Is Unsweetened Chocolate Dairy Free? 6 Unsweetened Chocolate Brands

Yes, unsweetened chocolate is typically dairy-free. It’s generally composed of only cocoa solids and cocoa butter, neither containing dairy. However, it’s always important to check the packaging and ingredient list, as some brands might process their chocolate on equipment that also processes dairy products, leading to potential cross-contamination. If you have a severe dairy allergy or follow a strict vegan diet, you’ll want to look for chocolate labeled as dairy-free or vegan.

Unsweetened Chocolate

Best Unsweetened Dairy-Free Chocolate Brands

Enjoy Life Foods

Enjoy Life offers a range of allergy-friendly products, including dairy-free and vegan chocolates. Their chocolate is free from 14 common allergens, including dairy, making it a safe choice for those with severe allergies.

Pascha Chocolate

Pascha Chocolate specializes in organic, allergen-free chocolate. Their unsweetened chocolate is dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free. They are also certified vegan.

Endangered Species Chocolate

This brand offers a range of dairy-free dark chocolates, including unsweetened options. They are also known for donating some of their profits to wildlife conservation efforts, adding an ethical twist to your chocolate consumption.

Hu Chocolate

Hu Chocolate offers a line of vegan and paleo-friendly chocolate products. Their unsweetened chocolate is free from dairy, palm oil, refined sugar, and other common allergens.

Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange offers a variety of fair-trade chocolate, including dairy-free unsweetened chocolate. Their organic and ethically sourced chocolate makes it a great option for those who value sustainable practices.

Taza Chocolate

Taza Chocolate specializes in stone-ground, organic chocolate. Their unsweetened chocolate is dairy-free and also soy-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO. The brand prides itself on ethical cacao sourcing and transparency in its supply chain.

Best Unsweetened Dairy-Free Chocolate Brands

Tips for buying Unsweetened Chocolate

Check the Ingredients: The first and foremost thing to do is check the ingredient list. Unsweetened chocolate should ideally contain only one ingredient: cocoa or chocolate liquor. Some might contain two: cocoa and cocoa butter.

Look for “100% Chocolate” or “100% Cocoa”: Unsweetened chocolate is often labeled as “100% chocolate” or “100% cocoa,” meaning it doesn’t contain any added sugar or other ingredients.

Avoid “Dutched” or “Alkalized” Chocolate: If you’re looking for the health benefits of chocolate, avoid brands that say “Dutched” or “alkalized.” This process reduces the chocolate’s flavonoid content, which is the source of many health benefits.

Watch for Allergens: If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, ensure the chocolate is free from these. For example, some brands might process their chocolate on equipment that also processes dairy products or nuts, leading to potential cross-contamination.

Consider the Brand’s Ethical Practices: Look for brands that use fair-trade cocoa beans and engage in ethical sourcing practices. This is better for the environment and supports fair wages for cocoa farmers.

Tips for buying Unsweetened Chocolate

Unsweetened Dairy-Free Chocolate Recipe


  • 1 cup of cacao nibs


  • Place the cacao nibs in a coffee grinder or a blender capable of grinding small, hard ingredients.
  • Grind the cacao nibs until they start to clump together. This could take a few minutes. The natural fats (cacao butter) in the nibs will be released during grinding, turning it into a paste.
  • Add a small amount of cocoa butter if the mixture is not smooth enough. This is optional and unnecessary if you want to make basic, unsweetened chocolate.
  • Once you’ve achieved the desired consistency, transfer the paste into a mold or a flat, lined baking tray.
  • Smooth it out and let it cool until solid. You can speed up this process by placing it in the refrigerator.
  • Once solid, your homemade unsweetened chocolate is ready to use!

This is a basic recipe, and making chocolate at home can be a complex process if you want a very smooth and refined product. The homemade version might not have the same texture as store-bought chocolate, as commercial chocolate undergoes a process called “conching,” which refines the texture and flavor over several hours. This recipe will give you a more rustic, artisanal product.

Also, remember, cacao nibs are quite bitter, as will be the resulting unsweetened chocolate. It’s perfect for cooking and baking, where other ingredients will balance the flavor.

Different Ways to Use Unsweetened Chocolate

Baking: Use unsweetened chocolate in brownies, cakes, and cookies, where other ingredients provide the sweetness.

Hot Chocolate: Melt unsweetened chocolate into hot milk (or a dairy-free alternative), and sweeten to taste for a rich, homemade hot chocolate.

Chocolate Sauce or Ganache: Melt unsweetened chocolate with a sweetener and a bit of cream (or a non-dairy substitute) to create a versatile chocolate sauce or ganache.

Chocolate-Dipped Fruit: Melt unsweetened chocolate, add your preferred sweetener, and dip fresh fruit like strawberries or bananas for a tasty and somewhat healthy treat.

Mole Sauce: Use unsweetened chocolate in traditional Mexican mole sauce, which adds a unique depth of flavor to the dish.

Different Ways to Use Unsweetened Chocolate

Frequently Asked Questions

Can vegans eat unsweetened chocolate?

Yes, vegans can eat unsweetened chocolate if it contains no dairy or other animal-derived ingredients. Always check the label to ensure it’s free from ingredients and produced without cross-contamination.

Is unsweetened chocolate healthy?

Unsweetened chocolate can be considered healthy in moderation due to its high levels of antioxidants, fiber, and minerals. However, it’s also high in fat and calories, so it should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Is unsweetened chocolate gluten-free?

Pure, unsweetened chocolate should naturally be gluten-free. Still, it’s always important to check the label as some brands may process their chocolate in a facility that also processes wheat, leading to potential cross-contamination.

Can I eat unsweetened chocolate?

Unsweetened chocolate can be eaten directly, though it’s quite bitter. It’s typically used in cooking and baking, where other ingredients balance its flavor.

What’s the difference between dark chocolate and unsweetened chocolate?

Unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate liquor with no added sugar, making it bitter. Dark chocolate, conversely, contains some sugar and possibly milk fat, making it less bitter and more palatable to many people.

Is Lindt dark chocolate dairy-free?

Some Lindt dark chocolate may be dairy-free, depending on the product. Always check the ingredients on the packaging. Some dark chocolate can contain milk fat or other dairy-derived ingredients.

Is milk chocolate dairy-free?

No, milk chocolate is not dairy-free. It contains milk or milk-derived ingredients, hence the name.

Is white chocolate dairy-free?

Typically, white chocolate is not dairy-free as it contains milk or milk-derived ingredients. There are, however, vegan versions available that use alternatives to dairy.

Is Cadbury’s hot chocolate dairy-free?

Cadbury’s hot chocolate is not typically dairy-free. It’s always important to check the packaging for the most up-to-date ingredient information.

Is Bournville chocolate dairy-free?

Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate is not officially labeled as dairy-free. Although it does not list milk as the main ingredient, the packaging states that it may contain traces of milk, likely due to shared manufacturing equipment. Always check the label for the most current information.


I live in Los Angeles with my better half, Dave, and our child, Corey. Each second with them is the acknowledgment of my fantasies working out as expected — and for that? I am so extremely thankful. Hi! I am Diana Rodriguez, the founder, author, and photographer of ATD.

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