Substitute for German Chocolate in Baking

If you’re going to bake a German chocolate cake, you ought to have German chocolate in your grasp. But I get it – not a whole lot of homebakers have this kind of chocolate lying around. Luckily, you can use several substitutes instead of German chocolate.

There are many wonderful substitutes for German chocolate in baking. Dark chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and carob powder can all be used. You can also purchase German chocolate on Amazon and have it delivered right to your door!

Hi! My name is Michelle, and I’m a self-taught baker with eleven years of experience. Pretty nifty, if I do say so myself! I’ve baked all sorts of sweet concoctions, from cake to brownies, trifles to tarts. 

Some of the recipes I’ve used have called for German chocolate – but like many others, I don’t tend to have this kind of chocolate on hand. I’ve found the best substitutions and am here to share my top five picks.

Need a German choc swap? Read on!

What is German Chocolate?

When most people hear “German chocolate,” they think of the cake.

That’s not surprising, considering how utterly scrumptious German chocolate cake is. Just talking about it makes my mouth water!

But you might be surprised to find out that there is an actual type of chocolate called “German chocolate.” And yes, it is used to make German chocolate cake.

German chocolate, in a nutshell, is a type of dark chocolate that’s interestingly sweeter than semi-sweet and bittersweet varieties. That may be due to its delightful mixture of chocolate liquor, sugar, lecithin, cocoa butter, and many other yummy flavorings.

5 Substitutes for German Chocolate in Baking

If you don’t have German chocolate at home or just can’t find it anywhere, you can use any of these five best German chocolate substitutes.

1. Dark Chocolate

Plenty of people love dark chocolate. Its exceptional richness and intensity is unmatched by other kinds of chocolates. Naturally, it’s a top-notch swap for German chocolate in baking.

However, keep in mind that dark chocolate is not as sweet as German chocolate.

Dark chocolate lovers likely won’t have a problem with this. 

But if you’re concerned your treat will turn out too bitter, consider adding an extra tablespoon or two of sweetener.

2. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

I make brownies all. The. time

Naturally, I have a big container of cocoa powder ready to go.

Are you the same?

Then, you’ll be glad to know you can use cocoa powder in place of German chocolate in baking. 

Like dark chocolate, it may not be as sweet as you’d like. If you think it won’t be sweet enough, add a few tablespoons of sweetener. 

3. Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate is so creamy and delicious. It’s no wonder it’s a crowd favorite!

Thankfully, for milk chocolate fanatics, it’s an excellent substitution for German chocolate in baking.

Now, unlike my first two recommendations, milk chocolate is much sweeter than German chocolate. Therefore, you should expect your dessert to come out sweeter than expected. 

To combat the added sweetness, you can reduce the sugar content of your treat by a tablespoon or two. However, I don’t personally do this because I’m a big fan of ultra-sweet desserts. It really comes down to personal preference!

4. Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Dark chocolate is too bold for many, but milk chocolate is too sweet. 

Why can’t there be an in-between?

Oh wait, there is.

Semi-sweet chocolate is precisely how it sounds. It’s rich, slightly bitter, and decadent, with just the right amount of sweetness. 

Needless to say, semi-sweet chocolate is the ideal replacement for German chocolate in baking.

5. Carob Powder

Lastly, I have to mention carob powder as a German chocolate replacement.


Well, carob powder is incredible. For one, it’s 100% vegan-friendly, so our vegan bakers out there can enjoy traditional recipes without too much fuss. Secondly, carob powder is surprisingly sweet – even though you might not think it is!

When using carob powder, I have two suggestions. Reduce the sweetener by a tablespoon. Replace it with an extra tablespoon of fat, like butter, oil, or whatever kind of fat is used in your recipe. This will create the ideal flavor and texture.

Pro Tip: You can also simply buy German chocolate on Amazon! OK, so there are plenty of five-star German chocolate substitutes for baking, and they’re all ridiculously easy to use. However, some people don’t like to use substitutions, fearing their treat won’t come out “perfect.” If this sounds anything like you, I highly recommend heading to Amazon and buying some German chocolate. It’s worth every penny.


Who else is ready to get bakin’? But before you make your yummy German chocolate dessert (without the German chocolate, of course), I recommend looking at these frequently asked questions. You might learn something new!

Is German chocolate cake just chocolate?

Many people would characterize German chocolate cake as “just chocolate cake.” However, this “chocolate cake” is crafted with German chocolate, which is slightly different from other types of chocolates. It also contains a coconut-pecan filling and frosting.

What can I substitute for German Chocolate Cake mix?

If you don’t have any German chocolate cake mix on hand, you can use traditional chocolate cake mix instead. You can also use other popular chocolate cake mix flavors like Devil’s Food, triple chocolate, dark chocolate fudge, etc.

Is red velvet cake the same as German chocolate?

Red velvet cake is different from German chocolate cake. Red velvet is known for its subtle cocoa flavor and is typically decorated with cream cheese frosting. German chocolate cake contains a coconut-pecan filling and frosting.

Final Thoughts

If your recipe calls for German chocolate and you don’t have any on hand, you no longer need to panic. As long as you have one of these handy swaps – dark chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, milk chocolate, etc. – you can craft a wonderful treat that will satisfy any sweet tooth!

What is your favorite recipe that uses German chocolate? Which one of these substitutes are you going to use instead? Share in the comments!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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