Contrary you what you may believe, there is such a thing as dairy-free chocolate. It's certainly not as easily available as, say, most milk chocolate bars you can find at the grocery store or from online retailers like Amazon ahead of Valentine's Day.
But if you are lactose intolerant or have a food allergy to any sort of dairy product, are vegan, are on a paleo or similar diet, or have another reason to look for non-dairy chocolate, there are alternatives out there for you.
What Chocolate is Dairy-Free?
For starters, milk chocolate is not dairy-free, according to Spruce Eats. It contains milk and often other dairy ingredients as well, so it's clearly not a dairy-free chocolate product. White chocolate also contains dairy, so it's best to avoid any sort of chocolate bars, chocolate chips, chocolate truffles, ice cream, fudge, or other chocolate treats if they contain either milk or white chocolate.
There is a solution if you're looking for chocolate without dairy, however: dark chocolate. Well, most dark chocolate, anyway. In fact, not all dark chocolate is technically dairy-free or allergy-friendly if you need to avoid dairy products.
It may surprise you to hear that milk is a permitted ingredient in dark chocolate according to FDA guidelines. The agency advised that you should check the labels of whatever item you think doesn't have dairy in it, like dark chocolate bars, for label statements like "may contain milk," or "produced in a facility with milk" or to be sure milk isn't actually included as an ingredient.
This might all be a little confusing because chocolate itself is actually vegan, according to Fine Dining Lovers. "The cacao bean from which cocoa powder and cocoa butter is derived ... is a seed from the cocoa tree native to Central America," the outlet noted. It's everything we add to chocolate in goodies like brownies that make them the chocolate we are used to and that isn't generally dairy-free.
"High-quality dark chocolates are the best places to look to satisfy your dairy-free chocolate cravings, as they should only contain cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, lecithin (usually soy-based), and sugar," Spruce Eats pointed out. If you're looking for vegan chocolate or to avoid a dairy allergen, quality is key.
Thankfully, there are lots of other options for someone craving chocolate who has to stay lactose-free. Like many foods these days, there are dairy-free alternatives to things, gluten-free options, soy-free alternatives, keto-friendly choices, nut-free products, and more. Chocolate is no different.
Following the tips above offered by the FDA and the tricks to look for quality chocolate should help you find dairy-free chocolate. But if you're really in doubt, a chocolatier should be able to point you in the right direction. Or, there are guides online to make dairy-free chocolate yourself!