Thinking about a little sweet for your sweet — or yourself, for that matter? The question is, which box should you choose? What will your gift imply if you buy your special someone the cheapest box of chocolates from the corner store? They (or you) are surely worth more than that! But is it always worth buying the most expensive chocolates for every occasion? Besides, how do you know your person will appreciate you splurging on top-of-the-line truffles? What if all they want is their favorite peanut-filled chocolate snack that usually comes from a vending machine year-round but is conveniently available in a heart-shaped box this time of year?
This list of Valentine’s Day chocolates, ranked from worst to best, only includes well-known chocolate brands — not that artisanal, bean-to-bar, super-high-end chocolates aren’t amazing, but these options are just much easier to find. Plus, they’re the ones you’ll see on store shelves when you have T-minus two hours until your Valentine’s Day meet-up, and they’re the ones that many of us know and love.
And if you have to buy a couple to taste test yourself because you’re not completely sure what you want, we support you. Here’s our Valentine’s Day chocolates starter guide to get you off to a good start. Love is about the journey, right?
15. A Toffifay Valentine’s Day box
These are what your grandmother might offer you when you go visit — they are by no means a cool box of chocolates. If you’ve never had a Toffifay (spelled Toffifee in Germany), you should know that inside each of these chocolates is a base of chewy caramel and a blanched hazelnut coated in chocolate-hazelnut cream and topped with milk chocolate. These chocolates were born in Germany in 1973 and haven’t changed much since.
The company calls its nougat filling "hazelnut cream" here in North America, and it’s probably to not scare off anyone who might worry these sticky sweets could destroy their teeth. The caramel layer is so thick that you might just give up on chewing and just let it dissolve in your mouth for an inordinate amount of time, which sounds about as awesome as letting an ice cream cone dissolve in your hand, but heartbreakingly slower.
The one thing these chocolates have going for them is you can eat each layer separately and then crunch into the whole hazelnut all at once whenever you’re ready, rather than being forced to crunch smaller pieces of nut in every monotonous bite. But really, you shouldn’t be buying anyone these chocolates for Valentine’s Day.
14. A heart-shaped box of Valentine’s Day Oreos
Oreos are not a romantic treat, even if you stick them in a heart-shaped box. They still rank above Toffifay because they’re just more delicious, but rank lower than M&Ms because they’re really a cookie and not a chocolate.
There is also absolutely nothing different about these Oreos from everyday Oreos other than the heart-shaped Valentine’s Day packaging. The box of eight snack packs contains the regular vanilla flavor with the regular amount of stuffing; they’re not double-stuffed or extra thin or mint-flavored or anything else exciting.
But some people really love Oreos … like, really love Oreos. Judging from the number of podcasts that cover them — about everything from the history of the company and who actually invented that cream filling to weird flavors like key lime to how Oreos should be eaten – there’s a significant market for everything "Oreo." And so Oreos made the list, but we think you should save your money and get your significant other a bigger, regular-shaped package of Oreos instead.
13. A Valentine’s Day M&M’s bag
M&M’s aren’t the best Valentine’s Day candy, and they’re kind of basic as far as chocolate goes, but their pink, white and red Valentine’s Day colors have become iconic Valentine’s Day treats, so they rank above Oreos on our list.
One thing Valentine’s M&M’s have going for them is that you can buy them online in customizable gift boxes via the the company’s website. They’re also quite affordable and way less intimidating to give to someone if your relationship is new, as opposed to giving them a whole box of expensive chocolates. If you someone a heart-shaped box of Oreos, they might wrinkle their brow and feel super awkward, but give them these M&Ms and you’re more likely to hear, "Ah, cute!"
Besides, unless you’re allergic, or just don’t like chocolate (and why would you be reading this article if you or they didn’t like chocolate?), who doesn’t like an M&M? They don’t rank any higher, though, because the pink, red, and white ones don’t taste that different from the regular multicolored M&Ms you can get year-round.
12. Valentine’s Day chocolate hearts stuffed with Reese’s Pieces
You’re walking down the chocolate aisle at a store (or browsing online, more likely) and a bright orange and pink package jumps out amid the sea of red Valentine’s candy. "Isn’t Halloween over?" you think. Yes, it is, but Reese’s doesn’t care. Reese’s is seemingly so unconcerned about popular opinion that they continue to wrap their Reese’s Pieces up in oddly-shaped chocolate peanut butter hearts. Most likely, they still sell like hotcakes, considering Reese’s are just that delicious and popular.
