Popular Chocolate Chip Brands Ranked Worst To Best

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Chocolate is one of life's great foods. If it weren't, Americans wouldn't consume 2.8 billion pounds of the stuff annually (via the Chocolate Store), the equivalent of 11 pounds of chocolate per person every year. When you take chocolate and make it into tiny, bite-sized morsels, even better. We're obsessed with the intersection of tiny cute things and chocolate; the combination is impossible to refuse. It's no wonder, then, that chocolate chip cookies are so popular in America.

Chocolate chips were actually created by Nestlé, a Swiss company, based on the popularity of an American treat. After Ruth Wakefield invented the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie using chopped up pieces of chocolate bars, Nestlé saw a business opportunity and bought the rights to the recipe, which it printed on its bars' wrappers. The company released bags of chocolate morsels — which we now know as chips — beginning in 1940 (via Mental Floss).

Now, the market is practically overrun with chocolate chips, which is not a bad problem to have until it comes time to pick your brand. Depending on what you're cooking (or if you're just eating them plain), some chocolate chips are better than others. Let us help you sift through several well-known options so you get the best possible chocolate chips, starting with the worst and working our way toward true chocolate excellency.

15. Lily's

Lily's Semi-Sweet Baking Chips have a lot going for them. They are Fair Trade, contain no gluten (though you'd probably have trouble finding a chocolate chip that does contain gluten), are made with non-GMO ingredients, contain no added sugar, are soy-free, and are certified kosher. They were founded under the principles of making chocolate a clean food, according to the company website.

This would all be great — if they tasted good. Unfortunately, because of Lily's commitment to eliminating refined sugar from its products, there is no sugar added to the chips to provide the expected sweetness. This means something else had to be added to cut through the natural bitterness of cocoa. Lily's uses stevia as its sugar alternative, and the result leaves something to be desired. The bitter stevia aftertaste is a documented issue, with some people being more sensitive to it than others. We can see why those who need to avoid sugar for health reasons would gravitate towards this as an option, but in our experience, you are better off looking elsewhere, as these chocolate chips are not all they are cracked up to be.

14. Enjoy Life

Enjoy Life has the niche chocolate chip market covered for chocolate chips. They are gluten-free and vegan. They are free from 14 different common allergens, including wheat, casein, mustard, shellfish, peanuts, soy, lupin, crustaceans, tree nuts, eggs, added sulfites, dairy, sesame, and fish. Advertising all of these seems a bit excessive, considering many of these ingredients likely wouldn't be anywhere near chocolate chips anyway. But it does allow for peace of mind for the purchaser, which is exactly what the company was going for. Enjoy Life was founded under the principle that everyone should be able to enjoy foods without worry.

To do this, Enjoy Life keeps it simple. There are only three ingredients to these chocolate chips: cane sugar, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa butter. In this instance, less is not more. The chocolate chips themselves have a crumbly texture that makes them almost chalky. They are also incredibly sweet. While they bake up okay, and you might not notice too much of the sweetness when paired with an already sweet dessert, you definitely wouldn't want to eat these on their own. They are also more expensive than many competitors, landing them far down in our ranking.

13. Nestlé

Nestlé is a chocolate conglomerate comprising a number of brands, including the ever-famous Nestlé Toll House, the classic chocolate chip. Nothing can beat the original, right? Wrong. One would think that, given that they literally invented the chocolate chip (sorry, chocolate morsel), they would rank higher on this list; unfortunately with Nestlé Semi-Sweet Morsels, that's simply not the case.

It's not that they are inedible; it is just that they are unexceptional. The chocolate morsels contain added ingredients such as soy lecithin, milk fat, and "natural flavors." This all leads to a smooth chocolate chip, but one that is sweeter than anything else. They don't have an overtly chocolatey flavor. They are, dare we say, bland, with the primary flavor being sugar. We are not sure what metric these companies are using to define "semi-sweet," but in our estimation, they definitely land on the sweeter end of things. Even the company's Dark Chocolate Morsels are on the sweet side. Nestlé is likely coasting off its brand recognition at this point to sell as many chocolate chips as it does.

12. NatTivo

First of all, we are almost offended by how expensive these chocolate chips are. As of April 2022, an 8-ounce bag at Walmart costs $11.99. For context, a 12-ounce bag of Nestlé Chocolate Morsels from Walmart is $2.48. NaTivo's mission is to provide all-natural and healthy foods for the family. Unfortunately, that only works if you want to eat them. We know we were just complaining about chocolate chips being too sweet, but these taste like there is nothing in them at all. If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, then there is no getting these down. They are notably bitter.

