This homemade hot chocolate mix recipe makes the perfect cup of luxurious instant hot cocoa whether you mix it with milk or with water. Be sure to make extra for holiday gifting.
the dee-luxe version of packaged hot cocoa mixes you grew up with
I love a good, creamy, decadent cup of instant hot chocolate in the winter, but I’ve always been disappointed by the bland, artificial flavor and thin consistency you get from those hot cocoa mix packets ~ even from the gourmet versions (looking at you Ghirardelli hot chocolate mix.) I set out to solve that problem with this hot chocolate mix recipe.
Goal: to create a dry hot cocoa mix that makes a great cup of hot chocolate even when mixed with water. Sound impossible? Read on!
what’s in this post
- the dee-luxe version of packaged hot cocoa mixes you grew up with
- secret ingredients (that make this hot cocoa mix the best)
- To make this recipe you’ll need:
- Hot cocoa mix variations
- How to prepare this hot cocoa mix
- hot cocoa mix makes a great homemade gift, especially when paired with homemade marshmallows
- WANT TO MAKE THE BEST INSTANT HOT COCOA?
- Related: BETTER Hot Chocolate Bombs
- More cozy wintertime drinks
secret ingredients (that make this hot cocoa mix the best)
These special ingredients amp up the flavor and richness so that when you whip up a cup of hot chocolate it’s full bodied and chocolatey, not thin and watery.
Powdered milk is simply milk that has had the water removed. Most store-bought powdered milk is non-fat, but I found that whole milk powder makes a creamier instant hot cocoa. (Nonfat dry milk powder will work here too.) Milk powder technically has an infinite shelf life, so you can use it again next year for more hot cocoa mix.
Vanilla bean powder is ground dried vanilla beans, and nothing else. It’s a pure product with a huge flavor impact. And unlike extract or paste, it can be used in recipes where liquid is inappropriate. The only drawback is that, like all pure vanilla products, it’s pricey.
Another option would be to slide a whole vanilla bean (that’s been slit lengthwise down the center) into the jar where you store your mix, and over time the bean will infuse its flavor into the mix.
Using ground chocolate (as opposed to just cocoa powder) gives this mix a richer chocolate flavor and extra body. Use regular baking chocolate or your favorite gourmet brand. You will make this yourself using a food processor. You can experiment with different types of chocolate, too, like milk, bittersweet, or even white chocolate!
To make this recipe you’ll need:
- whole milk powder for creaminess
- ground chocolate for richness
- good quality cocoa powder for intense chocolate flavor
- confectioner’s sugar for sweetness that dissolves quickly in water
- cornstarch, for extra body
- vanilla bean powder, for flavor
- salt, to bring it all together
Hot cocoa mix variations
There are so many ways you can tweak this recipe for different flavor profiles, or to suit your preferences.
- Use bittersweet chocolate for an extra dark version
- If you like a super rich, drinking-chocolate style beverage, increase the ratio of ground chocolate
- Add extra salt for a “salted chocolate” version
- Add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, clove, or a combination
- Make a spicy mix with a little cayenne or chipotle powder
- Add a bit of espresso powder for a mocha hot cocoa mix
- Add malt powder for a malted chocolate mix
- Make a more decadent cocoa with heavy cream powder instead of powdered milk (suggested by commenter Caroline.)
- Add finely crushed peppermint to the mixture (suggested by commenter Sandy.)
For a non dairy vegan hot chocolate mix
- try coconut milk powder, cashew milk powder, or soy milk powder, among many others on the market.
- Use your favorite vegan chocolate: Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Hershey’s, Lindt, and Green & Black all make good ones.
- Pure chocolate and pure cocoa powder are naturally dairy free, so choose your favorite 100% cacao cocoa powder.
How to prepare this hot cocoa mix
My preferred way to prepare this hot chocolate is in a small saucepan on the stovetop. This allows the ground chocolate to melt thoroughly and everything to get nicely dissolved and mixed together.
- Add your water, plus about 3-4 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix per cup of water to a small saucepan.
- Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until nice and steaming hot (but not simmering.)
- Pour into mugs and enjoy! Top with freshly whipped cream and some shaved chocolate for an extra decadent treat.
Try adding a spoonful to a hot cup of coffee, too!
Related: BETTER Hot Chocolate Bombs
Creamy Hot Chocolate Mix
- food processor
- mason jars for storage
- Add the chopped chocolate to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until finely ground.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and process to combine. You can also do this in a large mixing bowl: add the ground chocolate along with the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.
- Keep cocoa mix in an airtight container until ready to use. It will keep in the cupboard up to a year.
To Make Hot Chocolate
- To make hot chocolate, use 3-4 Tbsp of hot chocolate mix for each cup of water. (You can also use milk.)
- Heat slowly in a saucepan, whisking to get everything dissolved. Heat until it gets steamy hot and is smooth and creamy. Enjoy with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.
- Peppermint Schnapps
- Baileys Irish Cream.
- Peppermint Vodka
- Bourbon or Irish Whiskey
- Hazelnut Liqueur
- Chili Infused Liqueur