Homemade Hot Cocoa

This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy.

When it’s cold outside there’s nothing better than a cup of homemade hot cocoa! And this hot cocoa recipe is a 1000 times better than any packet you can get from the store. This recipe is made with cocoa powder only and is ready in about 20 minutes!

cup of hot cocoa in a white mug topped with marshmallows


 

A few weeks ago over on my Facebook page I asked the ever important question..hot cocoa or egg nog? Now there were some definite Team Egg Noggers out there, but I think the “Hot Cocoa-ers” (not a word but let’s move on) definitely won out.

I mean, baby when it’s cold outside...nothing is going to warm you up better than a cup of homemade hot cocoa. Am I right?! Of course, homemade is the key here. We’re not using this flimsy packets from the store today, and those sad marshmallows they include. Can they really even call those marshmallows?!

I’m going to show you how to make the best hot cocoa ever, and it’s quick and simple to throw together. So put down that powdery packet. Make this homemade hot cocoa instead.

This hot cocoa recipe, as the name suggests, uses cocoa powder only. I’m using Dutch-processed cocoa powder because it’s a bit darker, richer, and less acidic then the natural unsweetened cocoa powder. It really does make all the difference.

And then once it’s all mixed up, all you’re gonna want to to is top the cup of cocoa. Maybe some homemade vanilla marshmallows? Or a dollop of whipped cream, some chocolate shavings, a couple of leftover Christmas candy canes? Heck. Add them all! Best homemade hot cocoa ever..here we come!

top down view of a cup of hot cocoa topped with mini marshmallows

What’s the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa?

Aww hot chocolate. Err. Wait or is it hot cocoa? Wait. Just gimme a cup of the good stuff!! Ok but in all seriousness…there is a difference. And it’s all in the name. If you’re asking for a hot chocolate then there should be melted chocolate in the recipe. Hot chocolate usually contains cocoa powder, and melted chocolate. And a hot cocoa only uses cocoa powder.

Because actual chocolate is used in a hot chocolate, then it tends to be a richer. Hot cocoa tends to be a bit thinner, and also a bit sweeter and creamier.

So this is a true hot cocoa recipe, and what I love is I always have cocoa powder on hands, but not always baker’s chocolate so I can always whip some up! But hey, do you want me to create a hot chocolate recipe? Leave me a note in the comments!

What You Need

ingredients for hot cocoa recipe

Ingredient Notes

  • Cocoa Powder – I use and recommend Dutch processed cocoa powder…you can read more below as to why! But you can use natural cocoa powder, but you may want to adjust the sweetness if you do. I found an extra tablespoon of sugar did the trick.
  • Milk – You can make this richer by using full-fat milk, but I prefer low-fat milk to lighten it up a bit.
  • Heavy Cream – This adds creaminess and richness. I tried it with both half-n-half and heavy cream and preferred the richness of heavy cream. But you can always lighten it up a bit with half-n-half.

Baking 101: Cocoa Powder

Before we start let’s talk a bit about cocoa powder. Natural Cocoa Vs Dutch Process Cocoa Powder <– not the same thing. Cocoa powder, in simplest forms, is basically pure chocolate. It’s what remains after the cacao beans have been dried and roasted.

Natural cocoa powder is unsweetened, and as the name suggests natural. The cacao beans get ground down into cocoa solids, and those solids are ground down into a powder. Natural cocoa powder is bit more acidic than Dutch cocoa powder. Dutch cocoa powder has been “alkalized” (think science class and the pH scale) and this means it’s not going to be as acidic.

That’s why I prefer using Dutch cocoa powder vs. natural in my hot cocoa. It’s going to make a richer, darker, smoother tasting hot cocoa in the end.

two spoons, one with natural cocoa powder, one with dutch cocoa powder on them

How To Make Hot Cocoa

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and water together over low heat until smooth. Heat the mixture for 2 minutes, whisking continuously.
  2. Stir in the milk, and increase the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook for about 12 to 15 minutes until you see steam rise from the surface, and bubbles form around the edge. Do not let the mixture boil. 
  3. Stir in the vanilla and the heavy cream. 
  4. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into mugs and serve. 
step by step directions making hot cocoa

Heather’s Baking Tip

Do you only have natural cocoa powder? You can still use it, but you may want to adjust the sweetness after you try your first sip and add a touch more sugar (an extra tablespoon I found was perfect) if it needs it. Or heck add more whipped cream! Nothing wrong with that!

Hot Cocoa Toppings!

A cup of hot cocoa on it’s own is just fine and dandy I supposse. But seems wrong with a little something something to garnish that cup of cocoa, am I right? Here are a few fun suggestions:

cup of hot cocoa topped with marshmallows with a gold spoon in it

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use natural cocoa powder?

Yes you can, but you may want to adjust the sweetness if you do. I found an extra tablespoon of sugar helped to balance out the extra acidity.

What milk is best?

I recommend a lower-fat milk as it can make it too rich to use a full-fat milk. A non-dairy milk will also work just fine.

Can I flavor this hot cocoa?

Of course, try adding in a little peppermint extract, or dash of cinnamon, a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce wouldn’t be too bad either!

