As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Wondering how to make hot chocolate from scratch? It doesn’t require a blender or fancy equipment. Here’s how to make hot chocolate in minutes.
Delicious drinks are an art form. Everybody who enjoys creating this type of kitchen art has their own theories and methods for making the best cup of hot chocolate. Below is how I make mine.
The Best Chocolate For Homemade Hot Chocolate
Most folks would use semi-sweet chocolate. But for the purposes of this recipe, baking chocolate works the best. There is no sweetener added, so you have total control over the amount and type of sweetener used, while still getting a great texture and richness.
What’s The Difference Between Hot Chocolate, Hot Cocoa, And Drinking Chocolate?
Hot cocoa tends to be on the thinner side. It’s often lower in fat and is sometimes made with water.
Hot chocolate is typically made with real chocolate that is melted. It is thicker and tends to be a bit higher in fat. It is most often made with milk or cream and has a much more intense chocolate flavor.
Drinking Chocolate – Drinking chocolate is a very rich, very thick drink that consists mostly of melted chocolate. You can almost eat it with a spoon.
Water, Milk, Or Cream?
This choice will depend greatly on what type of drink you prefer.
For a thicker, richer drink, you’ll want to use higher-fat milk. Try heavy cream, half and half, whole milk, full-fat coconut milk, or homemade nut or oat milk.
For hot cocoa, you can use water or lower-fat milk. For dairy-free hot cocoa, you can use almond milk or light coconut milk.
For drinking chocolate, you’ll want a small amount of heavy cream or coconut cream.
Spiked Hot Chocolate
Yes, you can spike your hot chocolate. While it’s not something I promote here and is definitely not considered clean eating, here are some ideas for special occasions. Please drink responsibly.
- Peppermint vodka
- Chocolate liqueur
- Spiced Rum
- Butterscotch Schnapps
- Peppermint Schnapps
- Dry red wine
- Chocolate stout beer
If you are a purist, whipped cream is probably your favorite topping on hot chocolate. You can whip up some fresh whipping cream or try a dairy-free coconut whipping cream.
Cocoa Powder Vs. Real Chocolate
While this recipe uses unsweetened cocoa powder, here are some tips for using real chocolate.
Cocoa powder is great for its ease of use. You don’t have to take extra steps like you do with regular chocolate. It provides a thinner hot chocolate that most kids are used to. It’s more like the consistency of a hot chocolate mix packet that you just add water to.
Using real chocolate will give you a creamier consistency. Closer to Drinking Chocolate than a package mix. It won’t be as thick as Drinking Chocolate, but it will definitely be creamier and richer. That being said, it does require some extra steps as you’ll want to first chop your chocolate and then melt it in the microwave in 30-second intervals before adding it to your heated milk and sweetener which you’ll want to warm together in a pot on the stove.
Cayenne is definitely optional. But I find that it adds a wonderful kick. The Aztecs used to drink their chocolate with cayenne. Of course, they didn’t use sweeteners like we do. They had a completely different experience of chocolate than we do. But for adults, it adds just a little something extra than many of you might enjoy.
These are just a few suggestions:
- Peppermint sticks
- Whipped cream
- Coarse salt
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
- Coconut sugar
- Chocolate chips
- Candy canes
- Mini marshmallows
- White chocolate
- Dark chocolate chips
Milk – any type. Unsweetened if dairy-free.
Honey – or maple syrup to taste
Ground cayenne – optional
Unsweetened cocoa powder – If you prefer real chocolate, you’ll need 1 cup of chopped baking chocolate.
Vanilla extract – optional
How To Make Hot Chocolate
If you prefer a richer hot chocolate, chop up about 1 cup of unsweetened baking chocolate.
Melt in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until it’s fully melted.
During these intervals, combine all the other ingredients in a saucepot and warm. Do NOT let the milk boil or scald. You want it hot, but not burnt.
When the chocolate is fully melted, scrape it out of the bowl into the hot milk, turn off the heat under the pot and whisk quickly to combine.
Adjust sweetness to taste.
Pour into cups and serve.
What To Serve With Hot Chocolate
Pretty much any sweet treat will pair well with hot chocolate. It’s also great on its own. But here are some specific ideas for you.
- Spiced Apple Bundt Cake
- Instant Pot Chocolate Cake
- Cranberry Upside Down Cake
- Oatmeal Cookies
- Waffle Iron Cookies
- Whole Wheat Cutout Cookies
How To Reheat
You have two options:
- Microwave – Reheat in a microwave-safe mug. Warm for 1 full minute, and then in 30-second intervals after that until it reached the temperature you like.
- Stovetop – Pour into a small saucepan and reheat over low to medium heat. Do not boil.
Prefer Hot Cocoa Mix?
If all of this is too much and you prefer to use a simple hot cocoa mix, I have an easy recipe for that here. Make it in minutes and keep it in your pantry!
More Hot Winter Drink Recipes
How To Make Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate Recipe
- 4 cups milk (any type. Unsweetened if non-dairy)
- ½ cup honey (or to taste)
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp. ground cayenne (optional)
- 3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
Using Cocoa Powder
- Combine all ingredients in a pot and warm over medium to medium high heat. Stir constantly with a whisk.
- Pour into cups and serve.
Using Real Chocolate
- If you prefer a richer hot chocolate, chop up about 1 cup of unsweetened baking chocolate.
- Melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until it's fully melted.
- During these intervals, combine all the other ingredients in a saucepot and warm. Do NOT let the milk boil or scald. You want it hot, but not burnt.
- When the chocolate is fully melted, scrape it out of the bowl into the hot milk, turn off the heat under the pot and whisk quickly to combine.
- Adjust sweetness to taste.
- Pour into cups and serve.
Recipe from the Gracious Pantry® archives, originally posted on 11/4/09.