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There are so many chocolate bars on the market these days; whether they’re uniquely flavored, boast eco-friendly or health certifications, or are great for baking, we’ve yet to meet one we didn’t like. Chocolate is so versatile too, lending itself to a myriad of possibilities, and it’s the perfect vehicle for tasty, textured mix-ins.
Thanks to the various degrees of bitterness and sweetness it can provide, chocolate can be used for different baking tasks as well enjoyed on its own, of course. When shopping for chocolate, look at its cacao percentage as well as ingredient list to decide if it's the best choice for your use.
It’s a tricky list to narrow down, but here are some of the best chocolate bars available.
Best Dark: Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate
Rainforest Alliance Certified
Good for baking or eating plain
Great for baking and eating, this Scharffen Berger chocolate is the quintessential quality dark chocolate. According to its website, Scharffen Berger was the first American “bean-to-bar” chocolate, leading what they refer to as the "craft chocolate movement.” Though owned by Hershey for 15 years, they returned to private ownership in 2020.
At 70 percent cacao, its bittersweet flavor works great in baked goods but is also delicious when eaten plain, if you’re a fan of dark chocolate. This chocolate is also gluten-free, kosher, and Rainforest Alliance Certified.
Best Milk: Godiva Chocolatier Solid Milk Chocolate
Rich and smooth flavor
Great for making sauces or fillings
Not ideal for most baking jobs
A box of Godiva truffles is hard to beat, but for the milk chocolate fanatics out there, you can’t go wrong with a solid bar of smooth, rich Godiva milk chocolate. In addition to just eating it straight from the bar, it's delicious for making sauces, fillings, and icings, too; however, it's not ideal for baking since milk chocolate burns easily. If you can’t get enough of the plain milk chocolate bars, the brand offers plenty of other mouth-watering flavors to check out (milk chocolate hazelnut, chocolate popcorn, and more).
Best White: Ghirardelli Premium Baking White Chocolate
Super sweet flavor
Versatile for baking
May be too vanilla-forward for some
White chocolate does not get nearly enough appreciation, but it’s a delicious addition to so many baked goods and is great plain-eating chocolate for those with a serious sweet tooth. “Ghirardelli is one of the few chocolate companies that controls the entire chocolate manufacturing process, from cocoa bean to finished product,” according to the manufacturer, ensuring a high quality, consistently good product. This sweet, creamy white chocolate bar is great for baking, as it melts smoothly and can be stirred easily into batters or frostings, or used for toffees or barks.
Best Organic: Theo Coffee Toffee Dark Chocolate Bar
Many unique flavors and cacao percentages
Better for eating plain than baking
Theo Chocolate, based in Seattle, WA, was the first organic and fair-trade certified chocolate maker in North America. They offer dozens of different bar chocolates—from milk to dark to extra dark—all also non-GMO, kosher, and soy-free. This variety pack is a great option if you have a hard time choosing just one flavor; with offerings like coffee toffee and raspberry, picking just one seems impossible.
Ranging from 45 percent cacao to 85 percent cacao, there is plenty of variety for those who like milkier chocolates and for those purists who want higher cacao percentages. If you’re a fan of this variety pack, there are even more flavors available, as well as other themed variety packs (vegan dark pack, milk chocolate pack, peanut butter cup variety pack, and many others).
Best for Baking: Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars
Gluten-, tree nut-, and peanut-free
Tasty enough to be eaten plain
A bit pricier than other baking chocolate
Guittard’s bittersweet baking bar is the perfect chocolate bar for all your baking needs. Containing 70 percent cacao, it has a rich dark chocolate flavor without being too overwhelmingly bitter. It’s also fair-trade certified, non-GMO, peanut-free, and gluten-free—and just because it says it’s a baking bar doesn’t mean it’s not delicious eaten plain, as well.
