Dark Chocolate: The Best and Worst Brands

2019 Edition

Hey chocolate lovers, this guide is continually updated. What we’ve noticed since first publishing 5 years ago is that there is an ever-increasing variety of dark chocolate out there. And… disappointingly it has become very difficult to find which manufacturers are using the dutch process (see below).

Dark chocolate: once considered a rare treat is now mainstream. It’s become the snack of choice for healthy eaters.

For good reason. It feels decadent, tastes great, and has researched healthy benefits (1) (2) (3). One small study showed participants ate less junk food after eating dark chocolate. This did not happen with milk chocolate. Another small study showed food intake following dark chocolate consumption was significantly lower than when eating milk or white chocolate (ref).

Even exercise capacity is increased when consuming dark chocolate!

There’s something about dark chocolate that makes me carefully indulge in a piece or two. Compared to milk chocolate when I would eat half a pack before I knew it.

The Flavanols

Research points to flavanols – a type of polyphenol in cocoa that helps lower blood pressure and improve vascular function, improve cognitive function, and even provides UV protection for our skin. Note there are many counter-arguments to this research (see more).

Dark chocolate has a higher proportion of flavanols than milk chocolate.

A higher percentage of cacao (cocoa) means a higher amount of flavanols.

Warning: Lookout for Dutching

The method used to process the raw cacao bean can affect the amount of flavanols in the end product.

If your chocolate says “processed with alkali” on the nutrition label, then it’s going to have less flavanols (more). Processing with alkali is called “dutching“.

Marketing labels

Many chocolates are tagged with all kinds of marketing words. Artisan, hand-crafted, fine chocolate. These are opinions and cannot be tested. Some chocolates are labelled gluten-free – which is odd as chocolate never contained gluten.

Healthy Dark Chocolate Brands


Organic, fair trade, non-GMO dark chocolate. No soy lecithin. Range of 55%-85%


(Discounted at Amazon)

Endangered Species

72% Cacao and 88% Cacao bars (panther). Also a 70% organic bar.

Ethically traded cacao. Social enterprise with a great theme focusing on endangered animals.


Discounted at at Amazon

alterecoAlter Eco

USDA Organic and Fair Trade. Range of dark chocolate. Look for 85% Dark Blackout or 90% Super Dark.


(Discounted at Amazon)


80%, 87%, and 95% cacao bars.

Taza is probably the least-processed chocolate you can find. THE USDA organic chocolate combines just cocoa beans and sugar.


Discounted at Amazon.

Green & Blacks

70% Cacao and 85% Cacao bars. Organic and sometimes fair trade (e.g. Maya Gold).

The 70% includes Soy Lecithin – the 85% does not. There are no genetically modified ingredients.


Discounted at Amazon.


The Lindt Excellence range includes 70%, 78%, 85%, 90%, and 99% Cacao bars.

NOTE: Each bar has a different ingredients list. Here are ingredients as at 2018 (as sold in the US). The 85% is the best choice.

70% – Chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin (emulsifier), bourbon vanilla beans.
78% – Chocolate, cocoa butter, sugar, fat reduced cocoa powder, milkfat.
85% – Chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, demerara sugar, bourbon vanilla beans.
90% – Chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa powder processed with alkali, sugar, bourbon vanilla beans.


Discounted at Amazon


Pure make a range of organic dark chocolates, from 70% right up to a 100% bar.

100% USDA Organic, Fair Trade, and non-GMO certified.


Discounted at Amazon.


Based in Seattle, WA. 85% and a large range of different flavored 70% bars. A very simple ingredients list with no emulsifier.

Theo was the first US chocolate maker to be fair trade and organic, and continues to have one of the most ethical and transparent ‘bean to bar’ processes.


Discounted at Amazon.


Another company with ethical principles, offering 70% to 88% bars.


Discounted at Amazon.

Ghirardelli Intense Dark

86% Cacao Chocolate Bars (and a 92% if you can find it!). They have bars as well as small squares. The 86% uses Soy Lecithin as an emulsifier.


