Is Cocoa Butter Vegan

Following a vegan diet has become so hard that vegans have started questioning whether the particular product has any animal-based ingredients. It has become even more difficult when certain foods have confusing names. Take Cocoa butter, for example. Because of the word ” butter,” many people are left confused and wonder, “Is cocoa butter vegan?” 

Well, it’s totally vegan, in general. It is simply the fat from cacao beans. Cocoa butter is a healthy and super tasty choice for anyone looking to add more plant-based fats to their diet. It is also a key ingredient in many chocolate confections and pastries, giving them a creamy feel.

Keep reading as we review whether cocoa butter suits a vegan diet or not. Also, find out the other vegan alternatives to it. 

What is Cocoa Butter?

Cocoa butter, aka theobroma oil, is a pale yellow vegetable fat. It is usually obtained from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, more popularly known as cocoa beans. These are the same seeds used to make dark or white chocolate. 

When cocoa butter is in liquid form, it is semi-transparent light yellow. Once this fat solidifies, it looks creamy or off-white in color and resembles actual butter. It has a strong, sweet taste and gives off hints of chocolate.

About 70% of the world's cocoa comes from West African countries. In particular, Ghana and the Ivory Coast are by far the largest producers of cocoa, accounting for more than 50% of the world's cacao. 

Cocoa beans are fermented, dried, roasted, stripped, and pressed to extract cocoa butter. Unsurprisingly, cocoa butter is found in many types of chocolate, even dark chocolate. In addition, Cocoa butter is used to make chocolates, skin creams, lotions, lip balms, and dessert recipes. 

Now, you might be curious to know if a product with the word “butter” in its name could be deemed acceptable in a vegan diet. To understand that, let's look closer at what cocoa butter is and how it is made. 

How Is Cocoa Butter Made?

Cocoa butter comes from cocoa beans found inside the cocoa pod and grows on cacao trees. Here’s how it’s made:  

Cocoa beans are first harvested from cacao trees, cleaned, and roasted. Once the roasting process is finished, the shells are removed, and the beans are ground down. This produces a liquid, pasty substance called cacao liquor. Then, a hydraulic press pushes the cacao liquor onto a thin steel sheet, where it is scraped off with circular motions. This allows fat to be separated. The resulting fat is nothing but cocoa butter! 

Although only part of the cocoa bean is converted to butter, the remaining part is used to make other substances. For example, cocoa liquor is commonly used for baking, while the rest of the bean is converted into chocolate powder. This way, the whole cocoa pod is used for some purpose. 

Cocoa Butter Nutritional Facts

Pure cocoa butter is safe to eat and has a mixture of unsaturated and saturated fats with few nutrients. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), One tablespoon (13.6 g) of cocoa butter contains: 

Nutrient  Amount per serving 
Protein  0 g
Calories 120 
Water  0 g
Energy  503 kJ
Total fat  13.6 g
Sugar  0 g
Carbohydrate  0 g
Fiber  0 g

As we can see, cocoa butter is a hypercaloric ingredient – even a small serving pack has tons of calories. So, if you're on a calorie-deficit diet, make sure not to consume too much of it. It can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which you don’t want. It also contains small amounts of vitamins E, K, and Choline. 

Health Benefits Of Cocoa Butter 

While most people get their cocoa from dark chocolate, cocoa butter has similar health benefits. Here are some of the benefits of cocoa butter: 

  • It acts as an antioxidant powerhouse to fight free radical damage. 
  • It helps relieve sensitive skin. 
  • It's a perfect ingredient for hair care products.
  • It acts as a great moisturizer and deeply nourishes the skin. 
  • It reduces liver disease symptoms
  • It is a good source of vitamin D and helps protect from sun damage. 
  • It may improve insulin resistance.
  • It helps manage healthier cholesterol levels.

Is Cocoa Butter Vegan?

For a product to be considered vegan, it should not contain animal products or be tested on animals. Cocoa butter doesn't undergo either of these two processes during manufacture, so it can certainly be classified as vegan. 

In its raw form, cocoa butter is 100% vegan. This is due to the fact that it is plant-based and originates from cocoa beans. More specifically, there is no butter present in this product. Its consistency and texture give it its name. 

Cocoa butter's melting point is slightly lower than the average person's body temperature, so it melts once touched. This fat is what gives chocolate its mouth-watering feel and the smooth texture of body lotions and creams. 

That said, there's no guarantee that all cocoa butter is purely vegan. Because it may contain ingredients derived from animals, cocoa butter is commonly used as a primary ingredient in cosmetic items, making them unlikely to be vegan. This is especially true of cosmetic products, where collagen—which is usually sourced from non-vegan sources—may be incorporated. So, before making a purchase, always read the label.

Word of caution for pure vegans 

The large-scale cocoa industry has been criticized for unethical methods. Inquiring about the sourcing of ingredients and whether they are vegan. While cocoa butter is sourced from plants, some people may be concerned about potential cross-contamination or ethical issues with cocoa production. 

