Is Chocolate Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Palm Oil Free

Composition with cocoa nibs on table


More people than ever suffer from allergies and sensitivities to certain ingredients found in our foods, even in chocolate. Common allergies include gluten, dairy and soy. You may think you need to avoid all chocolate if you suffer from one of these allergies, but soy free, gluten free and dairy free chocolate is available and ensures that those with an intolerance to soy, gluten or dairy can still indulge in the sweet extravagance.

Is chocolate dairy free, gluten free, soy free and palm oil free? To make sure the treats you’re buying really are dairy and soy free chocolate, read the ingredients label carefully. If you don’t know what something is, or you can’t pronounce it, it probably isn’t good for you. Instead, look for chocolate bars made only with all natural ingredients like cacao beans, sugar and cocoa butter like those sold at Cococlectic, a chocolate-of-the-month subscription club.

Keep reading to learn more about how to identify gluten, dairy, soy and palm oil in chocolate.

Gluten Free Chocolate

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years as people work to avoid the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) that affect gut health. Gluten acts as a binder and helps food hold its shape. It’s found in many cereals, pastas and breads. Most people can eat gluten without any adverse effects, but those who have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome or a wheat allergy should avoid it.

Is chocolate gluten free? Yes—as pure, unsweetened chocolate made from roasted cacao beans, chocolate is gluten free. Although gluten is found in a surprising number of foods, chocolate typically isn’t one of them unless gluten-based ingredients have been used or the chocolate bars are made in a factory where gluten is used.

That being said, some commercial chocolate makers add fillers and other ingredients to chocolate that may contain gluten. Crispy chocolate candies may contain wheat or barley malt, and chocolate with pretzels should also be avoided by those on a gluten-free diet. Baked goods like brownies, cakes and cookies may include wheat flour.

The addition of these ingredients is the reason it’s so important for people with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity to read the ingredients label before purchasing a chocolate bar. Some items to look out for—in addition to wheat, rye and barley—include the following:

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Bulgur
  • Durum
  • Farro
  • Graham flour
  • Malt
  • Malt extract
  • Malt flavoring
  • Malt syrup
  • Matzo

Is dark chocolate gluten free? High-quality dark chocolate like that featured at Cococlectic and  made from only cacao beans, cocoa butter, and sugar is always gluten free.

Dairy Free Chocolate

If you are on a dairy-free diet, you must avoid milk and any milk-based products like cheese, butter, cream and yogurt. Even on a dairy-free diet, you’ll want to indulge your sweet tooth occasionally. So is chocolate dairy free? You’ll be happy to know that yes, pure chocolate is dairy free.

One of the biggest misconceptions about chocolate is that all types of chocolate contain milk or dairy, but this isn’t the case. One reason for this confusion is that chocolate is made with cocoa butter. Even though cocoa butter sounds like a dairy ingredient, it’s not—it’s actually a vegetable fat that’s extracted from roasted cacao beans and contains no dairy.

Another reason for this mix-up about all chocolate containing dairy is that milk chocolate does contain dairy—as the name states, it’s made with milk. White chocolate is also made with milk, so anyone with a milk allergy or intolerance to dairy should avoid both milk and white chocolate.

Other kinds of chocolate don’t contain dairy. Does dark chocolate have dairy in it? What about semisweet chocolate? Most dark chocolate and semisweet chocolate are dairy free. Satisfy your gluten free, dairy free chocolate craving by reaching for high-quality dark chocolates that contain only cacao beans, cocoa butter and sugar like those sold by Cococlectic.

When determining is dark chocolate dairy free, make sure you carefully read the ingredients label. Some popular brands found at the grocery store add milk-based ingredients to many of their dark chocolate products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that dairy has to be clearly listed in the ingredients, so any dairy product will be shown on the label. Some things to look for include the following:

  • Butter (not to be confused with cocoa butter)
  • Casein
  • Cream
  • Lactose
  • Oil
  • Milk fat
  • Milk solids
  • Whey

Dark chocolate isn’t just great for avoiding dairy when you want to indulge your chocolate craving—it also provides health benefits and is full of antioxidants and nutrients.

