Is any chocolate gluten and dairy-free?

For those with dietary restrictions like gluten or dairy allergies/intolerances, finding treats like chocolate that are safe to eat can be challenging. Many popular chocolate brands contain ingredients like milk, butter, or barley malt that are not gluten or dairy-free. However, there are some chocolate options that fit gluten and dairy-free diets.

Quick Answers

– Yes, some chocolate is gluten and dairy-free. Look for dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa.

– Dark chocolate that only contains cocoa butter instead of milk fat is naturally dairy-free. Avoid milk chocolate.

– Pure chocolate itself does not contain gluten. Look out for added ingredients like barley malt that contain gluten.

– Brands that make gluten and dairy-free chocolate include Enjoy Life, Pascha, Alter Eco, Hu Chocolate, Theo Chocolate and Taza Chocolate.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine. This can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. A gluten-free diet, avoiding all foods and ingredients containing gluten, is the only treatment for gluten issues.

Some common sources of gluten include:

– Wheat and wheat flour products like bread, pasta, crackers, baked goods

– Barley, including pearl barley and malt extracts and flavors

– Rye and triticale

– Beer

– Some oats (if processed near other gluten grains)

So in terms of chocolate, any ingredients containing wheat, barley, rye or questionable oats would mean the chocolate is not gluten-free.

What is Dairy?

Dairy refers to foods and ingredients that come from milk. This includes:

– Milk (from cows, goats, sheep)

– Cream, butter, ghee

– Cheese

– Whey, casein and milk proteins

– Yogurt

Those with a dairy allergy or intolerance like lactose intolerance experience gastrointestinal, skin and respiratory symptoms upon consuming dairy. Avoiding dairy in the diet helps manage these reactions.

For chocolate to be dairy-free, it must not contain any milk-based ingredients like milk, milk fat or milk solids.

Is Dark Chocolate Gluten-Free?

Pure chocolate liquor or cocoa solids on their own are naturally gluten-free. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans from the Theobroma cacao tree. So unadulterated dark chocolate that only contains cocoa bean ingredients like cocoa butter and cocoa solids is gluten-free.

However, many dark chocolate products do contain added ingredients that may contain gluten, such as:

– Barley malt – used to enhance flavor

– Wheat, barley or rye as crunchy inclusions or baked elements

– Cookies/biscuits mixed into chocolate bark or bars

– Malt powder or malt flavoring

So dark chocolate can contain gluten depending on what other ingredients are used. It is important to read the label and look out for gluten-containing add-ins when purchasing dark chocolate.

Is Milk Chocolate Gluten-Free?

Milk chocolate contains milk ingredients, so it cannot be gluten-free unless those milk ingredients are gluten-free. Some milk powders and milk solids contain small traces of gluten.

Additionally, many milk chocolate products contain cookies or wheat-based inclusions that contain gluten. So pure milk chocolate may be okay (pending a gluten-free milk powder), but most milk chocolate candy bars and treats will likely have traces of gluten due to added high-gluten ingredients. Those avoiding gluten should stick to dark chocolate only.

Is Dark Chocolate Dairy-Free?

Pure dark chocolate contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter, which is the fat naturally present in cocoa beans. Cocoa butter is dairy-free. Therefore, unadulterated dark chocolate using no additional milk ingredients is dairy-free.

However, many brands now use milk powders, milk fat or butter in addition to cocoa butter when making dark chocolate. This adds a creaminess and smoothness in texture and mellows the flavor. So dark chocolate may contain dairy depending on the specific ingredients used.

Those wanting dairy-free chocolate should look for darker varieties containing at least 70% cocoa solids, with no added milk fat or solids listed in the ingredients. As the percentage of cocoa increases, the less additional ingredients like dairy are present.

Is Milk Chocolate Dairy-Free?

By definition, milk chocolate contains milk in some form, whether milk solids, milk powder, butterfat or cream. So it is not possible for milk chocolate to be dairy-free, as milk is in its name. Those avoiding dairy will need to stick to dark chocolate only.

Best Brands for Gluten and Dairy-Free Chocolate

Here are some recommended brands making chocolate that is both gluten and dairy-free:

Enjoy Life

– All their chocolate chips, bars and bites are gluten, dairy, peanut, tree nut and soy free. Sweetened with cane sugar.

– Made in a dedicated nut-free facility.

– Choose minis, chocolate chips, soft baked cookies, chocolate bars, snack squares.

Pascha Organic Chocolate

– 55-85% dark chocolate bars sweetened with cane sugar.

– No gluten or dairy. Also egg, peanut, tree nut and soy free.

– Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified.

Alter Eco

– Truffles, chocolate bars, chocolate quinoa in dark chocolate.

– Free of gluten, dairy and soy.

– Uses natural cane sugar.

Hu Chocolate

– Paleo, vegan, gluten free and dairy free chocolate in bar form.

– 74% and 85% dark chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar.

– Short ingredient list.

Theo Chocolate

– 70% and 85% dark chocolate bars, nibs and baking chips.

– Certified gluten-free and vegan. Uses cane sugar.

