The Strange Reason You Shouldn't Really Pair Yogurt And Chocolate

Yogurt is usually paired with sweet items: honey, jams, fruits, etc. Anything can go with it — or so you thought. Turns out, there's a chemical reason why yogurt and chocolate don't mix. 

So why is chocolate a no-no to pair with yogurt? Well, if you've had yogurt with chopped slivers of chocolate or even chocolate chips, you might know what we're talking about. The experience of a chocolate topping on yogurt is a disappointing one. You taste only the tartness of the yogurt, while the once-sweet confection resembles flavorless bits of cocoa butter. The scientific explanation for this phenomenon is the pH: Yogurt is acidic, while chocolate tends to be more basic (alkaline).

Yes, the powerful tang of yogurt masks the sweetness of chocolate. The acidity of yogurt essentially overpowers and neutralizes the chocolate so that the flavor disappears. Theoretically, this same thing can happen when you have a bite of chocolate after having a spoonful of yogurt (saliva tends to balance the pH first though). The acidic yogurt coats your tongue and buffers the taste of the chocolate, thus making the chocolate taste less potent. While milk chocolate chips might taste less sugary with yogurt, dark chocolate, which is already reduced in sweetness alone, seems to disappear altogether. It is comparable to the experience of crunching through unsalted nuts — you smell the cocoa but can't taste it.

Yogurt pairs well with other acidic foods

But the bigger question is: Why does yogurt work with other sweet ingredients like fruit or honey? Well, it also comes down to the pH of these additions. Honey, despite its intense sweet and earthy flavor, is an acidic ingredient. Thus, it serves to sweeten and complement the sour notes of yogurt. Common fruit toppings for yogurt parfaits, like berries and tropical fruits, are also acidic in nature. Thus, instead of neutralizing one another, the yogurt and the fruits are enhanced, hence making the parfait sweeter overall. 

Our advice for any sweet yogurt pairing would be to go towards the more tart or tangy fruits, and use acidic sweeteners like honey over neutral options like sugar. Interestingly enough, you could apply this rule beyond the realm of breakfast parfaits and try making savory yogurt pairings, like tzatziki sauce. Even in savory contexts, yogurt works well with ingredients that have a lower pH; tzatziki sauce uses lemon juice, and it works perfectly to complement the tang.