Most people love chocolate, as the huge selection of upscale and gourmet chocolate bars lining part of an aisle at my local grocery store will attest. But are any of these luxurious confections, with ingredients such as lavender, sea salt and even bacon, actually gluten-free?
The good news is, we do have some options.
Some chocolate bars are gluten-free down to 20 parts per million or even less, while others have no gluten ingredients but might be processed on equipment that also processes foods that contain gluten. And of course, some chocolate bars will contain gluten ingredients themselves.
To help you wade through the thicket of chocolate bar selections, here's a list of manufacturers and products with information on whether or not they're safe to consume on the gluten-free diet. I've grouped the manufacturers in two lists: the first (sadly, shorter) list includes chocolate bar manufacturers with products that are considered gluten-free to at least 20 parts per million, while the second, longer list includes manufacturers with "no gluten ingredients" chocolate bars that nonetheless have a risk of cross-contamination.
You may also want to check out these other lists of gluten-free candies, which feature a bunch of chocolate-flavored options:
If you want to read more on why some chocolate products aren't considered gluten-free, check out this article: Is Chocolate Gluten-Free, or Does Chocolate Contain Gluten?
Manufacturers with chocolate bars considered gluten-free:
• Dove Chocolate. Dove Chocolate, a division of Mars Chocolate, makes all of its Dove chocolate bars and other products gluten-free to 20 parts per million. However, you always should check labels, the company says, since production timing might require the company to use an alternative processing facility that has a cross-contamination risk. Dove will disclose any potential gluten cross-contamination on its label.
• Endangered Species Chocolate. Endangered Species, which makes all-natural and organic chocolate bars with illustrations of endangered animal species on them, is certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which tests products to make sure they contain fewer than 10 parts per million of gluten. According to Endangered Species' allergen statement, "all of our products are produced on shared equipment that processes products containing milk, peanuts and other tree nuts" (but not gluten). You can choose from a variety of dark and milk chocolate flavors, including dark chocolate raspberry (my favorite), dark chocolate with espresso, and milk chocolate with cherries.
• Enjoy Life chocolate bars. Enjoy Life — a well-known producer of allergen-free foods — makes three different chocolate bars: dark chocolate, ricemilk (not regular milk, since it's allergen-free) and ricemilk crunch. Enjoy Life products are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and are free of dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, fish and shellfish in addition to wheat and gluten. Its products are certified by the GFCO, meaning they should contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten.
• Hershey's Chocolate. Hershey's makes many different chocolate bars, but only considers two of them to be gluten-free to 20 parts per million: its plain milk chocolate bar (only in the 1.55 oz. size) and its milk chocolate with almonds bar (only in the 1.45 oz. size) (some Hershey's Kisses are also considered gluten-free). All other Hershey's chocolate bars, including Hershey's premium Extra Dark chocolate bars (in all flavors), have a risk of gluten cross-contamination due to shared facilities or equipment, according to the company. Hershey's will include any gluten ingredients on the label (including wheat, barley, rye, oats or malt) so that it's easy to determine which specific products include those ingredients.
• Nestlé. Nestlé makes a variety of products it considers gluten-free (check out my overall gluten-free candy article for the list), but when it comes to chocolate bars, it only considers its Nestlé Milk Chocolate bar to be gluten-free. Nestlé will label any gluten ingredients and any risk of gluten cross-contamination.
• Scharffen Berger Chocolate. Scharffen Berger (which is owned by Hershey's) labels its chocolate bars gluten-free, meaning they contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The brand specializes in dark chocolate (some of which contains cacao nibs), but also offers milk chocolate bars.
• Vosges Haut Chocolate. Vosges, which makes some really interesting gourmet chocolate bars (try Dark Chocolate and Bacon, or maybe even a Red Fire Exotic bar with Mexican ancho and chipotle chilies, Ceylon cinnamon and dark chocolate), will label its products gluten-free if they're below 20 parts per million of gluten. You can search for gluten-free products specifically on the site.
Manufacturers with "no gluten ingredient" chocolate bars:
• Dagoba Chocolate. This brand is a division of Hershey's, which has a policy of labeling any ingredients containing wheat, barley, rye, oats or malt. However, even if a Dagoba chocolate bar appears to be gluten-free by ingredients, the company says it still may contain traces of gluten from shared equipment, and so cannot be considered gluten-free.
• Ghirardelli Chocolate. According to the company, Ghirardelli only produces one product that contains gluten (its Luxe Milk Crisp singles and bars, which contain barley malt). However, all its other chocolate bar products, including the Intense Dark, Luxe Milk, and Squares chocolates (the ones filled with flavors like caramel and raspberry) are made on the same lines. The company does clean the lines between products.
• Godiva Chocolates. According to the company: "ALL of our products including solid chocolate pieces may contain gluten. Any person with a gluten allergy should NOT consume ANY of our products."
• Green & Black's Organic Chocolate. Green & Blacks produces one gluten-containing chocolate bar — its Toffee bar, which contains wheat-based glucose. The company does not label any products as gluten-free, and has this statement on shared facilities: "We take into account scheduling of products and we clean the lines by flushing chocolate through until there is no notable trace of the previous lines’ chocolate in the new batch. We are confident that the cleaning procedures are robust and eliminate traces of nut, cereal or dairy ingredients, but the only certain guarantee of absence is by manufacturing in a nut, cereal and dairy free site."
• Lake Champlain Chocolates. Although Lake Champlain Chocolates has chocolate bars without gluten ingredients, it also manufactures gluten-containing products on the same equipment. "We cannot guarantee that any of our products are entirely free of trace amounts" of gluten and other allergens, according to Lake Champlain.
• Lindt Chocolate. Although Lindt Excellence premium chocolate bars contain no gluten ingredients, "trace amounts of these gluten ingredients and components may have the opportunity to come in contact with non-gluten products," the company says. They are manufactured on the same lines as products that include barley malt (Lindt's popular Lindor truffles all contain barley malt).
• Newman's Own Organics. Newman's Own makes six different premium chocolate bars. All may be produced on equipment that also processes wheat, according to the company.
• NewTree Chocolates. According to the company, "NewTree Dark Cocoa, Blackcurrant, Lavender, Ginger, Apricot, Cherry, Cinnamon and Pink Peppercorn are not made with gluten ingredients, [but] they are manufactured with machines that may contain traces of gluten."
• Theo Chocolate. Theo Chocolate makes plain chocolate bars plus really interesting flavors such as Coconut Curry and Fig, Fennel and Almond. However, the company also makes gluten-containing flavors such as Bread and Chocolate on the same equipment.
• Toblerone Chocolates. Toblerone doesn't manufacture any products that contain gluten. However, the company does not label its chocolate bar products "gluten-free." All Toblerone flavors contain milk.
• Vivani Premium Organic Chocolate. Vivani maintains a list of chocolates on its website that it claims are "gluten-free," including lots of dark and milk chocolate bar products. However, the company notes that "possible traces due to production processes cannot be ruled out," so you'll need to use your own best judgment.