The NaTivo chocolate chips are branded as all-natural, sugar-free, kosher, keto, and produced in the United States. Instead of sugar, the chips contain allulose sweetener. This may be great for people keeping to a keto diet or requiring less sugar, but as they're more than seven times the price per ounce, you won't find us picking these chocolate chips up anytime soon.

11. Whole Foods 365

Whole Foods brand 365 is definitely not worth battling through the parking lot for. The big thing 365 has going for it is variety. Unlike a lot of other store brands, such as Costco's Kirkland, which only has one type of chocolate chip, 365 went all in. It has semi-sweet, mini-sized, jumbo-sized, white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and sugar-free chocolate chips. The chips are certified kosher dairy, and while they do have additional ingredients such as milk fat and vanilla extract, there are no vague additional flavors in the semi-sweet chips. This all makes for a perfectly acceptable chip, but honestly, they are not mind-blowing.

Despite the emulsifiers and added fats, they still come out chalky. The semi-sweet in particular is not very flavorful. If it were just a little more chocolatey, they likely would have broken the top 10 in our ranking. Alas, they are a bit on the crumbly side and lack the chocolate punch we crave.

10. Hershey's

We really like Hershey's products; the Special Dark Chocolate Bar is *chef's kiss.* For the money, you can't beat it. But what of the company's chocolate chips? Still delicious, but not quite up to the standards of its other products.

Like Whole Foods 365, Hershey's chocolate chips come in a wide variety of flavors. Using the most common, semi-sweet, as our base metric left us mildly underwhelmed. Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips are definitely on the sweet side. They melt and bake well, but for snacking, they are not quite what we are looking for.

Thankfully, Hershey's also makes chocolate chips using its delicious Special Dark chocolate. These are definitely snacking-worthy, and we highly recommend them. These chips do contain a lot of ingredients, including common allergens such as soy and dairy. And the inconsistency across the individual chips mean they can't rank any higher. But if you find those Special Dark chips, do yourself a favor and pick up a pack.

9. Good & Gather

Target's Good & Gather Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips deserve a spot in the top 10. These are simple, effective chocolate chips at a good price. The flavor is mild; since the package does not specify what percentage of chocolate these chips contain, our guess is somewhere on the low end of 40%. They are also a smidge on the sweet side and include a few additives.

You might be wondering how they ranked so high, then. Well, it is partially to do with price. At just $1.99 a bag (as of April 2022), they come in much cheaper than Whole Foods 365, and they taste better. They might not be your first choice for snacking, but they won't be your last choice either. For a simple pack of chocolate chips to make an emergency batch of chocolate chip cookies, Good & Gather will absolutely do in a pinch. But if something higher-ranked is available, we will likely put these back on their shelf.

8. Private Selection

Popular grocery chain Kroger brings its A-game when it comes to chocolate chips. Well okay, maybe not its A-game, but a solid B-game. Its house brand Private Selection makes a 43% Cacao Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip that is both tasty and price-effective, making it one of our top picks for grocery store chocolate chips.

At 43%, Private Selection is on the low end of cacao content for chocolate chips. Nestlé Semi-Sweet contains 53% (according to Grouper Sandwich), which you would think would make a better, more chocolaty chip, but it does not. We like the Private Selection better than the name-brand counterpart. Private Selection is smooth and creamy — not chalky — and while it is sweet, it also has a pleasant, chocolatey taste. We also appreciate that, unlike other similarly priced chocolate chips, there is nothing artificial in these. They are simply sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin, and vanilla extract.

7. Kirkland in the white bag

Costco people are really devoted to Costco. We are Costco people. The Kirkland name commands a certain amount of respect in the grocery community, with many of its products being better than their name-brand counterparts. Its chocolate chips are no different.

It should be mentioned that there are two different Kirkland brands of chocolate chips: the red bag and the white bag. This caused some drama when the red bag appeared on the market in 2019, as those chips contain milk fat. Prior to this, Kirkland chocolate chips were loved by dairy-free people and vegans alike because there was no actual dairy in the chips whatsoever. The chips from the white bag are smooth and contain 51% cacao, giving them a nice chocolatey flavor. The Kirkland white bag chips bring the flavor and the vegan accessibility, all for that classic Kirkland price of only $0.18 per ounce. For us, it is white bag all the way, landing at No. 8 on our list.

6. SunSpire

SunSpire Chocolate Chips are a conscious choice. The chips are Fair Trade-certified; this means that the chocolate that SunSpire uses to produce its product was grown ethically, with the people harvesting the cocoa beans receiving at least the Fair Trade Minimum Price for their product. The chocolate trade is known to be unjust, and to know that SunSpire chips weren't part of that makes them even sweeter in our eyes.

