Butter is a staple ingredient in many recipes, whether they’re sweet or savory.
This can be a problem for vegans who want to continue to bake and cook without dairy products. That’s where cocoa butter comes in.
You’ve probably heard of it before, but since it has the word ‘butter’ in the name, you might be confused about whether it’s vegan, and whether it’s a good substitute for dairy butter.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about cocoa butter from a vegan perspective.
Cocoa Butter: What Is It?
First and foremost, what is cocoa butter, really? Simply put, it’s fat that has been extracted from cocoa beans.
While you might expect fat extracts to be liquid, cocoa butter solidifies to a butter-like consistency when it’s stored at room temperature.
It’s very versatile, though, because it does become a liquid when heated up. Even body temperature can soften it, which is why many people use it as a moisturizer.
Since this fat has been extracted from cocoa beans, it has a cocoa-like flavor. This will come as no surprise if you’ve seen it included in ingredients lists on chocolate products.
Is Cocoa Butter Vegan-Friendly?
So, here’s the big question: is cocoa butter suitable for vegans? The answer is a resounding yes!
Cocoa butter doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients, including eggs, dairy, or even honey. It’s a fully plant-derived ingredient.
This means that if you’re vegan, you can incorporate cocoa butter into your diet without any ethical qualms.
With that being said, just because cocoa butter itself is totally vegan doesn’t mean that’s true for every food item that’s made with cocoa butter.
One example is white chocolate, which usually contains cocoa butter, but also contains dairy products. The same is true of milk chocolate.
While dark chocolate is often vegan, as long as it’s over 70% cocoa, it can also sometimes contain milk if the cocoa percentage is lower, so be aware of this.
Vegan Ways To Use Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter can be used in a wide variety of vegan recipes as a substitute for regular butter.
Because the consistency is very similar and it melts in basically the same way, you shouldn’t have any trouble substituting it.
You may be worried that the chocolate-like taste of the cocoa butter will interfere with the flavors of other ingredients in your recipes.
Luckily, though this shouldn’t be the case as long as your other ingredients are flavorful enough.
That’s because cocoa butter’s aroma is actually more potent than its flavor, so even though it smells quite strongly of chocolate, this won’t come through as much in terms of taste.
You can use cocoa butter instead of dairy butter to make:
- Baked goods (cakes, cookies, brownies, pastries)
- Homemade vegan chocolate
- Vegan curry
- Dairy-free sauces
You can also use cocoa butter outside of the kitchen! Many vegans want to eliminate animal products from their lifestyles, not just from their diets.
Luckily, as we mentioned earlier, cocoa butter also works as an effective moisturizer, replacing many of the animal-derived moisturizer products on the health and beauty market.
To moisturize with cocoa butter, just shave off a small amount of cocoa butter while it’s still in its solid form and start to rub it onto your skin.
The warmth from your skin will start to melt the cocoa butter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cocoa Butter Gluten-Free?
Yes, cocoa butter is gluten-free because it doesn’t contain any ingredients from any types of grains, including wheat, barley, or rye.
Cocoa butter is simply an extract from cocoa beans, so unless a cocoa butter product states that other ingredients have been added, you don’t need to worry about it containing gluten.
However, you should check the label for dietary warnings because it’s possible for cocoa butter to be contaminated by gluten products in a factory setting.
Is Cocoa Butter Healthy?
Cocoa butter is a healthy alternative to dairy butter because even though it’s a saturated fat, it’s one of the healthier saturated fats and contains beneficial fatty acids.
It’s also high in vitamin E, which is good for your skin, vision, brain, and circulatory system.
Is Cocoa Butter The Same As Cacao Butter?
Cocoa butter and cacao butter are largely the same, but cacao butter is generally raw whereas cocoa butter has been processed using heat.
Cocoa butter is a tasty and vegan-friendly butter alternative.
However, not all products containing cocoa butter are vegan, and contamination is often possible, so be sure to read labels carefully.