Chocolatiering DIY Chocolate Making

How to Unseize Chocolate: Easy Steps to Fix Seized & Burnt Chocolate

how to unseize chocolate

Got a bowl of overheated or seized chocolate? Don’t toss it out! In this article, we explain how to unseize chocolate using three easy methods.

Seized chocolate is a distressing situation to find yourself in, but one that every chocolate cook has encountered at one time or another. While it is impossible to bring your chocolate back to its original state, seized chocolate doesn’t need to be thrown in the bin.

In this article, professional chocolatier Simon Knott shares three easy methods for how to unseize chocolate, so you can still enjoy the precious brown gold for other applications such as sauces, dipping and hot cocoa. He also explains what causes chocolate seizing so you can prevent it from happening again in future, and tips for how to fix burnt chocolate.

How to Unseize Chocolate & Fix Burnt Chocolate

Article by Simon Knott, Professional Chocolatier

Despite its smooth, silky consistency when melted, chocolate doesn’t contain any water. Its fluidity is created as it is a suspension of tiny cocoa particles in a mixture of melted cocoa butter and dissolved sugar. This complex combination means it is susceptible when exposed to even small quantities of water, causing it to rapidly seize or stiffen up. Similarly, when exposed to excessive direct heat the same seizing effect is likely to take place.

What is Seized Chocolate?

Even a small amount of moisture can disrupt how a batch of chocolate melts, causing it to seize. Normally as chocolate melts, the cocoa butter, sugar, and cocoa solids all melt and dissolve to create a uniform, smooth, shiny liquid. However, this delicate combination is susceptible to the addition of any extra ingredients, such as water, which can throw it out of balance. These changes that occur are physical rather than chemical reactions.

When researching the dynamics of seizing chocolate, food scientists found that even small additions of water can wet the cocoa and sugar particles to create tiny patches of sticky syrup. These then coagulate, attracting further cocoa solids, and clumping together to make the thick, dull paste that is seized chocolate. As a physical process in food, seizing manifests itself in different mechanisms and ingredients. Think of peanut butter; a spoonful rapidly glues your mouth together. Here, peanut butter also has no water in it, so it quickly absorbs saliva, sticking it to the roof of your mouth.

how to unseize chocolate water
Water – the cause of seized chocolate – surprisingly, can also be one solution for fixing it.

How to recognize seized chocolate

The changes that occur in seized chocolate are dramatic, as they are the opposite of what you normally see in melted chocolate. So, instead of a smooth, uniform, liquid the chocolate turns into a thick paste, which may appear granular or lumpy. Similarly, seized chocolate loses its glossy shine and becomes dull and uninteresting.

Where does the water that causes chocolate seizing come from?

If you melt chocolate over a double boiler the heat source is gentle and indirect. The water only needs to be simmering to create enough heat to melt the chocolate. Consequently, only a small amount of steam is produced, so the risk of seizing the chocolate is minimised. There is no advantage to boiling the water hard in the double boiler, it’s unlikely to melt the chocolate any quicker and you run the risk of creating extra steam, which may degrade the chocolate.

Another source of water which causes seizing can be if the equipment you use is still wet after washing up. It’s best to ensure all your equipment is thoroughly dry before use, as even a small trace of water can be enough to seize chocolate. So, work in a well-ventilated room and ensure all equipment is dry.

How to Avoid Seized Chocolate

  • Always ensure all your equipment is thoroughly dry before use.
  • If using a double boiler, use gentle heat, which minimises the steam. Boiling the water hard isn’t more effective at melting and may affect the chocolate from too much steam or an accidental splash.
  • Avoid working with chocolate on days with high relative humidity. In extreme cases, the moisture in the atmosphere may affect the balance of melted chocolate.
how to fix seized chocolate
Adding fat, such as coconut oil, is an easy way of salvaging your seized chocolate.