Best Keto-Friendly: The Good Chocolate Himalayan Salt Dark Chocolate Bar
Balanced yet complex sweet and salty flavor
Lower end of cacao percentage for dark chocolate
Dessert can be tricky for those who are watching their carbohydrate and sugar intake, but this vegan and keto-friendly chocolate bar might be an exception. This bar is 65 percent cacao, so it is on the dark/bittersweet end of the spectrum, but it is not the most bitter of chocolate bars out there. The organic pink Himalayan salt helps balance the sweetness, making for a complex, sweet-salty flavor. Even better: These bars are organic and contain 0 sugar, plus only 2 net carbs, making them a great option for those who are carb-counting.
Best Flavored: Leonidas Chocolate Milk 30% Salted Caramel Isigny Butter Bars
100 percent sustainable
Sweeter, less bitter option for milk chocolate fans
Might be too rich for some tastes
Salted caramel and chocolate go hand-in-hand, so putting the two together in a chocolate bar is a delicious idea that Leonidas has mastered. These bars are made in Belgium, and the caramel within them is made with salted butter from France. The bars are also 100 percent sustainable. If you gravitate toward milk chocolate over dark, this bar is for you; you will be thankful they’re sold in a set of six.
Best Bundle: Valrhona Grands Crus 8 Sticks Box
Generous eight bars per bundle
Good variety of cacao percentages
No white chocolate included
Valrhona offers a wide selection of baking chocolate and chocolate bars, and we love this box of eight bars, which is the perfect variety to have on hand. Both milk and dark chocolates are included, ranging from 33 percent to 70 percent cacao, so there’s something for everyone, no matter the chocolate preferences in your household. The 70 percent cacao bars will be on the more bittersweet end of the spectrum, and the 33 percent cacao bars offer more milk caramel notes. Whether you are eating them plain or chopping them to use in baked goods, you can’t go wrong with this bundle.
Best Vegan: L.A. Burdick Health Bar Set
Unique texture and flavor combinations
Vegan and gluten-free
Not suitable for those with nut allergies
“Health bar” and “chocolate” may seem contradictory, but when you take quality, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and combine it with a bunch of other superfoods, you do, in fact, have a somewhat “healthy chocolate.”
L.A. Burdick, a boutique chocolate shop with a small handful of locations if you’re lucky enough to live near one, not only sells unique truffles and rich drinking chocolate but also sells bars of their top-notch chocolate, including this “health bar set.” A perfectly curated combination of nuts, seeds, and fruits (including hazelnuts, apricots, blueberries, goji berries, raisins, pumpkin seed kernels, flaxseed, and more) complement the dark chocolate. In addition to being vegan, it’s also gluten-free and alcohol-free.
Best Gift: Lake Champlain Chocolates Dark Chocolate Bar Library
Good variety of bar flavors
Pre-packaged in gift-worthy wrapping
May not appeal to milk or white chocolate fans
Chocolate truffles may get more attention when it comes to gift-giving, but bars can be just as fun and decadent, especially when packaged like this. This curated Dark Chocolate Bar Library from Lake Champlain is perfect for the chocoholics or foodies in your life. The box includes seven unique flavors, ranging from 57 percent to 72 percent cacao, so there’s something for everyone’s chocolate preferences. Flavors include spicy dark chocolate, creamy peanut butter, smooth extra dark, almonds and sea salt, toffee and almonds, classic dark, and tart raspberry. Even better, it’s all organic and comes packaged in a gift-worthy box—ribbon and all.
Best Flavored: Lily's Blood Orange Extra Dark Chocolate Bar
Fair trade certified
No sugar added
Some may find it too bitter
If you prefer a bit of complexity in your chocolate, there are many flavors to try, and Lily’s has an exceptional rich dark chocolate bar with notes of blood orange. It’s made with 70 percent cocoa and no added sugar, creating a chocolate bar that isn’t overly sweet.
Lily’s has a bunch of other exciting flavors beyond just blood orange. Some tasty examples include birthday cake, salted almond, hazelnut, salted caramel, mocha hot chocolate, cookies and creme, and even coconut. With milk, dark, white, and even intensely dark chocolate available, Lily’s caters to every taste.
