What Are Carob Chips — And How Are They Different From Chocolate Chips?

Though they look similar to chocolate chips, carob chips have a distinctive, nutty flavor all of their own.

close up of carob chips
Photo: pamela_d_mcadams/Getty Images

Carob chips could be likened to chocolate chips' cool, older cousin. They are not as sweet or rich but have a roasty, nutty flavor all of their own. Similar to chocolate but intriguingly different, carob is its own ingredient that deserves a spot in your baking pantry.

What Is Carob?

Carob is the product of a Mediterranean tree that is processed into a powder or chips and resembles chocolate. The pods of the carob tree are mashed into a pulp which is then dried, roasted, and ground into a powder. The powder can be used as-is or made into chips, much like chocolate chips.

Carob vs. Chocolate

Carob has a rich, roasty flavor that's akin to chocolate but not quite the same. Carob's plant source grows similarly to chocolate's, as pods on a tree. Unlike chocolate, carob is naturally sweet and doesn't have a bitter note. Because of this, carob powder and chips usually don't need added sugar to achieve the desired flavor and sweetness level. The flavor is more mild than chocolate and doesn't have chocolate's distinct sharpness, instead offering a more nutty flavor.

Carob also doesn't contain any natural caffeine the way that chocolate does and is much higher in fiber and lower in fat. Cacao, the raw material used to make chocolate, is high in fat and can contain up to 50% fat by weight, whereas carob contains almost zero. This makes carob less creamy and rich compared to chocolate. Due to their lower sugar and high fiber content, some people prefer to use carob over chocolate in recipes to make them a bit healthier. It's common to find carob as an ingredient in low-sugar or other diet-specific baked goods.

Where to Buy Carob Chips

You're most likely to find carob chips at natural or organic food stores as well as well-stocked chains like Whole foods. Some larger grocery stores may carry them in the baking section near the chocolate chips or cocoa powder. Some bulk food stores also carry them along with the baking ingredients. Online is always a great option if you can't find them in-store. Nuts.com carries sweetened and unsweetened chips as well as carob powder, plus various sweets featuring carob, like carob-covered nuts. You can also find both the chips and the powder on Amazon and at other online specialty retailers.

How to Use Carob Chips

If you're looking to eliminate caffeine from your baked goods entirely or want to increase the fiber content of your favorite sweets, you can absolutely swap carob chips or powder one-to-one with recipes that call for chocolate chips or cocoa powder. However, carob is much more mellow than chocolate, especially dark chocolate, so you might not get that big hit of chocolatey flavor we all come to expect from chocolate desserts.

To get a feel for carob's unique flavor, try starting by swapping half the chocolate called for in a recipe with carob. Not only will you retain some of that distinct chocolatey goodness, but carob and chocolate complement each other, amplifying each other's flavors and nuances. Carob's nutty, earthy quality goes great with chocolate's inherent fattiness, while chocolate's decadent, creamy flavor adds richness to carob. Try carob chips in chocolate chip cookies or brownies along with your favorite chocolate. Carob powder is also an excellent choice for smoothies and milkshakes when blended with vanilla ice cream, or even your favorite milk and a frozen banana, to make a subtly chocolatey drink.

Recipes Using Carob:

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