What Is Carob?

You might have seen or heard of carob powder or carob chips (like chocolate chips, but not). It’s often used as an alternative to cocoa because it has a similar warm, nutty flavor, although carob is naturally sweet, unlike cocoa.

Carobs are technically legumes and grow in dark pods filled with seeds. Depending on where you live (they grow primarily in the mediterranean and other places with similar climates), you may or may not have seen these. Sometimes stores in large Jewish communities will get them in around Lag BaOmer and Tu Bishvat, two times of year it’s traditional to eat them.

Read: Why Eat Carob on 15 Shevat?

Why Do We Eat Carob on Lag BaOmer?

On Lag BaOmer we celebrate the life and teachings of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who authored the Zohar, the foundational text of Jewish mysticism. Forced into hiding to escape the Roman oppressors of his time, Rabbi Shimon and his son Rabbi Elazar hid in a cave for 13 years, where they subsisted on carobs from a tree which miraculously sprouted at the entrance of their cave (and water from a spring that popped up).

How to Eat Carob

Technically, you can gnaw on raw carob pods, but it’s hard work and not the most pleasant experience. You can buy carob powder, which is probably the most common way it’s consumed. Carob chips, similar to chocolate chips, are also relatively easy to find.

If you want to eat the actual carob pods, however, you certainly can, they just need to be softened and seeds removed. Wash the pods, place them in a pot and cover with water. Boil for 10-20 minutes, then turn off the water and let the carobs sit in the water for an hour or two. They should now be soft enough to slit open and remove the seeds. You can now eat them plain or use in a recipe or as a sweetener as you would use dried fruit.

How to Make Carob Powder

To make carob powder, take the softened carobs, remove the seeds, and cut into 1-inch (ish) pieces. Spread out on a baking sheet (or two) and place in the oven, uncovered, on the lowest setting (on my oven that’s 170°F). You want to dehydrate these completely, so be prepared to leave them in overnight. Feel them and make sure they do not feel at all wet or sticky.

Once completely dry, remove from the oven, place in a strong blender or food processor and blitz until a fine powder. Your powder will be a combination of very fine powder that resembles the texture of cocoa powder, and tougher, darker nibs. Depending on what you’re making, you may want to sift out the nibs using a very fine mesh strainer. In smoothies (recipe below), I actually enjoyed the texture that the larger pieces added.

What to Do with Carob Powder

Carob is often used as a substitute for cocoa. It does not taste the same, but has a toasty, nutty flavor that works well in many of the same recipes. It’s important to keep in mind that carob is naturally very sweet, whereas cocoa is not, so recipes do need to be adjusted. For example, you can make a hot drink with warm milk and carob powder, much like hot cocoa, but taste it before adding any sugar because it may not need it at all. You can find loads of recipes for carob cake, muffins, cookies, etc. online, including these sugar-free carob muffins right here on Chabad.org, as well as my Carob-Tahini Breakfast Shake below.

Carob-Tahini Breakfast Shake


  • 1 ⅓ cups milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2-3 tbsp carob powder (start with 2, taste, add more if desired)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • Pinch of salt


Blend all ingredients. Add ice if desired. Pour into a glass, sprinkle more carob powder over the top if you want to be fancy. Enjoy.