(Discounted at Amazon)


72% Cacao Chocolate Bars. Prior to 2017 this bar wasn’t processed with alkali but now it looks like it is according to the updated ingredients. Uses Soy Lecithin as emulsifier.


Discounted at Amazon

Pacari Organic Chocolate

USDA organic raw chocolate.

Wide selection including 70%, 85%, 100%. There is also a ‘101%’ (100% plus some extra coca nibs).

Most contain sunflower lecithin except for the 100%. They use coconut sugar to sweeten the less than 100% cacao bars.


Available at Amazon


70%-85% Cacao bars.

This French chocolate is distributed in the USA but can be difficult to find. Has a range of bars up to 85% – uses Soy Lecithin as emulsifier.


Discounted at Amazon.

Amano chocolateAmano

Amano offer a large range of single origin chocolate bars up to 70% dark chocolate.


Discounted at Amazon.

Moser Roth

70% Cacao and 85% Cacao Chocolate Bars.

A German-made chocolate made for the Aldi stores. 85% is processed with alkali (we’re having trouble confirming this). Uses Soy Lecithin emulsifier.


Discounted at Amazon.

Loving Earth

Australian-based Loving Earth have a 72% bar.

Raw, only two ingredients (raw cacao + coconut sugar), however being < 80% does have a high sugar content. Organic, processed without alkali, no Soy Lecithin.

Discounted at Amazon.


Vivani is a German chocolatier that sources ingredients from Ceres (100% organic).

85% bars and 92% available in USA and Canada.

Organic, processed without alkali, no Soy Lecithin.


Discounted at Amazon.

Ritter Sport

Based in Germany, look for the Fine Extra Dark (73% cocoa).

Uses butterfat to make it creamier (rather than Lecithin).


Discounted at Amazon.

Giddy Yoyo

Based in Canada. Raw, USDA organic.

A large range of dark chocolate bars up to 100%.


scharffenScharffen Berger

US chocolate company (owned by a subsidiary of Hershey). Selection of chocolate squares and bars (from 62% up to 82% cacao),


Available at Amazon

Righteously Raw

Organic, fair trade, raw, dark chocolate (83%). As far as we’re aware only chocolate is processed on their machinery, so is allergen-free.


(Discounted at Amazon)


Organic, fair trade, dark chocolate. Seem to be having availability issues – only 70% still available (2018).


(Discounted at Amazon)


Lily’s Dark chocolate bars are sweetened with Stevia (and Erythritol). It uses Fair Trade chocolate, and is not processed with Alkali. A good choice if you are following a low-carb or keto diet. There is a range of 70% and an 85%.


See the at Amazon.


These squares have been developed for the diet market (specifically low-carb or keto diets). Monk Fruit extract is used as a sweetener, and fiber has been added (soluble corn fiber). The 85% or 92% are best.


See the sampler at Amazon.

Notable Mentions

Sam’s Choice (Walmart) – Choose the 90% dark. Ingredients: Chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla beans.

Boutique Chocolates

There are numerous dark chocolate makers, and their products are often available in a few outlets (or very localized). These are some that we’ve come across.

