What’s the Purpose of Emulsifiers in Chocolates? (Answered)

  • Date: April 16, 2023
  • Time to read: 3 min.
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Emulsifiers are used in many different food products such as peanut butter, salad dressing, or chocolates. It’s what keeps all the complex ingredients together in a uniform texture. In short, it is what gives creamy texture its “smoothness”.

You may see this term on the packaging of chocolates. For chocolates, emulsifiers lower the viscosity, making the liquid chocolate thinner and more “flowing.” Emulsifiers bind the ingredients in chocolate, making it more uniform and easier to manipulate. This includes:

  • Easier tempering
  • Mixing chocolate with different ingredients
  • Improved molding of chocolate into bars
  • Dipping chocolate to get a clean even coat
  • Lower chance of seized chocolate

What’s an Emulsifier?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), emulsifiers “allow smooth mixing of ingredients…. and prevent separation…” This means emulsifiers are added to food products to keep the ingredients thoroughly mixed and to better control the texture.

With ingredients that are immiscible (normally separate, like water and oil), emulsifiers act as a binding agent. This allows the texture of chocolates to stay uniform and easy to work with.

For example, egg yolk has plenty of emulsifiers and is used to make mayonnaise, cake batter, and certain sauces. The proteins in yolk have properties that repel and attract water.

What Are The Different Emulsifiers Used In Chocolates?

When it comes to chocolates, emulsifiers are used to improve the mouthfeel and consistency. Emulsifiers help with smoothening out any lumpy or grainy texture that may occur in chocolate making. They also replace the amount of cocoa butter otherwise needed in chocolate making, which cuts on costs as cocoa butter is a costly ingredient.

For chocolate products such as hollow figures, emulsifiers make it easier to detail and mark the chocolate.


Lecithin is an emulsifier with the highest concentration in egg yolk (8-10%). The cheapest source of lecithin comes from soybean oil with a processing yield of around 2.5%. Lecithin has hydrophilic (water-loving) and lipophilic (fat-loving) properties.

Soy lecithin is a byproduct of processing soybean oil. This is a manyfold cheaper process than extracting lecithin from egg yolk. The initial extraction of soy lecithin leaves a light brown liquid.

To compare lecithin and cocoa butter, 0.3% lecithin and 5% cocoa butter in chocolate show a similar viscosity. In chocolates, lecithin typically makes up less than 0.5% of the total weight.

Polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR)

Similarly, PGPR is used to lower the viscosity in chocolates. This improved flow in chocolate allows it to be more efficient in commercial chocolate coating processes.

Improved coating. With PGPR, chocolate coatings have a smoother texture, easy tempering, and longer shelf life.

Fat reduction. According to chocolate manufacturers, a mix of 0.5% lecithin and 0.2% PGPR reduces cocoa butter content by about 8%.

Sorbitan Tristearate (STS)

Slows fat bloom. For many chocolatiers, aesthetics is important. In order to reduce the amount of blooming in chocolate, STS is added to mimic the crystal structure of tempered chocolate.

Pros and Cons of Using Emulsifiers in Chocolate


  • Easier to work with chocolate
  • Chocolate is more fluid, making it ideal for mechanical dispensing
  • Cheaper than cocoa butter
  • Less seizing of chocolate
  • Thorough sugar crystallization (less clumps)
  • Longer shelf life


  • Changes in taste and texture (mouth-feel)
  • Soy lecithin is not “organic” as it is extracted chemically
  • Soy lecithin itself is bitter; no notes of chocolate

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