Life

All The Lindt Chocolate Bars, Blind Tasted And Ranked

Chocolate bars vary wildly — from the plastic-y mess that is a Hersey’s to a refined, 70% dark cacao bar you have to pay $12 for at specialty shops. Somewhere along that spectrum is a bar that’s readily available on grocery store shelves but also takes the craft of chocolate-making very seriously. It’s easily recognizable and competitive with the bespoke bars suddenly crowding the marketplace. It’s called Lindt Excellence.

Lindt started off back in the mid-1800s as a small Swiss chocolatier in Zürich. It goes without saying that getting cocoa back then was a dire situation involving Indigenous genocide and slavery. In fact, child labor and slavery are still rife in the cocoa trade (along with deeply ingrained colonialism). But Lindt and other major companies are aware of these practices and are working towards a more sustainable and equitable world — sourcing from farmers directly and creating a rigorous “supplier code of conduct,” among other actions. Lindt is also one of the few companies that control their own supply chains, monitored by a third party for transparency. (Alas, industry-wise, there’s still a long way to go.)

Today, we’re taste-testing 15 Lindt Excellence chocolate bars and ranking them. This is an exercise that’s based purely on taste. We’re nosing the chocolate, letting the chocolate slightly melt on the tongue, then chewing it to get the full taste profile. After that, they’re ranked by which ones actually taste the best.

Part 1: The Taste

Zach Johnston

Taste 1:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

There’s a light note of honey on the nose with mild cocoa. The taste is creamy and really leans into a buttery caramel. A touch of vanilla lurks under the caramel on this silky bite.

Taste 2:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This is straight-up burnt cocoa nibs next to very dry roast espresso beans. There are hints of very dried-out raisins and prunes with a whisper of black licorice.

Taste 3:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

The nose hits you with a drip coffee cut with caramel syrup. The taste is 100 percent salted caramel with a nice crunch next to mildly bitter dark chocolate plus a touch of vanilla.

Taste 4:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

There’s a honey-vanilla vibe on the nose. The taste is creamy milk chocolate and classic. It takes you straight back to your childhood. The end has a touch of almost wet raisins.

Taste 5:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

The opens with those burnt espresso beans and cocoa nibs again. The taste has this peaty, almost smoky, vibe. Yet… it’s creamy.

Taste 6:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This is subtle. There’s a dark cocoa laced coffee taste with a pump of vanilla syrup thrown in. The end has this mild touch of florals, kind of like a vanilla blossom.

Taste 7:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This is a light mocha latte from top to bottom. The taste leans into the chocolate syrup mixed into whole-fat milk and few shots of espresso with the faintest hints of red fruit and vanilla in the background.

Taste 8:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

You can see the orange zest in the chocolate. It definitely dominates with an orange oil vibe that’s almost more bitter than sweet. The crunchiness of the orange peels is a little off-putting but does settle into an orange blossom by the end with a final whisper of vanilla.

Taste 9:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Woah. There’s a nutty/vanilla/rich cocoa dance happening on the nose and palate on this bite. The chocolate is pure velvet with a mild Americano coffee bitterness leading back to dry walnuts, vanilla oils, and creamy dark chocolate.

Taste 10:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This opens with floral honey next to vanilla pods and smells… silky. Is that a smell? It’s in my notes!

The taste delivers on that silkiness with vanilla and floral dark chocolate with almost no bitterness. Instead, there’s a touch of that cream that forms on top of a well-made espresso.

Taste 11:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This feels classic with a balance of vanilla, bitter yet creamy cocoa, and dried red fruit. The salt is there with a very slight crunch but helps bring out the raisin and vanilla and keeps the bitterness of the chocolate in check. It’s really balanced.

Taste 12:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Damn! This is sweet. Like Jolly-Rancher-candy sweet. There’s barely a note of dark chocolate under all that cherry Jolly Rancher sweetness.

Taste 13:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

This has that dark-roasted espresso bean vibe up top. That leads towards a mildly smoky and almost earthy cocoa note — kind of like the nibs right out of the pod from the tree. The end has a touch of walnut that’s slightly woody leading toward black licorice.

Taste 14:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Earthy cocoa with a mildly smoky edge eventually leads towards an Ancho chili flake spice. It’s very mild. As the dark chocolate softens, there’s this soft vanilla stout vibe with a real creaminess that leads back to the subtle buzz of that chili.

Taste 15:

Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

There’s a dark coffee and earthy cocoa on the nose. This leads towards soft black licorice next to a touch of buttery caramel cut by a fleck of orange zest.

Part 2: The Ranking

Zach Johnston

15. Pomegranate — Taste 12

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This bar is made from 48 percent dark milk chocolate. The chocolate is cut with pomegranate concentrate and apple puree to add the sweet fruit flavor.

Bottom Line:

This was just too sweet. Yes, even for a chocolate bar. Its only saving grace was that it didn’t taste fake. The fruit felt like real fruit juice but with way too much sugar added.

14. 100% Cocoa Dark Chocolate — Taste 13

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This is the pure, uncut dope, baby! It’s 100 percent cocoa that’s turned into chocolate by only using cocoa butter and cocoa powder with 100 percent pure cocoa mass (the mash of the fresh bean).

Bottom Line:

This felt way more like eating raw cocoa nibs off the tree than eating chocolate. That’s not a bad thing, per se. But this really feels way more like cooking chocolate than a straight eating one. Though, I could see this working as a counterpoint to a funky old whisky.

13. 99% Cocoa Dark Chocolate — Taste 2

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This is the same as the above with one extra ingredient. Demerara sugar is added to smooth out that earthy cocoa nib vibe … barely.