In fact, these chocolates are more delicious than M&Ms and less monotonous, considering every bite has multiple textures and flavors. And so, that perfect balance of milk chocolate and salty peanut filling pushes these treats up in our rankings.
You might argue that Reese’s hearts shouldn’t be on the list at all, because they’re just everyday chocolate candy in a heart-shape, but the version where Reese’s Pieces miniatures are individually wrapped in foil and put in a heart-shaped box justifies the ranking. The pink foil on each one makes them feel more like a fancy box of chocolates, in our opinion. Plus, you get to unwrap multiple little ones to get the same serving size as a regular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, so it feels more indulgent. Reese’s Valentine candy is not going any higher, though, because really, they’re just candy you can get year-round in less attractive packaging.
11. Nestle Turtles in a Valentine’s Day box
Okay, this is a legit box of chocolates. Nestle Turtles are not a candy like most of the vending machine-style chocolate options above, and they’re way better than Toffifay. But they’re definitely not the cream of the crop of Valentine’s Day chocolates, as in your SO might think you’re a bit cheap if you gift them these. And they’re probably right: The chocolate isn’t as luxurious, smooth and well-roasted as the top-ranking options on this list, but the price is generally lower.
But if you get past the ugly packaging and the big slap of Nestle’s logo on the lid, Turtles are actually pretty delicious. A variation on a chocolate-dipped pecan, Turtles combine caramel and crushed pecans in a chocolate coating. According to the company’s website, the original Turtles Caramel Nut Cluster was invented in 1916 in Chicago and is still a winning combination, especially on Valentine’s Day, when it comes in a red heart-shaped box. It’s also still made in Chicago and is certified kosher.
Turtles’ caramel is softer than Toffifay’s caramel, making it a little gooier and creamier and resulting in the sweet caramelized sugar soaking into the chocolate as you chew. The best part might be that these are made with sustainable cocoa certified by UTZ, the world’s largest certifier of sustainable cocoa.
10. Hershey’s Valentine’s Day Kisses
Ah, the Valentine’s Day classic. Hershey’s Kisses aren’t fancy and they’re not expensive, but their shape is just so perfect, and that plume on top just so adorable that they’re a better gift than Turtles and the rest of the lower-end chocolate candies on this list.
There are bags of different Kisses flavors, from dark chocolate with mint truffle to a Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate flavor, but all the kisses in most packages are the same, so these just don’t have the appeal of a mixed box of chocolates. That’s why they can’t rank any higher, even though you can find the more novel seven-ounce and 12-ounce giant kisses around February in stores and online. It’s just a lot of the same so-so chocolate.
Fun fact: Though the kisses were invented in 1907, the little plume attached to each foil-wrapped individual chocolate has become an iconic indication of love since it was added in 1921, and it was trademarked in 1924, according to Twin Cities Pioneer Press. The pink- and red-foiled Valentine’s Day version of the old-school treat launched in 1986 and has been a winter staple ever since.
9. Valentine’s Day Dove Assorted Chocolates
In case you were wondering, no, these are not made by the soap company. Dove chocolates are creamy, tender and, most importantly, assorted, making them a solid entry-level box of Valentine’s Day chocolates and a big step up from Hershey’s Kisses and Turtles. With 18-piece, 24-piece and 40-piece lopsided heart-shaped gift boxes, they’re a perfectly acceptable and giftable choice for the holiday.
There’s no exotic factor or local tie-in with Dove chocolates, and only the Dove Dark Chocolate is sustainably grown and certified by Rainforest Alliance, because their parent company, Mars, is "unable to ensure traceability and segregation through to the individual DOVE® Dark Chocolate products in stores," according to their website. Plus, the chocolates contain hydrogenated coconut oil and hydrogenated palm kernel oil, so these aren’t moving up the list any time soon, but there is variety, and the flavors are classic.
There’s a caramel-only box, a peanut-only box, a milk chocolate truffles-only box and a dark chocolate-only box, in case you don’t want an assorted mix of caramel, milk and dark chocolate truffles. And on the plus side, according to the Mars website, which owns the Dove Chocolate brand, the company is aiming to purchase only sustainably sourced cocoa by 2025.
