13 Chocolate Brands With The Highest Quality Ingredients, According To Chefs

For roughly 4000 years, chocolate has served as the base for countless confections, pastries, beverages, and desserts. With so many brands, deciphering which is the best may seem impossible. That's where experts come in handy. In the nearly 18 years I spent as a professional chef, I produced all of the desserts in my kitchen. I also consulted with a friend, James Beard Award-winning pastry chef and Food Network alum Gale Gand, who graciously shared her take on what makes the best quality chocolate. Between us, we outlined some criteria for what to look for in chocolate.

Not only does the type of chocolate depend on the task at hand – you can't necessarily swap chocolate bars for chocolate chips, for example – but what is inside makes all the difference. When selecting chocolate, Gand notes, "I look for clean ingredients on the label in the chocolate I pick and real cocoa butter for the fat. I find European brands to be slightly superior (they tend to conch longer so have a smoother texture) to American ones, but do buy domestic chocolate at times." Additionally, Gand notes the need for a clear indication of cocoa percentages on bars or chips, making it easier to determine what type of chocolate to incorporate into a recipe, a sentiment I echo.

Using these criteria, I have compiled a list of the top chocolate brands with the highest quality ingredients, whether you opt for baking chocolate or chips. Read through to the end for more on the methodology used to determine the top brands.

1. Callebaut

If you are searching for an affordable imported chocolate brand that ticks all the boxes, Callebaut is an ideal option. Since 1911, this Belgian chocolatier has produced premium chocolate using only the finest quality ingredients. From sourcing sustainably grown cocoa beans to the 2-stage conching process it uses, Callebaut follows meticulous practices to craft several different types of chocolate blocks and callets.

Each of its chocolate offerings is clearly labeled with information regarding the origin of the beans, percentage of cocoa solids versus fat, tasting notes, and ideal applications. Gand notes Callebaut is superior because it is "sold in bulk, it melts, coats, and tempers well...It doesn't seize easily and is pretty forgiving." Whether a novice or expert baker, this is the chocolate for you. Callebaut can be purchased online in bulk or from gourmet retailers across the U.S.

2. Valrhona

Another superior import brand is Valrhona. This French brand hails from the Rhone Valley of Southern France, well known for its wine-making culture. The company began in 1922 with pastry chef and confectioner Albéric Guironnet. It has continued to produce premium-quality chocolate using sustainably sourced cocoa beans. Its highly trained taste artisans have been at the forefront of innovation, pushing the envelope to introduce new and more complex flavors of chocolate.

Valrhona chocolate is available in professional and consumer categories, offering diverse-sized packages and cocoa percentages. Each is labeled clearly with the origin of the cocoa beans, flavor profile details, ideal applications and pairings, and technical information. Though expensive, you get what you pay for. Not only are the cocoa beans ethically and sustainably sourced, but the brand specializes in couverture versus compound chocolate, which has a higher amount of cocoa butter, yielding a product that melts more efficiently.

3. Ghirardelli

When it comes to domestic brands of chocolate, both Gand and I are fond of Ghirardelli as a default. This brand consistently delivers quality results, is affordable, and can readily be found at most grocery stores nationwide, even in more rural areas. Ghirardelli has been producing quality chocolate since 1852 from its factory based out of San Francisco. In 2008, it launched a sustainability program that seeks to reduce the environmental and human impact of cocoa farming. Its chocolate uses a proprietary blend of beans, maintaining a consistent flavor and quality.

Chocolate can be purchased in bars, chips, and wafers in diverse quantities, types, and cocoa percentages, ideal for any baking need. The ingredients list is straightforward, with tempering instructions and applications on its bulk packages for professionals. As a bonus, Ghirardelli makes several delightful squares in countless flavors available in combination and bulk packages.

4. Guittard

A domestic brand with international roots is Guittard. The fifth-generation family brand began in the mid-1800s in California with French expat Etienne Guittard. The chocolate produced by Guittard relies on cocoa beans that are sustainably sourced from the finest farms across the globe. Its products are available in several iterations, from its classic line produced using a proprietary blend of chocolate to its exclusive Collection Etienne. This collection relies on artisanal French traditions, producing small-batch chocolate using single-origin and blended chocolates. Though the couverture line is ideal for professional pastry chefs, it can be purchased by avid home bakers seeking an elevated experience.

