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The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe

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Homemade hot chocolate always brings me to my happy place. It’s so easy, and we make it all winter long. Some links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

Hot chocolate with marshmallows

Yesterday, we had our first snow day of the year. Not only did we have a cold day, but the snow my family shoveled was heavy and wet.

Lots of snow

No surprise, by the time everyone came inside from shoveling, they begged for my hot chocolate. Who am I to refuse them?

I actually had the hot chocolate already ready for them, partly because this is so easy to make. Unfortunately, they know this, so I don’t get the full credit I should….

Best of all, I made extra base for my homemade hot chocolate. That means the next time anyone wants hot chocolate, we just need to heat up some milk and add the base.

What is hot chocolate?

So first of all, hot chocolate doesn’t use powder. Hot cocoa uses cocoa, sugar, sometimes powdered milk, and salt. 

Hot chocolate uses actual chocolate as its base. The cocoa butter you find in chocolate adds a smoothness and creaminess you don’t want to miss.

Dark chocolate pieces

I make this distinction because you end up with a very different flavor and texture. I lived in Belgium as a kid and grew up drinking chocolat chaud, so I’m very biased.

That said, making homemade hot chocolate takes little more effort and time than ripping open that powdered packet, but the taste difference? Huge.

You essentially make a ganache base and then add steaming milk to it to thin the base to your desired taste. I prefer it with dark chocolate, but my daughter loves her milk chocolate version.

It’s so simple to make, and you can dress it up with other flavors and additions. My favorite is cinnamon and a little cayenne – no surprise since I make Mexican inspired brownies and even chocolate cookies with those flavors.

Whatever you do, whether you make hot cocoa or hot chocolate, please use milk. The taste difference between milk and water is night and day.

If you can’t enjoy milk, use rice milk or coconut milk (my favorite) or another non dairy alternative. The chocolate I use for this has no dairy, so that still works, too.

Not a hot chocolate fan? What about a traditional wassail? Or just stick with a delicious winter cocktail.

Does the chocolate you use matter?

Like anytime I bake with chocolate, I use a good quality chocolate. That includes anything that melts from brownie batter truffles to peppermint bark to Oreo cookie balls to chocolate chip cookie dough truffles and more.

Why? Quality chocolate lacks fillers that prevent your chocolate from melting smoothly. On top of that, it simply tastes better!

This isn’t the time to pull out the bag of grocery store chocolate chips from your pantry. Go ahead and pick up chocolate with as few ingredients as possible.

Each year, I pick up the 5 kilo chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s. They’re pretty clean, and they taste amazing.

Even better, they cost around $15, which is fantastic that kind of quality chocolate. I get three or four bars and use them in my baking all year round!

Word of warning: those chocolate bars stay in stock for only a couple weeks. If I miss them or I run out, I use the Callebaut chocolate callets instead.

How to make homemade hot chocolate

Chop chocolate with a sharp chef’s knife. Start at a corner and work your way out cutting a quarter inch in or so each time.

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Chopped chocolate

The chocolate will shave off into the size piece you want. If you use callets, they generally don’t need to be chopped further.

In a heavy pot, gently heat cream on medium low heat. You want the cream to just start to steam and have tiny bubbles on the edge of the pot.

If you let the cream boil, it’s no bueno. It burns and leaves a bad texture in the cream.

Pour the cream over your chopped chocolate in a bowl. Or be lazy and drop the chocolate into your pot. Then comes the tough part: let it sit.

Add chocolate to cream

When you let the hot cream do its magic for two to three minutes, the chocolate melts in a perfectly smooth and creamy fashion. Then use a spatula to stir it together.

Stir melted chocolate

It starts looking like it won’t combine, but don’t panic.

Chocolate ganache

Very quickly, it comes together into a smooth chocolate bath. This is the chocolate base you’ll use to make your homemade hot chocolate.

If you plan to add any flavors, now is the time to add them. Sprinkle in your nutmeg or your cinnamon or cayenne, and stir.

You can store the base up to two weeks in your fridge in a tightly sealed container. Simply scoop out the amount of base you need and pour hot milk over it, then stir.

If you plan to make your hot chocolate right away, heat milk gently in that same heavy pot you used initially for the cream. While you want heavy cream to make the ganache base for your homemade hot chocolate, use milk for this portion.

Again, you want to heat it on medium low heat just until it starts to steam. Once it’s hot enough, remove from the heat.

Pour the chocolate base into a mug, and add the heated milk over it. Stir until it comes together, and top with marshmallows or whipped cream – or both!

Add hot milk

Do you make homemade hot chocolate?

Simple homemade hot chocolate

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 8 minutes

This simple homemade hot chocolate is incredibly rich and flavorful yet incredibly easy to make. Forget those hot cocoa powder packets!


  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 4 cups milk


  1. Chop chocolate and place in a bowl.
  2. In heavy pot, gently heat cream on medium low heat until just steaming.
  3. Pour cream over chopped chocolate, then let sit for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Use spatula to stir together.
  5. While cream melts chocolate, heat milk gently in heavy until steaming.
  6. Pour chocolate base into mugs, and add the heated milk. Stir, then top with marshmallows or whipped cream - or both!


If you only plan to make a single cup, save the ganache base in a sealed container in your fridge up to two weeks. When you want to make more, simply scoop out what you need and add it to a mug, then pour steamed milk over it and stir.

Feel free to add cinnamon and cayenne or nutmeg to the ganache based once the chocolate comes together for additional flavor. You don't need more than 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, but it's a great add.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 317Total Fat: 19.7gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 123mgCarbohydrates: 24.9gFiber: 3.1gSugar: 19.3gProtein: 10.4g

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate the recipe above and save it on Pinterest so you can find it to make again and again. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think about it, too!

Homemade hot chocolate recipe: The easiest recipe to make your own hot chocolate. Forget the cocoa packets and make this rich and smooth chocolat chaud instead. #chocolate #hotchocolate #easyrecipes #hotcocoa

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