Craving a cup of warm hot chocolate? Skip the hot coca mix! Here’s how to make the best hot chocolate with cocoa powder! Made with simple ingredients, no refined sugars, and either dairy or dairy-free milk. This recipe is fast and easy to make: ready in under 10 minutes!

Homemade chocolate in a mug with a spoon.
Rich, chocolatey, creamy and easy to make. This is the best hot chocolate made with cocoa powder.

What Readers Say

“I love this recipe. I make a batch for my three kids and then pour a bit over my coffee. I love homemade mochas! Perfect for this time of year.”

ASHLEY

  • Healthy and Nourishing: I realize you may not be going for “healthy” when making a cup of hot cocoa. But this recipe is not only delicious and decadent, it’s also made with whole foods: milk, cocoa powder, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla extract. Healthy hot chocolate will be our little secret. No one else needs to know.
  • Easy Recipe: Just add the ingredients to a pot, give everything a whisk, and in a couple of minutes you’ll have an easy homemade hot chocolate ready for yourself and family!
  • Family Favorite: This recipe makes enough to serve each family member a cup of homemade hot cocoa, making 4 cups in total! And the recipe can easily be doubled. You may just want to do that, because everyone is going to ask for seconds.
  • Rich Milk Chocolate Flavor: It can be difficult to achieve a rich, chocolate flavor without adding chocolate chips. This recipe achieves the perfect level of flavor by using real cocoa powder. The maple syrup and salt, paired with the cocoa, is the secret.

Ingredients Needed

To make this homemade recipe, you’ll need a few pantry and fridge ingredients. I keep these ingredients stocked in my capsule kitchen at all times, so it’s easy to whip up this easy hot chocolate recipe whenever the craving hits!

  • 4 cups your favorite type of milk: whole milk, coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or oat milk
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (or more to taste)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Equipment Needed

  • Medium saucepan or Dutch oven for warming the ingredients
  • Whisk for whisking the ingredients and creating a smooth drink

What’s the Difference Between Cocoa Powder and Raw Cacao Powder?

You have the option to use either ingredient to make this recipe. Both are made from cacao beans. Cocoa powder is made by roasting cacao beans. Cacao powder is obtained through a cold-press process, which allows the powder to retain living enzymes and removes fat. Some people feel that cacao is a healthier option.

How to Make Hot Chocolate With Cocoa Powder Step By Step

Step 1: Add Ingredients to a Saucepan

Pour the milk into a Dutch oven or saucepan, followed by the remaining ingredients: maple syrup, cacao powder, vanilla, and salt. Whisk the ingredients. The cocoa powder won’t fully dissolve in the milk just yet.

Step 2: Warm the Ingredients on the Stove-Top

Warm the mixture over medium heat on the stove-top, whisking every couple of minutes to fully dissolve the cocoa powder in the milk. Once fully dissolved and warm, turn off the heat. 

Pouring hot chocolate into a mug from the dutch oven below.
So easy! You’ll never need a store-bought mix again.

Step 3: Serve

Spoon the hot chocolate into mugs. Enjoy warm on a cold day (or whenever you have the urge for a warm drink).

Additional Flavor Suggestions

Change up the flavor of this recipe with one of these easy additions…

Peppermint extract: Add a splash of peppermint extract for a minty twist.
Cinnamon: Start with 1/2 teaspoon, then taste and adjust from there. You could also add in ground cloves or nutmeg or cardamom, all of which are warming spices and pair well with chocolate.
Pinch of Cayenne: If you want a spicy twist, add a pinch of cayenne. Taste and adjust according to your heat preference.
Chocolate Chips: Add actual chocolate chips to increase the richness of the drink. Add up to 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate chips, or milk chocolate chips to the milk mixture. This will make the drink very chocolatey and rich.

A child adding a large marshmallow to the top of the hot chocolate in a mug.
Add different toppings, like classic marshmallows, a dash of cinnamon, or chocolate shavings.