Bottom Line:

I could barely tell this apart from the 100 percent. It looks exactly the same. Maybe the touch of dried fruit stood out and hinted at sweetness a tiny bit more? Either way, it still felt like something I’d cook with.

12. Milk Chocolate 45% Cocoa — Taste 1

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This is the entry point for milk chocolate from the brand. It’s cut with plenty of sugar, milk fats, and cocoa, creating a classic, creamy milk chocolate.

Bottom Line:

This was a little overly sweet and leaned way more into caramel than expected. That being said, I bet this would make a killer hot chocolate.

11. Intense Orange Dark Chocolate — Taste 8

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This starts off with 48 percent dark chocolate. It’s then bespeckled with dried chunks of orange rind and flesh.

Bottom Line:

This was fine. It’s very orange forward (I think I’ll try it with an old fashioned later). But the dried orange bits were a bit much. They did provide texture but I’m not 100 percent sure that texture was necessary.

10. 90% Cocoa — Taste 5

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This bar is 90 percent cocoa. The last ten percent is made up of sugar and vanilla.

Bottom Line:

This is my cut-off percentage for dark chocolate that’s good to eat. That small dose of sugar and vanilla really makes this palatable. It’s not what I’d reach for every time I want chocolate, but I certainly wouldn’t turn it down.

9. 50% Dark Cocoa — Taste 7

Lindt

Average Price: $18.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This is a mix of cocoa powder and butter mixed with equal doses of vanilla, milk chocolate, milk fat, and sugars.

Bottom Line:

I didn’t realize that this isn’t available in the U.S., sorry. Anyway, this is sort of a bridge between the saccharine milk chocolate and the bitter dark chocolate without being the best of either. It’s fine and tasty. But you’re kind of left wanting either the milk chocolate or dark chocolate next time.

8. Caramel with a Touch of Sea Salt — Taste 3

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This bar starts off with 47 percent dark chocolate. It’s then cut with buttery caramel, caramelized sugar, and sea salt.

Bottom Line:

This had a nice crunch to it, creating a textural balance to the sweet, butter, and cocoa. While this was a little on the sweet side for me, I can definitely see this working wonders as a hot chocolate base, casual snack, or whisky pairing chocolate.

7. 78% Cocoa Dark Chocolate — Taste 6

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This bar mixes 78 percent dark chocolate and just kisses it with demerara sugar.

Bottom Line:

This was subtle and pretty damn tasty. There wasn’t a surprising flavor note that jumped out but that didn’t really matter.

6. 85% Cocoa Dark Chocolate — Taste 15

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This bar leans into the cocoa with 85 percent in the base. Then raw sugar and vanilla are mixed into a mild chocolate base, creating this silky bar.

Bottom Line:

This is the very approachable dark chocolate. The addition of vanilla and raw sugar takes just enough of the edge off the bitterness to make this very enjoyable.

5. Dark Chocolate with a Touch of Sea Salt — Taste 11

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This, again, starts off with 47 percent dark chocolate. That base is amped up with sugar, milk fat, vanilla, and a fleck or two of sea salt.

Bottom Line:

This is where hairs start to get split. The very light crunch of sea salt really helps the chocolate shine in this bar. It’s hard not to love this on its own but this crumbled over a rich bourbon vanilla ice cream rules.

4. Milk Chocolate 55% Cocoa — Taste 4

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This 55 percent cocoa milk chocolate bar balances the bitter cocoa with the creamy milk chocolate. The only additions to the chocolate are milk fats and sugars, which keep it simple while letting the ingredients shine.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect example of less is more. It’s creamy yet slightly bitter, striking a great balance that’ll please both the sweet-toothed among us and those looking for something with a little bite.

3. Chili Dark Chocolate — Taste 14

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This bar has a 47 percent dark chocolate base that’s cut with butterfat. The chili is added through an extract and aroma, not chili bits (like the orange above).

Bottom Line:

This is really subtle. The chili slowly builds over time, creating a warmth that counterpoints the dark aspects of the chocolate really well. This is also a great addition to a chili pot to add that x-factor.

2. 70% Cocoa Smooth Blend Dark Chocolate — Taste 10

Lindt

Average Price: $3.99

The Chocolate Bar:

This 70 percent dark chocolate bar is just touched by sugar and vanilla to create an easy-to-love bar. The “smooth blend” refers to the blend of cocoa beans used in the mix, sourced from Ecuador, Madagascar, Ghana, and the Caribbean islands.

Bottom Line:

This was both interesting and delicious. That floral honey note next to the pure silky nature of the bar was hard to beat. There was just the right amount of bitterness but not because it was overly sweetened. It was more a build of flavor notes that paid off in a dark chocolate prize at the end.

1. Milk Chocolate 65% Cocoa — Taste 9

Lindt

Average Price: $6.35

The Chocolate Bar:

This is 65 percent cocoa cut with heavy cream, butterfat, and sugar. It’s a simple mix that has just the right balance.

Bottom Line:

This felt like the perfect bridge between the worlds of creamy and sweet milk chocolate and bitter and stark dark chocolate. Neither is overpowering yet both are very present. You’re not losing anything from either the milk chocolate or dark chocolate to make room for one or the other.

It’s just really balanced, nuanced, and delicious.

Part 3: Final Thoughts

Zach Johnston

I wasn’t expecting too much here. That being said, I am surprised a bar of milk chocolate made the top seed, given my disposition to all things dark chocolate. Still, this is comfort food and I was comforted — for the most part.

I’ll probably never go back to the pomegranate bar. It’s just too sickly sweet. The rest, however, all seem to have their place. Even the 90 percent-plus bars are clearly great candidates for cooking and baking. Now it’s time for a savory cheesesteak to cleanse my palate.

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