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The coziest, most delicious homemade hot chocolate recipe takes just 5 minutes to prepare! Come in from the snow and warm up with a rich, decadent sip of this creamy, chocolatey, easy hot cocoa. Don’t forget the marshmallows or whipped cream on top!​​​​​​​

The best homemade hot chocolate recipe served in a Santa mug

The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe​​​​​​​

Childhood memories wouldn’t be complete without plenty of little hands gripping warm mugs of this easy homemade hot chocolate! Piling the marshmallows on top, making mountains of whipped cream, and sitting by the fire as our toes thaw — these are the winter essentials. Best of all, you probably have everything that you need to make a small batch of this cocoa right now. Grab your milk, chocolate, cocoa and sugar, because this is about as simple as it gets!​​​​​​​

What is the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa?​​​​​​​

These terms are often used interchangeably, but there actually is a difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa. Hot cocoa is typically made with cocoa powder, milk and sugar. Those little packets of Swiss Miss mix are perfect examples of hot cocoa — not hot chocolate. Hot cocoa is usually creamy, sweet and light, but may be lacking in a rich chocolatey flavor.

Hot chocolate, by contrast, is literally melted chocolate that’s combined with milk. You often don’t need to add sugar, since the chocolate already has sugar in it. The result is a thick, rich, decadent beverage that’s typically more chocolatey than hot cocoa. It’s like the grown-up, adult version of hot cocoa!

Child's hand holding a mug of homemade hot cocoa

Creamy Hot Chocolate Recipe

Call it hot cocoa or call it hot chocolate — this creamy homemade hot chocolate recipe is the perfect combination of the two classic drinks! You’ll use both chocolate and cocoa powder for the perfect balance of creamy, smooth and rich flavors in every mug. It’s ideal because you can easily adjust the measurements for a small batch that serves just 1 or 2, or multiply the ingredients to whip up a larger pot.

​​​​​​​If I’m serving it to my boys, I choose a sweeter, more mild chocolate (like a Hershey’s bar or milk chocolate chips), while adults typically prefer the richer, less-sweet taste of semisweet or dark chocolate. And if you really want to amp it up and make this an adults-only beverage? Spike it with a bit of whisky, bourbon or rum. Ho ho ho…these will be some very happy holidays for Santa!

Front shot of a glass mug full of the best homemade hot chocolate recipe

How to Make Homemade Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Chips

Once you’ve pulled together your ingredients, this homemade hot chocolate recipe will be ready for marshmallows in about 5 minutes. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

  • Chocolate or Chocolate Chips: pick a bar of dark or semisweet chocolate for a rich flavor; use more mild milk chocolate for the kiddos. If you’ve got chocolate chips in your pantry, those will work, too!
  • Cocoa powder: I like the unsweetened baking cocoa powder made by Hershey’s, but any similar brand will work.
  • Milk: I use 2% milk.
  • Vanilla extract: for flavor.
  • Sugar: use enough to suit your taste.
  • Salt: just a pinch! It won’t make your drink taste salty, but balances the sweetness and brings out the rich flavors.

Step 1: Heat Ingredients

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Do not boil. Stir until the chocolate melts, the sugar dissolves, and the beverage reaches your desired temperature.

Homemade hot chocolate recipe prepared in a white saucepan

Step 2: Serve

Pour the hot cocoa into mugs and let your family and friends pile on the toppings! Around here, it’s always a challenge to see who can add the most marshmallows or the tallest pile of whipped cream.​​​​​​​

Squirting whipped cream on top of a mug of homemade hot chocolate

Set Up a Hot Chocolate Bar

For a fun and festive Christmas party or just a special afternoon treat with the kids, set up a hot chocolate bar and let each of your guests customize their own mugs. Here are some good options to serve with the homemade hot chocolate:

  • Whipped cream
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate shavings, chocolate curls, or miniature chocolate chips
  • Cinnamon for dusting
  • Sprinkles
  • Peppermint sticks or candy canes for stirring
  • Whisky, bourbon or rum for the adults to spike their drinks
  • Pretzels or other salty snacks
  • Little butter cookies or shortbread for dipping
  • Gingerbread Men or Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Horizontal shot of a mug of homemade hot chocolate with a candy cane

Recipe Variations

  • Peppermint Hot Chocolate: add a drop or two of peppermint extract. This stuff is really strong, so start with a small amount and add more (slowly), to taste.
  • Mocha: Add coffee to the hot chocolate and make your own homemade mocha.
  • Milk Alternatives: You can use any milk that you have on hand — including almond milk, skim milk, whole milk or even heavy cream. The thickness and richness of your milk will impact the creamy texture of your hot chocolate.
  • If you don’t have a bar of chocolate, you can substitute with chocolate chips.
  • Small Batch Hot Chocolate: Cut all of the ingredients in half and make just enough of this homemade hot chocolate recipe for one!
  • Microwave: warm the mixture in the microwave just until the chocolate melts and the milk is heated through. Do not let it boil. Just stir every 30 seconds or so to prevent the chocolate from scorching.

Tips for the Best Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe Ever

  • Choose a high-quality dark or semisweet chocolate for the best, rich flavor. I like Lindt 78% dark chocolate. Chocolate chips will also work!
  • Use 2% milk (or even whole milk or cream) for the smoothest, creamiest flavor and texture.
  • Warm the hot chocolate over low heat — do not let it boil — and whisk frequently to help the ingredients dissolve and combine.
  • Adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste. If you want a less-sweet hot chocolate, cut the sugar in half. If your kids like a sweeter drink, add more sugar.
Mug of homemade hot chocolate with marshmallows on top

More Chocolate Recipes that You’ll Love

The best homemade hot chocolate recipe served in a Santa mug

Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe

Prep: 0 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings 2 – 4 people
Calories 199 kcal
Make a quick 5-minute homemade hot chocolate with chocolate chips, cocoa powder and milk for an easy, decadent and cozy treat!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ounces chocolate or about ¼ cup of chocolate chips (use dark or semi-sweet for a richer flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups milk (I use 2%)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sugar (or more or less, to taste)
  • teaspoon salt
  • Optional toppings: whipped cream, marshmallows, shaved chocolate

Instructions

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate melts, the sugar dissolves, and the beverage reaches desired temperature.
  • Pour into a mugs and garnish with desired toppings.

Notes

  • Choose a high-quality dark or semisweet chocolate for the best, rich flavor. I like Lindt 78% dark chocolate. Chocolate chips will also work!
  • Use 2% milk (or even whole milk or cream) for the smoothest, creamiest flavor and texture.
  • Warm the hot chocolate over low heat — do not let it boil — and whisk frequently to help the ingredients dissolve and combine.
  • Adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste. If you want a less-sweet hot chocolate, cut the sugar in half. If your kids like a sweeter drink, add more sugar.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the recipeCalories: 199kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 5gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 132mgPotassium: 305mgFiber: 2gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 120IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 155mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: homemade hot chocolate recipe, homemade hot cocoa, hot chocolate recipe, hot cocoa
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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