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Learn how to make hot chocolate with cocoa powder in 5 minutes with just 3 ingredients! Quick, easy, and a delicious way to warm yourself up on cold winter days. Get ready to cozy up with your favorite mug!

Two white mugs of cocoa by marshmallows.

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This recipe is inspired by those Hot Cocoa Mix packets that I loved as a kid. All you had to do was dump the Hot Cocoa mix in your mug, add water or milk and top with your favorite toppings! So easy, yet so nostalgic and cozy.

I created my own super quick, hot chocolate with cocoa powder that requires just 3 simple ingredients! You can make this creamy homemade hot chocolate just as quickly as you can make the pre-packaged mix.

Ingredients You'll Need

All you need to make hot chocolate at home is cocoa powder, sugar, and milk or water. This combination is my absolute favorite, but I'll give you a few substitutions you can use to make this with what you have in your pantry right now!

  • cocoa powder – Either unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch processed cocoa or cacao powder will work in making your own hot chocolate. The key is to use unsweetened cocoa powder. On it's own, it tastes very bitter and not sweet at all. The only ingredient in the store-bought brand you buy should be cocoa.
  • coconut sugar – I use coconut sugar to make this hot chocolate slightly less processed and lower on the glycemic index, but you are welcome to substitute 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, light brown sugar, or cane sugar.
  • maple syrup – There are a couple different maple syrups you can buy and I recommend Grade A dark maple syrup. It’s the strongest, most pronounced flavor and compliments the caramel notes in the coconut sugar. I always buy maple syrup at Costco because it is by far the cheapest high quality maple syrup I've found. If interested, check out my other favorites in my The Ultimate Vegan Pantry Staples List!

How to Make Hot Chocolate with Cocoa Powder

4 step by step photos showing how to make a mug of hot chocolate with cocoa powder step by step.
  1. Pick your favorite mug.
  2. Add cocoa powder, coconut sugar, and maple syrup. Mix to combine forming a paste.
  3. Optional: Stir in 3 tablespoons full fat coconut milk for a creamier hot chocolate.
  4. Add in 8 ounces boiling hot water. Using a spoon or candy cane, stir to combine. Taste and add an additional 4 ounces of water or additional maple syrup to taste, if needed.
  5. Top with your favorite hot cocoa toppings. Top with vegan marshmallows, non dairy whipped cream and a candy cane! 
Mug full of hot chocolate on white surface.

Add-ins and Toppings

  • Peanut butter hot chocolate: Add 1 tablespoon of natural, runny peanut butter to the mug along with the cocoa powder, sugar, and maple syrup. Mix together into a paste before adding the liquid. This will ensure it does not clump up in the bottom.
  • Marshmallows: In order to make this hot chocolate with cocoa powder vegan and vegetarian (gelatin is not vegetarian!), I used vegan mini marshmallows with a bit of peppermint flavor! You can substitute your family's favorite marshmallows, or try my Homemade Vegan Marshmallows that actually melt!!
  • Candy canes: A candy cane will not only help you stir your hot chocolate as you drink, but will give your drink a nice peppermint hot chocolate flavor! You could even add a drop or two of edible peppermint oil for even stronger peppermint hot chocolate.
  • Whipped cream: I used coconut whipped cream, but your family's favorite will do! I've also used soy whipped cream or oat milk whipped cream. Luckily there are many dairy free whipped creams available in stores these days.
  • Chocolate chips: If you are looking for a hot chocolate recipe made with cocoa powder, you may not have chocolate chips on hand. But in the event you do, melting a tablespoon of chocolate chips into your mug can make your hot chocolate even richer and a bit sweeter!
  • Vanilla extract: If you love the taste of vanilla, add 1/2 teaspoon into the mug!
Dollop of whipped cream on top of hot chocolate.

Expert Tips

  • Always add the cacao powder to the mug before the liquid. If you try adding the cacao after you have already added the liquid, it is difficult to dissolve into the hot chocolate and stays clumpy.
  • Occasionally stir your hot chocolate while drinking to prevent the cacao powder and sugar from sinking to the bottom.
  • Quickly heat up your water with an electric kettle!
  • Start by adding 8 ounces of hot water. If you find it is too rich, add up to an additional 4 ounces of water. Remember, it is easier to water it down than it is to make it richer!
Overhead close up photo of hot chocolate in mug topped with whipped cream and sprinkles.
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How to Make Hot Chocolate with Cocoa Powder with Water

4.82 from 11 votes

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Cost: $0.37 per serving
Learn how to make hot chocolate with cocoa powder in 5 minutes with just 3 ingredients! Quick, easy, and a delicious way to warm yourself up on cold winter days. Get ready to cozy up with your favorite mug!