Regardless of which line is purchased, Guittard scores bonus points for its simplicity in labeling, clear indication of cocoa percentages on every package, and diverse delivery methods, from chips to waters to bars. It is also relatively easy to find, with retailers nationwide selling the chips and bars.

5. Scharffen Berger

Scharffen Berger's "farm-to-bar" commitment to producing chocolate involves sampling 150 cacao varieties annually until the precise proprietary blend is achieved. Based out of Ashland, Oregon, this brand was a labor of love for founders Dr. Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger. Steinberg learned everything he could about chocolate from chocolatiers in Lyon, France. The chocolate continues to be produced under the supervision of master chocolate maker Ray Major, using sustainably sourced beans produced in small batches.

The brand, once dubbed the best American-produced chocolate by Julia Child, consistently ranks highly among chefs and avid bakers. It was the first brand to include cocoa percentages on its labeling, a process many fine chocolatiers now follow. Its chocolate can be purchased in bars and chunks of varying size packages online and from retailers nationwide. It is ideal for virtually any chocolate dessert recipe.

6. Lindt

While there has long been a debate about which chocolate reigns supreme, Swiss or Belgian, in my opinion, they can both be utilized depending on what you are making. Lindt has you covered if you want to incorporate chocolate of Swiss origin into your baking routine. Lindt is best known for the invention of conching, a quality that Gand notes sets superior chocolates apart from mediocre ones. In 1879, Rodolphe Lindt developed a machine to refine chocolate by slowly blending, stirring, and aerating it under a constant warm heat to produce the smoothest, silky chocolate free of residual bitterness or acidity.

To this day, Lindt continues to source quality cocoa beans carefully and refines them meticulously to produce its luxurious Excellence line of bars. This line has clean ingredients with cocoa percentages clearly labeled. I particularly love its flavored varieties, like A Touch of Sea Salt, Chili, and Intense Orange.

7. Cacao Barry

Cacao Barry began in Paris, France, in 1842. Founder Charles Barry was passionate about sourcing the finest quality beans from West Africa and South America. This passion has continued as the company has evolved, expanding its collection to include a line of couverture chocolates, sticks, and a uniquely shaped delivery method known as a Pistole. Its chocolates are sustainably sourced, with many offerings using single plantation beans.

For the average home baker, its Plantation, Origine, and Pureté products offer more affordable options. Each product is transparent with its origins, dry cocoa solid versus fat concentration, a fluidity chart indicating ideal use, and detailed flavor notes. For a truly elevated experience, chefs can participate in the Or Noir process of developing personalized chocolate for their restaurant or bakery. The Charlie Bucket in me feels like this would be the ultimate Willy Wonka-like experience.

8. Theo

Theo often appears on lists of best-quality chocolates, and for good reason. This brand was born in 2005 out of Seattle, Washington. It was the inaugural fair trade certified chocolate maker in North America and continues to undergo intense third-party certifications, including USDA Organic, Fair for Life, and Star-K Kosher, to guarantee quality and sustainability to its customers. That's a lot to love if you are committed to consuming foods that are more environmentally friendly and produced with human cost in mind.

The chocolate is sold in bars, each adorned with clear labeling of its cocoa percentages, certifications, sugar content, origin of the beans, flavor notes, and clean ingredients. Though I tend to opt for pure, dark chocolate with high cocoa percentages, there are plenty of exciting flavors for out-of-hand eating or specialty baking. These chocolates are readily available at retailers nationwide, a plus for those wanting quality chocolate that is conveniently obtained.

9. Green & Black's

When one thinks of the great chocolate traditions of the world, the United Kingdom may not come to mind. Yet Green & Black's consistently ranks among the more popular brands for a good reason. I first stumbled on this chocolate developed by husband and wife team Craig Sams and Jo Fairley in London. I picked up a bar of the intensely flavorful chocolate and was instantly smitten. Though not conventional in that this is a premium chocolate designed for chefs, its commitment to sustainability and focus on natural ingredients is highly appealing to all bakers.

Each bar is clearly labeled with cocoa percentages and ingredients. An added feature that takes the guesswork out of selecting the right bar for you that this brand specializes in is its "Intensity Scale." Bars are graded on degrees of cocoa, sweetness, and complexity on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the most impactful.

10. Pascha

As chocolate goes, the Pascha brand is a relative newcomer but has succeeded in making quite a splash. This company produces organic chocolate using single-origin Criollo cacao beans sourced from the foothills of the Andes mountains. It uses a "Bean to Bar At Source" methodology to produce its premium chocolate, which makes it more sustainable. The products are made using a "Hooray" and "No Way" list of ingredients, guaranteeing they are clean and free of many additives and emulsifiers that Gand notes wanting to avoid.

