Don’t Have Espresso Powder? Try These Substitutes.

updated Nov 17, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Espresso powder or instant espresso is the secret ingredient in many rich chocolate cookies, cakes, and other sweets. We highly recommend keeping a jar on hand if you bake frequently, but there comes a time when even the best-stocked pantries run low.

Here are four of the best substitutes for espresso powder.

Credit: Heather McClees

Instant Coffee

Because instant coffee isn’t as rich as espresso, you may want to increase the amount called for in the recipe. Kitchn’s Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, notes that you can use about 50% more, but be aware that it “has a harsher taste than instant espresso [and] can taste tinny or sour if too much is used.”

Brewed Espresso

While it’s not a one-to-one swap, brewed espresso can provide the same bitter notes as espresso powder. Using espresso will increase the amount of liquid in your batter, so you may need to adjust the other ingredients in your recipe.

Brewed Coffee

This too will require recalibrating the wet and dry ingredients. As former editor Emma Christensen advises, “Be sure to subtract the amount of coffee or espresso being used from the overall liquids in the recipe.”

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Espresso Grounds

According to Fine Cooking, commercial espresso powder is actually made from espresso beans that have been ground, brewed, dried, and then further ground. We recently tried this to make Martha Stewart’s Mocha Slice Cookies and, although the process was a bit time-consuming, our homemade powder actually worked very well. We used a mortar and pestle to crush the grounds into a very fine powder.

Have you used any of these substitutes — or another? How did it work for you?