Difference between Semisweet and Milk Chocolate

Updated on June 1, 2017

Semisweet chocolate and milk chocolate are amongst the most popular chocolate variants available in grocery stores and supermarkets. However, despite their similarities, they are far from being interchangeable. This article will cover some of the things that set these two apart.



As one of the most versatile chocolate variants, semisweet chocolate is used for a number of cooking and baking applications. By definition, it is a dark-colored chocolate that contains half as much sugar as it does cocoa. It is mainly made up of cocoa, sugar, emulsifier and vanilla. Its sugar content sets semisweet chocolate apart from other chocolate variants. As the name implies, it is lower in sugar as compared to other chocolates.

Milk chocolate

Milk chocolate is a type of chocolate distinct for its mild flavor. It is made up of milk, cocoa butter, and sugar. Since it has a higher milk and dairy fat content, it has a creamier texture and a lighter color.

Milk powder, condensed milk, or liquid milk can be used to create a milk chocolate bar. In the year 1875, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé created the first milk chocolate with condensed milk as the main ingredient. Today, more milk chocolate variants are available in the market.

Semisweet vs Milk Chocolate

So what’s the difference between semisweet and milk chocolate? Even though they may have similarities, they are distinct in a number of ways.

Firstly, milk chocolate is made up of milk, cocoa, cocoa butter, and sugar, while semisweet chocolate’s ingredients typically include cocoa, sugar, an emulsifier, and vanilla. Since milk chocolates have a high milk and dairy fat content, they have a higher caloric count than semisweet chocolate.

In terms of pure chocolate content, milk chocolate is made up of at least 10% cocoa, whereas semisweet chocolate’s cocoa content is more than threefold higher at 35%. Additionally, the sugar content of a semisweet chocolate should not exceed 50%. Otherwise, it will be classified as a sweet chocolate.

Semisweet chocolate is neither too bitter nor too sweet since it usually contains an almost equal proportion of cocoa and sugar. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is distinct for its milder and sweeter flavor.

The texture, consistency, and appearance of both these chocolate variants also differ. Since milk chocolates are made up mainly of milk and dairy products, they are creamier and smoother. Plus, they are lighter than semisweet chocolates in color.

Because of their taste and consistency, semisweet and milk chocolates are used for different applications. While semisweet chocolates are ideal for cooking and baking, milk chocolates were primarily developed for eating purposes.

Comparison Chart

Semisweet ChocolateMilk Chocolate
A dark-colored chocolate that contains half as much sugar as cocoaA type of chocolate distinct for its mild flavor

Made up of cocoa, sugar, an emulsifier, and vanilla

Made up of milk, cocoa, cocoa butter, and sugar
Lower caloric countHigher caloric count
Made up of at least 35% cocoaMade up of at least 10% cocoa
Sugar content should not exceed 50%Sugar content may exceed 50%
Neither too bitter nor too sweetDistinct for its mild, sweet flavor
Less creamy in textureCreamier and smoother in texture
Dark brownLight brown
Developed for baking and cooking purposesDeveloped for eating purposes