If you’re taking steps to remove dairy in your life and you love chocolate, you are going to want to read this Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Guide. You’ll find there really is life after milk chocolate.
If you’re used to milk chocolate, there are also some tips for making the adjustment to dark chocolate. Giving up milk chocolate was one of the most difficult parts of going vegan for me. I put it off to the very end.
Have you seen this video of kids trying dark chocolate for the first time?
That’s kind of what I thought about dark chocolate too.
But you know what? Our taste buds are malleable.
With a little time away from eating milk chocolate every day (insert embarrassed grin), my taste buds changed. Before long, I found some dark chocolate I actually liked, and then I started trying different varieties of dark chocolate. Next thing you know, something crazy happened. Now, I don’t even like milk chocolate anymore. It has a sour taste to it, that you can’t even detect until after you’ve been a dairy-free chocolate connoisseur for awhile.
So if you’re finding yourself resisting the plunge, this dairy-free chocolate chip guide will help you make the transition to milk chocolate to dark chocolate!
The Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Guide: Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Here’s one thing I bet you didn’t know bout dark chocolate. It’s actually good for you. Believe it or not, dark chocolate includes:
- Iron, magnesium and copper
- You’ll also find plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium
- Antioxidants like polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, and more
- Flavanols which can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow (See: Cleveland Clinic on Heart-Healthy Benefits of Dark Chocolate)
According to Dr. Greger of Nutrition Facts, Cocoa from dark chocolate can benefit conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and issues with artery functions.
Of course, chocolate chips also include sugar and cocoa butter (fat). That means you want to consume them in moderation. The good news is that dark chocolate is rich, so it doesn’t take much to satisfy that itch.
If you’re interested in a delicious, dairy-free hot cocoa drink, check out my Tea Infused Hot Cocoa. It’s one of my favorite, chocolatey drinks!
Anyway, back to dark chocolate. Now that you know it’s good for you, the next question is where can you get some!
The Best Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
When you’re buying dairy-free chocolate chips, you want to make sure you’re buying the best ones.
What’s my definition of best?
Affordable + Accessible + Delicious = BEST
You can’t go wrong with that formula!
To make my cut for the Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Guide, the product must meet these three standards: Affordable, Accessible, and Delicious (AAD). Here’s how I break that down.
Affordable. I’m not interested in paying $10 for a bag of chocolate chips. Oh, I guess if there were some super special occasion or if there were was something truly unique about the chocolate. But most often, I’m making chocolate chip cookies or adding these to a vegan cake. These are every-day kinds of uses for chocolate chips. So, for the most part, to make this list a bag of chocolate chips would need to be under the $5 mark.
Accessible. Being accessible means you can answer “yes” to one of these three questions: 1) Can you drive to your local grocery store and buy them? 2) Can you find them at Target or Wal-Mart? or 3) Can you find them at a local health food store? If not, they didn’t make my list.
Delicious. Taste is definitely subjective so you may need to taste a few and decide on your own personal favorites. But if you’re in a pinch and need to pick some dairy-free chocolate chips, these are the ones that I think are the tastiest. If they made my list it means I think they’re great in a cookie or straight from the bag.
Let’s spend a moment talking about your goals, regarding dairy-free chocolate chips.
If you are highly allergic to even trace amounts of dairy, you will want to choose products that are certified dairy-free. Some people will rely on the Kosher designations on products to determine if a product is dairy-free or not. However, it appears that Kosher designations do not indicate if a product has been processed on a machine or in a factory that also processes dairy. So, a product may have the circled “U” followed by a “D” on the front which indicates that it was processed on a machine or in a factory that has dairy products. As a result, for people with allergies, they should not rely on kosher labeling for dairy-free products. I suggest looking at the list of ingredients. and also looking for products that are labeled Vegan.
If you’re making lifestyle changes only (not motivated by an allergy), you may be more flexible in your purchases. For example, you may be open to products that do not have dairy in the ingredients but may be processed on machines or in factories that also process dairy products.
The Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Guide: My Favorite Dairy-free Chocolate Chips
So, without further ado, here’s my Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Guide. Try not to eat them all at once.
Guittard. This is one of my favorite brands of chocolate chips, especially the dark chocolate variety described below. I love that Guittard uses sunflower lecithin for their chocolate chips. Lecithin is used in chocolate chips as an emulsifier, to create a smooth consistency. Lecithin can be made from animal products unless otherwise stated. So the fact that Guittard uses sunflower lecithin makes it a wonderful dairy-free chocolate chip option. And it meets my AAD criteria, because I can buy Guittard chocolate chips at my local grocery store. So it’s Affordable, Accessible, and definitely so Delicious!