  • Whittaker’s (New Zealand) – A huge variety of flavors – 72% Dark Ghana being a popular choice.
  • Camino (Canada) – The ‘Intensely Dark’ 88% is a great choice.
  • Valore (Spain) – Have a 70% bar with very high almond content (25%).
  • Ombar (UK) – Raw chocolatiers with 72%-100% dark.
  • Guittard (CA) – 80%-91% dark chocolate.
  • Eating Evolved (NY) – Boutique. Organic, processed without alkali.
  • Zotter Chocolates (Austria) – they offer a mouthwatering array of flavors, and also, 80%-96% dark chocolate bars (the Labooko range) – also certified Fair Trade.
  • Heidi (Romania) – Do a 70% and 85% bar. Similar formulation to Lindt.
  • Montezuma Chocolates (UK) – Have a selection of organic dark chocolate (70%) bars.
  • Vannucci Chocolate (Italy) – Have a 100% cacao bar, along with 73% chocolates.
  • Malmo Chokladfabrik (Sweden) – The 1888 range has a selection of dark chocolates (organic and fair trade). There is even an anti-oxidant boost chocolate (with olives !?).
  • Moonstruck Chocolate (USA) – Specialty chocolates – 68% dark.
  • Askinosie (USA) – Single origin handcrafted – 70% dark.
  • Zazubean (Canada) – Fair trade and organic. Includes an 80% bar.
  • Frey (Switzerland) – Look for the 85% bar.
  • Claudio Corallo – Artisan chocolate made from the most simple ingredients.
  • Vosges (USA) – A variety of chocolates including a ‘super dark’ – that is 72%, and some fair trade and organic bars.
  • HNINA (USA) – The real deal – raw organic dark chocolate. No sugar, soy, or dairy.
  • Cocoa Parlor (California) – USDA organic and fair-trade.
  • Vanini (Italy) – Made with sustainable practices, includes 70%-95% dark chocolate bars.
  • Madecass (Madagascar / US) – A chocolate made at the cacao source (in Madagascar). Includes an 80% and 92% bar.
  • Butler’s (Ireland) – have a 70% bar.
  • Pana (Australia) – Selection of raw organic bars, including ‘Eighty’ – Cacao (min 80%; cacao butter, cacao powder), dark agave nectar.

Dark Chocolates That Don’t Make The Grade

Popular bar, but Dove dark chocolates don’t make the grade.

  • Dove Dark Chocolate
    Low cacao content. All processed with alkali.
  • CocoaVia Supplement Packs
    These are similar to Crystal Light, except they have flavanols (the main chocolate antioxidant) added in. You will get some health benefits from this, but it is more important to eat the whole food that contains the fiber.
  • Hershey’s Special Dark
    Processed with alkali. High in sugar.
  • Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses
    Despite claims on the package about flavanols, this is a milk chocolate.
  • Dark Chocolate M&M’s
    The ingredients list is ambiguous (they list “chocolate” as an ingredient). However these are high in sugar (more like candy than healthy dark chocolate).
  • Milky Way Midnight
    Like all the candy brands, this is not really a dark chocolate. It has more sugar than cacao and is processed with alkali.
  • Kit Kat Dark
    Not sure how they can call this dark. Lots of sugar and palm kernel oil.
  • Nestle Dark Hot Chocolate
    Ouch! This beverage mix is the worst of the lot. Sugar, trans-fat, and processed with alkali.
  • Cadbury Bournville
    60g of sugar per small bar.
  • Cadbury Old Gold
    It says dark chocolate on the label, but it is a dairy milk – with a high sugar content.
  • Cadbury Royal Dark
    Ingredients: Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Sugar; Cocoa Butter; Chocolate; Milk Fat; Natural and Artificial Flavor, Soy Lecithin; Milk). Again – a milk chocolate.
  • Brookside Dark Chocolate. This Hershey’s brand is a milk chocolate. Originally marketed as ‘containing fruit’, they have now changed their wording to fruit ‘flavors’.
  • Choceur
    This brand is exclusive to Aldi stores. However the ‘dark’ is only 45% cocoa and is really a milk chocolate. Aldi were also forced to recall the chocolates in 2017 due to almond pieces ended up in some bars.

How to Choose the Best Chocolate

There are dozens of boutique chocolate brands out there. If in doubt, use the following guide.

A true dark chocolate will never have sugar listed first in the ingredients. It should always be below the cocoa ingredients.

It should also tick as many of the following points:

  • 100% Organic
    Note that “organic” does not equal 100% organic (confusing!).
  • Fair Trade
  • > 80% cocoa
  • Not processed with alkali

Also, note that some manufacturers use GMO (genetically modified) ingredients (this is usually the soy lecithin). Soy Lecithin is a byproduct of processed soy beans and is used an emulsifier (prevents water and fat from separating).

