How to Make Hot Chocolate –

How to Make Hot Chocolate –

Warm your fingers and lift your spirits with a mug of nice homemade Hot Chocolate.

simple hot chocolate in mug with whipped cream

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Made with hot milk and combining the intensity of cocoa powder with the richness of good chocolate, this hot chocolate is the real deal.

Sure, there’s the powdery packet plus microwave.

BUT let’s be honest: it’s not the same. 

If you are going to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate, really enjoy it with the good stuff! 

Plus, making hot chocolate homemade allows you to customize how chocolatey, sweet, or creamy you want it, to add different flavors, and even to spike it.

mug of hot chocolate with hot milk
best hot chocolate in mug

How to Make Hot Chocolate

This easy hot chocolate is fuzzy flannel and your favorite slippers feels.

Grab a saucepan and your favorite chocolate, and whisk up warm milk with a few ingredients to treat yourself to a mug of heaven.

The Ingredients

  • Milk. I used 2%, which gives it richness than skim and makes healthier and less calories and cholesterol than other homemade hot chocolates that call for heavy cream or whole milk. You can use your preferred milk here. I don’t recommend water as water makes hot chocolate thin and not as flavorful. Bonus, milk has protein and calcium.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate. Chocolate is the star of this drink after all, so use the good stuff. I recommend chopping a bar of chocolate. If you use bittersweet, add a bit more sugar to the recipe.

Market Swap

You can swap in 1 cup of chocolate chips in place of chopping a bar, but it is less recommended since chocolate chips contain stabilizers designed to keep them from melting.

Chopping a bar will help the chocolate fully melt and be smooth.

  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. To pack an extra punch of chocolate flavor.
  • Sugar. This is optional and the amount can be adjusted based on how sweet versus bitter you prefer your chocolate level.

Market Swap

Maple syrup may be used as the sweetener if you prefer.

  • Cinnamon. This is my secret ingredient, but I’m sharing with you because I love you. The pinch of cinnamon adds that mysterious, delightful “what is in this delicious drink?!” element.
  • Vanilla Extract. Because vanilla makes every sweet taste better.
  • Salt. Wait, salt in hot cocoa? Yes! Just a bit to balance the sweet and bring out the chocolate.

The Directions

chocolate powder and cocoa powder melting with hot milk for best hot chocolate
  1. Combine all of ingredients except the vanilla in a saucepan.


Watch your stove heat level! Beware of chocolate sinking to the bottom and burning or milk scalding or boiling over.

whisking hot chocolate simmering in pan with cocoa powder and chocolate
  1. Heat over medium, whisking frequently, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla. Serve immediately, or transfer to a crockpot to keep warm. ENJOY!

Hot Chocolate Recipe Variations

The beauty of homemade hot chocolate is you can make it so many ways!

Nutella Hot Chocolate:

  • Whisk in 2 tablespoons of Nutella to base hot chocolate recipe while it’s warming on the stove.

Coffee Hot Chocolate:

  • Add a shot of espresso to your cup, then pour in hot chocolate.

Spiked Hot Chocolate:

For a grown up version, add a shot of liquor per 1 cup serving of hot chocolate. A few options that I think would be tasty:

  • Baileys Irish Cream
  • Kahlua
  • Chocolate liqueur
  • Coffee liqueur
  • Brandy
  • Peppermint schnapps

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

  • Add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract to the hot chocolate recipe, or a teeny splash to your mug (a little goes a long way!).
  • To drive home peppermint point, garnish mug with mini candy cane, and/or drop in a peppermint patty candy.
pouring best homemade hot chocolate into mug

Entertaining Idea: Hot Chocolate Bar

Hot chocolate can not only be enjoyed solo on a chilly night, but also served with your holiday festivities in the form of a “Hot Chocolate Bar.”

Double (or triple!) your recipe as needed, and arrange a display of fun toppings so guests can fix their own chocolate concoction. Topping options are endless, so get creative!

  • Marshmallows
  • Mini candy canes
  • Hershey Kisses
  • Fresh chocolate shavings
  • Peppermint patties
  • Whipped cream
  • Cookies
  • Caramels
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Caramel sauce

Storage Tips

  • To Store. After cooling to room temperature, store in a covered container in fridge. Hot chocolate is best served within a day.
  • To Reheat. Warm in microwave or in saucepan on the stove until steaming. 

Meal Prep Tip

Hot chocolate can be made a day in advance and rewarmed for serving. A great way to save on time the day of entertaining!

What to Serve with Hot Chocolate

Freshly-baked cookies are the perfect pairing with your steaming mug of hot chocolate!

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Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Whisk. I find I use a small-sized whisk much more frequently than a full sized.
  • Measuring Cups. A baking essential!
  • Ladle. For serving.

My Favorite Whisk

This is the best whisk! I use a 9-inch whisk 99.5% of the time over my large, standard whisk. I find it easier to maneuver.

simple hot chocolate in mug with whipped cream

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Let’s raise a mug to the season and to the best hot chocolate!

nice hot chocolate in mug with whipped cream and spoon

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Make Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate?

You can make hot chocolate dairy-free by using your favorite non-dairy milks such as almond milk, oat, soy, or coconut milk, and chocolate without milk-based additives.

How Do I Make Vegan Hot Chocolate?

You can make hot chocolate vegan by using your favorite vegan milk, such as oat or soy, and vegan dark chocolate.

Can I Just Heat Up Chocolate Milk for Hot Chocolate?

Just like use a packet mix for a warm chocolate drink, but heating up chocolate milk is not the same or as delicious as this easy homemade hot chocolate recipe. Real melted chocolate and cocoa powder give it flavor and texture.

  • 4 cups 2% milk whole milk, or non-dairy milk of choice (I do not recommend skim, as it will be watery)
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate chopped (50 to 60 percent)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar plus additional to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and espresso powder.

  • Heat over medium, whisking frequently, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Do not let the mixture boil and whisk often.

  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Taste and add additional sugar 1 teaspoon at a time until your desired flavor is reached (if you are using chocolate closer to 60%, you may want one or 2 teaspoons more). Enjoy immediately, or transfer to a slow cooker to keep warm.

  • TO STORE: After cooling to room temperature, store in a covered container in fridge. Hot chocolate is best served within a day.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm in microwave or in saucepan on the stove until steaming. 

Calories: 316kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 8gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 14mgPotassium: 506mgFiber: 4gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 175IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 218mgIron: 5mg

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