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What’s the Difference Between Milk and Dark Chocolate?

Composition of bars and pieces of different milk and dark chocolate, grated cocoa on a brown background top view close up.

What’s not to love about chocolate? It’s sweet, pairs well with most fruits and nuts, and is extremely versatile. It’s equally tasty in bar, truffle, chip, powder, cookie, cake, ice cream, and melted form. You can sprinkle or shave it over other desserts, break off a piece for a quick snack, make it into a s’more or chocolate fondue– the possibilities are seemingly endless.

There are three main types of chocolate; milk, dark, and white. White chocolate is a bit of an odd case since it has a much low cocoa content than the other two, but what about milk and dark chocolate?

As it turns out there is a fairly distinct difference between these types of chocolate that goes beyond their colors and flavors.

Wilton Candy And Chocolate Melting Pot

In case you ever want to melt a chocolate bar or chips into a sinfully luscious chocolate fondue.

Milk chocolate, as the name suggests, is made with additional milk solids (usually powdered milk) while dark chocolate isn’t. This doesn’t mean dark chocolate is completely free of milk, however, unless it’s a dairy-free vegan chocolate, it just has a lot less.

This means that dark chocolate contains more cocoa than milk chocolate, which is why it has a deeper and (in some cases) bitterer flavor. It’s also why milk chocolate is moister and creamier– it contains more liquid than dark chocolate.

The amount of cocoa is what helps qualify whether a piece of chocolate is one or the other. For it to qualify as dark chocolate, it has to be made of at least 35% cocoa solids. Milk, chocolate, on the other hand, usually has around a 10% cocoa content. Thus dark chocolate will have a few more nutrients than milk chocolate, so it’s a bit better for you.

It’s also worth noting that most baking chocolates— bittersweet, semi-sweet, etc.– are varieties of dark chocolate rather than their own distinct types as some people believe.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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