8 Ways To Use Cacao Nibs

You've seen cacao nibs, maybe even smelled their delicious, chocolate-y scent, but do you know how to use them? These little nutritional powerhouses can add a boost of antioxidants to almost anything, especially sweet recipes. From more common uses, like adding to granola and trail mix, to lesser-known uses, like infusing cream and brewing them like coffee, here are 8 ways to use cacao nibs!

You've seen cacao nibs, maybe even smelled their delicious, chocolate-y scent, but do you know how to use cacao nibs? Let's quickly answer the question: “what are cacao nibs?”

Cacao nibs are unprocessed cacao beans that have been peeled and roughly chopped. They have a bitter chocolate flavor and a lovely crunch. If you already use cacao powder, then you’re familiar with cacao nibs, even though there is a slight difference in the products.

So, what are cacao nibs used for? While they can't act as a simple replacement for chocolate chips because of their bitter flavor, they do work in many of the same foods that include chocolate chips—like muffins, cupcakes, granola, cookies, and brownies. They’re delicious mixed into oatmeal and hot cereal—some people even like them in cold cereal. Cacao nibs work very well when matched with sweet ingredients. This balances their bitter flavor and makes them truly enjoyable.

Because of unethical practices throughout the chocolate industry, including child slave labor, it's important to use high-quality cacao nibs from a trustworthy source. Wildly Organic's cacao nibs are ethically sourced. They come from beans raised organically without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemicals.

Still not sure what cacao nibs are used for? Here are a few ways you can use and enjoy the crunchy, addicting flavor of cacao nibs.

How To Use Cacao Nibs? Add Them To Granola!

Cacao nibs work wonderfully in many homemade granola recipes. Simply add a couple of tablespoons to a half-cup to a recipe batch (about 3 to 4 cups of granola) after baking the granola. You can also sprinkle a few nibs on top of a bowl of granola along with some fruit or dried berries when serving. This gluten-free Goji berry granola recipe is a great example of using cacao nibs in homemade granola.

How To Use Cacao Nibs? Sprinkle Them On Smoothies and Smoothie Bowls!

Cacao nibs make a great topping for smoothies and smoothie bowls. They balance out the sweetness of the fruit and provide some crunch, which can help kick-start your digestion so you'll absorb the nutrients in the smoothie more efficiently. Cacao nibs pair well with nuts, dried coconut, and fruit.

How To Use Cacao Nibs? Add Them to Trail Mix!

Boost your homemade trail mix by adding a few tablespoons of cacao nibs. As mentioned above, cacao nibs pair extremely well with nuts, dried coconut, and fruit, so they work perfectly in a healthy, homemade trail mix. Begin by adding a small amount to be sure you like the flavor, then increase as desired until you find the perfect balance.

How To Use Cacao Nibs? Fold Them Into Ice Cream!

Like sprinkles in your ice cream? You’ll love the flavor of cacao nibs! Mix a few cacao nibs into a bowl of ice cream for a delicious treat. Try this five ingredient coconut milk ice cream as the perfect base for using cacao nibs as a mix-in. Again, start with just a few nibs and increase as desired.

How To Use Cacao Nibs? Include Them In Salad!

When you’re considering what cacao nibs are used for, we imagine that salads aren’t high on your list...but they should be. Kick the carb-heavy croutons out of your pantry and add something different to your salad. A quick sprinkling of cacao nibs can go a long way to make salad more interesting—especially a salad with fruit, like this refreshing strawberry-spinach salad.

How To Use Cacao Nibs? Infuse Cream With Cacao Flavor!

Roast 1/4 to 1/3 cup cacao nibs (see below), then mix with 1 cup of heavy whipping cream. Warm the mixture in a saucepan until simmering, then remove the pan from the heat. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain out the nibs and chill the infused cream in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours. Leave the infused cream unwhipped to use as a creamer in coffee or hot chocolate. If you’d rather, you can whip the cream as you normally would (adding sweetener as desired) and use it as a topping for hot chocolate, coffee, or other desserts.

How To Use Cacao Nibs? Make Hot Brewed Cacao!

If you're trying to avoid caffeine or even quit coffee altogether, you can make a coffee-like drink with cacao nibs. This delicious cacao drink uses roasted cacao nibs with water in a French press to create a simple, hot beverage to satisfy even the strongest of coffee cravings. Add sweetener, milk, or creamer as desired until you’ve found the brew that’s just right for you.

How To Use Cacao Nibs? Use Cacao Nibs As A Garnish

If you have some frosted cupcakes, muffins, a sheet cake, or a glazed quick bread or bundt cake, a sprinkling of cacao nibs on top makes a lovely garnish with the bonus of added texture. These grain-free chocolate coconut cupcakes are a great example with cacao nibs in the cupcake batter as well as sprinkled on top.

How To Roast Cacao Nibs

One easy way to boost the flavor of cacao nibs is to toast them.

  • Heat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  • Spread the cacao nibs on a cookie sheet in a single layer.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before using or storing.
  • Store in an airtight container. They typically remain shelf-stable for about three months.

The roasting step is not necessary but is a nice way to accentuate their complex, chocolatey flavor.

Do you enjoy cacao nibs? What's your favorite way to use them?

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