The taste hearkens to more of the natural roots of chocolate; instead of tasting like sugar and sugar alone, you are actually able to tell the base of chocolate is a plant. Some people may not like this earthy flavor, but to us, this is preferable to the overly sweet, more common brands out there. The chips are kosher and organic, but do contain soy lecithin. Overall, though, we don't have much to complain about when it comes to SunSpire.

5. Trader Joe's

We all knew it was coming. We could not have a list of the best without Trader Joe's making an appearance. Much like Costco, Trader Joe's is known for having high-quality store-brand products. Its semi-sweet chocolate chips are one of our favorites. They're smooth and not too sweet. The chocolate flavor definitely comes through. As generic store brands go, Trader Joe's is a great choice.

But that isn't all the store has up its sleeve. Trader Joe's has also started producing a 72% dark chocolate chip option, and, let us tell you, it is phenomenal. If you are looking for deep, rich, dark chocolate chips, these are for you. They are shorter and a little flatter than your typical chocolate chip. To us, though, this just makes them better for snacking, as they become the perfect shape for taking tiny bites. Plus, they are dairy-free. Trader Joe's, once again, lives up to its reputation.

4. Guittard

Guittard: The name itself oozes smoothness. Guittard was founded in San Francisco in 1868 by Etienne Guittard. Originally coming to California in hopes to strike it big in the gold rush, he soon learned that his family business was worth its weight in gold. Over the past 150 years, Guittard has earned quite a reputation for itself and its wonderful chocolate. The company is in its fifth generation and is still owned by the Guittard family.

Guittard offers a wide range of baking chips, from sweet milk chocolate to an entirely unsweetened dark chocolate that is 100% cacao. We tried the semi-sweet and extra dark varieties and found them wonderfully flavorful. Finally, a chip that isn't just sweet, mild chocolate! Both offered rich, nuanced flavors with tastes of fruitiness and nuttiness showing through, creating a complex flavor profile that lingers on the tongue. The chocolate is incredibly smooth and melts like a dream. Guittard uses sunflower lecithin instead of soy, and the chips are produced in a nut-free facility. Most of their cacao beans are sourced from West Africa and South America and are Fair Trade-certified. With so many chocolate chip options to try, we were hard-pressed to find better options.

3. King Arthur's Callebaut

Of course, just because it was hard to find better options does not mean we didn't. Callebaut has been making chocolate in Belgium for more than 100 years, and, according to the brand, there is no one better. It's hard to argue that when chefs and chocolatiers from around the world have been using these products for a century.

Callebaut is known for its couverture chocolate, a kind of chocolate that is ground exceptionally fine and mixed with additional cocoa butter, which makes it great for remelting (via The Spruce Eats). Luckily for us, Callebaut also sells its delectable morsels to the public. One of its distributors is King Arthur, of the excellent baking flour. King Arthur sells 1-pound bags of a 43% cocoa semi-sweet variety, which is a perfect balance of snackability and melting perfection. At nearly $15 per bag, though, you may want to keep these as your special occasion snacking chocolate chips.

2. Ghirardelli

Look, we are going to level with you. The Ghirardelli chocolate chips are good, even great. They are earthy and complex, offering up more of the rich, funky flavors we like to see. But we know when you get to this level, it is hard to distinguish between personal taste and quality. While other chocolates might technically be a higher quality, we still feel Ghirardelli earns its place at No. 2 on our list. 

Spending absurd amounts of money on incredibly high-quality chocolate would be a waste when you have Ghirardelli available at an affordable price at most grocery stores. The brand's semi-sweet chocolate chips are absolutely delicious. They'll take your baking adventures to the next level. Ghirardelli's chocolate chips are made with basic ingredients, and the company operates from what it calls "bean to chip," taking cocoa beans all the way to their magical finished product. For the price and availability, Ghirardelli knocks it out of the park. And you should expect nothing less from a company that has been around since 1852.

1. Equal Exchange

Without further ado, our top pick. Equal Exchange makes just two kinds of chocolate chips: a semi-sweet chip, which has 55% cacao, and a bittersweet chip, which clocks in at a decadent 70% cacao.

These chips have every label imaginable. They are organic, Fair Trade, vegan, and free of eight major allergens. The only ingredients are sugar, chocolate liquor, and cocoa butter. That's it. When we say these chocolate morsels taste deeply chocolatey, that is because they are just that: chocolate. Not only are they the best, most chocolate-tasting chips around, but you can also feel good supporting them.

Equal Exchange was founded on the principles of ethical food. The business, which operates as a co-op, supports small growers and ensures the growers get a fair price for the good they produce. The group supports initiatives to diversify crops and support women in leadership. There is nothing we don't like about Equal Exchange chocolate chips — except, perhaps, that we seem to run out of them too quickly.