8. See’s Valentine’s Day heart-shaped boxes
Yes, See’s tuxedo version of their heart packaging is a little over the top, but you get a lot of variety with this box of assorted chocolates, and plus, it’s a classic American company. Those extra points for being somewhat local and family-owned nudge it above conglomerate-owned Dove, which feels a bit more (forgive the pun) heartless. But See’s candy is way more expensive than other comparable brands higher on our list, so it’s not reaching the top anytime soon.
See’s flavors include milk and dark chocolate butter creams, light chocolate truffle, dark almond nougat, dark raspberry cream, lemon truffle, milk butterscotch, dark almonds (which sounds a little ominous), milk molasses chips and divinity puff, which, in case you too are wondering is a white chocolate coating around a fluffy white chocolate and walnut filling (sort of like a meringue but with the texture of nougat mixed with a marshmallow).
The old-school flavors might tip you off to the fact that this company goes way back. It was founded in 1921 in Los Angeles by Charles See, and his mom helped open the first of their many confectionary shops. Fun fact: Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger bought the company in 1972.
7. Russell Stover’s Valentine’s Day offerings
Russell Stover is owned by same company as Lindt, so the chocolate that’s used is pretty high quality, and we like it better than any of the options below it in our rankings, but the brand doesn’t have nearly as much clout as the Valentine’s chocolates higher on this list. The upside of that is that the price per gram of chocolate is lower, but Russell Stover chocolates look a bit less glossy than other holiday chocolates, are a bit less artisanal and convey less elegance than higher ranking options.
One thing Russell Stover has going for it, though, is the build-a-basket feature on their website. Despite a clunky UX, it was fun to add assorted chocolates and treats into a wicker basket to be whisked it off to a loved one.
You can’t choose all your favorite flavors for the build-a-basket feature, but there’s still a good variety (including cashew cluster, milk chocolate butter cream, and white chocolate truffle). There’s even a Valentine’s Day menu tab, with options like "New," "For Him" (if you love heart-shaped football designs) and "Essential Workers."
And if you’re shopping in an actual store, this brand is usually pretty easy to find. That might be because according to the company’s website, there are four factories in the US that produce Russell Stover chocolates — two in Kansas, one in Texas, and another in Colorado. Together, they produce about 18 million pieces of candy every day (via Delish). That’s a whopping 90 million pounds per year!
6. Kohler’s original and Valentine’s Day flavors
Kohler ranks above Russell Stover solely because of its gorgeous ganache boxes (in coffee-heavy hazelnut, light crème fraiche or true-to-the-fruit raspberry flavors) and its Love Collection boxes with their wine-inspired flavors. These just look so much better for giving to a special someone, who might believe you actually made an effort instead of just grabbing a box of whatever was cheapest from the local store.
But Kohler doesn’t have the name recognition and known commitment to sustainable cocoa of Ferrero, Ghirardelli, Godiva or Lindt, so they’re not going any higher in our rankings. But the company is based in the U.S. in a Wisconsin town of the same name, and each piece is hand made, according to its social media.
Despite its luxurious appearance, Kohler was not only originally a plumbing company, but since 2020, the company has also been making protein bars, and gifting those for Valentine’s Day might send the wrong message to your sweetheart. Better stick with the ganache and boozy flavors in their Valentine’s day box, which includes a pinot noir chocolate ganache, a rosé fruit paste (which sounds much cooler when you call it by the French name: paté de fruit) and a Champagne fruit paste, all three of which are coated in a shell of dark chocolate, then sprayed pink, gold and dark red so you can tell them apart.
5. Classic Ferrero Rocher Truffles in a Valentine’s Day arrangement
If you’ve never heard of Ferrero Rocher, you’re definitely in the minority. Some might say you’ve been living in a (heart-shaped) box. These spheres of crushed hazelnuts and chocolate have exotic appeal because they’re made in Alba, Italy, the home of hazelnut production and the same region where Nutella is made. In fact, the Ferrero Group owns Nutella (as well as TicTac, Kinder, Butterfinger and Baby Ruth). They have US factories, though, so if you’re ordering in America, your product probably isn’t being shipped from overseas.
As the first well-known-yet-upscale chocolate company on this list, Ferrero Rocher gets a high ranking, but the downside of these affordable yet delicious gold-foiled pieces is that they’re all the same, so if you like variety, these boxes aren’t for you. Plus, the chocolate and hazelnut combo just isn’t as delicious as Nutella, and a container of that is way cheaper (though less giftable, we imagine).
For purists who love hazelnuts, though, and for those who like a company that’s forthcoming about the traceability and sustainability of the palm oil it uses as well as the cocoa and sugar (and, according to its website, is working on the sustainability of the hazelnuts), Ferrero will always be an easy choice.
