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Is Cocoa Butter Vegan: Let’s Look at the Facts!


Despite its name, cocoa butter is absolutely nothing like the dairy-based butter products that you probably imagine when we mention the word ‘butter.’ So is cocoa butter vegan? We’ll get straight to the answer; yes, cocoa butter is vegan!

In fact, pure cocoa butter contains zero dairy products in any shape or form. Derived from cacao beans, cocoa butter is entirely plant-based in origin. However, vegans do need to be careful how they use or consume cocoa butter.

Many products that contain cocoa butter (we’re looking at you, chocolate) also make heavy use of dairy products and therefore aren’t vegan. To make things a little clearer, in this article, we look at when and where it is, and it isn’t safe for vegans to use cocoa butter!

What is cocoa butter made of? 

Okay, so we’ve already explained that cocoa butter is vegan. But if you’re anything like us, you’ll be wondering how a product with the word ‘butter’ in its name could be considered acceptable in a vegan diet!

To explain, let’s take a look at what cocoa butter actually is. In its raw form, it is yellow in color, and while ordinarily a solid, it can quickly melt (hence the likeness to butter). 

Raw cocoa butter contains zero dairy products, however, because it’s taken from the cacao plant. Raw cacao butter is a type of fat that’s present in cacao beans, and it’s generally extracted as a byproduct of the chocolate-making process.

Cacao beans are first harvested from the cacao plant before then being dried and roasted. The process is designed to remove the fat (the cacao butter), leaving behind dry cacao beans that can then be easily turned into chocolate powder. The powder then becomes a primary ingredient in chocolate, although chocolate makers also need to use cacao butter too in their recipes. 

So, does cocoa butter have dairy? 

Is cocoa butter dairy? No. it’s taken straight from the cacao bean. There are zero ingredients in cocoa butter that are not considered vegan, so it’s perfectly safe for vegans to use!

Cacao butter isn’t combined with any other products in its rawest form. There’s no milk or any other dairy products present in the varieties that you see for sale on the shop shelf (although it never hurts to double-check the label!). 

But while cocoa butter ingredients are vegan, there are many other products that contain cocoa butter that are not vegan. 

The main product to talk about here is chocolate. Cacao butter, while vegan, is an essential ingredient in chocolate. When used in chocolate recipes, it’s often combined with dairy products such as milk or milk powder to give us milk chocolate. 

If you’re a chocolate lover, then don’t despair. There’s still a lot of vegan chocolate out there for you. Dark chocolates contain less dairy than milk chocolate (for more info on milk products, read our article: do vegans drink milk?), and increasingly, dark chocolate bars are being produced without any dairy at all to cater to vegan demand. 

Always check the chocolate bars first, though, before buying, as each producer has a different recipe. Just because it contains cocoa butter and is sold as dark chocolate doesn’t automatically mean it’s vegan!

Is cocoa powder vegan?

So if cocoa butter is vegan, but chocolate is not vegan, you might be wondering: where does that leave cocoa powder? 

Cocoa powder is essential for strong cocoa drinks or for baking, and in its raw form, it is vegan. Just like cocoa butter, cocoa powder is extracted from cocoa beans. The powder is produced after the butter has been separated from the bean, and the bean has then been dried and roasted. 

The beans are then ground up into cocoa powder, and at this point, the powder is very much vegan. However, when you’re buying cocoa powder in the store, always check the packaging. Cocoa powder could contain non-vegan additives, for example. 

If you’re buying hot chocolate powder, be extra careful. It’s usually mixed with milk powder or similar dairy products, and therefore is not suitable for a vegan diet!

How to use cocoa butter? 

As you might well have gathered at this point in the article, there are a large number of cocoa butter uses!

Milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate are all made with cocoa butter. On top of this, many other chocolate products will also contain cocoa butter, including your favorite chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or chocolate ice cream. Whether these are vegan or not depends on the recipe. 

Cocoa butter for cooking is popular, and non-dairy cocoa butter finds its way into many desserts or sweet treats. Using cocoa butter for baking is a great way to keep things dairy-free, too (as many cooking chocolates can contain dairy products). 

As well as food products, though, cocoa butter is also marketed as a skin cream or moisturizer. It’s soft and buttery, and it has a wonderful number of cocoa butter skin benefits and health benefits you could experience 

Health benefits

Cocoa butter is basically all fat, and so it’s no surprise that this is one product that’s packed with fatty acids. For that reason, products such as lip balm or face moisturizers are particularly popular. The fatty acids, when applied to the skin, are not only extremely hydrating but also help to protect the skin. 

You can find cocoa butter in hair products, too, and in healing creams aimed at scars, blemishes, acne, or eczema. These health and beauty products should be vegan, too, but always check there are no non-vegan additives in the creams. Vegans also need to check that the products haven’t been tested on animals, even if they contain no animal products. 

Cocoa butter is commonly sold as a skin cream or moisturizer specifically for its health benefits, but there are many benefits to be gained from drinking hot (vegan ) cocoa or enjoying products like dark chocolate that are produced using cocoa butter, too. 

Cocoa butter contains important antioxidants, and a little bit of dark chocolate in your diet is thought to help lower blood pressure!

Is cocoa butter vegan? Yes!

We can say with 100 percent certainty that yes, cocoa butter is vegan. Produced from the cacao bean, which is harvested from the cacao plant, the butter is a soft, creamy, semi-solid that tastes like chocolate but contains zero dairy products. 

If you’re vegan, then cocoa butter is absolutely safe to eat or to use as a skin cream (as well as tasting great, there are many cocoa butter benefits, too!). However, vegan cocoa butter is often used as an ingredient in non-vegan products. The main culprit is chocolate, but there are other products out there too!

Always be safe and check the label. Why not bookmark our guide to cocoa butter, so you can be safe in the knowledge that it’s definitely vegan?

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