– Made in a peanut and tree nut free facility.

Taza Chocolate

– Stone ground organic chocolate with bold flavors.

– Variety of dark chocolate bars, discs, treats.

– Gluten, dairy and soy free.

– Uses cane sugar. Certified USDA Organic.

What to Look for When Buying Gluten and Dairy-Free Chocolate

When purchasing chocolate, read ingredient labels carefully to ensure the chocolate does not contain any gluten or dairy. Here are some tips:

– Choose dark chocolate with 70% cocoa content or higher. The darker the chocolate, the less additional ingredients.

– Avoid milk chocolate, which contains milk ingredients.

– Don’t buy chocolate listing wheat, barley, rye or malt in the ingredients.

– Ensure chocolate doesn’t list milk, cream, butter, milk powder or milk solids.

– Opt for brands that are certified gluten-free and dairy-free.

– Check chocolate was not made in a facility processing gluten/dairy.

– Stick to simple, short ingredients lists with cocoa solids/butter as the first ingredients.

– Cane sugar or coconut sugar are gluten/dairy-free sweeteners, instead of barley malt.

– Call manufacturers if unsure about certain processing aids or natural flavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate gluten-free?

No, Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate contains barley malt which contains gluten. The plain Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bars are gluten-free, but not the Special Dark variety.

Can I find gluten and dairy-free chocolate chips to use in baking?

Yes, enjoy Life and Pascha both make gluten and dairy-free chocolate chips. Hu Chocolate and Taza also sell baking chocolate discs ideal for baking. Just check the labels to ensure no gluten or dairy.

What about white chocolate?

White chocolate contains milk ingredients like milk fat, milk solids and butterfat. So it is not possible for white chocolate to be dairy-free or gluten-free, unless using an alternate dairy-free milk. Those with gluten and dairy issues will need to avoid white chocolate.

Can I find gluten and dairy-free chocolate advent calendars?

Yes, you can find specialty advent calendars that are free from gluten, dairy and other allergens. Enjoy Life, Amanda’s Own and Surimis make allergy-friendly advent calendars with chocolate or candy. Read labels closely.

Is chocolate made overseas gluten and dairy-free?

It depends. Chocolate made in Europe, for example, may list wheat flour or milk powder. Check ingredient lists carefully. Domestic chocolate brands that specialize in allergens like Enjoy Life or Pascha may be safer bets.

Tips for Baking and Cooking with Gluten and Dairy-Free Chocolate

Those avoiding gluten and dairy can still enjoy chocolate in their cooking and baking with these helpful tips:

– Use gluten/dairy-free chocolate chips or baking discs rather than bar chocolate, which may have gluten add-ins. Enjoy Life, Pascha, Taza and Hu Chocolate work well.

– Look for gluten/dairy-free chocolate chip cookie recipes to bake safe cookies. Or substitute regular chocolate chips.

– Make chocolate truffles with high quality dark chocolate and coconut milk or cream instead of dairy cream. Let ganache set then roll into balls.

– Substitute peanut or almond butter for the butter in brownie recipes. Use gluten/dairy-free chocolate chips.

– Make chocolate bark with melted dark chocolate, quinoa crisp cereal and nuts or dried fruit for toppings. Pour onto parchment to set.

– Dip bananas, strawberries and other fruit in melted dark chocolate for an easy dairy-free treat.

– Drizzle melted dark chocolate over gluten-free waffles or pancakes for a safe chocolatey breakfast.

Nutrition of Gluten and Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate

Here is the nutrition profile of a typical serving of dairy-free dark chocolate:

Nutrition Facts Per 1 ounce (28g)
Calories 170
Fat 12 g
Saturated Fat 7 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 12 g
Sugar 9 g
Fiber 2 g
Protein 2 g

The main nutrients in dark dairy-free chocolate are:

– Fat: From the cocoa butter, mainly saturated fat. But chocolate has been linked to positive impacts on cholesterol.

– Carbohydrates: Chocolate provides some carbohydrates from naturally occurring sugars in cocoa, plus added sugar. Choose chocolate with less added sugars.

– Fiber: Chocolate contains cocoa solids that provide gut-healthy fiber. The higher the cocoa percentage, the more fiber.

– Iron: Chocolate provides a small amount of iron. The antioxidants may also increase iron absorption.

– Magnesium: Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which supports nerve, muscle and brain function.

– Theobromine: This compound in cocoa acts as a mild stimulant for the central nervous system.

So while high in saturated fat and calories, the nutrients and antioxidants in dark chocolate provide some health benefits, especially when enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Those avoiding gluten and dairy don’t have to miss out.


For those avoiding gluten and/or dairy, indulging in chocolate is still possible by choosing high quality dark chocolate. Look for varieties with 70% cocoa content or higher and check that the ingredients are free of milk-based products and gluten grains. Some good gluten and dairy-free chocolate brands include Enjoy Life, Pascha, Alter Eco, Hu Chocolate, Theo Chocolate and Taza. Eat in moderation and dark chocolate can be part of a healthy gluten and dairy-free diet.

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