Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Best Singles: Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Variety Pack
Good assortment of flavors
Smooth and rich texture and flavor
Makes a good gift
Not for those whole like very dark chocolate
This intense collection includes three different versions of dark chocolate: 60 percent, 72 percent, and one with sea salt and almonds. These aren’t full-sized bars but are convenient single-serve tablets that are enough to taste and savor, but small enough that they won’t break the calorie budget for the day. People like the variety and how each was made of high-quality, flavorful dark chocolate, with a few highlighting the sea salt flavor as particularly tasty.
The small size is also great for tucking into a lunch box or to keep a few on hand in the office desk drawer. At just under a pound in the bag, there’s plenty to eat and share.
"It’s not a good indicator of how the chocolate will taste, but it might give you an idea of how bitter the chocolate will be and how much sugar is in the bar," Kjartan Gíslason, chocolate maker and co-founder of Omnom Chocolate, explains. "Dark chocolate is usually made from two ingredients: cocoa bean and sugar. Semi-sweet chocolate is an old-fashioned term to describe a sweeter version of dark chocolate. For example, if a 70 percent dark chocolate bar has 30 percent sugar, then a semi-sweet chocolate might have 40 percent cocoa solids and anywhere up to 60 percent sugar."
Best Budget: HERSHEY'S Special Dark Chocolate Candy Bars
Has slightly sweeter flavor than darker chocolates
Can be used for baking in a pinch
Not as much dark chocolate flavor as others
Hershey's might best be known for its classic milk chocolate bar, but it also makes tasty dark chocolate bars at a price that’s quite affordable compared with the boutique brands. This is a box of 36 bars, so there’s plenty to eat, share, and tuck away for later. While these aren’t sold as baking bars, many customers like that they can be chopped up to use in cookies whenever they're out of chocolate chips. These are also great for people who don’t care for super-dark chocolate, or those who are watching their sugar intake but still crave a sweet treat—these chocolates mildly sweet and have 45 percent cacao, so they’re not as assertive as some others. Each bar is 1.45 ounces.
Best Break-Apart Bars: Dove Dark Chocolate Candy Bars, Single Size
Has a rich, creamy texture
Easy to break into bite-sized pieces
Melts in the mouth
Some say it's too sugary for dark chocolate
Dove got its start as a mom-and-pop candy store in Chicago and gained a wider following with its decadent ice cream bars, which featured a thick coating of chocolate that made them different from standard ice cream bars. Now, Dove is a large company with products in stores and online, and it has products with a wide variety of flavors. These “singles” bars are 1.44 ounces each and are designed to break apart easily when you just need a nibble.
Unlike other bars that are scored into squares but tend to break randomly, these actually break neatly. The chocolate in these bars is sourced from Rainforest Alliance certified farms. The manufacturer calls these "dark chocolate" but doesn’t disclose the percentage of cacao, saying it’s proprietary. However, this chocolate is definitely darker than the brand's milk chocolate offerings. These bars scored high marks from customers for how rich and almost decadent the flavor is, and how they melt in your mouth—just note that, due to their relatively high sugar content, these bars are not for those watching their sugar intake.
Best Ganache Filled: GODIVA Chocolatier Masterpiece Dark Chocolate Ganache Hearts Bar
Filling doesn't overwhelm dark chocolate exterior
Silky, rich texture
Slightly sweeter than comparable dark chocolates
May be messy to eat
Godiva was known as a high-end chocolate before small chocolatiers started selling their wares nationally, and the brand still has a solid following. These bars are unique since each break-apart square has a heart filled with chocolate ganache. Each bar weighs a generous 3 ounces, and there are 20 bars in this pack, so that’s nearly 5 pounds of chocolate to share or to squirrel away for later.
If ganache isn’t your favorite, there are other fillings available in the Godiva Masterpieces bars, like milk chocolate with caramel or hazelnut. There are also packs of different sizes available if 20 bars is too many. While this is sweeter than other dark chocolates mainly due to its ganache filling, many say that the sweetness isn't overpowering.
Best Single Source: Omnom Chocolate 73% Nicaragua Icelandic Bean To Bar Chocolate
Rich dark chocolate flavor with tart undertones
Pairs well with wine
Not for those who like sweet, lighter dark chocolates
When you really want to savor chocolate’s terrior, you need to find a single-source chocolate, like this Nicaraguan 73 percent bar from Omnom. The chocolate is organic, the sugar is organic cane sugar, and the bars are made in Iceland. Wait, Iceland? While that’s not the first place you’d think of for chocolate making, Omnon has been making bean-to-bar chocolates there since 2013; many including Icelandic milk powder.
"Origin matters, especially in terms of flavor profile for dark chocolate," Kjartan Gíslason, chocolate maker and co-founder of Omnom Chocolate, tells us. "In my opinion, single-origin chocolate is a far better indicator of the quality and social impact the chocolate has on the farming societies."
The packaging is worth noting, with fanciful origami-like animals on the cardboard wrap, and even the bars are scored whimsically. The company’s website lists taste notes for the bars much like wine descriptions; this is said to have flavors of mushroom, red wine, and rye bread. This is a single bar of 60 grams, which is about 2 ounces. Since this chocolate has wine-like flavor, we’re guessing it would pair well with wine.
