Chocolate is a decadent delight, and while many popular flavors, such as milk chocolate, aren't appropriate for a strictly plant-based diet, connoisseurs who forgo dairy can still indulge in the classic candy since consumer interest in vegan products is steadily on the rise—prime motivation for small-batch and mainstream manufacturers to keep inventing new varieties to satiate this demand.
Chocolate maker and Wm. Chocolate owner Will Marx encourages folks to think beyond the label before buying. "It’s not enough for a product just to be vegan. It should also support progress in the chocolate supply chain. I want to have a sense that the maker cares about people and the planet when sourcing and is not just chasing the lowest-cost ingredients. When these pieces are in place, the product will likely taste very good, too."
We researched the best vegan chocolates that you’ll be tempted to stockpile, but rarely share.
Endangered Species Chocolate Oat Milk Dark Chocolate
Made with fair-trade chocolate
Only available in one size
If creamy dark chocolate is your jam, this bar was made for you. Having an oat base provides a smoother composition than some other non-dairy chocolates. The result pays off in a more cohesive balance between taste and texture. Another popular attribute of the Endangered Species brand is that 10 percent of the company’s net profits are donated to conservation and wildlife organizations, including The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and the National Forest Foundation.
Price at time of publish: $3
Size: 3 ounce bars | Cacao percentage: 55%
“In addition to cacao and a sweetener, other plant-based ingredients can be added to vegan chocolate. For example, it is possible to make a vegan 'milk' chocolate using plant-based milk alternatives, like oat milk, and many common inclusions, like nuts or dried fruit or spices, are plant-based and can be used in vegan chocolate.” — Will Marx, Chocolatier and Creator of Wm. Chocolate
La Maison du Chocolat Fruit Naturally Gift Box 16 Vegan Chocolates
Artisanal made in France
Packaged in luxe gift box
Indulge in luxury with these fruit ganaches from the beloved Paris chocolate boutique La Maison du Chocolat. The rich flavors and silky cream-like mouthfeel won't even have you missing the dairy. Some of our favorite flavors include blackcurrant, orange zest, and passionfruit. These fruit profiles pack a lively brightness that provides a delightful contrast to the intensity of the dark cacao. You're in for a treat with each bite of these beautiful ganaches!
Price at time of publish: $50 for a box of 16 chocolates
Size: 3.7 ounces | Cacao percentage: 56%
UNREAL Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Contains no artificial sweeteners
You’ll never miss Reese’s again after trying UnReal’s version of the classic peanut butter cup. The peanut butter inside is just enough to mingle with the exterior chocolate layer so that each can be adequately savored, yet not overpowered. Another mega bonus to this product is that each cup comes individually wrapped to prevent the chocolates sticking together when stored or transported. Be sure to keep refrigerated (or frozen) so that the integrity of the shape is maintained.
Price at time of publish: $5
Size: 0.53-ounce cups | Cacao percentage: Not indicated
Raaka Best Sellers Trio
Finding chocolate bars that not only are dairy free but also organic, can be a bit of a challenge. Raaka’s trio pack is its three best-selling, fair-trade, soy-free, non-GMO, kosher, and organic chocolate bars with one-of-a-kind flavors centered around gourmet chocolate. The Coconut flavor features 60% cacao, the Pink Sea Salt contains 71% cacao, and the Bourbon Cast Aged contains 82% cacao. The bars themselves are a bit smaller than other options on our list, but the tastes make up for it.
Price at the time of publish: $18
Size: 3 1.8-ounce bars | Cacao percentage: 60%, 71%, and 80%
Best Dark Chocolate
Taza Organic Wicked Dark Chocolate
Contains two ingredients
A tad bit more expensive
As the vegan chocolate with the highest cacao percentage on our list, this dairy-free dark chocolate contains just two ingredients—organic cacao beans and organic cane sugar. (But the amount of sugar equals 2 grams per 0.5 bar serving, so you’re mostly getting just the cacao.) The taste is strong and slightly bitter, perfect for anyone craving less sweet chocolate. It is stone-ground using granite millstones to create the flavor, and contains no soy, dairy, or gluten.
If you like this option, Taza has quite a few other chocolate bars made with a lower percentage of cacao but fun additions like Sea Salt Almond, Toffee, Coconut, Cacao Crunch, Raspberry Crunch, and more.
Price at the time of publish: $5
Size: 2.5-ounce bars | Cacao percentage: 95%
Best for Baking
Theo Chocolate Organic Dark Chocolate Extra Bittersweet Baking Bar
High cacao percentage
Each bar is cut into 0.5-ounce squares
Package contains 10 bars
Baking with dark chocolate gives your recipes a bright, chocolatey flavor that milk or other types can’t because of the extra ingredients. Theo’s Organic Extra Bittersweet Baking Bar not only contains 85% cacao as one of its four ingredients but is pre-measured into 0.5-ounce squares in each 4-ounce bar, making it quick and easy to grab what you need when baking (or snacking!).
Speaking of ingredients, this baking chocolate’s are all organic—cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, and ground vanilla bean. The last one is an interesting addition, but blends in perfectly with the others to add a full taste to any batch of chocolate chip cookies or other dairy-free chocolate treats.
