stefanellis candies dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate bars ingredients

Dark Chocolate Vs. Milk Chocolate: What's the Difference?

Dark chocolate and milk chocolate are among the most popular varieties out there. If you’ve tried them both, you’ve likely noticed the stark contrast in taste. But what is responsible for the difference? In this month’s blog, we’ll compare the ingredients and cooking processes for dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate, and how they influence flavor and nutrition.

Amount of cacao

Let’s start with the amount of raw cacao beans utilized in each chocolate. Dark chocolate is known to contain a significantly higher percentage of the bean than milk varieties — usually somewhere around 55%. This higher concentration typically leads to a higher value, because all costs associated with the harvesting of the bean are taken into account. 

On the other hand, milk chocolate usually contains anywhere from 10-50% cacao, although this number does vary depending on the recipe being used. Since milk chocolate generally has a lower percentage, the result contains less of the true flavor from the bean. 

Flavor Profile

The flavor of dark chocolate can vary a great amount. What you taste is dependent on the cacao beans used, the area of origin, and the processes involved in creating the treat. Traditionally, dark chocolate more closely resembles the actual flavor of the cacao bean itself, with a slightly bitter, complex taste; you may detect anything from fruity to earthy to floral. 

Milk chocolate owes much of its flavor to its namesake. To be classified as milk chocolate, the candy should have at least 12% milk solid ingredients (which commonly take the form of a liquid, powder, or fat). When combined with additional sugars, the resulting compound exhibits a delectably sweet and smooth flavor. Taste tends to vary less between milk chocolates, but certain factors (i.e. bean and plant sources) still have an impact.


Besides cacao beans, other added ingredients are the largest contributors to the texture of chocolate. As the name suggests, milk chocolate must contain this essential ingredient in some amount. Milk varieties owe their richer, smoother texture to this essential dairy ingredient. There may also be other fats included for a clump-free consistency, as well.

Dark chocolate can be significantly less creamy in texture than its counterpart (especially at higher concentrations of cacao), but this doesn’t necessarily equate to a dry experience. The addition of ingredients like coconut oil or extra cocoa butter can help create a softer consistency. 

Health Benefits 

You may not think that chocolate could have any benefit to a healthy lifestyle, but you’d be surprised! The cacao plant contains several organic compounds and minerals that can provide a boost to our internal systems, including fiber, magnesium, potassium, and zinc (plus several antioxidants). These compounds can support heart health, cognitive function, and the reduction of inflammation. 

Since dark chocolate contains a higher amount of the natural cacao bean, you’ll be able to have a much larger intake of these helpful minerals when compared to milk chocolate.

Again, milk chocolate has a high sugar and fat content with less of the natural compounds. That is not to say that milk types don’t contain any healthy compounds at all, however; they still have antioxidants in smaller amounts. 

Remember that it is best to consume all forms of the treat in moderation to reap the maximum benefits for your body — keep in mind that chocolate is still chocolate! 

But What About White Chocolate? 

Perhaps you’ve heard of the white chocolate debate, in which many claim that this sweet does not “count” as true chocolate. While white chocolate lacks several ingredients that give chocolate its identity (namely, any solid ingredients from the cacao plant), that doesn’t mean there is no cacao present at all. 

In reality, white chocolate is created from cacao butter, the fat of the cacao plant. Other common ingredients include milk, sugar, or other additions like vanilla to round out the flavor. Without much cacao involved, you won’t get the same complexity or antioxidants found in other chocolates. But if you’re in the mood for a velvety escape, white chocolate can get you there!

Is Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate Better? 

The dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate debate is never simple, and in the end, there is no one answer for the best chocolate variety. Your personal preference for flavor and texture will determine which type is best suited to your taste. 

For instance, if you’re seeking out the elaborate nuances of the cacao bean and its many associated flavor profiles, try dark chocolate. If you’re on a mission to satisfy the ultimate sweet tooth with a soft, delicate touch, head for the milk chocolate section. You might have to do a little experimentation to find the right match! 

A Journey in Flavor with Stefanelli’s! 

Whether you a fan of milk chocolate or dark chocolate, we have you covered! Check out our delicious collections to find your favorite today!