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Here’s the very best homemade hot chocolate recipe: full of rich chocolaty flavor and easy to whip up in 5 minutes. Never buy the mix again!

Hot chocolate
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Sure, you can buy the premade packets with pictures of snow covered ski chalets. But did you know the absolute best hot chocolate is homemade in just 5 minutes? After years of tinkering, we’ve got a master recipe for you. Here’s our very best homemade hot chocolate recipe: it’s creamy, rich, chocolaty, and tastes like a dream. All you need are a few ingredients, and you might already have them on hand. And if you’ve got chocolate chips…well, they make all the difference.

Hot cocoa vs hot chocolate

First though: what’s the difference between these two similar terms? Is there even a difference?

  • Hot cocoa and hot chocolate are commonly used as synonyms, especially in the US. So you’ll find people using them interchangeably.
  • The technical definitions are hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, milk and sugar: it has a thinner consistency and is very sweet. Hot chocolate is made with real chocolate, and may be thicker and less sweet.

Either way, you can generally use these two as synonyms. So this recipe is both a homemade hot chocolate recipe and a hot cocoa recipe! Score.

Hot chocolate recipe

Ingredients for the best hot chocolate recipe

There’s a bit of a debate in the culinary community about what makes the best homemade hot chocolate recipe. Some claim it’s chopped melted chocolate. Others claim cocoa powder is the way to go. After numerous tests, we found cocoa powder plus real chocolate is the real winner. But you can omit the chocolate if you don’t have it on hand! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cocoa powder
  • 2% milk (or oat milk)
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Semi sweet or dark chocolate chips (optional but recommended)

How to make homemade hot chocolate: a few tips

There’s not much to a homemade recipe: it’s pretty much dump and whisk! But we’ve got a couple tips before you scroll down to the recipe:

  • First, whisk a little milk with the cocoa powder. This helps to make a paste and dissolve most of the powder, which can get lumpy.
  • A pinch of cinnamon adds complexity. You can add even more if you’d like a stronger flavor.
  • Real chocolate adds richness, body, and depth in flavor. You can make it with just cocoa powder, but the real chocolate takes it to a whole new level.
Homemade hot chocolate

Add toppings to serve

This homemade hot chocolate recipe tastes absolutely amazing as is. Honestly, we rarely add anything else. But if you’d like, add toppings to make it next level cozy! You can use it as part of a hot chocolate bar and let guests top their drinks as desired. Try these toppings:

  • Homemade whipped cream
  • Shaved chocolate
  • Cocoa powder
  • Marshmallows (homemade or purchased)
  • Peppermint candies, crushed
  • Chocolate sauce

Variations on hot chocolate

There are so many ways to vary this hot chocolate recipe! Add flavors or mix it up by spiking it with booze. Or, go for a healthier spin with less sugar and richness. Here are the best variations on this cozy drink (add the quantities to the 2 serving recipe below):

Hot cocoa

More hot drinks

Once the weather gets a chill, it’s time to cup your hands around a cozy mug. Outside of this homemade hot cocoa, here are some other hot beverages to take off the chill:

This hot cocoa recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten free. For dairy free and vegan, use oat milk and dairy-free chocolate (or omit).

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Hot chocolate

Homemade Hot Chocolate

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 drinks 1x
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Here’s the very best homemade hot chocolate recipe: full of rich chocolaty flavor and easy to whip up in 5 minutes. Never buy the mix again!


  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups 2% milk (or oat milk)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • ¼ cup (1 ½ ounces) semisweet or dark chocolate chips*


  1. Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and ¼ cup of the milk and whisk until the cocoa powder is mostly integrated. Whisk in the remaining milk until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and heat over medium heat until the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately, garnished with whipped cream or marshmallows.


*You can omit for a great cup of hot cocoa with a lighter flavor (and less calories). But the chocolate really adds richness in flavor. We highly recommend it!

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. barbara says:

    WOW. This is over the top fabulous. So much better than recipes on the back of the cocoa containers. Wonderful depth of flavor. My husband doesn’t typically love cinnamon in hot chocolate, but I added it and didn’t tell him ;) He loved it and commented on how there was a flavor that really made it stand out – This is a winner I will share as well as make. Thank you!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  2. Barb Webster says:

    I had some espresso chocolate chips on hand, and added a few in addition to some semi sweet. Turned out great!

  3. Selah T. says:

    Wonderful hot chocolate. Thank you so much! I ended up adding marshmallows and graham crackers to mine.

  4. Fran Bennett says:

    Would love to see a mix that can be made in bulk, and then adding the extras when making the hot chocolate!🧑🏻‍🎄

  5. Cassie Williams says:

    How much sugar should we use? I notice you mention sugar in the blog section, but I don’t see it in the recipe itself. Thanks!

  6. Melissa W. says:

    Made a big batch of this for a St. Patrick’s Day outing – kids loved the regular version, and grown-ups loved the Bailey’s and Peppermint versions. I was wondering if there would be enough sugar (compared to the basic Hershey’s recipe), but with the chocolate chips it was more than sweet enough. Very decadent. Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  7. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!