Price at the time of publish: $40
Size: 4-ounce bars | Cacao percentage: 85%
Best White Chocolate
Pascha Organic Vegan White Chocolate Bars
Texture is noticeably different than dairy chocolate
Made using rice milk instead of dairy products, this chocolate melts fantastically, making it a versatile pick if you're on the hunt for a vegan chocolate that is great for snacking and baking. However, because of how easily it melts, it's recommended that you store it in the refrigerator or freezer (assuming the whole bar isn’t polished off in one sitting.) Pascha also sells this same varietal as chocolate chips, which are a small enough to be added to pancake batter and cookie dough.
Price at time of publish: $3
Size: 2.82-ounce bars | Cacao percentage: Not applicable
“Many mainstream white chocolates contain even more dairy ingredients, like milkfat, to reduce costs. As usual, read the ingredients, look for a vegan declaration on the package, and ask the manufacturer if something isn't clear. These days you can find vegan white chocolate, but it may take some searching.” — Will Marx, Chocolatier and Creator of Wm. Chocolate
Nelly's Organic Caramel Nougat Candy
Each varietal contains nuts
This confection is perfect for nut lovers, as it's jam-packed with organic raw cashews and organic peanut butter, as well as other yummy ingredients, including raw shredded coconut, organic raw vanilla beans, pink Himalayan salt, organic chocolate liquor, and more. These treats are small enough to fit inside fanny packs, lunch sacks, and coat pockets. In addition, don’t be surprised when biting into the caramel nougat’s triple-layer interior. It may be one big bite, but it sure is satisfying.
Price at time of publish: $26
Size: 1.6-ounce bars | Cacao percentage: Not indicated
If looking for a delectable vegan chocolate which is (almost) undetectably dairy-free, Endangered Species Oat Milk Dark Chocolate is the best buy. If you prefer to primarily purchase fully organic products, the Raaka Best Sellers Trio is a great option in regard to taste and cost.
What to Look for in Vegan Chocolate
"The chocolate and sugar industries have a very dark underbelly, so looking for chocolate that is fair trade certified is a great start. I also look for the vegan symbol, which is becoming more and more apparent on products these days," says vegan baker and Heirloom Bakery and Kitchen founder Mickey Walker.
Vegan chocolate should be made using solely plant-based ingredients. "Chocolate has a long history as a naturally vegan product because its most important ingredient, cacao, is the seed of a tree," says Wm. Chocolate owner Will Marx. "You can actually make chocolate from cacao alone (think of unsweetened baking chocolate), but we tend to add ingredients to sweeten or flavor it. It's those ingredients that we must examine because they may or may not be vegan. After cacao, the most important ingredient in chocolate is the sweetener, often cane sugar." Many others used in making chocolate are also derived from plants and are vegan-friendly.
What is vegan chocolate made from?
"Ideally a good bar of vegan dark chocolate is only going to have a handful of ingredients for its base, such as chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and a sweetener," says Walker. "The possibilities are endless from there as far as adding extracts, chopped nuts, fruits, milk alternatives (like coconut, oat, or rice milks), caramel, toffee, sea salt, nut butters, and spices, to name a few."
In practice, the main difference between vegan and non-vegan chocolate is that vegan chocolates do not use dairy ingredients. Dairy ingredients are the only animal products widely used in chocolate. The nutrition label will oftentimes let you know whether the product contains milk.
Is all dark chocolate vegan?
"No," says Marx. "In its simplest form—cacao and a plant-based sweetener—dark chocolate is vegan. However, many products sold as 'dark chocolate' are not vegan for three main reasons."
1) They contain dairy ingredients. Sometimes manufacturers replace some of cacao's natural fat (called cacao butter) with a cheaper fat, often milkfat from cow's milk. This is done mostly to save money. You would think that adding milkfat would mean the product has to be called milk chocolate, but that's not the case. Milk powder makes for milk chocolate, but milkfat is just an alternative fat that can be added to any type of chocolate. Read the ingredients to spot it.
2) They contain sugar processed with bone char. This one is harder to catch. Ask the manufacturer, avoid products with refined sugar, or look for a vegan designation on the label.
3) They may contain traces of dairy. This means the product was made in a facility that also makes non-vegan chocolates. Although such products may still be labeled vegan, you must decide if traces of dairy are acceptable, both philosophically and from an allergen standpoint. Look near the ingredients for an allergen statement.
Is white chocolate vegan?
Traditionally, white chocolate is not vegan. According to Marx, "In its purest form, white chocolate contains three ingredients: cacao butter (always vegan), sweetener (can be vegan), and milk powder (dairy, never vegan)." He also states that "it is possible to make white chocolate vegan by ensuring that the sweetener is vegan-compliant and replacing dairy milk powder with plant-based milk powder."
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best vegan chocolates on the market, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, cacao percentage, and price—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Rachel Werner is a vegan who teaches Intro to Food Writing through The Loft Literary Center and has been selecting food-based businesses for editorial coverage for more than nine years. Her product and restaurant reviews, food styling, and photography have appeared in a variety of regional and national publications including The Gourmet Insider, Fabulous Wisconsin, and Hobby Farms Magazine.
Amanda McDonald is an editor at The Spruce Eats and has over seven years of experience researching, writing, and editing about all things food — from what new products are at the grocery store to chef-approved hacks that keep tricky leftovers fresh for days. She updated this article to include the most up-to-date information.
- Will Marx, Chocolatier and Creator of Wm. Chocolate
- Mickey Walker, vegan baker and Heirloom Bakery and Kitchen founder