The Best Way to Dissolve Cacao Powder

Cacao powder is an unsweetened powder made from cacao beans, which are dried, fermented, roasted, and then ground into a fine powder. This powder is used to make chocolate, as well as in baking recipes and drinks like hot cocoa.

The Best Way to Dissolve Cacao Powder

However, cacao powder can be difficult to dissolve, especially in liquids like milk or water. The powder tends to clump together or float on the surface rather than dissolve smoothly.

So what's the best way to get cacao powder to dissolve properly? Here are some tips and techniques to try for smooth, lump-free dissolving of cacao powder.

Use Hot Liquid

The heat helps to break down the powder and allow it to dissolve more easily. Try adding the cacao powder to a mug or bowl first, then pour freshly boiled water or hot milk over top. Stir vigorously until the powder is fully incorporated. The hotter the liquid, the faster the powder will dissolve.

Benefits of Using Hot Liquid:

  • Fast dissolving time
  • Requires minimal effort
  • Results in a smooth, lump-free drink

Tips for Using Hot Liquid:

  • Don't use boiling water as it can scorch the cacao powder
  • Add cacao powder to a cup first before the liquid
  • Stir continuously while pouring the liquid
  • Use freshly boiled water for the fastest results

Key Takeaway: Using hot or boiling liquid is the fastest and most effective way to dissolve cacao powder.

Make a Cacao Paste

Making a paste with the cacao powder first before adding the main liquid is another effective technique. This pre-dissolves the powder so it incorporates more smoothly.

To make a cacao paste:

  • Add cacao powder to a cup or bowl
  • Add just a small amount of hot water or milk (1-2 tbsp)
  • Stir vigorously until a thick, smooth paste forms
  • Add remaining liquid and stir again

Benefits of Making a Paste:

  • Pre-dissolves the powder
  • A thicker texture helps prevent lumps
  • Can be made ahead of time

Tips for Making a Cacao Paste:

  • Add liquid slowly to prevent the paste from getting too thin
  • Use hot liquid for faster dissolving
  • Stir continuously while adding liquid to paste

Key Takeaway: Making a paste first pre-dissolves the powder for smooth mixing into liquids.

Add Sweetener

Adding a sweetener like sugar or honey to the cacao powder can help it dissolve more easily before adding the main liquid. The granules of sweetener help break up any clumps.

To use this technique:

  • Combine cacao powder and sweetener in a cup/bowl
  • Stir to fully incorporate and break up any clumps
  • Add hot water or milk while stirring
  • For a sweeter drink, add more sweetener to taste

Benefits of Adding Sweetener:

  • Helps break up clumps in powder
  • A sweeter taste balances the bitterness of cacao

Tips for Using Sweetener:

  • White sugar, brown sugar, honey all work
  • Combine with cacao powder first before liquid
  • May need to use more of the sweetener to dissolve fully

Sift the Cacao Powder

Sift the Cacao Powder

Sifting the cacao powder before using ensures there are no clumps to begin with. The process of sifting breaks up any existing lumps as the powder passes through the mesh strainer.

To sift:

  • Place cacao powder in a fine mesh strainer or sifter
  • Gently shake the strainer or press powder through with a spoon
  • Discard any clumps left in the strainer
  • Add sifted powder to the liquid

Benefits of Sifting:

  • Removes existing clumps
  • Results in an ultra-smooth texture
  • Aerates powder for easier dissolving

Tips for Sifting:

  • Tap the strainer with a spoon to help the powder pass through
  • Use a small strainer that fits over the cup for less mess
  • Sift over parchment paper for easy pouring

Switch Liquids

If you're having trouble dissolving cacao powder in one liquid, try switching to another with better dissolution properties. For example, using milk instead of water can help the powder incorporate more smoothly.

Liquids to Try:

  • Whole milk
  • Half and half
  • Cream
  • Nut milks
  • Water

Tips for Switching Liquids:

  • Milk has fat to bind to the fat in cacao powder
  • Non-dairy milks work but may require more stirring
  • Water requires heat and/or sweetener for a smooth mix

Key Takeaway: Some liquids are better than others for dissolving cacao powder smoothly.

Add a Starch

Starches like cornstarch can help thicken hot chocolate made with cacao powder and prevent the powder from settling on the bottom. The starch molecules interfere with the cacao particles settling out.

To use:

  • Dissolve 1 tsp cornstarch in 2 tsp milk
  • Add slurry to hot chocolate and heat just until boiling
  • Remove from heat and stir well before serving

Benefits of Adding Starch:

  • Creates a thicker, creamier texture
  • Helps keep cacao powder suspended
  • Allows hot chocolate to be reheated without separating

Tips for Using Starch:

  • Slurry prevents clumps from starch
  • Only heat until boiling to prevent starchy flavor
  • Stir continuously while reheating

Use a Blender

If you just can't get your cacao powder to dissolve smoothly, a blender is a foolproof option. The high-speed blending action will break up any clumps and force the powder to be fully incorporated.

To use a blender:

  • Combine cacao powder and a small amount of hot liquid
  • Blend on high speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • Add remaining ingredients and blend briefly to combine

Benefits of Using a Blender:

  • Guarantees smooth, lump-free results
  • Quickly breaks up stubborn clumps
  • Easiest technique for beginners

Tips for Using a Blender:

  • Use caution with hot liquid
  • Start with less liquid and increase as needed
  • Don't over blend or it may get foamy


Why does cacao powder not dissolve in water?

Cacao powder contains cocoa butter which is hydrophobic and repels water. The powder also contains insoluble fiber that will not dissolve.

Can cacao powder go in cold milk?

Yes, but it takes longer to dissolve and requires vigorous stirring. Warm or hot milk is best for quick, smooth dissolving.

Is cacao powder gluten free?

Yes, cacao powder is naturally gluten free since it is made from pure cacao beans and does not contain gluten ingredients. Always check labels to be sure.

Can I use hot chocolate powder instead of cacao powder?

Yes, hot chocolate powder will dissolve more easily in liquids since it contains extra sugar and ingredients to improve solubility.

Should I sift cacao powder before using it?

Sifting is recommended to remove any clumps before mixing into liquids. However, you can skip sifting if you don't mind a few small lumps.

What can I mix with cacao powder to help it dissolve?

Hot liquid, sweeteners, fats like milk or cream, a blender, or making a paste first will all help cacao powder dissolve more smoothly.


Dissolving cacao powder thoroughly is important for creating smooth, creamy chocolate drinks as well as using it properly in recipes. With the right technique and a little patience, you can get lump-free dissolving results every time.

Using hot rather than cold liquid is the simplest and fastest way to incorporate cacao powder. Making a paste first or adding sweeteners also helps get those pesky cacao clumps to dissolve seamlessly. If all else fails, pull out your blender for a foolproof dissolving method.

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *