Milk Chocolate vs Semi Sweet • What’s The Difference? •

Chocolate comes in plenty of delicious variations so that everyone can enjoy it in some form. The list is endless. But two of the most popular types of chocolate are milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Now whilst they do share a few vague similarities, these are two very different chocolates. One of them, that being milk chocolate, is perhaps the most popular type. The other, that being semi-sweet chocolate, is seen as a healthy alternative. The question for today is what are the differences between the two chocolates and which one is better. Time to find out!

​​So, what is the difference between milk chocolate vs. semi-sweet chocolate? There are 3 main differences between these two chocolates, which are sugar content, cocoa solid content, and texture. Milk chocolate contains a higher sugar content than semi-sweet chocolate. On the other hand, semi-sweet chocolate contains many more cocoa solids than milk chocolate. It is also a common belief that semi-sweet chocolate doesn’t have as nice a texture as milk chocolate because it’s harder and less creamy.

What Is The Difference Between Milk Chocolate And Semi-Sweet?

Milk chocolate contains a higher sugar content than semi-sweet chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate contains more cocoa solids. The result is two chocolate types that are very different in texture.

So, whilst they may look the same in terms of color, there are three particularly big differences between these milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate.

Let’s go through each of them one by one. Starting with…

Sugar Content

It kind of makes sense when you consider the name.

Sugar is what makes chocolate taste sweet.

So if a chocolate is called -semi-sweet, then you can bet that it’s only semi-sugar.

This is the case for semi-sweet chocolate. It has a much lower added sugar content level than milk chocolate does.

Semi-sweet chocolate will typically not contain more than 50% added sugar.

This is rather low in the added sugar for the chocolate world.

Whereas milk chocolate typically contains more than 50% added sugar.

The taste of semi-sweet chocolate is consequently much different than that of milk chocolate. 

But that’s not just down to their varying levels of added sugar. It’s also down to…

Cocoa Solids

The other ingredient that both milk chocolate and sweet chocolate contain, but to vastly varying degrees, is cocoa solids.

Cocoa solids are components of cocoa beans that are left behind after the cocoa butter has been extracted from them. 

Semi-sweet chocolate contains anywhere between 35% to just over 50% cocoa solids.

Whereas milk chocolate contains about 10% cocoa solids. 

Now, this makes these two types of chocolate taste very different indeed.

Because cocoa solids are very bitter. 

As milk chocolate doesn’t possess a high cocoa solids content, you can’t really taste that bitterness. 

But with semi-sweet chocolate, you can taste the bitterness because the cocoa solid content is so high. 

So this is another way they vary and another way their tastes differ as well.


The final main difference between milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate is their textures.

The higher cocoa solids content in semi-sweet chocolate makes it quite hard, brittle, and gritty in texture.

It also makes the chocolate much less creamy compared to milk chocolate.

This is because it doesn’t contain a lot, if any, milk which creates that smooth, creamy texture in chocolate. 

Some semi-sweet chocolates contain milk.

However, it’s never as much as the amounts found in milk chocolate. The clue is in the name!

The more cocoa solids in a semi-sweet chocolate, the harder and more brittle it will be in texture. 

Is Semi-Sweet Chocolate Better Than Milk Chocolate?

There is a time and a place to use each type of chocolate. When it comes to taste, milk chocolate is better than semi-sweet chocolate (at least in most people’s opinion). When it comes to healthy eating, semi-sweet chocolate is better than milk chocolate.

Let’s take a look at when you should eat semi-sweet chocolate and when you should eat milk chocolate.

Then we’ll analyze which is better in certain areas.

Time For Eating/Using Semi-Sweet Chocolate

For Health Purposes

Semi-sweet chocolate is seen as a healthier option. As we know, it contains a high amount of cocoa solids. 

Cocoa solids contain an antioxidant called epicatechin. 

Epicatechin is believed to provide several health benefits.

These include improved blood flow, endurance, insulin sensitivity, lowered cholesterol levels, regulated blood sugar levels, and overall improved brain and heart health.

So the more cocoa solids a chocolate contains, the more chance of bringing these health benefits.

