The best bargain milk chocolate bar that’s less than a third of the price of Dairy Milk

Unlike many of the more expensive standard offerings, none of the budget bars tested contained added palm or vegetable fat
Unlike many of the more expensive standard offerings, none of the budget bars tested contained added palm or vegetable fat

Yes, milk chocolate is less bitter than plain chocolate, but that doesn’t mean it’s just for kids. Chocolate snobs presume that it “is the poor relative and not an acceptable product to admit to liking,” says the chocolatier Lisa Clarke of The Chocolate Tart in Somerset. But “the difference between milk and dark chocolate is purely the addition of milk powder; it can have world-class complex flavour notes, just like dark chocolate”.

Milk does wonders to soften the tannic bite of cacao, making it gentler on the palate than sugar alone can manage. No surprise then, that milk chocolate remains Britain’s favourite, with Cadbury’s version topping sales.

25 years ago there was uproar when the EU deemed the name of our beloved Dairy Milk was not suitable, as it contains cheap vegetable fat as well as cocoa butter. Continental bars, meanwhile, are enriched with just milk fat and cocoa butter. New names were suggested (such as “vegelate”), but “family milk chocolate” was finally settled on, providing the fats used were limited to palm oil, mango kernel, kokum, sal, shea and illipe (Dairy Milk contains palm and shea).

Chocolate chunks on stone background
In the UK milk chocolate legally has to be at least 20 per cent cocoa solids and 20 per cent milk solids, but in the US only a minimum of 10 per cent coca solids is required - iStockphoto

It’s not a terribly appetising roll call, and the generally most-used fat in cheap milk chocolate, palm oil, has question marks over its environmental impact, with some campaigners saying even so-called sustainable palm oil is damaging. It also dilutes the chocolate, making it cheaper, but also less powerfully flavoured – and easier to eat a lot of.

All this is considered when Clarke and I sit down to taste 27 bars of supermarket milk. Looking at the chocolate squares, stripped of their wrappers and arranged upside down (to hide logos), they fall broadly into two camps: slim, flat bars with a silky sheen, and the popular, chunky Dairy-Milk type, with a duller finish.

As we work our way through, other differences emerge. Some of those posher, slimmer bars are distinctly deeper-coloured and in the tasting those darker bars stand out, with a richer, more complex, less sweet flavour we both prefer.

It turns out these “dark” milk chocolates contain over 40 per cent cocoa solids. All of the chocolate we tried, apart from Cadbury Dairy Milk (at 23 per per cent), was over 25 per cent cocoa solids. Legally, milk chocolate in the UK has to be at least 20 per cent cocoa solids and 20 per cent milk solids, but if it’s to avoid the dreaded “family milk chocolate” label in the EU it needs to be at least 25 per cent cocoa solids (the United States sets a far lower bar, with a minimum of 10 per cent cocoa solids in its milk chocolate, which would explain why much of it is so terrible).

Amongst the other bars are creamy smooth continental styles, with hints of golden syrup, caramel and nuts in the flavour. It’s the taste of Lindt, but also of Galaxy. British-style, like Dairy Milk and its copies, is earthier, with a particular taste and texture that is down to the addition of “chocolate crumb”, a mix of sugar, milk and cocoa liquor which is dried and ground to a powder. It’s handy for the manufacturers, as it simplifies the process, and it’s a comforting flavour many of us love.

High angle view of chocolate bar on foil and yellow background
All of the tested chocolate bars were over 26 per cent cocoa solids and Rainforest Alliance certified

As for other ingredients, sugar, milk of some kind (butter fat, whey, milk powder, for example), cocoa mass and cocoa butter all feature. Some include flavouring, either vanilla extract (good) or just “flavouring”, which will (if unspecified) probably be artificial. Emulsifiers (mostly lecithin) help keep the molten chocolate smooth, runny and easy to handle, so they are there to make life simpler for producers, not more delicious for us. Sunflower lecithin is less processed than soy lecithin, but it is more expensive and some people reckon they can taste it in the chocolate. A few other emulsifiers feature (some bars had as many as three) but the more expensive bars manage without.

