For High-Quality Baking, You Need the Best Chocolate Chips

Over 100 cookies later, these are the brands we can vouch for.

byJarrett Melendez| PUBLISHED Dec 8, 2021 5:45 PM
For High-Quality Baking, You Need the Best Chocolate Chips
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When it comes to baking, anything with chocolate is my favorite. I usually have roughly 20-30 pounds of chocolate of varying degrees of darkness in my home at any given time, from a few different brands, just so I can whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, a decadent chocolate cake, fudgy brownies, or even non-baking applications, like chocolate-dipped fruit, at a moment’s notice. 

We gathered pounds and pounds of chocolate chips, callets, mini-grammes, feves, discs, and more, from industry-leading brands based on recommendations from other pros, previous experience with the brands, and some best-selling brands widely available in most grocery stores. 

To test, I offered a panel of tasters raw chips straight from the container to taste blind and gathered their feedback. I then baked offerings from every brand in batches of chocolate chip cookies (somewhere in the realm of about 600 cookies, total). Each batch of cookies was prepared identically, with ingredients weighed to the gram each time to remove any variation. The cookies were presented to tasters while still slightly warm (the best way to have a cookie, in my opinion). In both tastings, I asked tasters to provide me with feedback, including tasting notes and texture, and each taster was asked to vote on their favorites. After compiling their feedback, here’s how each brand did.

Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping for the Best Chocolate Chips

Types of Chocolate Chips: The small, drop-shaped little pieces of chocolate are what most of us think of when we think of chocolate chips, but there are also chunks, feves, mini-grammes, drops, large chips, and other shapes; essentially, there are many different names for what can be called small and large chips.

Chocolate Quality: A quality chocolate doesn’t always have to be expensive, and sometimes the most expensive chocolate isn’t always the best tasting, or your preference. 

Flavor & Taste: The flavor profiles of chocolate can be very nuanced, so we tasted the chips plain out of the container, and then again after baking in cookies to compare the tasting notes when cooked. 

Shape and Size: Small chips tend to get evenly distributed in the dough, creating lots of tiny pockets of chocolate flavor, whereas large chips can pool up for big, dominating bursts of chocolate—both experiences are great, but choosing the right size chip really depends on your preferences, and the recipe’s specifications.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Small Chips: Michel Cluizel La Laguna Guatemala 70% Mini Grammes

Best Overall Small Chips
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We tested a couple of Michel Cluizel’s offerings, and while this was the favorite, we were also very fond of the Kayambe 72% Mini Grammes. Of all of the brands, Michel Cluizel was the one tasters kept going back to during the pre-baking tasting. We all agreed that this was the chip that we’d snack on straight out of the bag—until it was empty. In the raw tests, these two chocolates were the most complex. La Laguna chips had deep notes of plum, a hint of smoke, licorice, butteriness, and a slightly cooling, almost minty note at the finish. Despite the high cacao percentage of both the Kayambe and La Laguna, we found that they were among the creamiest and smoothest. The Kayambe had a totally different flavor profile, with hints of raspberry, warming spices like ginger and clove, and slightly acidic, citrusy notes. Some of the subtler tasting notes get lost when baked into cookies, so while we did feel that this brand would be better suited for applications where chocolate is the true star, we agreed that, of the small chips tested, these two made the best cookies. 

Best Overall Large Chips: Valrhona Caraibe 66% Chocolate Feves 

Best Overall Large Chips
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Valrhona was the go-to chocolate for a variety of applications at the professional bakery where I worked, so I was very curious to see how it would perform with tasters. I wasn’t terribly surprised that it performed so well overall. While the Caraibe was the favorite of the Valrhona chocolates tested, the Guanaja 70%, Manjari 64%, and Araguani 72% all performed very well, too. Caraibe has a unique flavor profile that’s somewhat nutty and woody, which played very well with the brown sugar and nutmeg in the cookie recipe we tested. Because these are a large format chip, they tend to create pools and pockets of rich, creamy chocolate on top and inside the cookies, for bursts of big, bold chocolate flavor. 

Best Value: Guittard Akoma Extra Semisweet Chips

These were a very pleasant surprise because, at 55 percent cacao—which was on the lower end of everything we tested—these chips tasted like darker chocolate, with both bright berry, and darker, bitter cocoa notes. In the pre-baking taste test, they didn’t have the best texture–we felt that they were a little brittle, almost crumbly. Once baked into cookies, though, they melted as beautifully as any of the other winning chocolates. Additionally, Guittard is fairly widely available in grocery stores, like Whole Foods. Guittard has recently started making paleo chips made with coconut sugar, Santé 72% Dark Chocolate Chips, which we also tested. These were generally well-liked by tasters because of the subtle coconut notes, fruitiness, and strong vanilla flavor. Both of these are great options.