That’s why semi-sweet chocolate is a healthier option to take when you’re taking care of yourself and your diet.

General Baking

When it comes to baking, semi-sweet chocolate is an excellent ingredient to use, especially in desserts. It goes well with bold fruity flavors too.

Hot Chocolate

But I love to use semi-sweet chocolate when making a nice cup of hot chocolate.

It’s just the right amount of sweetness and bitterness for that classic beverage.

Time For Eating/Using Milk Chocolate


Sem-sweet is consisered a healthier choice, but if you sensibly incorporate chocolate as part of a balanced diet, then milk chocolate would be the better choice because it’s more enjoyable.

Milk chocolate is great for combining with toffee, caramel, and peanut. 

But it’s not as perhaps compatible with bolder, fruity flavors as semi-sweet chocolate is. That’s because it can be easily overwhelmed.

So when you’re using milk chocolate, it’s because you’re using it as the centerpiece ingredient. The star of the show! So best to pair it with milder flavors.

Certain Recipes

In terms of baking, well, really, you want to use milk chocolate in a recipe that is otherwise low in sugar and fat.

Milk chocolate is high in sugar and fat, so adding it to a recipe that is also high in sugar and fat will just lead to a sickening, overindulgent feast of sugar and fat!

Such foods as pretzels are great to use with milk chocolate. 

But as for a chocolate cake recipe, yeah, probably not the best idea.

Now it’s time to decide which one is better in several areas!


It’s no secret. The taste of milk chocolate is thought to be much more enjoyable than semi-sweet. The people really have spoken on this.

Semi-sweet chocolate is much more bitter than milk chocolate.

However, it has a much milder and sweeter taste than dark chocolate, which many prefer.

But it loses to milk chocolate when it comes to taste.


Again, I would say that milk chocolate wins here. Its texture is smooth and creamy, making it pleasantly edible. 

Semi-sweet chocolate is much tougher and more brittle. However, some people like it more.

On the whole, though, people prefer the texture of milk chocolate. 

Can I Substitute Milk Chocolate For Semi-Sweet Chocolate?

If you’re trying to be healthier, then you should substitute milk chocolate for semi-sweet. If you’re using chocolate in a baking recipe, then you shouldn’t swap milk chocolate for semi-sweet and vice versa because they will react differently.

If you love chocolate but you’re worried about your diet and being healthy, then semi-sweet chocolate is an ideal substitute for milk chocolate.

This is because, as we’ve discussed, it is healthier than milk chocolate.

But what about if you’re using chocolate in a baking recipe?

Well, here’s the thing. Different chocolates heat and bake differently from each other.

So say you have a recipe that specifies using milk chocolate.

If you then substitute milk chocolate for semi-sweet chocolate, then your finished bake won’t turn out as it’s supposed to in terms of taste and texture.

This is because semi-sweet chocolate will react differently to milk chocolate when used in the same recipe.

Is Milk Chocolate Or Semi-Sweet Better For Cookies?

Most cookie recipes use semi-sweet chocolate. This is because it’s healthier, and cocoa solids content helps balance the flavor out. But milk chocolate still works well as well.

The problem with using milk chocolate to create the chips for your cookies is that it’s too unhealthy and sweet.

Your cookie mixture is already quite sweet and fat.

So if you add milk chocolate to this, then you’re just increasing all of this even more.

Whereas semi-sweet chocolate is a healthier option that still tastes great when used in cookies.

So, with semi-sweet chocolate, you get the health benefits whilst achieving a sweet and tasty flavor in your cookies.

But if you don’t care about this and you just want to indulge, then crack on with your milk chocolate chip cookies!


The battle is over between these two giants of the chocolate world!

But the war will be ongoing whilst chocolate exists on this planet.

Milk chocolate is the most popular for a reason. Its taste and texture are arguably superior to all.

But it’s not all about taste and texture. We’ve got to watch our health as well. 

Semi-sweet chocolate gives us the chance to do this whilst still satisfying our sweet tooth.

Related Questions

Does semi-sweet chocolate taste like milk chocolate?

Semisweet chocolate does not taste like milk chocolate – it is more bitter whereas milk chocolate is more creamy and smooth.