Does Dark Chocolate Have Dairy In It

If you're vegan, lactose intolerant, or simply dislike milk, we know how frustrating it is to find dairy-free products, especially when you’re craving ice creams or desserts.

No worries. Just because you're adopting a vegan diet doesn't mean you have to give up on chocolates—at least not dark chocolate! Even today, the presence of milk in Dark Chocolate is a subject of much debate. 

Yes, living with dietary restrictions can be quite challenging. So, in this blog, we will take a look at the common topic, “Does Dark Chocolate Have Dairy?” 

Overview of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a delightful treat loved by people all over the globe. It is also one of the healthiest chocolates due to its high cocoa solids and antioxidant content. 

The history of dark chocolate dates back to the ancient days (2000 B.C.) when cocoa was consumed as a bitter drink. Over time, innovations in processing transformed into the delicious treat we know today. 

Dark chocolate is typically made from cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar. The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the darker and more bitter the chocolate will be. Since it has a high cocoa content and is rich in antioxidants, it is also the healthiest type of chocolate.

Because of its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic qualities, it is regarded as a functional food. This versatile ingredient is commonly used in making cakes and desserts. 

Dark Chocolate Ingredients 

  • Cocoa solids 
  • Cocoa butter
  • Sugar
  • Emulsifier 
  • Additives  

Given its high cocoa content, some vegans may ask whether dark chocolate has milk in it.

Dark Chocolate Nutritional Facts

It may be surprising to know that Dark chocolate is more nutritious than other types of chocolates. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides the following nutritional analysis for a 1 oz serving (or 28.3 g) of dark chocolate:

Nutrient  Amount per serving 
Calories 170 
Protein 2.21 g
Fat  12.1 g
Fiber  3.09 g
Carbohydrate 13 g
Sugar  6.8 g
Magnesium  64.6 mg
Iron  3.37 mg
Zinc  0.93 mg

As you can see, dark chocolates have a high amount of calories, so be careful not to eat too much as it will increase your weight in an unhealthy way. 

Dark Chocolate Vs. Milk Chocolate: What’s The Difference? 

Both chocolates contain ingredients produced from cocoa trees. Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate has a lot more cacao. 

While full milk chocolates only contain 10–50% cacao, dark chocolates can include up to 50–90% cacao. The variations in cacao % explain the differences in flavor between the two. Usually, milk chocolate has a sweeter flavor than dark chocolate. 

Another major difference is its milk content. Typically, milk chocolate has a minimum of 12% milk solids, which might be in the form of powder, liquid, or fat.

Conversely, milk or its derivatives are not present in dark chocolate. Rather, the chocolate is smoothed using cocoa butter, which is taken from the cocoa bean.

The difference between dark and milk chocolate comes down to the amount of dairy and other added ingredients. Due to its higher cocoa content and marginally lower sugar content, dark chocolate is unquestionably better than milk chocolate.

How Is Dark Chocolate Made?

The process of making dark chocolate is very simple. It is derived from the beans of the Theobroma cacao tree, also known as the cacao or cocoa tree.

Cacao beans grow in pods on cacao trees, which flourish in the shade of hot, humid environments. Yes, chocolate is plant-based and doesn't come from a cow!

The raw beans go through cleaning, fermentation, drying, cleaning once more, and roasting. After that, the cacao nibs, or the bean's “meat,” are separated from the shells.

The next step is to finely grind the cacao nibs to produce cocoa mass, also known as cocoa liquor or cocoa solids.

When subjected to extremely high pressure, cocoa mass separates into cocoa butter (also known as cacao butter) and cocoa powder. Pure chocolate is then made by blending cocoa butter and cocoa solids through conching, tempering, and molding procedures.

Does Dark Chocolate Have Dairy In It?

Generally, dark chocolate doesn't have any dairy in it. Milk is typically not an ingredient in dark chocolate. However, many allergic people have reported experiencing side effects after consuming it.

Upon reviewing 100 dark chocolate bars, the FDA discovered that 51 of them contained milk that wasn't disclosed on the label. 

Most dark chocolate products are made without milk as an ingredient, yet milk has sometimes been found in these products, which means cross-contamination can occur. How is that possible? It's partly because milk can find its way into a dark chocolate product even when it's not added on purpose. 