Ingredients
 

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder can use cacao powder ($0.05)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar can use brown sugar, coconut sugar, or cane sugar ($0.01)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup can use another liquid sweetener ($0.26)
  • 8-12 ounces hot water
  • 3 tablespoons full-fat milk optional, I used coconut milk ($0.05)

Instructions

  • Into your favorite mug, add 1 tablespoon each of cocoa powder, sugar, and maple syrup. Mix to combine, forming a paste.
  • Optional: Add 3 tablespoons full-fat milk for a creamy hot chocolate.
  • Slowly mix in 8-12 ounces hot water. Stir to combine. Taste and add additional maple syrup to taste.
  • Top with favorite hot chocolate toppings and enjoy immediately while warm.
Last step!Please consider Leaving a review + commenting letting me know how you liked this recipe!

Notes

  • Make sure to add the cacao powder before the water to prevent the cacao from clumping up. 
  • I love using an electric kettle to heat the water. Very easy. 
ADD-INS & TOPPING IDEAS: 
  • Peanut butter hot chocolate: Add 1 tablespoon of natural, runny peanut butter to the mug along with the cocoa powder, sugar, and maple syrup. Mix together into a paste before adding the liquid. This will ensure it does not clump up in the bottom.
  • Marshmallows: In order to make this hot chocolate with cocoa powder vegan and vegetarian (gelatin is not vegetarian!), I used vegan mini marshmallows with a bit of peppermint flavor! You can substitute your family's favorite marshmallows, or try my Homemade Vegan Marshmallows that actually melt!!
  • Candy canes: A candy cane will not only help you stir your hot chocolate as you drink, but will give your drink a nice peppermint hot chocolate flavor! You could even add a drop or two of edible peppermint oil for even stronger peppermint hot chocolate.
  • Whipped cream: I used coconut whipped cream, but your family's favorite will do! I've also used soy whipped cream or oat milk whipped cream. Luckily there are many dairy free whipped creams available in stores these days.
  • Chocolate chips: If you are looking for a hot chocolate recipe made with cocoa powder, you may not have chocolate chips on hand. But in the event you do, melting a tablespoon of chocolate chips into your mug can make your hot chocolate even richer and a bit sweeter!
  • Vanilla extract: If you love the taste of vanilla, add 1/2 teaspoon into the mug!

Nutrition

Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 27mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g

Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Course Drinks
Cuisine American

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4.82 from 11 votes

Recipe FAQs

Should hot cocoa be made with milk or water?

This is really a personal preference. I grew up thinking legit hot chocolate was made from a packet of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate mix and always used hot water. It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned that real hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate and is much thicker and richer.

If you are accustomed to drinking very rich, traditional drinking chocolate, you will prefer a full-fat milk in place of water.

For a happy medium, use the additional 3 tablespoons of milk I recommend! Don't be afraid to adjust to your personal liking.

Can hot chocolate keep you awake?

The short answer is yes. Cocoa powder contains caffeine and if you do not typically consume caffeine, you may feel more alert and energized after drinking a cup of hot chocolate. With that being said, the caffeine content in hot chocolate is significantly less than a cup of coffee or a pumpkin spice latte. Unless you are super sensitive to caffeine, it is unlikely to disrupt sleep.

Is cocoa powder the same as hot chocolate mix?

Hot chocolate mix often contains cocoa powder, but these two cannot be used interchangeably. Cocoa powder is a single ingredient with no added sugar and hot chocolate mix is a mix of ingredients – typically sugar, cocoa and a pinch of salt.

Hot chocolate with cocoa powder and peppermint marshmallows.

Photography by: Baking-Ginger Studios

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4.82 from 11 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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10 Comments

  1. 3 stars
    Little tip:
    When making peanut butter milk, with or without chocolate, with regular or dry pb, after stirring into a paste, only add a little liquid at a time, stirring thoroughly after each addition, till it is completely smooth. Then you can stir in the rest of your liquid! Cinnamon is also a great addition, mix with the dry ingredients, and or pb, to keep it from just floating and clumping around. Golden milk mix (turmeric spice mix) also works great here! Doing it this way you can have it cold or hot! 😀 Have a blessed Christmas season!

    1. Oops! Forgot to add, mixing 1Tbls of fine oat flour with dry ingredients adds extra creaminess!
      Pumpkin spice works too!
      Had to make some cocoa after reading this post, lol!

  2. 5 stars
    This was such an easy way to make rich, delicious hot chocolate from scratch at home! My whole family loved it!

  3. 5 stars
    This was soooo tasty! Much better than storebought! Will make again. 🙂

  4. MacKenzie says:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  5. 5 stars
    So easy! And I like the flavor with the maple syrup and coconut sugar, too.

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious hot chocolate! Love that I can whip it up easily with what I already have on hand. Dark cocoa powder is my favorite so far!

  7. Genevieve | Fitty Foodlicious says:

    5 stars
    Oh my, this hot chocolate recipe sounds amazing! I love your food styling and your gorgeous mugs as well!

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