To find it near you, check out the Guittard Where to Buy page.
Guittard Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips. This is Guitard’s classic chocolate chip that delivers a semi-sweet chocolate with hints of vanilla.
Buy this: Our local grocery store carries this. You can also find it at Whole Foods. You can also buy Guittard’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips in packs of four from Amazon.
Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chips. This may be my favorite chocolate chip of all time. I just discovered these at our local grocery store (Price Chopper) and found these were delicious both in recipes and straight out of the bag. Sometimes dark chocolate can leave an unfavorable after-taste, but not these. They’re the perfect amount of sweet and chocolate.
Buy this: Our local grocery store carries this. You can also find it at Whole Foods. You can also buy Guitar’s Extra Dark Chocolate Chips in packs of four from Amazon.
Costco’s Kirland Chocolate Chips. The motherload of chocolate chips in a great big bag that encourages one batch of chocolate chip cookies after another! Kirkland makes their semi-sweet chocolate chips with soy lecithin.
NOTE: On 9/9/19 I saw an updated bag of Kirkland Chocolate Chips at Costco and the recipe indicated that it had milk-fat in it. This is a developing story so as soon as I can confirm, I will let you know. But it appears at this time that Kirkland may have changed its recipe and is no longer dairy free!
Buy this: At Costco. You can also find Kirkland Chocolate Chips on Amazon.
Scharffen Berger Chocolate Chips
This is a new addition to my Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Guide (added 10/20/16). I added this listing partly because of the recently Chocolate Desert experience, but also because I’m now able to buy Scharffen Berger Chocolate Chips at Target for an affordable price. And this is high-quality chocolate, folks. The fact that it’s also dairy-free is like chocolate frosting on a chocolate chip cake!
Learn more about Scharffen Berger Chocolate Chips
I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, however they can’t get a full AAD rating because they’re not as readily available. You can only buy them at Trader Joe’s. I take that back. You can buy Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (which are made with soy lecithin) on Amazon, but at the time I checked they were pricey. We have to Trader Joe’s in KC and whenever I’m near one I usually will buy a few bags at a time. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area, I would opt for one of the brands described above.
I did what I did before Sprouts came to town. We just had a Sprouts move into town recently and I have to say, I’m in love. In addition to a wonderful produce section, Sprouts also offers lots of vegan products, including s Sprouts brand of semi-sweet chocolate chips which also happen to be dairy-free. In addition, Sprouts has an impressive bulk section that includes chocolate chips that are dairy-free (in addition to some pretty amazing dark chocolate covered fruits and nuts…all dairy-free).
Baker’s Semi-Sweet Bars. First, I have to say that I love chocolate chunks. They add a bit more texture to my chocolate chip cookies. These would definitely be on the list above if they were more accessible. I used to find them at our local grocery store, but then they stopped carrying them. You can buy Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks on Amazon, but at the time I checked they were pricey. Most grocery stores will carry 4 oz packages of Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bars and I have been known to purchase these and chop them up into brownies, cookies, and more. So this is a nice back-up option if you need it.
Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. These are another great dairy-free chocolate chip option, however, I don’t think they’re as easy to find as the ones listed above and when I have found them, they seem pricey to me. However, they are a fine option and usually available at most health food stores. You can also buy Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips on Amazon.
The Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Guide: What to Look for in Dairy-free Chocolate Chips
If you’re out and about and on the prowl for dairy-free chocolate chips, look for chocolate, cocoa butter, usually soy lecithin, vanilla, and sugar. You will see some chocolate chips refer to a cacao percentage. This is referring to the total amount of cocoa butter and cocoa solids from ground-up cacao beans. The other main ingredient is sugar. That leaves less than 2% of the remaining ingredients to be the lecithin (emulsifier), vanilla and sometimes salt. If you see milk fat, then you should pass.
Oftentimes you will see a statement like: “processed on equipment that also equipment that also packages products that may contain milk, nuts, wheat, etc.”
This simply means that the plant that manufactures these chocolate chips may also have dairy, nuts, etc. It’s a way of saying if you have a serious allergy and cannot tolerate any form of contact with dairy, then you should probably buy something else.
If you have a serious dairy allergy, you might want to stick with Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips, described above.
Well, that’s it for the Namely Marly Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Guide.
Do you have some favorite dairy-free chocolate chips? Leave them in the comments below so we can consider adding them as we update this page.