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.
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:
- Is Chocolate Dairy-Free?
- Does Cocoa Butter Contain Dairy?
- Where Can I Get My Chocolate Fix?
- What Brands of Dairy-Free Chocolate Do You Recommend?
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.
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:
- Enjoy Life Foods: Their Boom Choco Boom Bars come in two RiceMilk varieties, regular and crunch. Sweet and perfectly-portioned for kids and adults.
- Premium Chocolatiers: They also run a top allergen-free facility (they banished soy in 2016), and offer some pretty tasty and smooth Milkless Bars.
- Chocolate Dream: This is a dairy-free, gluten-free line by Hain Celestial, which mostly consists of dark bars and chips, but they also have a Creamy Sweet bar that is true to name.
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:
- Premium Chocolatiers: Their Milkless Bars line includes white chocolate Polar Dream. I haven’t sampled these as of yet, but have heard good things.
- Charm School Chocolate: They make a swoon-worthy vegan white chocolate – not cheap, but worth it.
- Sweet William: This is an Australian brand that I had the opportunity to trial. It’s very popular, and for good reason.
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.
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.
- Ah!Laska Organic Chocolate Syrup
- Amanda’s Own Chocolates: Allergen-Free Treats for Holidays and Everyday
- Amano Artisan Dark Chocolate Bars
- Artisana Organics Cacao Spreads
- Attune Dark Chocolate with Probiotics
- Charm School Chocolate Bars: Vegan White, Milk, and Dark
- Chocolat Stella Organic Swiss Dark Chocolate Bars
- Chocolate Chunky Monkey Cookies
- Chocolate Dream Chocolate Bars: 100% Dairy Free
- Chocolate Emporium Chocolates: Bars, Lollipops, and Specialties
- Chocolate Emporium Specialty Chocolates
- Chocolate Emporium Truffles
- Chocolate Glace Soft Vegan Dark Chocolate Squares
- Chocolate Inspirations Vegan Confections
- Chocolate Lover’s Almond Smoothie
- Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Chocolate-Covered Cocomels Coconut Milk Caramels
- Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pies
- Dairy-Free Hot Fudge Sauce
- Dear Coco Artisan Chocolate Truffles
- Dear Coco Artisan Dairy-Free Chocolates
- Dear Coco Dairy-Free Toffee Chocolate Bars
- Divvies Chocolate Bars, Chips, and Seasonal Shapes
- Eli’s Earth Bars Organic Candy Bars
- Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Bars: Vegan Varieties
- Endangered Species Vegan Creme Filled Dark Chocolate Bars (DISCONTINUED)
- Enjoy Life Boom CHOCO Boom Chocolate Bars (“Milk” & Dark!)
- Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips: Minis, Chunks, and Dark Morsels
- Ethereal Chocolate Confections
- Gnosis Raw Chocolate Bars
- Gnosis Raw Chocolate Truffles (DISCONTINUED)
- Go Max Go Candy Bars
- Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
- Imperfect Mommy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups (Dark Chocolate)
- Lagusta’s Luscious Bluestocking BonBons
- Lake Champlain Vegan Chocolate Bars and Squares
- Mexican Hot Chocolate Baked Donuts (Grand Prize Recipe Contest Winner!)
- Moo Free Organic Dairy-Free Milk Chocolate
- New Chocolate Energy Truffles Burst onto the Free-From Scene
- No Cow “Milk” Chocolate Bars (DISCONTINUED)
- No Whey Chocolate Candy and Candy Bars
- No Whey Chocolate Truffles and Boxed Chocolates
- No Whey Milkless Chocolate Bars: Dark, “Milk” and White!
- Nocciolata Dairy Free Organic Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread
- Pascha Chocolate Bars: Organic, Fair Trade, Allergen-Free
- Pascha Organic Chocolate Chips: Fair Trade, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free
- Rescue Chocolate Like White Chocolate Bars
- Rescue Chocolate Truffles and Bon Bons
- Rescue Chocolate Vegan Bars & Bon Bons
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.