But no, you don’t need to spend a fortune if it’s everyday comfort you are after, for a milk chocolate cake topping, or a sweet chocolate caramel sauce, say. For this, skip by the big-brand bars, and even the supermarkets’ own-label mid ranges. The clever money is on budget milk chocolate bars.

Unlike many of the more expensive standard offerings, none of the budget bars I tried (Asda, Aldi, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s) contain added palm or vegetable fat. All were over 26 per cent cocoa solids, and all Rainforest Alliance certified. Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons have real vanilla extract. One, you’ll discover below, is an absolute cracker, with a far better flavour (and higher cocoa and milk solids content), than Dairy Milk or Galaxy but at less than a third of the cost.



Lidl Fin Carre Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate

£2.09 for 200g (£1.04/100g)

Muddy-looking colour with a disappointing snap, and a stale flavour that has hints of almond extract. On the plus side, it has Fairtrade certification.


Aldi Moser Roth Smooth Milk Chocolate

£1.49 for 5 x 25g (£1.19/100g)

Flat-smelling chocolate, quite pale, crumbly and fatty. The flavour is overwhelmingly stale and unpleasant, like chewing on a candle. It is Fairtrade though.


Lidl Fin Carre Milk Chocolate

55p for 100g

This smells like a paper towel – at most there’s a scant chocolate waft. It tastes of chocolate-flavoured cake covering – chemically with a slightly singed note.


Asda Milk Chocolate Bar

£1.55 for 200g (78p/100g) 

A muddy brown colour with a retro-looking bar design. It’s got a caramel flavour but it’s artificial-tasting, with a bitter chemical aftertaste.


Aldi Dairyfine Milk Chocolate

£1.09 for 200g (55p/100g)

Chunky, but you can’t snap it as there’s not a distinct groove and the pieces are too small. Smells plasticy. The texture is soft but cheap feeling and there’s a slightly off-taste.


Feastables Mr Beast Milk Chocolate

£2 for 60g at Asda (£3.33/100g)

Mr Beast, or the YouTube influencer Jimmy Donaldson, has propelled this brand to viral success. Shame the chocolate – one of the most expensive on test – tastes oddly over-fermented.

Morrisons Savers Milk Chocolate

45p for 100g 

An unattractive bar mould has been used to shape this one. The chocolate itself is fatty with a sweet aftertaste.

Aldi Everyday Essentials Milk Chocolate

45p for 100g 

Muddy coloured with no elegance. Feels unsatisfying in the mouth with a sandy, grainy texture. The overwhelming vanilla flavouring makes it very sweet and it’s got some extra-long-named additives in it too.

Tesco Ms Molly’s Milk Chocolate Bar

45p for 100g 

A bit darker than a classic milk chocolate but there’s no cacao smell, instead it’s very sweet. The texture is chalky and it’s dull in flavour – a little sweet and not very sophisticated.

Sainsbury’s Stamford Street Co. Milk Chocolate

60p for 100g 

Nice shape with a funny retro line shape that’s got a bit of shine. I’m only getting a slightly floral, old-fashioned scent from this – like my granny’s bathroom. Unsurprisingly it doesn’t taste chocolatey either, just hints of chocolate-flavoured cake covering.

Waitrose Belgian Milk Chocolate

£2 for 180g (£1.12/100g) 

It’s been designed to look like grown-up chocolate with thick slabs but it looks very cheap. It tastes stale and like the covering on a poor-quality chocolate biscuit  – sickly. Generous size though.

Morrisons Milk Chocolate

£1.80 for 200g (90p/100g) 

Thick, Cadbury-style chocolate. It’s got a nice sweet chocolate aroma, but it’s more creamy and sweet than chocolatey – almost Galaxy-esque.

Aldi Choceur Milk Chocolate

£2.09 for 200g (£1.05/100g) 

A traditional chocolate colour, so I expect it to be fatty tasting rather than have a cocoa flavour – plus it smells very vanilla-y. As expected it’s sweet with not much of a chocolate flavour. However it’s a little bit nutty and earthy at the end. One for the Galaxy lover.

Lindt Excellence Milk Chocolate Bar

£2.15 for 100g at Waitrose 

Very thin. Cloying, with a strong vanilla flavour that’s unpleasant unless you have a very sweet tooth. There’s a malty flavour at the end like a soft hazelnut praline. Although it’s not very chocolatey it’s very moreish.

