Can you think of a more nostalgic drink than a mug of hot cocoa? This homemade hot chocolate recipe is rich and creamy, with tons of chocolate flavor! You can drink it plain or add my favorite toppings: whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
How to Make Homemade Hot Chocolate
Confession: I grew up on packaged hot chocolate mix. The kind that came in those little paper packages… with basically no real chocolate flavor. And those weird little dry marshmallows inside. Anyone else grow up drinking that stuff? Even at a young age, I knew hot chocolate should taste better.
So I made it my life mission to come up with a better recipe. And I promised myself I wouldn’t publish this recipe until I had cracked the code on the *PERFECT* hot chocolate. You guys… it took me over 4 years to come up with this recipe. But I’m finally sharing all my tricks for the thickest, most chocolatey, and creamy hot chocolate ever!
Hot chocolate is the perfect belly-warming drink to sip on all winter long! One sip will remind you why this drink is famous world-wide. I like to close my eyes when I drink it… and imagine I’m sitting in a snow covered cabin by a crackling fire. I do the same thing when I drink my boozy peppermint hot chocolate!
5 Ingredient Hot Chocolate Mix
- Milk: I suggest using full-fat dairy milk, but offer some plant-based options in a section below. That said, for the most “classic” tasting drink, regular milk works best.
- Heavy Cream: Aka whipping cream, gives our hot chocolate a luxuriously thick texture. Buy a large container and you’ll have enough to make homemade whipped cream.
- Sea Salt: A tiny pinch of salt wakes up the chocolate flavor and helps the drink from becoming too sweet. I like using Maldon sea salt, but any fine or flaky sea salt will work. If you’re using flaky salt, simply crush it in your fingertips before adding.
- Chocolate: Bittersweet chocolate, dark chocolate, or semi-sweet chocolate all work in this recipe. The chopped chocolate should be a quality brand you know melts well.
- Confectioners’ Sugar: This magical ingredient both sweetens and thickens our hot chocolate drinks.
You can also add a pinch of ground cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract for extra flavor! Although these ingredients are totally optional, I think it elevates the flavor of the chocolate. And keeps people guessing what the “secret ingredient” in your homemade hot chocolate is!
Favorite Toppings for a Mug of Hot Cocoa:
- Whipped Cream: Adding whipped cream on top of your mug of hot cocoa is basically an essential part of the hot chocolate experience, right? You can use store-bought, but there’s nothing like homemade whipped cream. And it’s as easy as beating together confectioner’s sugar and heavy cream.
- Shaved Chocolate: I love topping my whipped cream with shaved chocolate! The chocolate shavings melt into the whipped cream and taste so delicious. You can use dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate shavings!
- Mini Chocolate Chips: If you don’t want to bother shaving chocolate, just sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips on top of your whipped cream! They’ll add an extra chocolate pop with no prep needed.
- Chocolate Syrup: For a “fresh from the coffee shop” look, drizzle a little chocolate syrup on top of your whipped cream instead. It’ll look like a Starbucks hot chocolate but taste so much better.
- Marshmallows: My toddler LOVES adding mini marshmallows on top of his hot cocoa. If you’re not a whipped cream person, this is a great topping option.
- Cinnamon: For a less decadent twist, lightly sprinkle cinnamon on top of the whipped cream. You can even get extra fancy and add a cinnamon stick on top!
Get the Best Chocolate Flavor
The ration of chocolate to milk can make or break a hot cocoa recipe! I use TONS of chopped chocolate in this recipe to ensure it’s ultra thick, rich, and creamy.
- I prefer using high-quality dark chocolate, which creates a bittersweet chocolate flavor. My favorite high-quality brands are Lindt, Ghiradelli, and Guittard.
- For a sweeter cup of coco, use semi-sweet chocolate. This will create a sweet cocoa that’s still drinkable (not too sweet).
- I don’t recommend using milk chocolate, which doesn’t melt well and is way too sweet. Feel free to add milk chocolate shavings on top of your hot cocoa if desired.
- Do NOT use white chocolate in this recipe. White hot chocolate recipes exist, but this it not one of them.
- Avoid using chocolate chips if possible. They don’t melt well and can cause a clumpy/oily coco. If you must use chocolate chips, use a high-quality brand. Or the ones mentioned below.
- If you’re making this vegan/dairy free, enjoy life brand chocolate or HU chocolate both use cocoa butter and melt surprisingly well!
Dairy Milk vs Plant-Based
I have tested this recipe with dairy milk alternatives and it works pretty great. Thai-style Coconut milk definitely works the best if you don’t mind the coconut flavor. It yields the thickest and richest hot coco. However oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk all will work fine.
Your hot chocolate will be thinner if you sub some or all the milk and cream for non-dairy milk or water. You may want to add a Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the . recipe. The combination of sugar and cocoa will help thicken the drink.
And that’s a wrap on my tips and tricks for making the best hot chocolate recipe ever! If you’ve read this far, I don’t think I need to convince you that rich and creamy hot chocolate is delicious. But I hope I have convinced you try to my recipe next time you’re craving a cozy mug of hot cocoa.
5 Ingredient Hot Chocolate Recipe
- 2 and 3/4 cups (622ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (227ml) heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 ounces (227g) high-quality chocolate finely chopped (dark, bittersweet, or semi-sweet)
- 1 Tablespoon (14g) confectioners' sugar use more for a sweeter drink
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Whipped Cream
- Chocolate Shavings
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the whole milk, heavy cream, and salt. Place over medium-heat and cook just until the mixture comes to a rolling simmer – not a full boil.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the chopped chocolate, whisk well until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Return the saucepan to low heat. Stir in the confectioners' sugar (and vanilla and cinnamon, if using) and cook, whisking constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until super thick and smooth.
- Ladle into mugs. Garnish with lots of whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired. Serve at once!