Both of us make the case for using chopped chocolate in our chocolate chip cookies. In part, this is because it allows us to buy an assortment of three-ounce chocolate bars to deliver a range of flavors, from bitter and sour to fruity and sweet, depending on the style and brand.
The Best Way to Use Chocolate Chips for Baking
But this mix-and-match approach will create textural diversity in our cookie dough as well, thanks to all the irregular chunks, shards, fine shavings, and powder that are produced through chopping chocolate by hand. This gives cookies a hearty texture and a more distinctive, homemade appearance.
Along with those key benefits, the types of chocolate bars and blocks found at the supermarket have historically been of a substantially higher quality than the commercial morsels sold in a bag. (For more information, see our guides to the best supermarket milk chocolate bars, dark chocolate bars, and extra-dark chocolate bars).
But that's been changing.
Even at the grocery store down the street from my home in Kentucky, I can find chocolate chips ranging from 55 to 70% cocoa solids, with some brands offering funky, single-origin chocolates and others bringing high-quality blends and couvertures to the market in chip form.
What's more, commercial chocolate chips can be anywhere from nine to 15 millimeters in size, allowing for some of that textural diversity I love in chopped chocolate. This means I can now mix and match chocolate brands and styles to create my own blend, loaded with different textures, cocoa percentages, and flavor profiles.
Grabbing a few bags is a fun way to get to know the different brands, and the result is a one-of-a-kind mix of chocolate. And for those of us who bake regularly, none of it will go to waste. This custom blend can be stored in a big container to dip into as needed, or divvied up into 12-ounce portions (the size of a classic bag o' chips, although this convention seems to be crumbling).
Think of this less as a definitive guide to chocolate chips than a personalized walkthrough of the different brands available in major supermarkets and via online retailers. You may enjoy certain brands enough to use them all on their own, while others can add a welcome bit of character to a blend even if they're not your favorite for snacking.
At 55%, these semisweet chocolate chips from Equal Exchange land on the sweeter end of our tasting spectrum.
But it's a balanced sweetness that comes from organic cane sugar, a style of sugar generally associated with complexity of flavor, as it retains more of its natural molasses content than a fully refined white sugar. The chocolate flavor is classic and mellow, with a touch of acidity and a strong cocoa aroma.
These cute, well-formed chips are about nine millimeters in diameter on average, and melt on the tongue with an especially creamy consistency. Equal Exchange sources the cocoa for these chips from Peru. The chips are soy-free, as well as certified vegan and kosher; they come in a 10-ounce bag.
While Guittard's Akoma chips clock in at just 55% cocoa solids, they don't seem sweet at all. Their flavor is nutty, deep, and pleasantly bitter.
At 11 millimeters across, these chips seem just right in size, neither miniature nor chunky. While they're not as creamy as some chips, their slightly dry mouthfeel pairs nicely with richer doughs. Guittard sources the cocoa for these chips from West Africa. They're soy-free and come in a 12-ounce bag.
This brand was among the first to step up the game for supermarket chocolate chips, by upgrading to a larger chip size (15 millimeters!) and listing the cocoa-percentage right on the bag. For those reasons, Ghirardelli 60% is the OG among home bakers.
These chips have a decidedly earthy vibe (I get a funky, shiitake note from the aroma) that's slightly savory and acidic, and a relatively dry mouthfeel. The formula contains milk fat, an unusual move for a so-called dark chocolate, and an unpleasant surprise for many bakers. They come in a 12-ounce bag.
They're not available in every grocery store, but I can often find Callebaut 60.3% chips in the bulk-foods aisle of my local co-op, or packaged in deli containers in the chocolate aisle at fancier supermarkets, like Whole Foods or Fresh Market. (Or online.)
This couverture-style chocolate chip is worth seeking out, as it's loaded with cocoa butter, making it one of the creamiest chips around. It has a classic cocoa flavor and aroma that are mellow and smooth, with no sharpness or acidity at all (in fact, it's a slightly alkalized style). At 10 millimeters across, these chips feel a little dainty, but still traditional overall.
This 63% chocolate chip from Guittard is creamier than its 55% sibling, thanks to a boost in cocoa butter, but with the same 11-millimeter size.
It's none too sweet, with an acidic character that feels a little fruity or citrusy, and some hint of spice in the aroma. These chips are made with a blend of chocolate sourced from West Africa and South America. They're soy-free and come in an 11.5-ounce bag.
While this probably isn't my favorite chocolate to use on its own, I enjoy the funky, grassy, and slightly astringent quality of Sunspire 65% chips in a blend.
They have a rich and creamy mouthfeel, a mellow chocolate flavor with a nice acidity, and a cute, 10-millimeter size. Soy-free; nine-ounce bag.
365 Everyday Value 67%
I was unexpectedly pleased with the chocolate chunks from Whole Foods' house brand. At 67%, they offer a higher cocoa percentage than most brands, but they're not excessively bitter at all.
Despite the absence of a classic chip shape, these 13-millimeter chunks have a very traditional chocolate flavor that's not sharp or acidic, with a clean mouthfeel and sweet finish. They may not be as adorable as a kiss-shaped morsel, but I like the sturdy presence of chocolate chunks in a dough, and find these to be a welcome part of any blend. Kosher-certified; 12-ounce bag.
With only two ingredients—chocolate and sugar—Enjoy Life 69% will tick off a lot of boxes for folks who often have trouble finding chocolate chips because of emulsifiers such as soy, or due to cross-contamination from gluten-containing products.
Despite the high cocoa percentage, these chips weren't as smooth as I expected, and their sweetness surprised me. Still, their fruity-sour character has been a good addition to many of my recent chocolate chip blends, where these big, 12-millimeter chips make a nice visual impact. These chips are soy- and dairy-free, and they're also certified kosher and halal; they come in a nine-ounce bag.
With a smooth and classic cocoa flavor, Chatfield's 70% chocolate chips are a solid option for baking.
These chips have a creamy mouthfeel and balanced acidity, along with a cute, 10-millimeter size. They have a middle-of-the-road character that can stand on its own or act as a filler in a blend. These chips are soy- and dairy-free, as well as vegan and kosher-certified; they come in a 10-ounce bag.
Equal Exchange 70%
Like their 55% cousin, Equal Exchange 70% chocolate chips are a petite nine millimeters in size, with a cute, well-formed shape. These chips have a slow, melting richness that borders on waxy when eaten out of hand, but translates to a nice creaminess in baked goods.
While their flavor is pure chocolate, it has a roasted quality, like coffee, and a surprising bitterness. Some bakers will love this chocolate all on its own, while others will appreciate the balance it can bring to sweeter blends. These chips are soy- and dairy-free, as well as vegan- and kosher-certified; they come in a 10-ounce bag.
When shopping for chocolate chips, remember that diversity is key. A chocolate may not be entirely to your liking on its own, but it may work well as part of a blend, or else balance out some element of a sweet or bitter dough. The idea is to get to know the brands available and explore new options you may have never considered.