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Homemade Hot Cocoa Recipe

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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 put my foot down a bit recently and have stopped purchasing many ready-made snack items. By ready-made, I mean pantry items like cereal, instant oatmeal packages, hot cocoa, chewy/granola bars, and other quick snacks 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 for me 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 yourself is a good life skill. (My little missy is becoming an absolute potato soup in a mug, queen!)

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, it’s 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 smooth.how 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 enjoy.diy 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. Top your cocoa with gourmet chocolate or caramel sauces.
  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-in 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

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 29 reviews
  • 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


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Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star


  1. Tried it! SOOOO. GOOD! 10/10 will be my go to recipe

  2. This is a wonderfully easy drink to make. Takes about 5 minutes tops and it’s super tasty!!

  3. Hello! I loved this recipe and I want to try it, but unfortunately I don’t have unsweetened cocoa powder on hand right now 🙁

    Do you think I could sub with the sweetened one, while reducing the amount of sugar at the same time?

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      I am sure you could, I just don’t know what the ratios would be.

  4. Lee and Nancie says:

    Best Hot Chocolate ever! Well worth the slight extra time to prepare compared to readymade mixes.

  5. I noticed that when you use the scale 1X for the recipe, it shows “cup of unsweetened cocoa powder” but when you scale it up to 2X & 3X it goes to “1/4” and “1/3” cups respectively.

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      that is some sort of error. I will turn the scaling feature off for now. The recipe (for 2) is 1/8th cup of cocoa powder.

  6. Can this go into a crock pot and keep warm until ready to serve?

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      I am sure that would be fine.

  7. Jill Hawkins says:

    Quick, easy and yummy!

  8. Just made this hot chocolate, great recipe!!! This will be my go to for hot cocoa!!!!

  9. Loved it! ❤️ So quick/easy and delicious. 6d

  10. Love it! Highly recommended!

  11. Absolutely delicious, highly recommend 👌

  12. Absolutely delicious, I did add a jigger of Baileys😁

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