Every ardent baker needs to have a stash of chocolate chips ready in their kitchen. They're an irreplaceable mix-in for cookies, waffles, or keto muffins. You can occasionally substitute them for cooking chocolate when making cakes or glazing.
But now that you're on the keto diet, you're rethinking your choice of chocolate chips.
So, which chocolate chips are best for keto?
You actually have many choices at your disposal. Nowadays, chocolate chips are available in different shapes, sizes, flavors, colors, and — most importantly — carb count. And if you have trouble finding low-carb chips where you live, you can make your own from scratch.
Below is more on choosing the best chocolate chips for keto baking and a recipe for homemade chips. But let's first explain what chocolate chips are as an ingredient.
Chocolate Chips: The Basics
Chocolate chips are small bits of chocolate produced to hold their shape during baking. They're usually added to cookies, muffins, pancakes, brownies, but also granola and trail mix. Some bakers even prefer them over cooking chocolate when making ganache or chocolate cake.
Also known as chocolate morsels or chocolate drops, most chocolate chips have a flat bottom and teardrop shape. However, they're available in other shapes and different sizes ranging from mini to large.
Chocolate chips are made with less cocoa butter than baking and dark chocolate to retain their form at high temperatures. Cocoa butter becomes liquid at temperatures above 93.4 °F and is responsible for the tendency of chocolate to melt in hot environments. Many chocolate chip brands also include a stabilizer to enhance this chocolate chip property further.
Like baking and regular chocolate, chocolate chips come in different varieties:
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate
Some chocolate chips can be melted, but this needs to be done very carefully because they tend to burn quickly. Those with added stabilizers are best saved for your cookie recipes.
Best Chips and Alternatives for Keto Baking
Of course, the best chocolate chips for keto are those with the lowest amount of carbs. Sugar-free chips typically have fewer carbs than their sweetened counterparts. But your choices don't end there. Here are those low-carb options and alternatives to consider.
Chocolate chips without added sugar are usually low in carbs. Lily's brand of dark baking chips is a famous example. This particular product has 55% cacao and is sweetened with erythritol and stevia, bringing the carb count to less than 1g per serving. Another popular and slightly more affordable option comes from Bake Believe.
These brands cater to the keto community and offer a wide range of chips, including milk, white, and flavored. These are now available in supermarkets as well as in online stores.
However, not all sugar-free chips are necessarily keto compliant. Some brands, for instance, use maltitol, a sugar alcohol that can affect blood glucose levels . So carefully read the label to avoid buying sugar-free products that are actually bad for you.
Like baking and dark chocolate, chocolate chips are sometimes sold as 100% chocolate. They contain nothing but cocoa solids and cocoa butter. In other words, this is chocolate in its purest form with no sweeteners, emulsifiers, or additives. As a type of super-dark chocolate, this type is naturally low in carbs .
Another great thing about pure chocolate chips is that they're often made with high-quality cacao beans, with gourmet brands even using fine-aroma cacao. Since chocolate is the sole ingredient in these chips, the quality matters a great deal.
Cacao nibs are simply chocolate that hasn't been fully processed. Instead, these are dried and fermented cocoa beans crushed into bits instead of ground and separated. As a result, they provide crunch with the flavor of chocolate but don't tend to melt like regular chocolate. And their nutrition is similar to sugar-free chocolate, with 2 tablespoon providing around 4g of net carbs .
Most stores have a wide assortment of good quality chocolate but not as many options as chocolate chips go. If that's the case where you live, you can opt for a bar of unsweetened chocolate and chop it into chunks to add to cookies.
It's best to do so using a large serrated knife. You'll get bits of different sizes and textures for a more homely look to your baked goods. Avoid chopping chocolate in a food processor — you'll end up with tiny pieces.
And if you're skeptical about using chocolate in place of chips: dark chocolate has a relatively high melting point compared to milk chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the less cocoa butter it has, which prevents it from completely melting during baking.
If you like making things from scratch, you could also make your own chocolate chips at home. The main benefit to this is that it's generally cheaper than buying ready-made chips. The downside is that it can be pretty tedious.
But if you're sure you'd like to give homemade chocolate chips a try, there are a couple of recipes online to consider, which typically go as follows:
- 2 tablespoon cacao butter
- 2 tablespoon cacao liquor (paste)
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon powdered sweetener
You combine these ingredients and melt them over a double boiler. Next, pour the chocolate into a silicone mold (available on Amazon) and put it in the freezer for a couple of minutes.
However, a simpler route is buying good-quality dark chocolate, melting it on low heat, and pour it into a silicone mold. Freeze and remove from the molds once ready.
How Much Chocolate Chips on Keto?
You should eat chocolate moderately on a keto diet, no matter which variety you choose. Chocolate has carbs, and you can easily go overboard if you're not careful. With that said, keep these things in mind when adding chocolate chips to keto desserts:
A tablespoon of sugar-free chocolate chips (60 small pieces) has around 1g of net carbs.
A typical cookie has around a dozen chips, so it's safe to eat several cookies, and you won't get more than 1g net carbs from the chips alone.
If you're using chocolate chips to make cake or ganache, then see how many carbs are in a given amount and factor that into your entire recipe. For example, say a recipe calls for 9oz of chocolate and yields eight servings. 9oz of chocolate chips has around 17g of net carbs. Divided by 8, you get around 2g of net carbs from the chocolate alone.
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U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. Food Data Central. COCOA NIBS. Apr 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/391697/nutrients