Cacao Powder Vs. Cocoa Powder: Which One Should I Use?

Many chocolate-based foods we know and love today have been around for a long time. For example, hot chocolate is an ancient drink invented by the Mayans thousands of years ago! Today, chocolate serves as the foundation for a wide range of delicious recipes, ranging from delectable drinks to keto-friendly treats.

If you’re thinking of getting into baking or cooking, you’ve likely come across some confusing terminology, such as cacao and cocoa powder. But what’s the difference between the two? And which one should you use?

Cacao vs. cocoa powder is an essential distinction to help you create cookies, cakes, and coffee drinks in style. 

History of Cocoa Powder

man picking yellow cocoa fruit

As touched on above, Mayan societies were the originators of famous drinks like hot chocolate. They also used cocoa powder for religious ceremonies and special events.

Today cocoa powder has been repurposed and expanded to supplement fancy desserts, specialized diets, and mainstream treats. Mixing baking chocolate and cocoa powder is a tricky science that depends heavily on your recipe. We’ll dive into the differences more below so you’re not confused about which one to use on your next chocolate-infused day.

Related: The Health Benefits of Chocolate

Are Cacao and Cocoa the Same Thing?

We’ll start this guide with the most common question concerning cacao and cocoa. Despite their similarly spelled names, they’re actually pretty different, and understanding those differences can be an essential key when using either in a recipe. 

In short, cacao is a term for the raw, unprocessed bean of the cacao plant. These beans come in a gooey white casing that looks quite different from the toasty result we’re all familiar with! It’s common to find raw cacao used for vegan or specialty products, particularly for audiences that want to avoid more sugary ingredients.

In contrast, cocoa is a term for processed and refined products made from cacao beans. Basically, we’re talking about common products such as:

To help keep things simple, just remember that cocoa products come from processed cacao beans!

Related: Is Sugar Free Candy the New Normal?

What is Cacao Powder Good For?

close up of cocoa powder

If you’re a health guru, you’ve likely come across cacao powder in drink mixes or recipe ideas. This raw ingredient is packed full of fantastic benefits, making it very popular among several demographics.

Cacao powder comes from the rawest form of the bean, so you don’t have to worry about excess milk or sugar. This raw material has a ton of flavonoids, iron, potassium, antioxidants, and fiber. Many people today add cacao powder to their food or drink to enjoy features such as:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved immune system
  • Boosted insulin sensitivity

Think your smoothies could use a boost? Add a scoop  of cacao powder. Think your protein shake is a little bland-tasting? Cacao powder will give it a nice kick while still bolstering your health.

Whether you’re allergic to dairy or eggs, we’ve got tasty treats for you to enjoy. We’re proud to provide all kinds of buyers allergen-friendly brittles, barks, and candy bars.

What is Healthier: Cacao vs. Cocoa?

Should you dive for cacao vs. cocoa? Cacao is the clear winner when it comes to having the broadest range of health benefits.

Again, cocoa refers to any product that’s been processed, refined, and added to. Much of today’s chocolate products are packed full of milk, flavorings, sweeteners, candies, and fat. While these additions certainly taste great, they’re not the best for losing weight or staying fit.

If you want to enjoy cocoa with fewer downsides, go for dark chocolate products with high amounts of cocoa. These products taste a little better than raw cacao but have very little to no milk solids or sugar. We recommend percentages between 70% to 90%.

Baking Chocolate vs. Cocoa Powder

If you want to bake chocolate treats, you’ll need to use cocoa powder or baking chocolate. While there are various superficial similarities between these two ingredients, there are some key differences.

Baking Chocolate is Unsweetened, But Still “Buttery”

Baking chocolate is specialized, unsweetened chocolate that comes in blocks. It tastes relatively bitter and is great for recipes with added sugar contents. It’s an excellent ingredient because it’s simple. The cocoa butter in baking chocolate can boost the creamy texture of whatever you’re baking without adding sugar.

Cocoa powder is not only less sweet, but it also has less cocoa butter. Which one you use depends on the recipe and what other ingredients you’re adding.

Soft, Creamy Desserts Need Baking Chocolate

If you’re a fan of mousse or custards, you’ll want to use baking chocolate, otherwise known as chocolate liquor. The higher volume of cocoa butter keeps your desserts delightfully creamy.

Chewy, Thicker Desserts Often Need Cocoa Powder

Do you want to make cookies or brownies instead? It’s best to use cocoa powder to get that properly chewy texture.

Related: What Candy Best Suits Your Personality?


Cacao and cocoa powder are far from the same thing. Cacao is a term for the raw ingredient, while cocoa powder is a refined product that is used with additional milk or sugar.

Baking chocolate is another form you can consider for cake, brownie, and drink recipes. This fantastic ingredient has a lot of cocoa butter, which helps products stay creamy and buttery. Cocoa powder also has its strengths, such as providing firm and chewy textures.

Give your week a little pick-me-up. Contact us today to enjoy allergen-friendly toffee treats.

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