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Homemade Hot Cocoa Recipe

Delicious Homemade Hot Cocoa Recipe. A combination of cocoa powder, milk, and vanilla make this hot cocoa recipe absolutely delicious! Bonus – this decadently warm and chocolatey drink is ready in minutes.

homemade hot cocoa

I’ve kind of put my foot down a little bit recently and have stopped purchasing a lot of ready-made snack items. By ready-made, I mean pantry items like cereal, instant oatmeal packages, hot cocoa, chewy/granola bars and other various quick snacks found in the pantry.

My kids have been abusing the ready to eat snacks lately – polishing them off within a day of me bringing groceries home and I’m pretty tired of that. 

I feel like they’re old enough now that, hey if you’re hungry, make yourself a sandwich or burrito, cook some oatmeal or eat a piece of fruit! (I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was me walking into the pantry and catching my son pouring an uncooked package of brown sugar cinnamon oatmeal into his mouth!)

Plus learning to do for your self is a good life skill. (My little missy is becoming an absolute potato soup in a mug, queen!)

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Hot Cocoa Recipe From Scratch

We’ve had a round of super cold weather lately and I thought a mug of homemade hot cocoa would definitely hit the spot for them (and me, lol.) 

If you’ve never made hot cocoa from scratch, its super easy and oh-so chocolatey delicious!

hot cocoa recipe

What is the Difference Between Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate?

In case you were wondering, there is a difference!  Hot Cocoa is made with cocoa powder, milk and sugar and Hot Chocolate is made with actual melted chocolate and tends to be a heavier and richer chocolate beverage. 


Want to make this Hot Cocoa Recipe? Be sure to add these ingredients to your shopping list:

  • Sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Milk

How to Make Hot Cocoa

Have you ever made Hot cocoa from scratch? It’s actually very easy and only takes a few minutes! (Printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.)

  1. In a saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in together and stir in water. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes and the chocolate is silky to make hot cocoa
  2. Add milk to the saucepan and stir the hot cocoa together until hot. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  3. Remove hot cocoa from heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Top with optional toppings and hot cocoa

Can I Use Half n Half to Make my Hot Cocoa?

Yes, you can use just about any type of milk to make hot cocoa from scratch.  The higher the fat content, the richer more decadent your hot cocoa will be. I prefer my hot cocoa to be made with whole milk and top it with a generous amount of whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate sauce.

Hot Cocoa Recipe Tips:

  1. When heating the cocoa powder with the water and sugar, be sure to stir constantly and combine the ingredients thoroughly until you have a silky smooth “chocolate paste.” Then add the milk to the chocolate. You will then continue to heat the hot cocoa, but make sure to not let the mil come to a boil.
  2. Like thicker hot cocoa? You can add a bit of cornstarch dissolved in with the milk.
  3. The trick to the most amazingly smooth and creamy hot cocoa? Sift your cocoa before adding it to the pan!
  4. Use good quality 100% Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. I like Ghirardelli Cocoa.
  5. Like Starbucks Hot Chocolate? You can get the same Starbucks taste, by purchasing their Caramel and Mocha Sauces online.
  6. Another secret on how to get the freshest (and easiest) Whipped Cream? You have to get one of these Whipped Cream Dispensers!

whipped cream dispenser

The way these dispensers work, is you pour fresh whipping cream into the dispenser with a bit of sweetener (If that is what you like.) “Charge” the dispenser with a CO2 charger, give the canister a shake and you will have fresh whipped cream for your hot cocoa in 30 seconds! 

The cream stays fresh in your fridge (in the canister) for up to 2 weeks!  I just love mine and have been using it like crazy.

Can this Recipe Be Doubled or Tripled?

Of course! If you click the little scale, 2x or 3x button in the recipe card, it will calculate the amount of each ingredient needed to double or triple the hot cocoa recipe.

Hot Cocoa Toppings and Add-ins Ideas

Topping ideas:

    • Marshmallows
    • Whipped cream
    • Chocolate or caramel sauce
    • Mini dehydrated marshmallows
    • Sprinkles
    • Additional sprinkle of vanilla powder or even cinnamon

Hot Cocoa Stir-ins:

    • Spoonful of Nutella
    • Coconut oil
    • Peanut butter.
    • Mint extract
    • Instant espresso powder
    • Caramel

The ideas are endless!

hot cocoa recipe


Click Here to Pin the Hot Cocoa Recipe for Later

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homemade Hot Cocoa

Easy Homemade Hot Cocoa Recipe for Two

  • Author: Jamie Sanders
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: drinks
  • Method: stovetop


  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup water hot
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk

optional add-ins:

  • marshmallows
  • chocolate syrup


  1. In a saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa and salt in together and stir in water. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes and the chocolate is silky smooth.
  2. Add milk to the saucepan and stir the hot cocoa together until hot. Do Not Boil.
  3. Remove hot cocoa from heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Top with optional hot cocoa toppings and enjoy


Nutrition info calculated using whole milk and no add-ins.


  • Serving Size: 1/2 recipe
  • Calories: 286
  • Fat: 9
  • Carbohydrates: 47
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 9

Keywords: hot cocoa, hot chocolate, drinks


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Recipe rating


  1. My 15 year old son tripled the recipe and made this for the family last night. It was so good!

  2. 10 year old approved!

  3. So good and delicious I went to the store they were out of whip cream so I got cool whip

  4. In my house, the difference is Hot Chocolate is Hot Milk with Chocolate Syrup and “Hot” Cocoa is the recipe on the back of Hershey Cocoa tin. I never have mastered the recipe and mom has not made Cocoa since my dad passed away. Maybe it is time for me to try again.