How to Substitute Chocolate

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The information below on how to substitute chocolate is excerpted from my book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. In the book you will also find recipes for making your own chocolate (chocolate chunks, white chocolate and peanut butter chips)! But here on this post, I’m able to link up to some helpful articles as well as share reviews of some great dairy-free substitute chocolate brands.

How to Substitute Chocolate: Your Guide to Dairy-Free Chocolate (dark, semi-sweet, milk, and white)

Yes, Real Chocolate is Dairy-Free!

Good news, chocolate by nature, or cacao as it is called, is naturally free of dairy. It’s what manufacturers often add to it for better marketability (i.e. milk solids, butter oil, cream) that poses a problem. Here are some additional posts that should answer many of your chocolate questions:

Tips to Substitute Chocolate that Often Contains Dairy

Pure chocolate is dark, bold, dense and void of any additives such as milk, sugar or lecithin. It’s what we know to be unsweetened or baker’s chocolate, and is made purely from the two main parts of the cocoa bean: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. It’s dairy-free, plain and simple, your only worry might be if it is contaminated with small amounts of dairy in production (most brands are isolated from the milk chocolate production, but always verify!). Most of us find 100% cacao chocolate to be way too dark for nibbling or adding to cookies. Instead we purchase the types of chocolate below, all of which can contain dairy …

Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate

As mentioned, many brands of chocolate, even very dark ones, do have milk-based ingredients added.  Also, for the highly sensitive, be aware that most chocolate is made on shared equipment, and therefore at risk for cross-contamination with milk chocolate.

That said, this category has many brands to choose from. Semi-sweet chocolate, the type we most often use as baking morsels, is usually around 35 to 45% cacao. It contains quite a bit of sugar, but is very often void of milk ingredients (unlike milk chocolate which is high in both sugar and dairy). Dark chocolate bars, which can be used for recipes but are also great for nibbling, usually start at around 50% cacao and run right up to 90% cacao (very dark, but loved by chocolate purists)! The amount of non-dairy options seems to jump dramatically at around 70% cacao.

There are a few dairy-free brands, which I’ve come to rely on over the years:

  • Enjoy Life Foods: For baking chips, chunks, and indulgent little bars, this family-friendly brand can’t be beat. They run a top allergen-free facility and their chocolate is fairly well-distributed and easy to purchase online.
  • Pascha Organic Chocolate: This is my go-to for a more “grown-up” chocolate experience. They also run a top allergen-free facility and offer excellent baking chips (from semi-sweet to unsweetened) and a range of dark chocolate bars.
  • Taza Chocolate: Their rustic chocolate discs and bars are simply addictive, and made in their dairy-free, egg-free facility. Sadly, they discontinued their baking chunks – we hope they will bring them back one day.
  • Scharffen Berger Baking Chocolate: They run seperate facilities, but at last check, their baking chocolate lines (including large semi-sweet and dark chocolate bars and various chocolate chunks) were certified kosher parve. Some of their other products are made in a different factory location that contains milk. If safe for you, these are a gourmet European treat.

Milk Chocolate

As the name implies, milk chocolate does contain dairy. Fortunately, there are some emerging brands of dairy-free “milk” chocolate (note the quotes) for satisfying a super sweet tooth. Following are my current favorite options:

White Chocolate

Interestingly enough, you will see several snack products with dairy-free white chocolate (Lenny & Larry’s, Clif Bar, etc.), but finding dairy-free white chocolate (particularly in chip form) can seem rather elusive to the consumer. Manufacturers have a wider availability of ingredients to them, which includes things like dairy-free chocolate. That said, there are a few options, which are gaining attention:

We’ve yet to trial any dairy-free white chocolate chips and have heard mixed reviews on the very few brands available (such as Lieber’s and VeganSweets). But it’s rumored that Pascha Organic Chocolate will be emerging with one.

For homemade white chocolate, enjoy the recipe in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook or my other recipe for White Chocolate Crispy Bars.

Products: Dairy-Free Chocolate at the Store

Below are the non-dairy chocolate products we’ve had a chance to taste-test and review here on Go Dairy Free – yes, we’ve eaten a lot of chocolate, and will continue to do so. This list will continuously update as we sample new brands (so I recommend bookmarking!) and it includes all types of dairy-free chocolate bars (dark, “milk”, white, flavored, etc.), dairy-free chocolate chips, and even awesome candy bar options (from peanut butter cups to chocolate-covered caramels!). As mentioned, many of these products are made on dairy-free lines, while some may be at risk for potential trace cross-contamination – it’s up to you to check on a products safety for your dietary needs.

For more chocolate substitute recipes and tips from my kitchen, see Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.