Lecithin in Chocolate

Take a look at an ingredient label on a bar of chocolate. 9 times out of 10 you will see soy lecithin listed there.

Is using lecithin as an ingredient in chocolate important, and what is the benefit of using it?

Lecithin is a phospholipid typically derived from soybeans or eggs.  In its liquid form, it is a yellow-brownish fatty substance with a fairly thick viscosity.

Lecithin is very important to chocolate because it reduces viscosity, replaces expensive ingredients such as cocoa butter, improves the flow properties of chocolate, and can improve the shelf life for certain products.

Viscosity reduction, or making a coating thinner, can certainly be done by adding cocoa butter or other fats and oils, but it takes greater amounts to accomplish this and is therefore more costly. 

What Percentage of Lecithin is Used in Chocolate?

If 3.0% or 4.0% additional cocoa butter (could be even greater depending on the viscosity of the finished product) is needed to thin down a coating, only 0.5% of lecithin would be needed to get the same result. A little lecithin goes a long way. 

However, there is a limit for lecithin. After 0.5%, the reducing effects on viscosity stop and can even start to go the other way and increase the viscosity.

Chocolate manufacturers know just how much to use in each formulation to maximize the advantage in viscosity.

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Bryn Kirk

Bryn Kirk

Course Facilitator at Chocolate University Online
Bryn worked for nearly 10 years in a research and product development for Ambrosia Chocolate Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Now she develops all of the CUO lessons and coaches the members of the Primal Chocolate Club.
Bryn Kirk

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5 thoughts on “Lecithin in Chocolate

  1. avatar Brian

    Lecithin is used in small amounts in European chocloate, however it is used as an emulsifier to get all the parts of the chocolate to combine nicely.

    Doctor Sarah Myhill an internationally renown ME specialist and nutritional guru recommends using Sunflower lecithin but advises against soy lecithin.

  2. avatar Pfft

    Really? If you would care to look at the labelling on Lindt chocolate, there is clearly stated, that it has soy lecithin in it. Waxy taste however does not come from that, rather it comes from replacing cocoa butter with cheaper fats and oils, also, might be the wrong tempering regimes and glucose syrup to blame.

  3. avatar Chuck

    I don’t think any of the European chocolates have lecithin in them. It makes me sick. I can eat Lindt all day long with no ill effects, but Hersheys makes me sick and tastes like wax.

    1. avatar Margaret Lynn

      Yes, I find that Hershey Chocolate does not sit well with me either but I didn’t know why. it is starting to make sense now.

  4. avatar Bucky Ball

    Per Epstein and Olsan, March 3, 1912, lecithin increases fermentation. Per “mnwelldir.org”, cancer metabolizes through a process of fermentation; and fermentation requires sugar. Sugar and soy lecithin are ingredients in most American-made chocolates. Many people break out after eating chocolate because their bodies do not easily digest/assimilate lecithin. For these people, lecithin and sugar, combined, can also be a deadly because it stands to reason that if sugar gets trapped in the body, by lecithin, then the growth of cancerous tumors accelerates. Therefore, chocolate manufacturers should exclude lecithin from their products.


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