Is Cocoa Butter Vegan? How to Always Choose Plant-Based Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter, while vegan, is sometimes included in foods or products that are not.

Natural cocoa butter and beans
Almaje / Getty Images

Cocoa butter, whose use is said to date back to around 460 AD, is made of raw ingredients sourced directly from cacao beans. This naturally occurring fat is a primary ingredient for commercial and artisanal chocolate as well as numerous beauty products for skin and hair.

However, while it is important to know what other ingredients are added to products made with cocoa butter, if you are making your own edibles or beauty products with cocoa butter, it is just as important to know how it is processed and sourced. With this information, you can be absolutely sure you are getting a genuinely plant-based, vegan-friendly result.

Why Cocoa Butter Is Usually Vegan

Cocoa butter is produced from cacao beans, which are naturally plant-based. When the beans are removed from the plant, they are dried, roasted, stripped, and pressed—a process that extracts their natural fat and creates cocoa butter. 

Without other additives and before it is added to any recipe or product, cocoa butter is naturally free of dairy, eggs, honey, and other animal-derived ingredients. If you buy cocoa butter in its purest form, it is most likely vegan. (Still, always check the label.)

When Is Cocoa Butter Not Vegan?

Many foods that contain cocoa butter, such as chocolate and other desserts, also contain eggs and dairy. Unless a food product is labeled "vegan," double-check that every ingredient is indeed plant-based before consuming or baking with it.

Similarly, when it comes to making your own beauty products for skin and hair, you may want to research that your cocoa-butter-based product has not been tested on animals—even if there are no animal product ingredients involved—and that it is ethically sourced.

Did You Know?

According to the Food Empowerment Project, children employed by cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and Ghana are exposed to toxic insecticides and agricultural chemicals, among other poor working conditions. While it can be difficult to know for certain if brands are relying on unethical practices for their cocoa butter, doing the research pays off. We recommend also checking labels for fair-trade certifications as well as the Rainforest Alliance Certification.

Vegan Cocoa Butters for Baking

The following cocoa butter products can be used as a dairy substitute for cooking, baking, and candy-making at home to create a rich, velvety result. When selecting the right cocoa butter for your recipes, be sure to check that it is an edible formulation as well as certified "food grade" and "fair trade" on its packaging, website, or the seller.

  • Wild Foods Cocoa Butter Wafers
  • Nuvia Organics Cocoa Butter Wafers
  • Navitas Organics Cacao Butter 
  • Thrive Organic Market Cocoa Butter
  • Organic Traditions Cocoa Butter
  • Now Foods Cocoa Butter
  • Artisana Organics Cocoa Butter
  • Sky Organics Unrefined Cocoa Butter.
  • Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Cacao Butter
  • Mary Taylor Naturals Organic Cocoa Butter
  • Wildly Organic Cacao Butter
  • Mountain Rose Herbs Roasted Cocoa Butter
  • Sunfood Superfoods Cacao Butter
  • Food to Live Organic Cacao Butter
  • SaaQuin Raw Cacao Butter

Vegan Cocoa Butters for DIY Beauty

Cocoa butter and other DIY beauty ingredients.
Cocoa butter beauty recipes can often be made with ingredients you already have at home. Almaje / Getty Images

Because cocoa butter is naturally rich in fatty acids, it is a common ingredient in many commercially-produced beauty products designed to moisturize skin, fade dark spots and stretch marks, and more.

You only have to go as far as your kitchen to whip up a perfect cocoa butter moisturizer, hair conditioner, exfoliating scrub, or lip balm with the right recipe and mix of essential oils. Good vegan-certified cocoa butter for beauty recipes will often have a "DIY USES" listing on the label or in its ad copy.

  • Green Leaf Naturals
  • Plant Therapy Organic Cocoa Butter
  • Mary Taylor Naturals HardUnrefined Cocoa Butter
  • Nuvia Organics Cocoa Butter
  • Premium Nature Organic Pure Raw Cocoa Butter
  • Plant Guru Raw Cocoa Butter
  • Sky Organics Raw & Unrefined Cocoa Butter
  • Ancient Health Remedies Organic Cocoa Butter
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Does cocoa butter have butter in it?

    No, cocoa butter is dairy-free and comes from cacao beans.

  • What is cocoa butter made of?

    Cocoa butter is simply the natural fat that is extracted from cacao beans.

  • What is the difference between cocoa butter wafers and bars?

    Assuming cocoa butter wafers and bars are 100% pure, the wafer and pieces format will melt a little more quickly than solid bars when preparing it for a recipe.

  • How do you store cocoa butter?

    It's best to store cocoa butter in a cool, dry place or a refrigerator as it can melt easily or even spoil faster when exposed to light or heat.