4. Hershey’s Pot of Gold Valentine’s Day heart
Hershey’s Pot of Gold probably doesn’t seem as classy as Ferrero Rocher, but it still ranks above the Italian brand, because you get a whole lot of chocolates and a whole lot of tasty flavors in one box. Our pick for an over-the-top gift is the Valentine’s Day milk chocolate collection with 84 pieces and a helpful card of all the flavors, which you’ll probably want to check carefully to find the caramel-filled ones and anything with creamy dark chocolate.
The Pot of Gold box was originally made by a Canadian company called Moirs from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and Hershey’s took over their factory in 1987 (via The Globe & Mail) and moved production to Mexico and the US. But it’s still a Valentine’s Day, Christmas and break room tradition for a lot of Canadians, and now, Americans.
The box isn’t going to rank any higher, though, because the third biggest ingredient in these chocolates is high fructose corn syrup and there’s a also hydrogenated oil, but the texture varied, and there’s a heart-shaped Valentine’s Day box –- though frugal chocolate-lovers will appreciate that you get more bang for your buck with the square version.
3. Ghirardelli’s Valentine’s Day Caramel Duet Hearts
Ghirardelli doesn’t just win chocolate chip taste tests (via Epicurious), but their Valentine’s Day chocolates are also a classy step up from Pot of Gold and even the Italian Ferrero Rocher. All Ghirardelli retail products are non-GMO, according to the company’s website, and what sets these chocolates apart flavor-wise is the roasting process, which creates an intense chocolate flavor. These chocolates taste stronger, richer and darker, and they definitely earned their top-three spot on our Valentine’s Day chocolates list.
Ghirardelli Valentine’s chocolates are also often a little trickier to find, and that rarity on store shelves could make them potentially a more exciting treat for the recipient. Just don’t tell your SO how reasonable the price is on the Caramel Duet Hearts gift box, which comes with milk chocolate caramel and dark chocolate sea salt caramel hearts.
You should know that Ghirardelli isn’t an Italian import, despite the Italian name. It was actually founded in San Francisco by an Italian immigrant in the mid-1800s. But if you can’t find a gift box near you, you can always order from the full line on the company’s website.
2. Classic Godiva Signature Truffles or Valentine’s Day Gift Boxes
Godiva takes its chocolate-making seriously too, much like Ghirardelli, and the company is known for being one of the most affordable Belgian chocolates in the North American market (via Forbes). Fun fact: the difference between Belgian chocolate and Swiss chocolate is that Belgian chocolate tends to be higher in cocoa (via Asher’s), so it has a bit more of an intense, but not astringent chocolate flavor, and that’s what helps Godiva earn its silver medal here on our Valentine’s Day chocolate list.
The convenience factor of finding Godiva chocolates is also a bonus, though they were much more accessible before the company announced that it was closing all its mall kiosks and stores in North America. Fortunately, the chocolates are still easy to find at retail stores and online at a variety of price points.
Of Godiva’s array of assorted boxes, our choice is the signature truffles box (with flavors like crème brulée, Aztec spice, and salted caramel) and if you really need a heart-shaped box, the assorted dark chocolate gift box, which includes molten lava cake and dark ganache flavors, is a great choice for Valentine’s Day. Not to mention, their texture and fillings are so smooth that you’ll feel like you’ve just treated yourself or someone else to something pretty exceptional.
1. Lindt Lindor Valentine’s Day Milk chocolates
Of all the chocolates available for Valentine’s Day gifting, Lindor from Lindt takes the cake with its decadent, smooth, rich and not too bitter milk chocolate. No, we’re not talking about the bars of Lindt dark chocolate that hit the right cocoa-to-sugar ratio at an easy-to-swallow price point — we’re talking about the heart-shaped box of milk chocolates and the milk chocolate truffles that look like a small bouquet of roses.
This box of Valentine’s treats comes from a company that owns three of the chocolates on this list, but Lindor chocolates are tops and live up to their reputation. The truffles are smoother than Godiva, and the only downside is that each box comes with just one flavor — but you don’t need a ton of variety when your chocolate is this good.
A close third top choice from Lindt is the strawberries and cream friendship heart with its strawberry-flavored white chocolate truffles –- because not everyone is all about the L-word this holiday, and sometimes, all you want is some super tasty, high-quality chocolate.