One of the best things about chocolate is that it’s always in season. Whether you’re celebrating, commiserating, or just feeling the pangs of a sweet craving, chocolate always helps, and it’s always within reach. Yes, we live in a world with an abundance of vegan chocolatiers, but sometimes you just need to grab a bar off a shelf at the grocery store. We’ve compiled a list of chocolate bars that are doing vegan right. Let the chocolate tour begin. But before we get into that, what is vegan chocolate, exactly?
What is vegan chocolate?
To put it simply, vegan chocolate is chocolate that doesn’t contain any animal products. Most of the options on the market are made with cow’s milk—hence the name “milk chocolate.”
For the most part, dark chocolate is animal-free. But it can sometimes contain traces of milk or it may contain another animal product, like honey, so it’s important to always check the label before you buy.
Does vegan chocolate contain milk?
While some vegan chocolate is dark and doesn’t contain any milk at all, many brands have started making dairy-free chocolate with vegan milk options, like oat milk or almond milk. The result is often creamier chocolate that is close in taste to regular milk chocolate, which is made with cow’s milk.
Is vegan chocolate good for you?
When eaten in moderation, research suggests that vegan dark chocolate does have health benefits. (Great news, right?!) This is because it contains minerals, like zinc and magnesium, as well as plant compounds that are rich in antioxidants. In 2017, one study, published in the Journal of American Heart Association, found that consuming a small amount of dark chocolate, cocoa, and almonds every day may lower cholesterol and even reduce the risk of heart disease. The general rule is: the higher the cocoa percentage and the less processed it is, the better the chocolate is for you.
The best vegan chocolate bars you can find at most supermarkets
Satisfy your chocolate cravings with one of these readily available vegan chocolate bars. Whether you prefer creamy vegan milk chocolate or you’re more of a dark chocolate person, there is an option on here for you.
This German chocolate company has a dedicated vegan category on its website these days, but it’s been making dairy-free chocolate for years without the label. The Salted Caramel; Roasted Peanut; Crunchy Whole Hazelnuts; and Vegan Smooth are just a few of its vegan offerings.
Ever watch those tantalizing Lindt commercials featuring a chocolatier whisking melted chocolate? This company has us hooked. Fortunately, a few options are vegan-friendly. Skip the truffles and flavor-infused dark chocolate bars, but all the Cocoa Excellence bars with 70 percent and up dark chocolate are good to go.
Those who’ve stepped inside the iconic Ghirardelli factory in San Francisco know it’s like the real-life equivalent of Willy Wonka’s grand enterprise. Yes, there’s dairy lurking in most of the dark chocolate varietals, but the Intense 72% Cacao Twilight Delight squares and bars are completely dairy-free. The 72% and 100% Premium Baking Chips are also vegan, along with the Double Chocolate Premium Hot Cocoa mix.
Yes, our favorite tiki-themed grocer makes vegan milk chocolate, but it carried vegan chocolate way before it debuted its Almond Beverage Chocolate Bar in 2020. TJ’s Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, Dark Chocolate Lover’s Bar, and Pound Plus Dark Chocolate are plant-based. That last option should hold you over for a while.
5 Ibarra Chocolate
We don’t recommend eating these straight, but they’re good to have on hand whenever you’re in the mood for a Mexican hot chocolate or champurrado. Each disc is made of cacao paste, sugar, and cinnamon to add a comforting spice element to any chocolatey drink. Pair with your favorite non-dairy milk or follow this recipe by Dora’s Table to make vegan champurrado.
Tony doesn’t sell bars of chocolate—he sells bricks. These bars are massive. Most dark chocolate varieties are vegan-friendly other than the Dark Milk Pretzel Toffee flavor. Between the Dark Chocolate Cocoa Cookie Citrusy Caramel and Dark Almond Sea Salt, you’ll find a brick of chocolate that calls to you.
It’s not just our sweet tooth that lures us into the Compartes display—it’s the gorgeous artistic packaging. Reach for a Compartes bar if you’re in the mood for something a bit wacky, as the vegan flavors range from California Love Pretzel to Old Hollywood Smoked Sea Salt. The flaked coconut-studded Tropical Paradise and pink-dusted Matcha Raspberry Reishi are stunners as well.
Green & Black’s Organics
This company wants you to feel good about your chocolate purchase. The business sources its cocoa through a third-party sustainability program, Cocoa Life, to ensure workers are paid a fair wage. Most of the dark varieties are vegan excluding the Salted Caramel.
Remember the days of samples? We used to walk by this adult candy store to see if employees were sampling any of the vegan options. It was always a good day when they broke out the Cold Brew Cordials. Think cherry cordials, but instead of fruit in the middle, you get a splash of cold brew. Coffee and chocolate are the perfect couple.
