How to Make Hot Chocolate

There is nothing better than to snuggle up to a warm beverage on a cold day. You may wonder how to make hot chocolate. It’s easy to do! I will show you how to make this chocolatey treat.

homemade hot chocolate and marshamallows.

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Creamy Hot Chocolate

Long before hot chocolate came in packages people were making recipes for hot chocolate on their stovetop. Homemade hot chocolate tastes so much better than any store-bought package.

Chances are you already have what you need to make hot chocolate at home. It is very easy to make.

Best of all if you are trying to stay away from additives, artificial flavors, and preservatives this hot cocoa recipe is for you! It is gluten-free and dye-free.

Hot chocolate is one of those recipes that sounds simple to make, and it is easy, but lots of people mess it up because they don’t know all the little tricks to make the perfect cup of hot chocolate. Once you learn how to do it right, you won’t ever want to use instant hot cocoa from a packet ever again.

Why This is the Best Recipe for Homemade Hot Chocolate

This hot cocoa recipe is pretty straightforward and delivers the old-time hot chocolate flavor you remember from when you were a kid. It is a real crowd-pleaser and offers a solid starting point for you to add your own creativity.

Hot Cocoa Ingredients

To make this hot chocolate recipe, you will need:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Milk
homemade hot chocolate ingredients.

Ingredient Notes

This recipe calls for cocoa powder, but should you choose Dutch-processed cocoa powder or natural cocoa powder? Both will work here, and the choice is up to you.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder produces a smooth, less bitter, and darker colored hot chocolate than natural cocoa. Ghirardelli Majestic Premium Cocoa Powder is an excellent choice for anyone who prefers Dutch-processed cocoa powder.

But some people like the slight bitterness of raw, unprocessed cocoa powder and should use a natural cocoa powder like this one from Trader Joe’s.

I recommend using Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa or Ghirardelli 100% Unsweetened Ground Cocoa.

Believe it or not, the tiny amount of salt in this recipe is necessary to bring out the chocolate’s flavor. You can use any salt in your cupboard, but sea salt flakes, like Maldon Salt, have the ideal saltiness level for this drink.

Ingredient Substitutions

You can make this recipe vegan-friendly by swapping out the milk for a plant-based alternative. Unsweetened oat milk such as Unsweetened Barista Blend from Califia Farms is an excellent choice.

You can use your favorite sugar-free sweetener in this recipe. Monk Fruit in the Raw is highly recommended if you are new to sugar substitutes.

How to Make Hot Chocolate

To make homemade hot chocolate on the stovetop:

  1. Place cocoa, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan.
sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a saucepan.
  1. Pour cold water slowly into the pan and stir or whisk until well mixed.
chocolate mixture and a whisk in a saucepan.
  1. Place the pan over medium heat and stir until the mixtuLet the chocolate mixture come to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer.
  2. Simmer for about three minutes until the sugar and cocoa powder dissolve, and the chocolate mixture thickens.
chocolate mixture for hot cocoa in a saucepan.
  1. Pour milk into the saucepan. Heat while whisking continuously until the hot chocolate starts to steam.
cooked hot chocolate in a saucepan.
  1. Pour the hot chocolate into mugs.
  2. Top with marshmallows or whipped cream if desired.
homemade hot chocolate with marshmallows.

How to Make Hot Chocolate Video

I hope you try making homemade hot chocolate soon. You can see in this video how easy it is to make, and it tastes wonderful.

How to Serve Homemade Hot Chocolate

The sky is the limit when it comes to garnishing hot cocoa. Sure, you can go the classic whipped cream or store-bought mini-marshmallow route, but there are so many other ways for you to enjoy this beverage. Try some of the following suggestions or come up with your own!

  • Some folks can’t get enough of the hot stuff, and believe it or not, chili peppers go amazingly well with chocolate. Try stirring in a small pinch of ancho chile powder to really get things warmed up, or why not add a shot of Ancho Reyes Original liqueur for a boozy version?
  • A teaspoon of vanilla extract gives this hot cocoa an extra dimension of flavor. Add the vanilla with the milk so that it never boils.
  • Peppermint chocolate rim. Dip the rim of the hot chocolate mug into melted chocolate and then sprinkle with crushed candy canes. It is like drinking Christmas from a cup.
  • Salted caramel and hot chocolate is a fabulous pairing. Add a dollop of whipped cream to your hot chocolate and then drizzle with Ghirardelli Sea Salt Caramel Sauce. Or sprinkle a few pieces of salted caramel pecans on top of the whipped cream instead.

How to Store Hot Chocolate

Although it is best to make hot cocoa when you want to drink it, you can keep it overnight in the fridge. Let the hot chocolate cool entirely on the counter, and then pour it into a container with a lid. Float a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Do try to freeze this hot chocolate recipe.

How to Reheat Homemade Hot Chocolate

It is quite easy to reheat hot chocolate. Reheating on the stovetop is better, but you can also use a microwave.

To reheat on the stovetop:

  1. Pour the cold hot chocolate into a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium-low heat while constantly stirring to prevent the hot chocolate from coming to a boil.

To reheat in a microwave:

  1. Pour the cold hot chocolate into an oversized mug.
  2. Heat for a minute and stir. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the hot cocoa is warm enough.
homemade hot chocolate topped with marshmallows.

What to Eat with Hot Chocolate

What Goes Well With Hot Cocoa? Chocolate treats and desserts pair up nicely with hot cocoa and give the ultimate chocolate indulgence experience!

Looking for more great beverages to warm up to when it is cold?

Check out more of my easy drink recipes and the best winter recipes here on CopyKat!

homemade hot chocolate and marshamallows.

Homemade Hot Chocolate

You don't need to buy packages of hot cocoa, you can learn how to make delicious hot chocolate with cocoa powder and milk from scratch with this easy recipe.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Homemade Hot Chocolate, Hot chocolate, Hot Cocoa, how to make hot chocolate
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 8 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 105kcal


  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • small marshmallows to garnish (optional)
  • whipped cream to garnish (optional)


  • Place the cocoa, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Pour the water slowly into the pan and stir or whisk until well blended.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat and let boil for 3 minutes. Add the milk and continue to cook until the milk steams, stirring constantly.
  • Pour the hot chocolate into mugs and top with marshmallows or whipped cream if desired.



Calories: 105kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 139mg | Potassium: 201mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 245IU | Calcium: 172mg | Iron: 0.1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Nancy

    for the hot chocolate recipe “For this recipe, you need a few ingredients. You need milk, sugar, milk, water, and a tiny pinch of salt”.

    So, this makes hot chocolate without any actual chocolate??

  2. Wanda

    Since it has been discontinued I miss my favorite mix. Bran Muffins with Date Mic was by Jiffy Mix. It made wonderful bran muffins and there were also recipes to use with the mix to make variations. Can anyone provide a “hack” of that Mix?

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