Can I Use Nesquik Instead of Cocoa Powder in a Recipe?


Imagine this. You have decided to prepare a delicious chocolate cake. You already have the flour, the eggs, the sugar, the butter, and… oh no! Your cookbook says you need cocoa powder, but you don’t have any. All you have is that kid’s sweet chocolate drink called Nesquik. Can you use that instead?

In general, Nesquik can be used instead of cocoa powder as a substitute. In most cases, you won’t notice a big difference in the final product. However, you will want to reduce the amount of sugar the recipe calls for and substitute 2 tablespoons of Nesquik for every 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

The rest of this article will go into greater detail on how to replace Nesquik with cocoa powder and also give a few other ideas on potential substitutions.

Nesquik vs. Cocoa Powder

We need to inventory a few key differences before we talk about how to replace cocoa powder with Nesquik.

  • Cocoa Powder- Cocoa powder is the solid part that remains after the removal of the cocoa butter, creating a low-fat powdered product, which usually does not exceed 20%.
  • Nesquik- On the other hand, Nesquik, or so-called “powdered chocolate,” is a mixture that contains cocoa powder, flours, sugars, and flavoring agents and is usually used to make chocolate drinks. The proportion of cocoa in this mixture is generally equal to or greater than 15%, and the rest of the mixture will provide the necessary fat content to homogenize the drink that many of us know and love.

Important info about cocoa powder: Depending on where you live, it is possible to find two types of cocoa powder: a natural one and a red one. How to recognize them? Natural cocoa powder has a slightly reddish color and is very acidic, retaining the fruity and intense flavors of the seed. On the other hand, the cocoa that goes through the Dutch process is treated with alkaline, so its flavor is less acid and has a darker brown color.

How to Substitute Nesquik for Cocoa Powder

As discussed before, if you’re going to use Nesquik in your everyday chocolate recipes, you have to take into account that cocoa powder is below 20% fat and has no added sugar at all. As a result, the difference in both taste and texture is significant.

Put simply: Cocoa has a “neutral taste” while Nesquik is quite sweet (which makes it preferable by children). Cocoa powder also has a slightly bitter taste that is not present in Nesquik.

The easiest way to make the substitution work is by reducing the sugar used in the recipe. A good rule of thumb is to use about half the amount called for.

What if you want to keep some of cocoa’s bitterness?

If you prefer to have some of the bitter taste of cocoa in the final product, there are many things you can do to compensate for the cocoa powder’s natural bitterness:

  • You can use a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt in your Nesquik recipes to emulate the somewhat bitter taste.
  • You can use a small shot of espresso to add the bitterness the vanilla flavoring and extra sugar from the Nesquik are taking away.

How Much Nesquik Equals Cocoa Powder?

Even though Nesquik contains less than 20% cocoa, the flavor additives and sugar give it a soft chocolatey taste.

To not overshoot the sweetness in a recipe, using a 3:2 proportion of Nesquik as a replacement for cocoa powder is ideal. This means that for every 2 teaspoons, tablespoons, or cups of cocoa powder we were to use originally in our recipes, we would use 3 of Nesquik.

Put another way, for every teaspoon, tablespoon, or cup of cocoa powder, and we’d have to add that plus half of Nesquik.

Can I Use Nesquik Instead for Brownies?

Nesquik can definitely be used as a replacement for cocoa powder in a recipe for brownies. However, it is a good idea to cut down on the sugar you will use by at least 1/4 to compensate for the added sugar in Nesquik.

In my opinion, chocolatey sweets like brownies are the perfect types of recipes to try and replace cocoa powder for Nesquik. The main reason being that they are already meant to be high in sugar and fats.

However, if you’re not entirely satisfied with the flavor, it might be due to the lack of inherent bitterness you would get from straight cocoa powder. Try adding a bit of instant espresso or a squeeze of lemon to the mix to remedy this.

Can I Use Nesquik Instead of Cocoa Powder for Frosting?

Nesquik can generally be used to replace cocoa powder in frosting. In fact, this “beverage powder” gives an excellent body to frostings, as it already has some sugar and fat content. It also mixes well with both butter and milk.

Be mindful of how much powdered sugar you are supposed to add to your frosting recipe. Here is some advice:

Pro Tip: A great way to do frosting with Nesquik from scratch is by starting with your usual amount of butter then adding Nesquik until you are happy with both color and chocolatey taste. Leave sugar for last and add it to taste. Another good idea is to replace milk with some strong latte if the sweetness becomes too high.

My mother always added some coffee to her chocolate frosting recipes. If you’ve never done this, you have to try it!

Can I Use Nesquik Instead of Cocoa Powder for Cake?

It is possible to use Nesquik in a cake replacing cocoa. However, it won’t work as well as in brownies or frosting. If you want your cake to be spongy and rise, the best option will be to use cocoa powder. Nesquik will add more fat to the mixture, producing a cake that is moister and brownie-like.

If you don’t mind this, then Nesquik will work really well as a replacement.

Is There Anything Else Can I Use as a Substitute for Cocoa Powder?

There are a few decent substitutions for cocoa powder. Here are three good ones:

1. Carob

This powdered seed hints at a chocolatey taste with a little touch of honey. It’s okay to sub cocoa powder for the carob powder in the same proportions. However, keep in mind that it’s not as powerful as the original; therefore, if you want an intense taste in your recipes, you can add a little more.

2. Milk or Dark Chocolate

Sweetened or sugar-free melted chocolate bars are usually a great alternative to cocoa powder! Just like with Nesquik, though, it is essential to cut down on the fat you will use to make up for the added fat percentage in your bar, which you wouldn’t have in cocoa.

A 1/3-oz square of chocolate should equate to a tablespoon of powder in your recipes, as long as you reduce both fat and sugar by one tablespoon each (or less, depending on the brand and values of the bar you’re using). However, for recipes where texture and airiness come second to flavor, you can leave both sugar and fat as-is.

3. Chocolate Syrup

Somewhere in your everyday pancake companion, there is cocoa powder. This already sweetened mixture also includes a percentage of dairy, starch, sugar, and flavorings. It’s okay to use these mixes as a replacement for the cocoa powder but be sure to take into account the added elements, as usual. Adjust sugar, fat, and starch accordingly; you will find that information on the label.

Final Bite

Sometimes happy accidents happen in the kitchen. There have been many a number of times where I would replace an ingredient (because I was too lazy to run to the store) and then realize I had just discovered a new favorite way of making a dish. This could very well be the case for you if you try Nesquik as a substitute for cocoa powder. I sure hope it is!

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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