Dylan’s Candy Bar
10 Dylan’s Candy Bar
We’ll be honest—it was a bit disappointing to realize this high-end yet whimsical candy shop is seriously lacking in vegan treats. Sure, it’s fun just to walk into the store and pretend you’re Charlie Bucket with a gold ticket in hand, but it’s a bit of a letdown to know most of these edible wonders contain animal products. Curb that disappointment with a simple dark chocolate bar in the purple wrapper. The sea salt and almond varieties are also vegan-friendly. If you’re in need of a last-minute vegan gift, opt for the company’s XOXO gift set (and perhaps write a polite email to Dylan requesting additional vegan options).
Lake Champlain Chocolate
11Lake Champlain Chocolate
This Burlington, VT-based chocolate factory is taking cues from its neighboring dessert company—Ben & Jerry’s. While Lake Champlain carries a variety of vegan-friendly dark chocolates, it is stepping up its vegan game. Last year, the company released its first box of vegan-friendly truffles. Online, the company makes it easy for plant-based customers by providing a dedicated menu for vegan chocolate.
Pick up a bar of Chocolove when you’re in the mood for an interesting chocolate pairing. The newest vegan-friendly flavor—Chili Molé in Strong Dark Chocolate—delights our taste buds. If you’ve never experienced chocolate and chili, you need to try it. Here’s the rule for finding a vegan Chocolove bar: opt for dark chocolate but avoid those that contain nut butter fillings, caramel, or toffee. Dark chocolate bars with whole nuts, sea salt, and whole fruit are fine.
Reach for a Lily’s bar or baking chips when you’re looking for a lower-sugar option. Each product is “botanically sweetened” meaning there’s no refined or processed sugar. Most bars contain stevia to balance out the strong cacao flavor. All of the Extra Dark Chocolate (cacao content 70 percent and up) bars are vegan. Yes, that includes the Extra Dark Salted Caramel!
14 Alter Eco
This conscious company used to sell vegan dark chocolate truffles, but unfortunately, they had a very limited run. However, vegans can still find something sweet in the chocolate bar category. Most of the dark chocolate bars are vegan with the exception of the caramel, malt, and toffee varieties. We highly recommend the Raspberry Blackout and Quinoa Crunch (it tastes like a Nestlé Crunch bar!).
When top pastry chefs claim a brand as their chocolate of choice, you know it’s worth the splurge. You’ll often find Valrhona products in the baking aisle, but the company makes “tasting bars” as well. Most of its dark chocolate bars are a safe bet—from the pleasantly sweet Manjari Orange to the super dark Abinao 85%. The bars with 64 percent cacao content and up do not contain any animal products.
This company’s signature lemur mascot makes these bars stand out amongst the rest. All bars are made with single-origin Madagascar or Uganda cocoa, and they’re all surprisingly vegan (even the Salted Caramel). Between the nine flavors, it’s hard to choose, but the Toasted Coconut and Sea Salt and Nibs always seem to find a way into our shopping basket.
Feel better and do better by eating a chocolate bar. This company donates 10 percent of its net annual profits to wildlife conservation efforts. In harmony with this mission, the company has developed creamy oat milk-based chocolates to offer a broader vegan selection. Its dark chocolate bars are also vegan-approved with the exception of the Hazelnut Toffee and Caramel Sea Salt. From blueberry-studded bars to a crunchy espresso bean option, there’s a flavor for whatever you’re craving.
Break free of the traditional chocolate mold and reach for a square-shaped confection. The Fair Trade- and USDA Organic-certified company offers a plethora of options from solid dark chocolate to Holy Fudge. And, even better, TCHO has transitioned its brand to be entirely vegan. Cheers to that!
19Simple Truth Organic / Private Selection
Kroger’s allergen-friendly and organic name-brand line of products cranked out a medley of vegan options in 2020, and we’re thrilled that chocolate was included in that rollout. The Simple Truth 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate bar is velvety and intense. Kroger’s other product range, Private Selection, also offers vegan-friendly dark chocolate bars in flavors such as Almond Blueberry and Sea Salt Almond.
When strolling through grocery store aisles, you can’t go wrong with a Hu Kitchen chocolate bar, as all of the brand’s dark chocolate products are vegan. And with flavors like Hazelnut Coffee, Cashew Butter + Orange Vanilla, and Crunchy Mint, we’re loading them all into our cart. Why choose, when you can try them all?
Vegan options are in no short supply at this chocolate company. Between classic flavors (think Sea Salt, Mint, and classic dark varieties) and unique flavor combinations such as Salted Black Licorice, Grapefruit Ginger, and Root Beer Barrel, there are plenty of bars to salivate over.
We can’t think of a more fitting name for a chocolate company. Co-owned by cocoa farmers, Divine Chocolate is certified fair trade so you can feel good about your midday chocolate break. The dark chocolate varieties get a green light, including the mint, raspberry, hazelnut truffle, and ginger-orange varieties.
Taza’s next-level chocolate bars are keeping us coming back for more. The vegan company offers a variety of dark chocolate options alongside creamy milk chocolate made with almond milk. Between Raspberry Crunch; Wicked Dark With Toasted Coconut; and Toffee, Almond & Sea Salt bars, nothing is off limits.