European vs. American Chocolate: What's the Difference?

  There is great debate on European versus American chocolates: is one better than the other? However there is no debate. Neither European nor American chocolate can be considered better, it’s really just a matter of taste preference.  

To distinguish between American and European chocolates, there are four major differences you will find. One is the cocoa content. The United States requires a lesser percentage cacao in their chocolates, ten percent to be exact, while in Europe anything considered “chocolate” is twenty percent or higher. For example, if you were to compare a Hershey bar made in America versus a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar made in Europe, you would find a significant taste difference. That’s because those Cadbury milk bars contain 23 percent cacao in comparison to the American-made Hershey bars, which contain only eleven percent cacao, resulting in a much darker, richer taste in the Cadbury bar.  

The second major difference is sugar content. As a result of American-made chocolate having lesser percentage cacao, there is a higher sugar content. That’s why Americans are usually known for their lighter, sweeter milk chocolates while Europeans consider their chocolates to be almost bitter as a result of the low sugar content.

Fat content is another distinguisher between American and European chocolates. When adding cocoa butter and cream to their chocolates, Americans and Europeans differ in both the amount and the fat content. European chocolates, with their smoother, richer flavor, use European butter and cream, which has a higher fat content. To accentuate the smoothness of the chocolates, Europe also uses more cocoa butter, further accentuating the difference in taste.  

Finally, there is a difference between where Europe and America get their cocoa beans. American chocolatiers tend to use beans from South America, while Europeans, such as those in Great Britain, often use beans from West Africa instead. Different beans do result in different flavors, so depending on your palette one type of bean may taste better to you than another.  

Thus, there really is no debate between whether American or European chocolate is better; it is really only a matter of preference. American chocolates are lighter and sweeter; using a smaller variety of ingredients like caramel, almonds, peanuts, and chocolate cream. European chocolate, in comparison, is darker and richer. Its ingredients could be anything from fruits, nuts, spices, and herbs, to caramels, ganaches and more. It’s up to you to decide which you like better!

Want to try out our European and American chocolates?  Or maybe explore them in a Virtual Chocolate Tasting?  We got you covered!

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  • Agree 100% with Michelle Escobar on June 13, 2018. American so called “chocolate” is not even close to European chocolate. I am from the Netherlands originally and maybe Dutch chocolate is considered inferior to the Swiss but it is vastly superior to what is produced in America.

    Andre de Graaf
  • Hershey’s is not even considered to be chocolate, by European standards.

    It’s classified as “candy”.

    In my opinion, correctly.

  • 1. Adding nuts, caramel, etc. doesn’t make the chocolate different. It makes it adulterated.

    2. American chocolates have less cocao so more sugar is needed. There is no debate. American chocolates are weak and cheap, having less of what makes chocolates chocolate. Most of Americans have no experience with quality chocolate so they merely gulp the stuff down.

    3. Albert Heyn house brand chocolate (puur or dark) costs about $.50 for 200 grams. A little less heavy American chocolate bar (say Hershey) will run about a dollar.

    4. South and Central American chocolates are better than US chocolates. The bean is the same but the chocolate is not so cheap.

    5 When I say cheap I mean that manufacturing costs are less because quality is poorer. US regulation allows for cheaper stuff. When in Europe I pay less for less cheap stuff.

    Your article is helpful. European chocolates are better because they have more chocolate. Less cheap filler.

    Richard Rogers

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