How to convert a chocolate cake into a white cake.

Can you convert a chocolate cake into a white cake?

The simplest answer is… don’t try. The complicated answer is… yes. Cocoa powder is often the ingredient used in chocolate cake and a simple change from cocoa powder to flour won’t work for all kinds of scientific reasons. But, you CAN if you are willing to do a little bit of baking science and NOT hold me accountable for the results :). Here’s what to try…

homemade white cake recipe that is as easy and basic as it gets! |

When converting a chocolate cake into vanilla:

  1. Reduce the sugar of the chocolate cake recipe (maybe by 1/3?)
  2. If the chocolate cake recipe calls for boiling water replace the boiling water with milk or buttermilk (room temp)
  3. If the chocolate cake recipe calls for vegetable oil replace it with butter.


When converting a vanilla cake into a chocolate:

  1. Add cocoa powder to your recipe. For a standard cake I would try 1/4 cup of cocoa.
  2. Increase the sugar of the vanilla cake recipe by the same amount of cocoa you added to counteract the cocoa.
  3. Replace the milk product in the vanilla cake recipe with boiling water (to “bloom” the cocoa).
  4. Substitute the fat product (butter, coconut oil, etc) with vegetable oil that has less flavor to conflict with the cocoa.

The scientific reasons for the processes above…

You cannot simply replace the cocoa powder with flour, because when compared to flour, cocoa powder:

  • Contains more fat
  • Is more acidic
  • Is far, far more flavorful than flour (good for chocolate cakes!)With cocoa removed from the recipe the flavor  may be too sweet. You might want to try reducing the sugar of your recipe to counteract that sweetness. Often by at least a third of the original recipe.

-Boiling water is often used in many chocolate cake recipes, to “bloom” the flavor in the cocoa. When you take out the cocoa you often should take out that water, as well. But, you still need to keep the liquid in the recipe. Generally, you would want to substitute it for milk, buttermilk, or even coconut milk.

-One last thing…oil. Most chocolate cakes use vegetable or canola oil because it doesn’t interfere with the flavor of the cocoa. When changing a chocolate cake to a vanilla cake you often want to swap out the vegetable oil for it’s more flavorful cousin butter (or even coconut oil!)

So yes, you can change a chocolate cake to vanilla or vice versa but it may be far more trouble than it’s worth! I would simply use a chocolate cake recipe or a vanilla cake recipe and save yourself the trouble. Although, I’m well known for adding 1/4 cocoa and 1/4 cup sugar to my boxed vanilla cake mixes!

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10 thoughts on “How to convert a chocolate cake into a white cake.”

  1. Catherine Maxey

    I just did this and it worked in a quickbread recipe. I used 2T dry vanilla instant pudding and 2T dry powdered milk for 4T cocoa powder. Mixed in with the flour. I also added 2T water. Taste and texture was fine. I had made the cocoa version so did have a valid comparison.

  2. That is a great point. I would even suggest using cake flour instead of regular flour.

  3. So I have a question, would it better to replace cocoa powder with almond flour instead of regular Flour? I bring this up because almond flour has more protein than regular flour and perhaps help maintain the integrity of the cake?

  4. You can adjust the recipe, for sure. I can’t guarantee the changes will make it as wonderful as your recipe. To change it I would add cocoa (probably between 1/4 and 1/2 cup) and sugar (about the same as the cocoa) and use oil rather than butter. Butter can mess with the flavor of the cocoa a bit. Again, these changes might be great or you may want to find a favorite chocolate cake recipe. Which, my homemade chocolate cake might be the best you’ll find ;)

  5. Hello! I have a question about making a vanilla cupcake recipe to chocolate. I have a recipe that I’ve been using for 2yrs that I absolutely love and I wanted to know how I can make it chocolate. The recipe is
    2 1/4 cake flour
    1 1/4 sugar
    1 stick of unsalted butter
    2 eggs
    1 c milk
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1tsp salt
    It makes 24 cupcakes and I wanted to do half & half so I won’t have to have extra cupcakes I don’t need.

  6. I apologize for being late on the response. I was in zero internet access for a few days. Most of the time you aren’t going to do much changes to the flour and leavening agents. Assuming the recipe is making the same size batters. Because the fats change the makeup of the cocoa and such, they are the only ones that need adjusting. Generally, when you reduce or add fat it will compensate for the additional dry ingredient of the cocoa in the mix. AGain, it is a tricky thing to change a chocolate to white. However, if you do it and are successful…let me know! It’s a fun, tasty science experiment!

  7. Greetings! this post is really helpful! I do have a question though. I have a favorite Chocolate cake recipe that i have been using for so long now and i am looking to partner it with a vanilla recipe that i can call my own. You have sited how i can re measure my ingredients in terms of the sugar, the use of milk instead of water, and the fat used. My question is…how about the leavening agents(b.soda, and b.powder) and the flour? 1) Should i reduce my baking soda(i have to point out that the original chocolate cake recipe also uses buttermilk as well)? 2) If the recipe calls for(just an example) 1 cup flour and 1/2 cocoa…should i now eliminate my cocoa(obviously) and then increase my flour to become 1 1/2 cup now to compensate for the lost cocoa? Apologies that it may sound confusing and all, i really just wanted to know if it is possible or not so i can move on….hehehe! Thanks! more power! :)

  8. If you are using a mix it probably won’t work because they often use a bit of yellow food coloring to achieve that coloring. However, making your own you can use egg whites and a bit of water to get that white cake instead of yellow. Use the 6 egg whites and I would use a little less than 1/4 cup of water. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

  9. How would you convert a yellow cake into a white cake? I know the difference is egg yolks and egg whites, but I am not sure of the conversion. The yellow cake recipe I have calls for 6 eggs. So, if I wanted to just use egg whites to make white cake, what should I do? Any suggestions? Thanks

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