Can I make a smaller serving?

Absolutely you can! You can cut this recipe in half if you want and make less servings.

Can I make this as a hot cocoa mix?

If you want you can make a batch of the dry ingredients (cocoa powder, sugar, and salt) and keep in a bag and then store to have on hand. Then just make the recipe as directed. I would recommend making a double or triple batch to have on hand!

More Recipes To Try

Homemade Hot Cocoa Recipe

When it's cold outside there's nothing better than a cup of hot cocoa! And this homemade hot cocoa recipe is a 1000 times better than any packet you can get from the store. This recipe is made with cocoa powder only and is ready in about 20 minutes!
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 186kcal

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons (32 g) Dutch process cocoa powder *see note
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 3 cups (720 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream (or half-n-half)

Instructions

  • Stir cocoa, sugar, salt, and water together. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and water together over low heat until smooth. Heat for 2 minutes, whisking continuously.
  • Add milk and heat. Stir in the milk, and increase the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook for about 12 to 15 minutes until you see steam rise from the surface, and bubbles form around the edge. Do not let the mixture boil.
  • Add vanilla and cream. Stir in the vanilla and the heavy cream. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into mugs and serve.

Notes

  • Cocoa Powder – I use and recommend Dutch cocoa powder because it’s less acidic and creates a richer cocoa. But you can use natural cocoa powder, but you may want to adjust the sweetness if you do. I found an extra tablespoon of sugar was perfect.
  • Milk – You can make this richer by using full-fat milk, but I prefer low-fat milk to lighten it up a bit.
  • Heavy Cream – This adds creaminess and richness. I tried it with both half-n-half and heavy cream and preferred the richness of heavy cream. But you can always lighten it up a bit with half-n-half.
  • Flavoring: Try adding in a little peppermint extract, or dash of cinnamon, a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce wouldn’t be too bad either!
  • Servings: You can cut this recipe in half if you want and make less servings.
  • Hot Cocoa Mix: If you want you can make a batch of the dry ingredients (cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt) and keep in a bag and then store to have on hand. Then just make the recipe as directed. I would recommend making a double or triple batch to have on hand. Store in a cool, dry place.

Nutrition

Calories: 186kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 108mg | Potassium: 246mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 343IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @BostonGirlBakes or tag #BostonGirlBakes!


 

17 Comments

  1. Hello!

    I’m about to make this. But I do have one question (which I realize won’t be answered in time!). In the Q&A about making a powdered cocoa mix, you refer to powdered sugar, while the recipe says granulated, Was that a purposeful change from the recipe for the mix?

    Thanks
    Gail

    1. Hi Gail, nope sorry just a typo! I’ll be sure to fix it. I used granulated sugar in the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    This homemade cocoa turned out so delicious!It was much better than the store bought one my family said. I can’t wait to make again as my dad and brother want to have it everyday 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Baby it’s cold outside and I’d love to have a mug of this homemade hot cocoa right now! Am going to add cocoa powder to my shopping list (I had some natural but ran out!). Hopefully I can find the Dutch cocoa powder!

  4. Kayla DiMaggio says:

    5 stars
    This homemade hot cocoa was such a fun recipe to make with the kiddos! We had so much fun making it together and it was delicious!

  5. You weren’t lying when you said this hot cocoa was 1000 times better than the store-bought stuff. I’m kicking myself now for all the years I made hot cocoa from packets. Oof. Thanks so much for this recipe. I will definitely be making this time and time again.

  6. 5 stars
    Nothing compares to homemade hot cocoa. It’s so comforting and feels like such an indulgence. Perfect and delicious recipe! Super easy too!

    1. Taylor Smith says:

      There is absolutely nothing like homemade hot cocoa!

  7. 5 stars
    I can’t resist a good hot cocoa, especially during the winter. This is going to be my new go-to way of making hot chocolate, thanks so much for the recipe!!

  8. Veronika Sykorova says:

    5 stars
    Nothing beats a good creamy hot chocolate in the winter. We got about 50 cm of snow here in Toronto the other day and there are still heaps of it around so this recipe couldn’t come at a more perfect time haha! Enjoyed this during my zoom class this morning because why not! 😛

    1. Taylor Smith says:

      Hot Chocolate is a must when it’s snowing!

  9. Amanda Dixon says:

    5 stars
    This hot cocoa was pure decadence! The Dutch process cocoa added the most chocolatey flavor, and it was super simple.

  10. 5 stars
    My kids having been requesting hot cocoa almost everyday, but I keep forgetting to buy the mix! What a great idea to make it homemade! I even have all of the ingredients 😉 Will be trying this tonight!

  11. 5 stars
    I love that I can make a batch of the dry ingredients to keep on hand for whenever the kids request hot cocoa this winter. It makes it so much easier to whip up a cup or two quickly!

  12. 5 stars
    I have been SEARCHING for a great hot chocolate recipe since Christmas. This one was quick and very satisfying. Great on a chilly night!

    1. Taylor Smith says:

      I’m so glad you were able to find my recipe. Hot Cocoa is def perfect on a cold night!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More You'll Love!