Best Vegan: Hu Salty Chocolate Bars
Organic, vegan, and paleo
No refined sugar, dairy, or chemicals
Rich, creamy, and flavorful
This Hu chocolate bar is fair trade, vegan, paleo, and free of palm oil, refined sugar, dairy, and other ingredients sometimes found in commercial chocolates. These Salty Dark Chocolate bars are 70 percent cacao and sprinkled with fleur de sel by hand, enhancing the flavor of the chocolate. The company’s tag line is “get back to human,” which involves clean eating, natural ingredients, and a healthy lifestyle. These are made with fair-trade cacao, unrefined organic coconut sugar, organic fair-trade cocoa butter, and of course the salt. This is a pack of four 2.1 ounce bars. Many people who previously had trouble finding a "healthy" chocolate bar that also tastes delicious praise this bar for its lush, creamy flavor that is not too sweet and not too salty.
Best Mexican Dark Chocolate: Taza Chocolate Guajillo Chili Mexicano Dark Chocolate Discs
Deep chocolate flavor with the right amount of spice
Very few ingredients that are all-organic
Great for both making hot chocolate and snacking on
Slightly gritty texture is an acquired taste
Mexican chocolate is a special category, with bars usually being round, and breakable into wedges. The chocolate is often flavored, and in this case, the bars have guajillo chilies for a spicy bite along with the dark chocolate. These disks are often used for traditional Mexican hot chocolate, but they’re also good for nibbling.
This is a box of 12 2.7 ounce disks of 50 percent dark chocolate. If you haven’t yet embraced spicy chocolate, the company has a wide range of options including cinnamon, coffee, and salted almond, along with plain and super-dark chocolate. There are also variety packs, for those who want to taste more than one. These are made in the United States, using Mexican stone mills to grind the cacao. They are vegan, organic, direct trade, and kosher.
Most people praise this chocolate's unique, deep chocolate flavor that's not too sweet with just the right amount of spice, and several say they love the slightly gritty texture from the stone-ground chocolate—though a few say they've yet to acquire the taste for it.
Best for Baking: Guittard 70% Bittersweet Cocoa Baking Bars
Deep, lush flavor
Low in sugar but not too bitter
Also great for snacking
When it’s time to make chocolate mousse, chocolate ice cream, chocolate fondue, or baked goods that require melted or chunked chocolate, these baking bars give an excellent result. They’re 70 percent bittersweet chocolate so they’re not too sweet when added to a cookie recipe that requires sugar, and they’re not too assertive for ganache or mousse. While the boxes look substantial, they each contain three 2-ounce bars, so they’re easy to cut, chop, or break. This is a pack of four boxes, making a total of 12 bars of chocolate, so there’s plenty for making tasty desserts. And they’re also great for a little nibble. Those with gluten intolerances, on a paleo diet, or watching their sugar consumption love snacking on these bars.
Working with chocolate can be a little tricky. We’ve got tips and tricks to make it easier.
Best Unroasted: Raaka 100% Cacao Chocolate Bar
Made from 100 percent organic cacao
Creamy and bright-tasting for a very dark chocolate bar
Works with keto and paleo diets
May be too bitter for some
Most chocolate starts with roasting the beans, but Raaka is unique since its chocolates are made from unroasted beans. This 100 percent cacao bar is a great way to savor the unique chocolate without the distraction of added flavors. Despite the ultimate cacao percentage, the company notes that this chocolate is not bitter, but rather it is creamy, bright, and fruity—and many customers who prefer 100 percent dark chocolate agree, saying that it's among the smoothest and creamiest they've tried, with no bitter aftertaste.
This bar is made from organic Tanzanian cocoa beans and organic cocoa butter with no added sugar. If 100 percent cacao is too much, the company also produces a wide range of chocolate bars with interesting add-ins and different chocolate percentages.
For dark chocolate that won't break the bank but is still flavorful and sweeter than most, we recommend either the Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Variety Pack or Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Candy Bars. For something decadent yet only made with clean ingredients (and compatible with vegan and paleo diets), try Hu's Salty Dark Chocolate bars. Plus, it's fair-trade.
What to Look for When Buying Dark Chocolate
Percentage of cacao
The percentage of cacao means how much of the chocolate bar comes directly from cacao beans; both cocoa solids and cocoa butter are included in this percentage. There's no definitive percentage that makes a chocolate bar dark versus milk in the U.S., but you will typically find it to be above 50 percent (but can go all the way up to 100 percent). Higher cacao content typically means more flavanols, an antioxidant that helps lower blood pressure and improve heart and cognitive functions.
When looking at cacao content, you also want to see if it's processed with alkali—what's known as "dutching." This is a method of treating raw cacao beans to alter the color of the final product and make it less bitter. This process decreases the amount of flavanols found in the end product. Dark chocolate bars with a base of processed cacao also typically contain a greater number of additives.
Speaking of additives, you want to look for dark chocolate bars with few ingredients that are clean—ideally, no preservatives and minimal to no added sugar and other artificial flavorings. Of course, many bars will include some added sugar to balance out dark chocolate's natural bitterness, so try to stick to natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. Also, be careful of misleading marketing: terms like "artisan" and "fine chocolate" aren't characteristics that can be tested.
Flavor and Texture
High-quality dark chocolate should taste rich; the texture will vary, but it should be anything but chalky. The creaminess of a bar will be determined by the proportion of cocoa butter it has compared with cocoa solids.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
While she doesn’t have any degrees in chocolate lore, Donna Currie has sampled her way through plenty of chocolate in her lifetime, from the lightest white chocolate to the darkest of the dark. She’s pleased to say that she hasn’t sampled them all, so she looks forward to even more important research in the future.