Best Caffeinated: Awake Caffeinated Chocolate Energy Bar
Multiple flavors available
Caffeine comparable to 1 cup of coffee
While all chocolate has at least a little bit of caffeine in it, an Awake chocolate energy bar has the caffeine equivalent of a cup of coffee—around 100 milligrams. It’s easy to stick an Awake bar in your bag and pull it out for an afternoon pick-me-up. Additionally, if you just want a small caffeine boost, you can break off a piece or two and not eat the whole thing.
There are five flavors of Awake energy bars: chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel. Each bar features an adorable owl and is less than 90 calories. This bar is a great alternative for people who don’t like coffee or energy drinks.
If you are looking for an overall winning chocolate bar, it’s hard to pass up Theo’s Organic Sampler Variety Pack (view at Amazon). The 10 bars give you a lot of options, from 45 percent pure milk chocolate to 85 percent pure dark chocolate, and they're all organic and fair trade. If you’re looking for a chocolate bar with less sugar, the vegan and keto-friendly Good Chocolate Himalayan Salt Bar (view at Amazon) is a great option, containing only 2 net carbs.
What to Look for in Chocolate Bars
Type and Intensity
Most of us are familiar with the three main, broad types of chocolate—milk, dark, and white—but there are also percentages to take into account that further sub-divide those categories. You will often see a cocoa percentage listed on bars of chocolate or powders, and this captures how much of the product is actual cocoa mass, as opposed to other added ingredients (sugar, vanilla, etc.). So, if a product is labeled 70 percent dark chocolate, that means its cocoa mass is 70 percent, and 30 percent of the product is made up of other ingredients.
Like all products, you always want to pay careful attention to ingredient lists. While this is especially important to those with food allergies or sensitivities, it’s also simply a good habit to be aware of what’s in your products. Generally speaking, the shorter the list, the better; as ingredient lists grow longer and fill up with more difficult-to-pronounce, mysterious ingredients, you end up with more additives and artificial flavors. With a short, concise list, it’s easy to see and understand exactly what you’re getting in your product. Milk chocolate will usually contain more ingredients, as it has a smaller cocoa mass and therefore relies on a greater number of other added ingredients.
Is chocolate gluten-free?
Pure chocolate itself is gluten-free; however, as with any food allergy or sensitivity, it’s still always important to check the label to be extra cautious. Many chocolate bars are not pure chocolate and have additional ingredients mixed in, and those ingredients may not be gluten-free (or could be produced in a facility where gluten is present).
How much caffeine is in a chocolate bar?
Caffeine is not required to be listed on food labels, so it’s often tricky to know how much caffeine you’re getting. The number will also vary depending on the brand and type of chocolate. In general, darker chocolates will contain more caffeine, as it’s derived from the cacao beans and those darker chocolates have a higher percentage of cacao.
According to FoodInsight.org, 1 ounce of solid bar dark chocolate contains about 5 to 35 milligrams of caffeine; 1 ounce of solid bar milk chocolate contains about 1 to 15 milligrams of caffeine (for context, 8 ounces of drip coffee typically contains around 75 to 165 milligrams). If you’re concerned about a specific brand of chocolate you love, try reaching out to the company to inquire directly.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and foodie, always curious about the next food or ingredient craze and hungry to learn and try more. Having worked in cookbook publishing, CPG label data, nutrition writing, and meal kits, her diverse background and varied interests provide a unique perspective that fosters clear, well-researched, and trustworthy reviews. A self-proclaimed chocoholic, she’s always seeking out new chocolate shops and stocking up on bars, truffles, and baking supplies.
Allison Wignall, who updated this roundup, is a writer who focuses on food and travel. During her globetrotting, she has tasted some of the sweetest confections, from macarons in Paris to fresh gourmet chocolates in Ecuador. Her work has been featured in publications such as Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living.