All products are transparently labeled with cocoa percentages, sugar content, and ingredients. Instructions are listed on its website to help consumers navigate the challenge of smoothly melting the emulsifier-free chocolate for recipes. This chocolate is readily available nationwide and not overly expensive, making it an ideal choice for those searching for something a little more niche.

11. Taza

This brand, based out of Somerville, Massachusetts, began in 2005. It takes the traditional Mexican method of stone-grinding cacao beans using molinos to the next level, sourcing beans ethically under the strict guidelines of the third-party Direct Trade Cacao Certification program. The result is rustic chocolate that is simple, clean, robust in flavor, and has a toothsome mouthfeel that is different from any other chocolate.

I used this chocolate for the first time when making a classic Oaxacan mole poblano recipe. I was captivated by the earthiness and bittersweet aromas of the 85% Super Dark Chocolate Disc that punctuated the chili peppers. I appreciate the simplicity of the ingredients, the understandably marked cocoa percentages on the label, and the distinctiveness of this chocolate. It is also available in baking and couverture offerings in different cocoa percentages from its Pro Line, ideal for more refined baking and desserts.

12. Chocolove

Chocolove is a Colorado-based brand that consistently appears on lists of the best quality chocolate for baking for good reason. The premium luxury chocolate was developed with Master Chocolatier Chef Patrick Peeters. Peeters is of Belgian origin and has a long history working with some of the finest chocolatiers in Europe, including Barry Callebaut. The cocoa beans are sourced sustainably and processed for maximum quality at a competitive price.

Products come in various shapes and sizes and have a very diverse offering of cocoa percentages that is quite impressive, including a complex Extreme Dark Chocolate with 88% cocoa that is smooth and intense. Ingredients are transparently demarcated. The best part is that this chocolate is readily available from retailers nationwide. The Chocolove collection will help you avoid many common mistakes bakers make when using chocolate, whether you are making brownies or delicate truffles.

13. Endangered Species Chocolate

If I were basing this list on feel-good and visual appeal, Endangered Species Chocolate might win hands down. This fair-trade, organic chocolate brand with a mission that is based out of Indiana donates 10% of net profits to various organizations and initiatives dedicated to protecting habitats and humanity. That all sounds wonderful but since this is about quality chocolate, how does it taste? The answer is — great.

These products are made with simple, clean ingredients that are sustainably sourced and carefully crafted for superior quality. The chocolate comes in myriad flavored bars and chips with detailed cocoa percentages listed on the label. Each chocolate has its dedicated mascot to raise awareness of the plight of that creature, which speaks to the animal lover in me. The chocolates are creamy, luxurious, and flavorful, and, more importantly, they can be found at retailers nationwide.

Brands to skip

I am by no means here to tell you not to make chocolate chip cookies if the only chips you can find are not one of these brands, but as far as quality goes, some may not be up to par with many of the premium chocolates listed here. Nestle Toll House, Hershey's, and many store brands are loaded with additives and ingredients that are hard to read. They are also not necessarily sustainability-sourced, which may concern some consumers. And cocoa percentages may not be overtly indicated, making it difficult to determine which kind of chocolate to purchase for a given recipe.

Other chocolates I skip are those made from alternative sweeteners, such as coconut sugar or stevia. I often find these sweeteners to have an overtly aggressive taste that masks or alters the cocoa. There are plenty of options for quality chocolate that can fit your dietary needs among the brands listed here.


To compile this list of chocolate brands with the highest quality ingredients, I relied on my expertise as a professional chef for nearly 18 years, consulted with pastry chef Gale Gand, and used our collective brains to develop the criteria used to measure what constitutes quality. I included brands Chef Gand and I recommended based on our personal experience. I also cross-referenced other lists of favorite chocolate brands for baking across the internet to get a sense of what chocolates regularly appear on these lists, scouring their websites to confirm they indeed fall within the parameters established at the get-go.

Where personal tastes and preferences are concerned, I wanted to include options that would cover the needs of amateur and professional bakers and consumers and those fitting various budgets. I also wanted to be mindful that many do not have access to more niche high-end grocery or specialty stores where some of these brands may be available. I hope at least a few brands here will provide anyone with the best quality chocolate to fit their specific needs.