Does Dark Chocolate have undeclared allergens?
Most dark chocolates are produced on the same processing line as chocolate products containing milk. Which is why most of them have advisory labels. A recent testing of 88 bars concluded that “a high proportion of dark chocolate products contain milk at concentrations associated with allergic reactions in sensitive individuals” (see the 2017 study)

What about peanuts? The good news is that all bars labelled as peanut-free were peanut-free. However 17% of chocolates that had no labeling about nuts DID contain traces of peanuts.

What about heavy metals? In recent years there has been press about Lead and Cadmium levels in chocolate. This has nothing to do with manufacturing, but the presence of these metals in soils where cacao is grown. To keep in context, dietary cadmium exposure can come from all kinds of foods – cereals, vegetables, nuts, etc. Given the small volumes of dark chocolate that we eat, cadmium in chocolate should not be viewed as a major concern.

See also: Almond Milk: The Best and Worst Brands.

Do you make or sell Dark Chocolate? Don’t add a silly fake comment pretending you discovered it. Just email us! We’d love to hear about your chocolate.


  1. Elizabeth 5 months ago

    Tader Joe’s own Brand of Dark CHocolate (72%) is fabulous. it comes in small bars with perferations so you can take off a square at a time if you choose to. it is dark but doesnt taste like you’re eating plastic, as some of the darker chocolates do IMHO.

  2. Maire L 5 months ago

    I see you are missing a good one that I get on Amazon too (ChocoBiotics), not sure if that is the brand though. It has all the properties that you recommend in your article and on top of that, probiotics. This is the only way I get my kiddos (5 and 8) to get their probiotics. To top it off, is made with xylitol, so cavities don’t become a concern.

  3. Diksha Saini 5 months ago

    Which dark chocolate is best for type 1 diabetes?

    • Ben 5 months ago

      Try Coconut Secret. This is made by people who’s parents have diabetes and they wanted to make a chocolate they coupd eat.

  4. Pablo Zarate 5 months ago

    How is it that organic is healthier? The person that made this entry doesn’t know anything about basic science.
    If you really think that organic is better, it just means that you are the whole marketing strategy.
    Read some good articles, get the scientific consensus and be critical about your sources, this post could be better.

    Btw, doing a biased Google search doesn’t count as investigating

    • James 5 months ago

      Nowhere does this article state that organic is healthier. Organic generally means more sustainable and environmentally conscious production practices. However I do concur that often “organic” is simply part of a marketing strategy. Many small farmers cannot afford to be part of an expensive certification process.

  5. Linda Rule 6 months ago

    What about the level of saturated fat in it?
    Ghirardelli Intense Dark has 25% saturated fat. IJust noticed. Isn’t that bad too.

    • Ted Kallmyer 6 months ago

      Hi Linda, Our understanding of saturated fat has changed over the years. Vegetable sources of saturated fat are fine and can even be a healthy part of one’s diet in moderation. Having a balanced fatty acid profile is the most important thing to keep in check, and of course, to avoid transfats.

  6. Nicole Smith 6 months ago

    I’ve been eating cadbury old gold for months, thinking it was healthy! Time to switch!

  7. Ximena 6 months ago

    Hey, just tried this Bolivian dark chocolate bars I bought in the duty free returning from there: chocolate Baure wild cocoa. It comes at different concentrations (I bought 70 and 86%, but I also saw 100) and it’s USDA certified organic. It’s elborated by a company named Sumar (reading the label here haha).

  8. Olivia 6 months ago

    Trader Joe’s Organic 72% Dark Chocolate batons are very good and meet all the requirements here for excellent chocolate. Also very rich in chocolate taste but not bitter. I love biting off a section and combine it with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter – YUM!

  9. David 6 months ago

    Which is less desirable – processed with alkali or containing soy lecithin?

    • Ted Kallmyer 6 months ago

      In my opinion, it would be the alkali since it destroys some of the antioxidants in the chocolate. Unless you have a soy allergy or sensitivity, the soy lecithin would be of no consequence.

