Learn the answers to all of your questions about white chocolate! What is it? Is it real chocolate? How do I melt it? How do I bake with it?

White chocolate chips, chunks, bars, and ganache all spread out on a board

What is white chocolate?

White chocolate is a pale, creamy, and sweet baking component that is used in many different ways. It comes in the form of chips, chunks, and whole chocolate bars. It’s often added as a solid mix-in into treats like brownies and cookies but it can also be melted and coated over fruits, cakes, and candies. But what is it?

It is simply made of sugar, milk, and the main ingredient: cocoa butter. Cocoa butter has a melting point of 95°F/ 35°C therefore, it remains solid at room temperature.

Is white chocolate real chocolate?

Why does white chocolate taste nothing like dark chocolate? Because technically it’s not considered “real chocolate” although it is a form of chocolate. Even though both dark chocolate and white chocolate derive from cocoa beans, they use different components.

The only component of the cocoa bean in white chocolate is the fatty cocoa butter (no dry cocoa solids). Dark chocolate (and milk chocolate) contains both the cocoa butter and the cocoa solids from the cocoa bean. Essentially, white chocolate is milk chocolate without the cocoa solids.

White chocolate contains the highest percentage of milk solids with over 30%, milk chocolate has around 25%, while dark chocolate has none.

Substituting White and Dark Chocolate

Although white chocolate is a form of chocolate, it can’t always be substituted in place of dark chocolate (or milk chocolate). In some cases like adding solid mix-ins into a brownie recipe, you can choose to either use white or dark chocolate chips.

But in recipes that call for melting the chocolate, do not substitute! Because white chocolate contains more milk solids than dark chocolate, it can react differently to the other ingredients in the recipe. For example, in a ganache recipe you will notice a smaller amount of cream is required for white chocolate ganache versus dark chocolate ganache.

How to Melt White Chocolate

melted white chocolate in a bowl

The process of melting white chocolate, any type of chocolate really, can be temperamental. It seems like a no-brainer but it can present some big issues. If it is heated too quickly or at too high of a temperature it will burn and seize up meaning it will become thick and gritty like a paste. Once it seizes up, there’s no going back. You’ll have to toss it and start over.

To prevent that from happening, here are three ways to melt it successfully. The key with any method is patience. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a couple tries to get it right.

Before you begin with any method, start by chopping up the white chocolate into small pieces. The smaller the piece the quicker it will melt. You can also use white chocolate chips.

Double Boiler Method

Simmer water in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Place a metal or glass bowl over the top of the saucepan. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. If it does, pour some of the water out. Alternatively, you can use a bain-marie.

Place the chopped white chocolate in the bowl and turn the heat to low. Stirring occasionally and gently with a rubber spatula, let the chocolate melt. Once the chocolate is about ⅔ of the way melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Stir until it is completely melted. If it doesn’t fully melt after stirring, return the bowl to the saucepan and heat while stirring for another minute or two. Repeat this step until it’s fully melted and smooth.

Microwave Method

Because the microwave heats things very quickly and chocolate burns easily, you want to heat the chocolate in short bursts. To start, I suggest microwaving at half power for no more than 30 seconds. Then use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and keep microwaving in 15-20 second bursts.

At first, the stirring will seem unnecessary because the chocolate will not be melted yet but this will help evenly distribute the heat. After each short burst of heating, the chocolate will start to become more and more melted.

The total time needed to melt it in the microwave is highly dependent on the amount you put in and the kind of microwave you are using. It will likely take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes.

Stovetop Method

This method is the most risky to me however, it can be done if done carefully. Place the chopped white chocolate in a medium saucepan and place on a burner. Heat the pan on low heat while continuously stirring with a rubber spatula. Do not let it sit unattended or it will burn. Keep moving it around until it starts to melt.

When it’s about ⅔ of the way melted, remove the pan from the burner and keep stirring. Give it a minute or two of stirring and if it’s still not melted, return it to the burner for a few more seconds.



  • Choose a high quality pure white chocolate. My favorite brands include Guittard, Ghirardelli, and Callebaut. Cocoa butter should be the only fat other than milk fat on the ingredient list.
  • Whichever process you use to melt it, go very slowly and at a low temperature.
  • Be careful not to introduce water into the bowl or it will seize up.
  • White chocolate has a very sweet taste therefore I suggest looking for recipes that include salt as an ingredient or another component like nuts to balance the sweetness.
  • Candy melts, vanilla melting wafers, and white confectionery coatings are not real white chocolate. They are great for crafty projects but should not be substituted in recipes calling for white chocolate.
White chocolate chips, chunks, bars, and ganache all spread out on a board


If you enjoyed this article, you might like to learn about other baking components.