Homemade Hot Cocoa – The Best Hot Chocolate Recipe Ever!

In cold weather months, hot cocoa is a must and this homemade recipe never disappoints.

It’s creamy, chocolatey, and everything hot cocoa should be. Did I mention how easy it is to make, see for yourself in this video:

There’s nothing like a cup of homemade hot cocoa made with real cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. It’s another reason we love the cold months! 

I’ve experimented with a few recipes like the Peppermint White Hot Chocolate and Strawberry Hot Chocolate– incredible, but the classic will always be #1 at my house!

How to Make Hot Chocolate

Let’s whip this up! 

  1. First, combine cocoa powder, sugar, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring, until smooth.
  2. Add the milk and continue to stir over medium heat, be sure not to boil.
  3. Once the cocoa has reached the desired temperature, remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and pour into mugs.
  4. Top with whipped cream, marshmallows, chocolate chips, sprinkles- whatever you’re heart desires and enjoy!
Hot cocoa with marshmallows

Hot Cocoa Ingredients

I used to keep hot cocoa packets on hand for quick use on a cold day, but nothing compares to hot cocoa made with real cocoa powder. Unfortunately, the packets usually contain hydrogenated oils, preservatives, and corn syrup solids- bummer.

Thankfully, homemade hot cocoa is extremely easy to prepare with a few pantry staples such as unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, and milk.

You can also batch make this recipe into your own DIY Hot Cocoa Mix, that way it’s on hand to stir into hot milk for a quick treat on a cold day.

Healthy Hot Chocolate Ingredient Swaps

Although it is a treat, you can make it healthier without sacrificing taste.

Swap the sugar for 1/4 cup of honey, maple syrup, or 1/2 cup coconut sugar.

To make this a dairy-free hot chocolate, swap the regular milk with your favorite nut or soy milk. I’ve tried soy and almond milk, and both times it turned out delicious.

Hot Chocolate Toppings & Add-Ins

Toppings are a fun and delicious bonus for hot cocoa, and sometimes we like to go over the top! Whether you want to make hot cocoa for an afternoon treat or create a hot cocoa bar for a party, these topping ideas will be a hit.

  • Whipped cream
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips
  • Chopped peppermint
  • Peppermint sticks, for stirring

Speaking of peppermint, add in a drop of peppermint extract for a copycat version of Starbuck’s peppermint hot chocolate.

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa with marshmallows

Nothing compares to homemade hot cocoa, and this recipe is so easy to make with unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, milk, and a pinch of salt.

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Category: Drinks
  • Cuisine: Snacks



  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat.
  2. Cook, stirring constantly until smooth and bring to a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat, and stir in the milk, do not boil.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into mugs and serve immediately.


  • I’ve used both vanilla soymilk as well as almond milk to make this and both are delicious!


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 196
  • Sugar: 37.7g
  • Sodium: 687mg
  • Fat: 0.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 40.4g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 9.3g
  • Cholesterol: 4.9mg

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About MOMables - Laura

Mom to 3 kids, obsessed with coffee, meal planning, and helping you cook fresh meals for your family fast!