Best Organic Chips: Beyond Good 70% Pure Dark Chocolate Melts

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These large chips were a big surprise and somewhat polarizing with the tasting group. Of all the chips we tested, these were the most intensely fruity, particularly reminiscent of red fruits, like cherry and raspberry. They were fruity to the point that one taster insisted fruit flavoring or extract had to be an ingredient (this is not the case; what was particularly impressive to me was how well these melts held onto those fruity notes after baking. This brand nearly took the Best Overall seat, but was narrowly beat out by Valrhona. While the intense fruity notes of this chocolate may not be for everyone, I was a huge fan, and think they’d be great in cookies or bars with additional mix-ins, like dried fruit and nuts.

Best Small-Batch Chips: Dandelion Kokoa Kamili 70% Large Chips

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I was a fan of Dandelion’s small-batch, single-source chocolate bars before taking on this taste test, so I was very excited test their baking chocolate. We got notes of honey and tropical fruit from this chocolate, which carried over into the cookies. In the pre-baking taste test, the chocolate had a great snap when we bit into it before almost immediately melting into a beautiful creamy texture.

Best Paleo Chips: Hu Kitchen Dark Chocolate Gems

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We were impressed by the creamy texture of these gems, despite not having any emulsifiers beyond its three organic ingredients: cacao, coconut sugar, and cocoa butter. These gems are also certified gluten free, vegan, paleo, and organic, so they’re great for anyone with diet restrictions. They taste great straight out of the bag, with notes of caramel and a hint of coconut. Like the other large chips, these pooled when baked, and made beautiful dark chocolate puddles on top of the cookies for big bursts of chocolate flavor.

We Also Tested

Callebaut 54.5% Semisweet Callets

At about $40 for a 5 ½ pound bag at the time of publishing, these are a great deal. The chocolate is sweet, super creamy, and slightly buttery right out of the bag, which we generally liked; however, they just didn’t stand out very much against the more complex flavors we found in the winning chocolates.

TCHO Bittersweet Baking Chocolate

These were like a darker, larger version of the Callebaut chips. Very similar flavor profiles, just more bitter. While these are perfectly adequate, there are more interesting tasting chocolates to be had.

Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

In the pre-baking taste test, these were the least favorite across the board. One taster noted a “faint, chemical or alcohol burn and taste, like that lingering flavor you have after drinking a shot.” After baking they performed just fine; tasters enjoyed the cookies, but weren't particularly impressed by the flavor profile.

FAQs

Q: What is the best way to melt chocolate chips?

Slowly and gently in a double boiler, or a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. 

Q: What kind of chocolate chips are best for cookies? 

There are a lot of chocolate chips out there, including tons of things you wouldn’t categorize as a chip, like Valrhona’s feves, which are essentially discs of chocolate about the size of 6-8 average chocolate chips. Each shape—whether chip, feve, or other size of baking disc—creates a different end product.

When I worked in a bakery we would use large chips in our cookies, which created these beautiful, Instagram-worthy cookies with pools of deep, dark chocolate on top. These end up being a different experience than a similarly sized cookie with lots of little chips evenly distributed throughout. Sometimes you get a bite that’s almost all chocolate, and that’s what I personally prefer. But! In the name of science and good baking, we’ve included both small and large chips in this round of taste tests, with recommendations for both. 

Q: What’s the best strategy for melting chocolate chips in the microwave?

To prevent your chocolate from scorching, melt it in short bursts of 15-30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. Never set it and forget it with chocolate; the result will be unpleasant in both taste and texture.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get good quality chips, but it does help to splurge a little more on industry-favorite brands like Valrhona. If you’re planning on doing a ton of baking, you can save a bit by buying in bulk from chocolate distributors or directly from the brands themselves. When it comes to picking the right chocolate chip for your pantry, it really boils down to preference. Do you like lots of little chips evenly distributed through your cookie so each bite is more or less the same? Or do you prefer random pockets of chocolate throughout so that some bites are almost pure chocolate? Do you prefer super dark chocolate with deep, rich flavors, or lighter chocolate with sweeter, creamier flavors? Whatever your preferences, we hope we helped you find your next new favorite pantry item—there are many great options across the board.