When you hear Creme de Cacao, you automatically think, “oh, chocolate!” Or at least, that’s the first thing we thought of.
If you presumed the same thing, then congratulations, you’re correct! This is a chocolate-flavored cream liqueur with a hint of vanilla, perfect for cocktails and desserts.
If you don’t have any creme de cacao, we’ve got you covered with our list of substitutes. Read on!
The 8 Best Crème de Cacao Substitutes
Crème de Cacao is made from vodka, cacao beans, and vanilla. You can find it in two versions: White and dark crème de cacao. These two differ in production processes and taste. (*)
Contrary to the name, crème de cacao has no cream or dairy products. The word “creme” refers to the liqueur’s rich and syrup-like consistency from the high sugar content.
Fun fact: Crème de cacao is one of the oldest liqueurs. It originated in France from the French monks in the 16th century.
So, what happens if you can’t find this alcoholic liqueur in the liquor store? Here are the ingredients you can replace creme de cacao with:
1. Chocolate Flavored Liqueur
Your next best option from creme de cacao is a chocolate liqueur. You can easily find chocolate liqueur in your liquor store, coming in various brands.
We recommend using Trader Vic’s, a famous medium-dark chocolate liqueur with a hint of vanilla. It has a similar appearance and flavor to creme de cacao, making it a good substitute.
You can also use other chocolate liqueur brands like Godiva, Bols, De Kuyper, Hiram Walker, or Marie Bizard. However, expect other chocolate liqueur brands to taste sweeter and more syrupy than creme de cacao, which has a cleaner flavor.
That said, these are still suitable substitutes for cocktails, baked goods, and other desserts.
Besides chocolate liqueur, you can also try coffee, almond, or hazelnut liqueurs!
2. Mozart Chocolate Spirit
If you are looking for a white creme de cacao substitute, we recommend using Mozart Chocolate Spirit.
It has an intense chocolate flavor but isn’t too sweet, as there aren’t any added sugars throughout production. Furthermore, Mozart is a clear liquid, making it an ideal substitute.
That said, do note that Mozart has a 40% ABV, while creme de cacao only contains 20%.
3. Bailey’s Chocolate Luxe
Bailey’s Chocolate Luxe is another kind of chocolate liqueur worth mentioning. This is a creamy chocolate liqueur you can drink by itself with ice or use in chocolate martinis.
We also like using this chocolate liqueur in desserts, like the Grasshopper Pie.
We only recommend Kahlua if you’re truly in a pinch. It’s a Mexican liqueur known for its presence in popular cocktails like the Black Russian and Espresso Martini.
Expect a thick consistency and intense coffee flavor, which sets it apart from brown creme de cacao. However, it will still work well in cocktails.
This sweet liqueur has that subtle vanilla undertone you can find in brown creme de cacao. If you’d like to experiment, then we recommend trying Kahlua Chili Chocolate, which has a subtle chocolate flavor with a spicy kick, perfect for edgy cocktails.
5. Make Your Own
If you have time and want to experiment, you can make your own chocolate alcoholic liqueur.
Here’s what the recipe calls for:
- 1 cup of cacao nibs
- 1.5 cups of vodka
- One vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
- Three teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1.5 cups water
- 1.5 cups sugar
Follow these directions:
- Place your cacao nibs, vodka, vanilla bean, and extract in a large jar or bottle. Shake it vigorously, then store it in a dark, cool area for two weeks. Shake the mixture every two days.
- Strain the liquid with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, discarding any solids.
- Place the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring it occasionally until the sugar completely dissolves.
- Remove from heat and let it cool before you pour your cacao and vodka mixture.
- Let it sit for 2-3 days before using your homemade chocolate liqueur.
Non-Alcoholic Crème de Cacao Substitute
Not a fan of alcoholic beverages?
There are non-alcoholic ingredients you can use to replace creme de cacao.
Try any of these non-alcoholic liqueur alternatives:
6. Chocolate Syrup
We do not recommend chocolate syrup for cocktails, especially if you’re a mixologist. But if you aren’t picky with your drinks and just want to add a chocolatey flavor, then chocolate syrup is worth considering.
You can easily find chocolate syrup in supermarkets. We recommend this if you’re in a pinch or want to create a mocktail.
Alternatively, you can opt for coffee or hazelnut syrup.
There are other non-alcoholic chocolate flavoring options you can try, like cocoa butter. We recommend adding heavy cream until you get a similar consistency to creme de cacao when you use this alternative.
7. Chocolate Extract
Surprisingly, the chocolate extract is a valuable ingredient in cocktails. However, it’s not the easiest ingredient to find.
You may find it in grocery stores, but if not, you can always grab a bottle online if you aren’t in a hurry. Use this in various cocktails, such as the Bloody Aztec, China White, or Magic Potion.
8. Cocoa Powder
Non-alcoholic chocolate powder is another excellent substitute! We like using powdered white chocolate to replace white crème de cacao or regular cocoa powder for brown creme de cacao.
Just mix your powdered white chocolate or hot chocolate with water, powdered sugar, and non-alcoholic vanilla extract.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can even drink creme de cacao straight or with your favorite beverages like cocktails coffee drinks, among others.
We also use creme de cacao in desserts, such as grasshopper pie. For dessert recipes, we use white crème de cacao.
White creme de cacao tastes sweet and has a strong milk chocolate flavor with notes of vanilla.
Dark creme de cacao has a much richer, dark chocolate flavor that still tastes sweet.
Both types can be enjoyed on their own as a digestif, meaning it’s meant to consume after meals.
Dark crème de cacao is produced through a process similar to the percolation process of coffee. But instead of dripping the filter of cacao beans with water, you use alcohol!
As a result, you get a rich, dark brown color, hence the name. It also has a rich and intense flavor to match, working well with dark drinks like bourbon or brandy.
As for white crème de cacao, it’s made through the distillation method. Here, cacao beans are soaked in distillation stills filled with alcohol and water.
Here, you use slightly crushed cacao nibs, which help in releasing the chocolate flavor. The distillate is macerated or infested with more crushed whole vanilla beans or cacao beans.
In the end, you get a rich vanilla aroma, deep flavors, and a clear beverage. White creme de cacao only has a light chocolate taste compared to the heavy flavors of the dark brown variety.
Fun fact: You can create so many different cocktails with creme de cacao, such as the Grasshopper Drink, Brandy Alexander, Chocolate Martini, and a Magic Potion Cocktail.
Wrapping It Up
Just because you don’t have this particular chocolate-flavored liqueur doesn’t mean you have to stop making your cocktail or dessert!
You can easily find a creme de cacao substitute in your local store or home.
Did our list help you find the best ingredient to replace creme de cacao with? If so, let us know in the comments section below!