For example, certain cocoa farms have been connected to deforestation and unjust labor misconduct. As customers, we must research and support brands that value ethical sourcing and fair trade methods.

Tips Before Buying Cocoa Butter

Consider these tips while looking for vegan cocoa butter products. 

  1. First, thoroughly check the product labels and ingredient lists. Look for clear labels indicating that the products are “vegan” or “plant-based.” 
  2. Next, choose brands with prominent certificates like “Certified Vegan” or “Vegan Society.” This ensures that no animal-derived substances were used in the cocoa butter production process, nor was there any cross-contamination.
  3. Lastly, contact manufacturers or visit their websites to learn about their sourcing and production procedures. This will help you ensure that the cocoa butter you choose is in accordance with your ethical principles.

Is Cocoa Butter Dairy-Free?

Contrary to what many vegans believe, cocoa butter does not contain milk. When they hear the term “butter,” this is nothing of the sort. As the fat part of the cocoa bean, cocoa butter is entirely vegetarian. 

Again, cocoa butter is taken straight from the cacao bean. In its purest form, cacao butter isn't mixed with anything else. Although it never hurts to double-check the label, none of the variations you see for sale on the store shelf contain milk or any other dairy products. 

Is Cocoa Butter Gluten-Free? 

Cocoa butter is usually gluten-free, but cross-contamination can sometimes be an issue. If you're super sensitive to gluten, finding a product labeled gluten-free would be a good idea. But if you're extremely allergic, look for certified gluten-free products. Although very rare, you’ll surely find some. 

Difference Between Cacao Butter and Cocoa Butter 

Cacao butter is made entirely of the cold-pressed oil from the cacao bean (100% pure). While pressing for cocoa butter requires a greater temperature, raw cacao butter manufacturing usually reaches just 115 ° F.

Raw cacao butter is more nutrient-dense since cold pressing does not result in any nutritional loss. Processing little affects the nutritional content of cocoa butter. Compared to cacao butter, it is somewhat less nutritious. With that exception, they are nearly identical; they can both be consumed and added to vegan dishes and skincare products

When Is Cocoa Butter Not Vegan? 

Dairy and eggs are found in many foods containing cocoa butter, including chocolate and desserts. Before eating or making anything that isn't clearly labeled as “vegan,” be sure that each ingredient is, in fact, derived from plants.

Likewise, even if you're not using any components derived from animals, you might still want to be sure the ingredients for your own skin and hair care products are ethically sourced and have not been subjected to animal testing. Also, make sure to thoroughly check the labels, as some brands include casein or whey in their ingredients!

Cocoa Butter Alternatives 

Because of the strain on cocoa butter production caused by the rising demand for cocoa products worldwide, consumers now have to pay more for products made with cocoa butter due to shortages and higher manufacturing costs. Nevertheless, there are other vegan options available on the market that are similar to cocoa butter. Each of these alternatives brings its characteristics and flavors.

Some of the alternatives are: 

  • Coconut oil 
  • Shea butter 
  • Mango butter 
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Palm kernel oil 

Final Note

Hopefully, we have cleared your doubt about “Is cocoa butter vegan?” To sum up, cocoa butter is a fat-rich substance derived from the cocoa beans of a cacao tree. From food to skincare, it has lots of applications and uses. Cocoa butter has been proven to be safe to use, even though there is little risk of side effects, whether used for food or skincare. 

Rest assured, pure cocoa butter is 100% vegan. Plus, it produces a rich texture in foods without the need for dairy because it is a form of fat. So, without any worries, start consuming cocoa butter, as it brings many benefits! 


1. What is cocoa butter made of?

Ans: Cocoa butter is made from Cocoa beans, also known as the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree. The beans are harvested, dried, roasted, and cold-pressed to extract cocoa butter.

 2. Does cocoa butter contain dairy?

Ans: Yes, most cocoa butter contains zero milk products, so they are completely dairy-free and vegan. 

3. Can you eat cocoa butter if you have a dairy allergy? 

Ans: Yes, cocoa butter is safe to eat for dairy-allergic people, as it contains zero milk products. The fat content of butter is actually the fat portion of cocoa beans.

4. Is Nutella vegan?

Ans: No, Nutella is not vegan because it contains skim milk powder, which is an animal-derived ingredient. Yes, it's made from cow's milk.  

 5. What is a vegan substitute for cocoa butter?

Ans: Coconut oil is a perfect vegan substitute for cocoa butter, as it has fatty acids similar to those of cocoa butter. 

6. What is the major disadvantage of cocoa butter?  

Ans: Cocoa butter's biggest downside is that it is high in calories and fats. If consumed in excess, this could lead to unhealthy weight gain and obesity.


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Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson is a New York based Health Specialist Writer who completed his graduation from Syracuse University back in 2015. His writings were published in the top Healthcare brands in the United States.

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