How to Unseize Chocolate Easily

How to Fix Seized Chocolate – 3 Methods

In performing a rescue on seized chocolate it’s always best to keep an attitude of being patient for results and handling the ingredients gently. Strangely, the most common solution to water-seized chocolate is to add the very ingredient that caused the problem in the first place, hot water.

Method 1: Hot Water

Transfer the seized chocolate to a double boiler and gently heat it. Add a teaspoon of hot water and stir the chocolate. Control the addition of water by just adding a teaspoon at a time. Gradually the chocolate should regain its smoothness and shine.

Normally chocolate doesn’t contain water, so this rescue is now formulated differently. However, you can at least use it in recipes such as dessert chocolate sauces, decoration and even for hot chocolate / hot cocoa.

Method 2: Fat

The addition of different types of fat can also rescue seized chocolate. For better quality chocolate batches melted cocoa butter is ideal. For more everyday recipes, vegetable or coconut oil is a good substitute. As with the addition of water, control the addition of the fat so you are only using the minimum required to rescue the chocolate. Add the chosen fat or oil a teaspoon at a time and stir thoroughly afterwards. This means the change in the texture and mouth feel of the chocolate from the original will also be minimised.

Method 3: Chocolate

As an alternative to the above method, you can also try adding a small quantity of chocolate. Chop it into smaller pieces to give a larger surface area, so it will incorporate better.

how to fix burnt chocolate
Melt chocolate over simmering water, not directly over a flame, to avoid burning it.

How to Fix Burnt Chocolate

Chocolate is a sensitive product, which is susceptible to scorching if applied heat is too fierce. When chocolate burns or scorches the ingredients separate and the sugar can caramelise leading to a grainy, dull texture. Badly burnt chocolate has a blackened, charred appearance in places.

How to Avoid Burnt Chocolate

  • Avoid heating chocolate in the microwave or just use 30-second low-power bursts. The distribution of microwaves inside an oven is not even, leading to hotspots.
  • Melt chocolate over simmering water in a double boiler. The temperature can’t rise above 100° C, so the chocolate can’t burn.

How to Fix Burnt Chocolate


Gently mix in fat or oil a teaspoon at a time. For better quality chocolate use melted cocoa butter or try vegetable or coconut oil and mix thoroughly in between.

Cut It Out

For chocolate that’s been burnt in the microwave, you can try to cut out the burnt section. However, after testing you may find the burnt flavour has spread to the entire batch. If this is the case, it’s better to discard it and start again, putting it down to experience.

Final Words on How to Unseize Chocolate

By now, you should have a good idea for how to fix seized chocolate and fix burnt chocolate, with the help of Simon’s article. The first step in fixing your batch of chocolate is identifying the issue. While seized chocolate and burnt chocolate may look similar, the key difference is that water-seized chocolate is caused by introducing water into the mix (eg through splashes, drips or steam), while burnt chocolate has simply been overheated.

Water seized chocolate is generally easier to fix than burnt chocolate, however, the texture most likely will not come back to normal again. You should be able to salvage it enough to use for other applications, such as sauces, dipping/coating and making drinks. The best course of action is to simply learn what causes seizing and burning, and take steps to avoid doing it again in future, but for now, here is a summary for fixing your semi-ruined batch of chocolate.

Summary – How to Unseize Chocolate & Fix Burnt Chocolate:

Seized chocolate quick fixes:

  1. Add fat, such as cocoa butter or coconut oil.
  2. Add hot water, one teaspoon at a time. Use for sauces, dipping or drinks.
  3. Add extra chocolate, melting and stirring it into the seized chocolate.

Burnt chocolate quick fixes:

  1. Add fat, such as cocoa butter or coconut oil – only if the chocolate is not too severely burnt.

That wraps up our piece on fixing seized chocolate. To learn more tips and tricks for handling chocolate, such as what the unpleasant white film on your chocolate is (hint, it’s chocolate bloom), check out our chocolate-crafting articles on our Chocolate Tutorials page.

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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