  10. Lilybeth 6 months ago

    The only dark chocolate I can get in the space of a day (ready for tomorrow) is one that I’m (pretty) sure is not 100% organic and all that. I’m buying to to make a depressed friend feel a little better because I was going to just get her a chocolate bar (Normal) but then discovered the wonders of dark chocolate. Is it really going to make a difference if I chose to buy a dark chocolate that (maybe, idk) has 60% sugars but claims to be dark chocolate over just a normal bar. Will it help her in anyway?

  11. Alexander 6 months ago

    I’m a chocolate lover, and i’ve been eating Lindt 99% dark chocolate for so long.

    It’s made with alkali though. Is it bad for me then? Shoudl I try another brand instead?

    What do you think about Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate Absolute Black 100% Cocoa 100g.

    Michel Cluizel French Chocolate – 99% “Noir Infini” Dark Chocolate, 70g/2.46oz.

    Olivia Chocolat Raw 100%.

    I woudl like to know your opinion. Thanks.

  12. Cacaolova 6 months ago

    Of course by no means an exhaustive list, which would be near impossible with so many brands both large and small out there, but admirably comprehensive. Thank you for your time and hard work, am enjoying reading and noting all the suggestions in the comments box too!

  13. Cacaolova 6 months ago

    How Willie’s Cacao 70% bars and 100% cylinders are not on this list (right at the top!) baffles me. They contain no soya lecithin and don’t use vanilla to mask inferior beans/conching. I’ve eaten just about every brand on the list above (and many more around the world including Cuban in Cuba, locally sourced chocolate in Ecuador and myriad other types in a variety of countries). I am perhaps an extreme chocoholic, but I consume at least 50g and usually between 80-100g of Willie’s chocolates a day, that’s over thirty kilos a year, no joke! I don’t drink coffee, but rather use his cacao to make hot chocolate containing alkaloids similar to caffeine to give me a lift – and because his cacao isn’t ‘Dutched’, it’s got plenty of those lovely tocopherols, then eat his bars at other times. To my mind it is the best of the best and this list lacks credence without mentioning his produce. I have one of his Los Lllanos Gold bars in front of me (from Colombia), the ingredients are: 70% cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter. That’s all! Do yourselves a favour and give it a go, if you want real chocolate, this is it

    • Cacaolova 6 months ago

      *flavonoids, not tocopherols. 🙂

  14. Ben Stuart 6 months ago

    How about Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate Absolute Black 100% Cocoa 100g? It seems to tick all the boxes. I buy it from my local Sainsbury’s. Considering it’s a 100℅ it was not as bitter as I expected.

    • Cacaolova 6 months ago

      My sister-in-law is a big fan, so a second there!

  15. Jade 7 months ago

    Please add Beacon to the list, it is made here in South Africa.

  16. Nick Perone 7 months ago

    How about adding Lily’s Extremely Dark Chocolate!
    85% Dark Chocolate
    NON GMO Project Verified!

    • James 7 months ago

      Thanks. Added.

  17. Nitr0 7 months ago

    Lindth 90% doesn’t say processed with alkali anymore. Can someone confirm this

  18. Robert S. Stewart 7 months ago

    When a brand suggests it is 70% cocoa/dark chocolate, does this mean the cocoa left in the original bean is 70% of the bar, or just wjat is left of the bean before all the other ingredients are added. This would leave cocoa at less than 20% of the bar.

    • James 7 months ago

      It is the amount (by weight) of cacao-based ingredients are in the bar. So could be from cacao butter (or cocoa solids, liqour etc.) The remaining ingredients are typically sugar (of some sort), and some kind of emulsifier.

  19. Soham Roy 7 months ago

    Please Include the Amul Brand from India next time, when it gets updated. Amul recently launched single origin Dark Chocolates and also, a 90% bitter chocolate. Please.

  20. Christine A VanderPyl 8 months ago

    Found this bar at a health food store in Florida….any research on this one?
    Honduras chocolate company
    I bought the 75%cacao one only 2 ingredients….cacao and natural cane sugar