Usually, milk chocolate is made using the same equipment as dark chocolate. In such cases, milk may inadvertently end up in the dark chocolate. If a dark chocolate product is labeled or marketed as “dairy-free,” the FDA expects it should not contain milk.

Chocolate allergies are usually rare. But if you ever experience allergic reactions or chocolate sensitivity, consult a healthcare professional

Is Dark Chocolate Vegan?

After going through the ingredients, it's clear that dark chocolate doesn't contain any animal-based derivatives—not even cow's milk. So, it's 100% vegan-friendly. 

A lot of chocolate companies have begun manufacturing dark chocolate without dairy or animal ingredients. They have made use of rice milk, almond milk, and coconut milk as alternatives to cow’s milk. 

Again, it is advisable to read the ingredient list on the package, as some manufacturers may include dairy-based additives to improve texture or flavor. Also, be aware of the potential cross-contamination risks in the manufacturing facilities. 

Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?

Dark chocolate has less sugar, no milk, and high cacao content. This high percentage of cacao creates certain benefits from consuming dark chocolate. 

Aside from the fact that it tastes amazing, dark chocolate contains anandamide (aka the bliss molecule), which promotes feelings of happiness. As a result, dark chocolate is known for its mood-boosting and stress-relieving properties.

Dark chocolates have a high number of calories and fats, which may contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess. Yes, while some people believe eating dark chocolate makes them lose weight, it does the opposite. 

Since dark chocolate still has added sugar, it shouldn't be used as a replacement for meals or daily snacks. However, it’s acceptable if you wish to indulge in more than two small pieces of 70% dark, dairy-free chocolate every day.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolates contain plant chemicals called flavonoids which act as powerful antioxidants. As reported by Cleveland Clinic, flavonols are linked to the synthesis of nitric oxide (colorless gas), which relaxes blood vessels and enhances blood flow. 

  • It acts as a powerful source of antioxidants. 
  • It may lower the risks of heart disease. 
  • It improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. 
  • It reduces insulin resistance. 
  • It improves cognitive ability. 
  • It increases cholesterol levels and protects LDL from oxidation. 
  • It protects your skin from the sun. 
  • It may support your gut health.
  • It helps relieve stress and boosts happy hormones. 

Final Verdict 

There you have it—the answer to the most baffling question: “Does Dark chocolate have dairy?” After reviewing the ingredients, we can conclude that dark chocolate is free from milk and its derivatives. It is mainly made from cocoa beans and cocoa butter. 

In fact, there's considerable evidence that dark chocolate provides powerful health benefits. So, without any worries, you can indulge in dark chocolate and reap the benefits.

Having said that, you shouldn't go overboard and eat a lot of chocolate every day. Just enjoy a square or two as your snack, but keep in mind that it has lots of calories. Always check the ingredient list and any “may contain” statements for milk on all dark chocolate products before buying. 


1. Can you eat dark chocolate if you can't eat dairy?

Ans: Yes, Dark Chocolate does not inherently contain milk. It is made only with cocoa solids, sugar, and a fat source, such as cocoa butter.

2. Is there dairy in 70% dark chocolate? 

Ans: No, 70% dark chocolate contains cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar, and sometimes vanilla, but no milk or milk derivatives. Hence, they are considered dairy-free.

3. Is any Hershey chocolate dairy-free?

Ans: Hershey's Plant-Based Chocolate is one of the dairy-free products manufactured by Hershey. They are vegan-friendly and dairy-free. 

4. Can you eat chocolate with a dairy allergy?

Ans: In general, dark chocolates are dairy-free, but you cannot eat milk and white chocolate if you have a dairy allergy. 

5. Are M&Ms dairy-free?

Ans: No, M&Ms contain milk chocolate as well as traces of animal preservatives. Hence, they are not considered dairy-free. 

6. How healthy is Dark Chocolate? 

Ans: Dark Chocolate is rich in minerals and offers plenty of health benefits, including decreasing the risk of heart disease and reducing inflammation. It also has anti-diabetic and antimicrobial properties. 

Read Also:

Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson is a New York based Health Specialist Writer who completed his graduation from Syracuse University back in 2015. His writings were published in the top Healthcare brands in the United States.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *