the milk powder to the food processor bowl.

Secure the lid and switch the machine on.

Use short pulses to grind the sugar and milk powder without overheating the machine.

Keep checking for the consistency between your fingertips. Eventually, the mixture should be as fine or even finer than powdered or icing sugar.

This step is important as it determines the smoothness of the finished white chocolate.

Step 3: Combine cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder

When the sugar and milk powder are fully ground, you can either:

  1. Add the melted cocoa butter to it and use the processor to mix it, or
  2. Tip the sugar and milk powder mixture into the cocoa butter, and mix it by hand with a spatula.

You are more likely to get a smooth mixture using the first method.

Once the three ingredients are well mixed, they should appear like glossy, melted white chocolate.

Step 4: Add flavors (optional) and mold it

Add any flavourings, such as vanilla and inclusions if you’re using any, and pour the chocolate into molds as required.

Do you need to temper white chocolate?

Just as with dark and milk chocolate, white chocolate must be tempered to ensure it has a clean snap when broken and a glossy sheen on the surface. Generally, white chocolate can be melted and tempered at the same temperatures as milk chocolate. However, white chocolate does have a lower melting point. This can create problems if you use a microwave to supply the heat, as the chocolate will scorch more easily, affecting the taste.

For home enjoyment where you are not concerned about getting a perfectly glossy sheen and snap, you can pour it straight into molds. However, for correct tempering and molding techniques, you can read Chef Prish’s articles on how to mold chocolate and how to temper chocolate.

Choosing Ingredients for White Chocolate

What is white chocolate made of?

Cocoa Butter

One of the greatest advantages of cocoa butter for all types of chocolate is its melting point. By accident, cocoa butter is a hard and brittle product at room temperature. However, exposure to slightly higher temperatures between 31 to 35° C and it melts easily. This is key to the popularity of chocolate, where it can be carried around easily at room temperature but then melts so deliciously in the mouth from body heat.

Types of cocoa butter

For making white chocolate, most chocolatiers buy unrefined or non-deodorised cocoa butter.

Deodorised cocoa butter is treated with steam under pressure, removing most of the cocoa flavour elements, the beneficial natural nutrition, and changing its colour to off-white or cream. Non-deodorised cocoa butter retains its brighter yellow colour, and most nutrients, such as flavonols and stearic, palmitic, and oleic fatty acids, which naturally form in the cocoa beans.

White chocolate typically has less flavour than dark and milk chocolate, so non-deodorised cocoa butter improves the flavour profile.

Substitutes for cocoa butter

Over the past 10-20 years, the benefits of quality cocoa butter have spread globally for chocolate makers and those in the cosmetics industry. Cocoa butter’s nutritional advantages, particularly with a high content of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, have led to vastly increased demand and price.

Even over the past decade, the cost of cocoa butter has doubled. These cost pressures have hit commercial manufacturers hard; some have resorted to substitute ingredients to mitigate the cost. These include alternative fats such as vegetable and coconut oil, which can be responsible for the waxy texture of some white chocolates.

When cocoa butter is such a costly ingredient, it makes sense to shop around when buying. Compare the details of where the cocoa butter is manufactured and what exactly goes into it.

Vegetables fats may be substituted for cocoa butter, but can result in a waxy texture.


Most chocolatiers use granulated sugar to sweeten the chocolate. Grinding it to a very fine powder takes more effort but is more reliably pure than some powdered or icing sugars.

If you decide to use powdered or icing sugar, check the pack ingredients to ensure it has no added cornstarch/cornflour. This is added as an anti-caking agent to stop the sugar clumping, but it is likely to affect the smooth texture adversely when incorporated into the white chocolate mixture.

oat milk powder
A relatively new product, oat milk powder is excellent for adding creaminess.

Milk Powder

Use full-fat or whole cow’s milk powder, which often contains 26% fat.

Most supermarkets stock skimmed or semi-skimmed milk products, but if you search, you will often find they also stock full-fat milk powder. If not it’s easy to find in the supermarket, buy it online, where you can get higher fat content powders if you want to experiment with the recipe.

Non-dairy substitutes for milk powder

New non-dairy milk powders are still being developed, which are suitable for making vegan chocolate and lactose-free chocolate. Some non-dairy substitutes for milk powder you can try are:

  • Soy milk powder: Soy milk powder works well in white chocolate, but formulations can contain several other ingredients, so always check.
  • Coconut milk powder: Some use coconut powder, although it does add too much coconut flavour for many.
  • Oat milk powder: A new innovation is oat milk powder. It has no graininess, only contains oats and enzymes, has a great creamy flavour and tempers well.
  • Soy allergies: For soya intolerances, milk products are often now available with sunflower lecithin.
Experimental milk powders

For a different flavor profile and texture, try experimenting with these milk powders:

  • Heavy Cream Powder: Contains 71.5% fat, so needs to be used sparingly. It can be used to replace some of the fat content provided by the cocoa butter.
  • Whole Buttermilk Powder: Adds an extra rich, cream flavour but without any sourness.
  • Whole Goat Milk Powder: No goat flavour but a rich creamy taste.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on how to make white chocolate from scratch, with chocolatier Simon Knott.

While many connoisseurs dismiss white chocolate as inferior to milk or dark chocolate, there is no denying its popularity, particularly among children who enjoy the sweet, milky flavour and the richness of the cocoa butter. Innovations in desserts from different cuisines have made the use of white chocolate more widespread, extending to cakes, biscuits, ice creams and mousses, as well as chocolates and bars, particularly in more delicate foods where a rich cacao flavor isn’t suitable.

Not only that, but white chocolate is significantly easier to make than milk or dark chocolate. With three ingredients only, you can make this with your kids at home, or even as a late night treat.

For more easy recipes, check out how to make chocolate with cocoa powder, or get more advanced and learn how to make chocolate bean-to-bar with Chef Prish in this deep dive.

Happy chocolatering!

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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