Lindt Classic Recipe Milk Chocolate Bar

£2 for 125g at Ocado (£1.60/100g) 

Nice colour – a bit muddy but still attractive. Sweet with an ersatz vanilla flavour. It has that continental taste again that makes me think of hazelnut praline – I assume this is where the barley malt extract comes into play.

Cadbury’s Dairy Milk

£1.75 for 110g at Waitrose (£1.60 for 100g) 

Pale and muddy. I could tell this was Cadbury’s Dairy Milk from the smell and sweet taste. I’m transported to being six years old. There’s always a time and place for Cadbury’s, which is smooth, cloying with fat-flavoured sugar. It’s not at all cacao flavoured but I’d eat it if I needed a sugar rush.

Tesco Milk Chocolate Bar

£1.30 for 200g (65p/100g) 

So thick it’s hard to break but it is satisfying to bite into. Tastes like hot cocoa with a little sweetness at the end but the aftertaste isn’t good. It’s a wannabe Yorkie but it ends up more like Cadbury’s elegant and eccentric aunt.

M&S Belgian Milk Chocolate

£2 for 180g at Ocado (£1.11/100g) 

This one’s on the thick side and it’s hard to snap along the groove. Classic colour but doesn’t have a good shine. It smells fudgy and there’s nothing elegant about it. Tastes of slightly sour milk but in a good way, although the texture is not smooth enough.

Raise the bar


Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate Bar

£2.50 for 90g at Waitrose (£2.78/100g)

I like the dark colour and it’s got a cocoa bean smell. A nice snap to the chocolate and it smells sweet with a nice milk chocolate aftertaste.

Montezuma’s Smooth Operator Organic Rich & Creamy Milk Chocolate Bar

£3 for 90g at Ocado (£3.33/100g) 

Pale in colour and scentless. It’s got a lovely satisfying texture that’s creamy and comforting. But as far as chocolate is concerned it’s not anything special.

Lidl J D Gross Extra Smooth 30% Cocoa Milk Chocolate

£1.39 for 125g (£1.11/100g)

A classic light milk chocolate colour. It has no aroma and it’s got a nice snap. It tastes more of vanilla than chocolate and has that holiday-esque flavour to it. However, there is a bit more chocolate than the other continental-tasting ones.

Galaxy Smooth Milk Chocolate

£2 for 180g at Ocado (£1.11/100g)

This is by far the lightest bar – it’s so pale it’s almost a caramel colour. The mould is clever as it looks like there’s more chocolate than there is. It’s velvety but overly sweet – there’s a personality there but it’s just not the kind of chocolate I like.

Tony’s Chocolonely Milk Chocolate

£3 for 180g at Tesco (£1.67/100g) 

Very thick – would be good chocolate for your lunchbox. There’s no initial smell but a milky chocolate aroma that smells a bit sickly does end up coming through. You can taste the cacao and it’s got a vegetal flavour. Sweet and fatty but there are some complexities.

Waitrose No.1 Dominican Republic Single Origin Milk Chocolate

£2.10 for 100g 

I like the look of this one – it’s very shiny and has a finesse to it that none of the others do. It smells expensive and earthy which is promising. Tastes interesting – bitter and tannic like oaky floor polish or tobacco. Looks better than it tastes.

Asda Just Essentials Milk Chocolate

45p for 100g

A cut above other budget bars and several mid-range ones too. A lovely texture and good snap, no weird ingredients (other than soy lecithin) and Rainforest Alliance certified. It’s on the sweet side and not very chocolatey, but a bargain for Galaxy lovers.

Tesco Finest Cote D’Ivoire Dark Milk Chocolate

£1.60 for 100g 

The darkest bar in the test with 48 per cent cocoa solids. A spicy, chai-like flavour with nutty notes.  A chocolate with a huge personality, great for people who think they only like dark. Rainforest Alliance and Transparence Cacao certified.

M&S Collection Single Origin Milk Chocolate, Dominican Republic

£2.10 for 100g at Ocado

A dark, thin, elegant bar with a lovely sheen and a good snap. Smooth, slightly fudgey texture and initially mild, then a surprising intense chocolate kick at the end. Fairtrade too.