I have read here that cocoa nibs can be used in place of chocolate chips, but what about the other way around? A recipe I want to try calls for cocoa nibs, but I am having a hard time finding them. What can be substituted for cocoa nibs (if anything)?

  • 2
    Cocoa nibs cannot in the general case be substituted for chocolate chips. Please provide the recipe or context in which you want to sub for the nibs, so that you can get better guidance. Often, they can simply be omitted.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jan 29, 2014 at 22:09
  • You may be able to find carob nibs, but honestly, carob tastes like honey mixed with mud IMO. If you want the appropriate flavor and texture, you're going to have to track down cocoa nibs. You should be able to find them relatively easily online.
    – Matthew
    Jan 30, 2014 at 4:06
  • @SAJ14SAJ Here are the ingredients from the recipe: 3 cups gluten-free powdered sugar ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 large egg whites 1 large egg 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped 3 tablespoons cocoa nibs
    – unkfrank
    Jan 30, 2014 at 14:26

2 Answers 2


In this recipe, the nibs are being used as an accent ingredient, adding some crunchiness and a burst of chocolate flavor, as well as some bitterness.

They are not essential to chemistry or overall outcome of the recipe.

You may:

  • Simply omit them
  • Chopped or coarsely ground roasted coffee would have a similar profile, although not as fatty, and of course, coffee flavored
  • Try another crunchy, possibly somewhat bitter ingredient like chopped nuts; almonds, hazelnuts, and (in some people's opinions, although I dislike them) walnuts have a particular affinity for chocolate.
  • I frequently have used various chopped/ground nuts, toasted, in equal measure, for recipes that call for nibs. It really works fine, but it of course does not give the same flavor as nibs would.
    – franko
    Jan 30, 2014 at 17:05
  • @franko Maybe you could add cocoa powder to the nuts to flavor more like the nibs?
    – Cascabel
    Jan 30, 2014 at 20:36
  • @Jefromi - hmm, maybe. I might get worried about drying out the dough too much, but it's definitely worth experimenting with.
    – franko
    Jan 31, 2014 at 20:14

Cocoa nibs can generally be substituted with an equal weight of chocolate liqueur, or else (again, an equal weight of) unsweetened baker's chocolate. Further removed substitutions, like the chocolate chips you mentioned, will be based on comparisons to unsweetened chocolate and also depend on balancing the extra (or lack of) sugar in the recipe.

The nibs will be harder and crunchier, of course. And they won't melt, either, being the fragments of the whole roasted cocoa bean, emphasis on bean, without the further processing that makes chocolate soft. A substitution will change your recipe a bit in texture (depending on how it's used), but the flavor profile should be nearly identical.

Chocolate liqueur - which you are actually not likely to find unless dealing with a chocolatier or making chocolate yourself, forgive the joke - is cocoa nibs, ground to a paste, and ground still more into a liquid (without additions or deletions). So all the same flavors, just an exceedingly different texture.

Unsweetened baker's chocolate will usually be primarily the cocoa bean, perhaps some added stabilizers like soy lecithin, and possibly a slightly different ratio of cocoa solids to cocoa butter (some recipes add a little extra cocoa butter when processing). Again, the flavor profile will be very similar. Unsweetened chocolate, in chunks, will probably be much closer to the texture of the cocoa nibs, and also be much easier to find.

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