Topping Ideas

Of course, the best part about hot chocolate is the toppings. Here are a few ideas…

  • Whipped Cream: Add homemade whipped cream (made with heavy cream or coconut milk), or use your favorite store-bought whipped cream.
  • Dash of Cinnamon: Sprinkle the top of each drink with cinnamon.
  • Candy Cane: Add a candy cane to each mug. Or top each drink with whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed candy canes.
  • Chocolate Shavings: Take your favorite chocolate bar and a cheese grater, and grate some chocolate over the top of each mug. Fancy and delicious!
  • Marshmallows: A classic, of course! Add mini marshmallows or large marshmallows to each cup. And you can even make your own marshmallows.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

If you happen to have leftover hot chocolate, allow the leftovers to fully cool. Ladle the leftovers into a storage jar with a lid (or a mug and use plastic wrap to cover) and store in the fridge for up 1 day, then reheat in the microwave or stove-top.

Serving hot chocolate in a mug with marshmallows on top.
Such a delicious treat during the cold months! Serve this warm drink for breakfast or with your favorite dessert.

Serving Ideas

My popular DIY hot chocolate mix recipe can be made in advance and stored in the pantry. This recipe is perfect for making single cups of hot cocoa using either the microwave or stove-top.

6 More Ways to Use Cocoa Powder

Homemade chocolate in a mug with a spoon.
5 from 11 votes

How to Make Hot Chocolate With Cocoa Powder

Craving cup of warm hot chocolate? Skip the hot coca mix! Here's how to make the best hot chocolate with cocoa powder, maple syrup, and milk! Made with simple ingredients and can be made with dairy or dairy-free milk.
Kristin Marr
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course Dessert, Drinks, How To
Cuisine American
Servings 4 cups (1 cup per serving)
Calories 240 kcal
Cost: $4

Equipment

  • 1 medium saucepan or Dutch oven for warming the ingredients
  • 1 whisk for whisking the ingredients

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pour the milk into a saucepan, followed by the remaining ingredients: maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk the ingredients. The cacao powder won't fully dissolve in the milk just yet.
    Whisking the hot chocolate ingredients in a white dutch oven with a wire whisk.
  • Warm the mixture over medium heat on the stove-top, whisking every couple of minutes to fully dissolve the cocoa powder in the milk. Once fully dissolved and warm, turn off the heat. 
    Whisking the hot chocolate ingredients over a medium flame on the stove-top.
  • Spoon the hot chocolate into mugs. Enjoy warm.
    Pouring hot cocoa into a white mug.

Notes

Topping Ideas: 
  • Whipped Cream: Add homemade whipped cream (made with heavy cream or coconut milk), or use your favorite store-bought whipped cream.
  • Dash of Cinnamon: Sprinkle the top of each drink with cinnamon.
  • Candy Cane: Add a candy cane to each mug. Or top each drink with whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed candy canes.
  • Chocolate Shavings: Take your favorite chocolate bar and a cheese grater, and grate some chocolate over the top of each mug. Fancy and delicious!
  • Marshmallows: A classic, of course! Add mini marshmallows or large marshmallows to each cup. And you can even make your own marshmallows.

Nutrition

Calories: 240kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 9gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 97mgPotassium: 538mgFiber: 3gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 395IUCalcium: 339mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!
DOWNLOAD MY free

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS COOKBOOK

with 33 simple and timeless real food recipes

11 Comments

    1. Hey Janice, Either one is good for this hot chocolate. I love the rich decadent nature of canned coconut milk as it feel more like cream/whole milk. This will make the hot chocolate a bit thicker and delicious! Coconut milk from a carton is a bit more watered down but will also be delicious.

  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. I make a batch for my three kids and then pour a bit over my coffee. I love homemade mochas! Perfect for this time of year.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Kristin
    I really enjoy reading your blog and trying your recipes. Since I am in Michigan and watching it snow, I had to make the hot chocolate. It was delicious! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I loved loved the un-artificial taste to this! Most hot chocolates (even from prestigious coffee shops) leave me with a bitter taste at the end or are waaaay to sweet. This was perfect! I found that if you put the whisk handle in between your palms and shift it quickly (imitating the motion of a hand mixer), it will dissolve the cocoa powder much faster! Thanks Kristin!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.