Soy Free Chocolate

In addition to gluten and dairy free chocolate, you might also want to eat soy-free chocolate. Why would chocolate contain soy? A common ingredient in commercially produced chocolate is soy lecithin, which is a food additive produced when soybeans are processed. It’s found in a variety of food products, including chocolate. It’s used as an emulsifier—something that binds two products together that don’t normally mix—and keeps the cocoa solids and cocoa butter in chocolate from separating.

Because soy lecithin is so widely used, it’s possible you’ve eaten it without even realizing it. It can be difficult to find commercial chocolate treats that do not have it lurking somewhere on the ingredients list.

Lecithin is extracted from raw soybeans, meaning it contains soy—and this is critical for those who suffer from a soy allergy or sensitivity. Also, most soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Whether you have a soy allergy or just want to avoid eating processed or refined foods, you will want to eat soy-free chocolate.

Some chocolates may be labeled as containing “traces of soy,” meaning a small amount might have come into contact with the chocolate because of shared equipment or facility usage. Before purchasing chocolate, read the ingredients list carefully—the ingredients may change while the packaging stays the same.

To ensure you’re eating dairy, soy free chocolate, choose craft chocolate bars made by small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate makers like those sold at Cococlectic. With only three ingredients, these chocolate bars are always soy free.

Palm Oil Free Chocolate

Another additive to be aware of in chocolate is palm oil. It’s a type of vegetable oil made from palm oil fruit, and it’s found in everything from food to cleaners to cosmetics. While most chocolate does not contain palm oil, it is sometimes used by commercial chocolate makers as a stabilizing ingredient. It gives chocolate a consistent color and smooth texture, prevents it from melting and increases its shelf life.

Palm oil is cheap, which is why many commercial chocolate makers use it, but the cost to the environment is steep. The development of palm oil has led to the deforestation of tropical rainforests that are critical to the survival of endangered animals like the orangutans of Borneo. Those who are interested in buying sustainable products that are good for the environment will want to avoid chocolate made with palm oil.

Palm oil and its derivatives, known as fractions that are solids for compounds and liquid for fillings, can be used in compound chocolate. Compound chocolate is combination of cocoa, vegetable fat and sweeteners that uses coconut oil or palm kernel oil instead of the more expensive cocoa butter. Palm oil can also be found in nut-based fillings.

About 500 or so different substances make up around 60 percent of the world’s palm oil use. With so many derivatives out there, it’s not possible to know all the names, so how can you know if you’re consuming palm oil? Look for ingredients that contain one of the following four root words:

  • Palm
  • Stear
  • Laur
  • Glyc

While ingredients containing these root words might not necessarily contain palm oil, this list gives you a place to start, and you can contact the company for more information about the ingredients they use.

Cococlectic features American small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate makers who use only three main ingredients: cacao beans, sugar and cocoa butter. Our chocolate bars never contain soy lecithin or palm oil. Our chocolates are vegan, non-GMO, fair-trade and ethically sourced. We sell soy and dairy free chocolate as well as gluten free chocolate, and our chocolates do not contain nuts, but they may be produced in a facility that handles these ingredients. 

We sell only dark chocolate bars in our chocolate shop. Monthly subscription boxes, one-time gift boxes or corporate gift boxes containing your choice of dark bars only or mixed bars with inclusions of fruits and nuts are available with the purchase of the Office Box. Each chocolate box comes with 4 full-size dark chocolate bars that are made in the US.


Sign up for our chocolate-of-the-month subscription club and join us for a free virtual chocolate tasting with our featured chocolate maker of the month. If you’re interested in our corporate virtual chocolate tasting events, learn more by visiting our website.