Cocoa Butter

Cocoa Butter

Cocoa Butter

Chat icon

Cocoa Butter


Cocoa butter, also known as Theobroma oil, is a key ingredient in chocolate and confectionery production. It is a vegetable fat derived from the cocoa bean (Theobroma cacao). Cocoa butter is solid at room temperature but has a low melting point, around 93-98°F (34-37°C). Its unique physical properties make it a vital component in creating the smooth, creamy texture of chocolate products.

Crystallization is a crucial aspect of cocoa butter's behavior in chocolate and confectionery production. Cocoa butter can crystallize in various forms, and understanding this process is essential for creating chocolate with the desired texture, appearance, and mouthfeel. Cocoa butter exhibits polymorphism, meaning it can crystallize into multiple different forms or crystal structures. The six primary crystalline forms, often referred to as polymorphs, are labeled as Forms I, II, III, IV, V, and VI. Among these, Form V is the most desirable for chocolate making because it provides the characteristics associated with high-quality chocolate. The temperature at which cocoa butter is tempered and cooled plays a significant role in the formation of specific crystal structures. Form V crystals develop when cocoa butter is tempered and cooled within a certain temperature range (approximately 88-90°F or 31-32°C).

Regarding its components, Cocoa butter is a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage and also lauric acid, a fatty acid that has antiviral and antimicrobial properties.

Source and Processing

Cocoa butter is extracted from the cocoa bean during the chocolate making process. The beans are extracted from the cocoa pods and fermented for several days to develop their distinct flavor. After fermentation, the beans are roasted, cracked open, and the nibs are separated from the shell. These nibs are then ground into a liquid known as cocoa liquor or chocolate liquor, which consists of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The extraction process involves pressing the cocoa liquor to separate the cocoa solids from the cocoa butter. The resulting cocoa butter is refined and deodorized to remove impurities and unwanted flavors.

The best method to obtain cocoa butter is trough high pressure filter press, where the cocoa liquor is pumped into a plate-frame filter press where the liquid cocoa butter is pressed out of the mass at a temperature around 100 °C (212 °F).

Cocoa butter can be obtained directly from cocoa beans in an expeller press. In this case, cocoa butter often contains cocoa particles that should be removed afterwards.

The composition and solidification properties of cocoa butter will be different for each extraction process. 

Main function in Confections

Cocoa butter has a mild chocolate flavor and aroma, and is used to make a variety of chocolate confections, including chocolate bars, truffles, and bonbons.

It provides a smooth and creamy mouthfeel in chocolates and truffles, enhancing the overall sensory experience. And contributes to the shiny appearance and satisfying snap when you bite into chocolate bars.

Cocoa butter helps release the flavor compounds in chocolate, ensuring a rich and aromatic taste.

And finally, It aids in the tempering process, allowing chocolate to harden into a glossy finish and preventing bloom (white spots) on the surface.

Molecular Structure

Cocoa butter is a triglyceride, which means that it is made up of three fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule.  The main fatty acids in cocoa butter are listed in the table below, although it is important to mention this can vary from region to region and from specie to specie:


The fatty acids in cocoa butter are palmitic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid. Palmitic acid and stearic acid are saturated fatty acids, which means that they are solid at room temperature. Oleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid, which means that it is liquid at room temperature.

Cocoa butter is not very hygroscopic, which means that it does not absorb much moisture from the air. This is one of the reasons why chocolate melts in the mouth, but not in the hand.

It can exist in different crystalline forms. The most common crystalline form of cocoa butter is called beta-V. Beta-V cocoa butter has a melting point of about 35 ° C (95°F). Other crystalline forms of cocoa butter have different melting points.

Cocoa butter has a relatively long shelf life when stored in a cool, dry place. However, cocoa butter can become rancid over time if it is exposed to heat, light, or moisture.


In the United States, cocoa and chocolate products are subject to various regulations overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

All of them can be found under the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 CFR Part 163 for al Cacao products. The most updated version can be consulted in the Electronica CFR system.

Some key regulations in this code include topics such as:

  • Cocoa butter must meet specific purity and quality criteria to be considered suitable for use in food products.
  • It must be labeled accurately in ingredient lists, often as "cocoa butter" or "cacao butter."
  • The FDA provides guidelines for the labeling of cocoa-containing products, ensuring that cocoa butter is declared correctly.

Back to Top   ▲