We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Dark chocolate is a truly indulgent treat; one that people have been loving for well over 3,000 years. Nowadays, dark chocolate comes in a variety of styles and flavors to satisfy even the choosiest sweet tooth. In our research to find the most delicious options out there, we took a look at cacao percentage as well as texture and taste, of course, to nail down top options for baking, snacking, and more.
Here are the best dark chocolates.
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 who 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; they're convenient single-serve tablets that are enough to taste and savor. People like the variety and how each is 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 keeping a few on hand in the office desk drawer. At 15 ounces (nearly 1 pound), there’s plenty to eat and share from this bag.
Cacao Percentage: 60% and 72% | Number of Pieces: 40 squares | Serving Size: Four squares
"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, says. "Dark chocolate is usually made from two ingredients: cocoa bean and sugar. Semisweet 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 semisweet chocolate bar 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 an affordable price compared to boutique brands. Available as a box of 36 bars at Amazon or as a single giant bar at Walmart, there’s plenty to eat, share, and tuck away for later. While these aren’t sold as baking bars, many customers like to chop them 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. They're mildly sweet and not as assertive as others. Each bar in the boxed version at Amazon is 1.45 ounces, and the giant bar at Walmart is 6.8 ounces.
Cacao Percentage: 45% | Number of Pieces: 36 bars | Serving Size: One bar
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.
Number of Pieces: 18 bars | Serving Size: One bar
Best Ganache Filled: Godiva 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 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 4 pounds of chocolate to share or squirrel away for later.
If ganache isn’t your favorite, other fillings are 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.
Number of Pieces: 20 bars | Serving Size: 1/2 bar
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
The Nicaraguan 73 percent bar from Omnom is the best single-source chocolate. The chocolate is organic, the sugar is organic cane sugar, and the bars are made in Iceland. Omnon has been making bean-to-bar chocolates since 2013; many include Icelandic milk powder.
"Origin matters, especially in terms of flavor profile for dark chocolate," Gíslason 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 have whimsical markings. The company’s website lists taste notes for the bars, including flavors of mushroom, red wine, and rye bread. So, we're guessing it would pair well with your favorite spirit. This single bar weighs 60 grams, which is a little over 2 ounces.
Cacao Percentage: 73% | Number of Pieces: One bar
Best Vegan: Hu Salty Chocolate Bars
Organic, vegan, and paleo
No refined sugar or dairy
Rich, creamy, and flavorful
This Hu Salty Dark Chocolate bar is vegan and paleo-friendly, not to mention free of palm oil, refined sugar, dairy, and other ingredients typically found in commercial chocolates. These Salty Dark Chocolate bars are 70 percent cacao, with unrefined organic coconut sugar, organic fair-trade cocoa butter, and sea salt rounding out the list of ingredients Hu Salty Dark Chocolate is available as a four-pack of 2.1-ounce bars, but you can also purchase them as an eight-pack or 12-pack. Many people praise this bar for its lush, creamy flavor that is slightly sweet and not too salty.
Cacao Percentage: 70% | Number of Pieces: Four bars | Serving Size: 1/2 bar
Best Mexican Dark Chocolate: Taza Chocolate Guajillo Chili Mexicano Dark Chocolate Discs
Deep chocolate flavor with subtle spice
Few ingredients that are all organic
Great for snacking on and making hot chocolate
Slightly gritty texture
Mexican chocolate is a special category, with bars usually being round and breakable into wedges . The chocolate is often flavored, and in the case of Taza Chocolate, the bars have guajillo chilies for a spicy bite along with the dark chocolate. These discs are often used for traditional Mexican hot chocolate, but they’re also good for nibbling.
Available as a box of 12 2.7-ounce discs of 50 percent dark chocolate at Amazon, these are vegan and made in the U.S., using Mexican stone mills to grind the cacao. They're also Direct Trade and kosher-certified. If you haven’t yet embraced spicy chocolate, the company has a wide range of options, including cinnamon, coffee, plain, super-dark chocolate, and salted almond. There are also a variety of packs for those who want to taste more than one.
Most people praise the deep chocolate flavor that's slightly sweet with just the right amount of spice. 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.
Cacao Percentage: 50% | Number of Pieces: 12 discs | Serving Size: 1/2 disc
Best for Baking: Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars
Deep, lush flavor
Low in sugar but not too bitter
Great for snacking
When it’s time to make chocolate mousse, chocolate ice cream, chocolate fondue, or baked goods that require chunked or melted chocolate, these baking bars yield 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, totaling 12 bars of chocolate, which means there’s plenty to snack on and make tasty desserts.
Cacao Percentage: 70% | Number of Pieces: Four bars | Serving Size: 1/4 bar
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 diets
May be too bitter for some
Most chocolate starts with roasting the beans, but Raaka chocolates are made from unroasted beans. This 100 percent cacao bar is a great way to savor the chocolate without the distraction of added flavors. Despite the ultimate cacao percentage, the company notes that this chocolate is not bitter. 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.
Cacao Percentage: 100% | Number of Pieces: Three bars | Serving Size: 1/2 bar
Best for Gifting: Chuao Chocolatier Share the Love Assorted Gourmet Chocolate Bars
A wide range of interesting flavors
Good for sharing
Chocolates are very small
These individually wrapped mini gourmet chocolates arrive in a beautiful red box topped with a silky ribbon. Recipients can expect 36 chocolate bars with 14 fun flavors, a handful of which include ravishing rocky road, cheeky churro, honeycomb, spicy Maya, firecracker, and totally tangy mango.
This fair trade chocolate is made in small batches, according to traditional European techniques. The flavors, however, are delightfully modern (the chocolatiers of yore probably didn’t expect a potato chip chocolate bar). This mix of milk and dark chocolate treats is a fun gift for your loved ones, and there's a 16-count version available, too.
Cacao Percentage: Varies | Number of Pieces: 36 bars | Serving Size: One bar
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 (view at Amazon) or Hershey's Special Dark chocolate candy bars (view at Amazon). For something decadent, try Fair-Trade Hu's Salty Dark Chocolate (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in 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. However, it can go all the way up to 100 percent.
When looking at cacao content, you also want to see if it's processed with alkali or 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.
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 to cocoa solids.
Where did chocolate originate?
Chocolate's origins start in Mesoamerica, or present-day Mexico, some 4,000 years ago. It's where the first cacao plants were found. Today, chocolate is enjoyed worldwide.
What makes dark chocolate unique?
Dark chocolate does not typically contain milk solids and has a higher proportion of cocoa, which contributes to dark chocolate's deeper, richer chocolate flavor. It also tends to have less sugar in it than milk chocolate.
Is dark chocolate vegan?
Dark chocolate is usually vegan, as long as it's not made with milk solids. Usually, it's made with cocoa butter and chocolate liquor, which makes it vegan-friendly. When in doubt, read the fine label's print.
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.
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.