Best Hot Chocolate

Are you ready for the best hot chocolate you’ll ever taste? This recipe is sumptuously rich, velvety smooth, and perfect for warming up throughout the winter season.

Hot chocolate in a white mug on a table.

There’s nothing quite like a cozy mug of hot chocolate in your hands on a cold, wintery day. It’s decadent, slightly indulgent, and one of the best parts of the holiday season, along with baking the perfect batch of no bake cookies.

While you can stir cocoa powder into warm milk and call it a day, this recipe is extra special and worth the splurge. Hot, simmering milk melds with semi-sweet chocolate, cacao powder, and a dash of maple syrup, all in one pot. It’s lusciously thick, deliciously creamy and a little piece of chocolate heaven.

Ingredients for hot chocolate on a table.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Ingredients

There’s just four ingredients in this recipe! In my opinion, the best hot chocolate is simple to make, with just a few quality ingredients.

  • Milk: You can use dairy or dairy-free milk, including cashew milk, almond milk, or oat milk. The creamier the better! And since this recipe has sugar in it, I’d choose unsweetened store-bought milks.
  • Chocolate: An essential ingredient for making hot chocolate! Whether you’re using bars or chips, just make sure to finely chop it.
  • Cacao Powder: The cacao powder (or cocoa powder) plus the chocolate is what makes this recipe so phenomenal. Trust me, you need both.
  • Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is a great natural sweetener, but feel free to swap in honey, coconut sugar, or your sweetener of choice.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below

The Best Type Of Chocolate To Use

Unlike its close cousin hot cocoa, which is made from only cocoa powder, chocolate is an essential ingredient for hot chocolate. You can use your favorite type of chocolate, though I recommend a semi-sweet or dark chocolate that’s hovering around the 50-60 percent range.

Dark chocolate has a distinctly rich flavor that tastes amazing when whisked with milk. And when you’ve finely chopped the chocolate, it’ll melt into the most luxurious, velvety texture. But if you’re not a fan of the bitterness of dark chocolate, don’t worry. A splash of maple syrup sweetens it perfectly.

Chocolate shavings on a board for hot chocolate.

How To Make The Best Hot Chocolate

  • Simmer the milk. Add the milk, cacao powder and maple syrup to a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer and whisk together until there’s no clumps.
  • Add the chocolate. Add the finely chopped chocolate and stir for 3-5 minutes, or until the chocolate is fully melted and combined.
  • Serve. Pour into your favorite mugs and serve.

Stirring hot chocolate in a pot.

Hot Chocolate Flavor Variations

While simple hot chocolate is classic for a reason, there’s so many ways to amp up it up, if you so choose. Here’s a few fun and delicious ideas.

  • Peppermint: Add one drop of peppermint extract into each cup.
  • Boozy: Pour in a bit of bourbon or brandy for an extra fun night in.
  • Salted Caramel: Dollop whipped cream (or coconut whipped cream) and drizzle salted caramel sauce over it.
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate: Stir in cinnamon and serve with a cinnamon stick.
  • Classic: Top it off with marshmallows and a sprinkle of cacao powder.

How To To Store Hot Chocolate

  • To store: Pour into airtight glass jars, and store in the fridge for 3-5 days. It may separate, but that’s fine if it does, as it will recombine when you reheat it.
  • To reheat: Add the hot chocolate to a saucepan and gently reheat it on medium heat, until warmed through.

2 mugs of hot chocolate next to cacao powder.

Hot Chocolate Recipe Video

Want to see how I make this in my kitchen? Watch the video below! 

More Cozy Winter Drinks

Nothing beats bundling up on the couch with a warm drink in your hand. Here’s a few other options I know you’ll love…

If you make this recipe, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

BEST Hot Chocolate

5 from 24 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 cups
Author: Lisa Bryan
This is hands down the best hot chocolate you'll ever taste! It's unbelievably rich, velvety smooth, and perfect for warming up throughout the winter season.


  • 4 cups milk, any type will work
  • 3 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, or honey
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (or approx 2/3 cup chocolate chips)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract


  • In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, cacao powder, and maple syrup to a simmer. Stir until there's no clumps.
    Stirring hot chocolate in a pot with a whisk.
  • Add the finely chopped chocolate and whisk for about 3-5 minutes, or until the hot chocolate is smooth.
  • Pour the hot chocolate into mugs, and if you'd like, top with whipped cream, coconut whipped cream or homemade marshmallows and a sprinkle of cacao powder.
    A whit mug with hot chocolate and whipped cream.

Lisa's Tips

  • If you're using chocolate chips, I still recommend doing a quickly chop with your knife to finely chop the chocolate. Otherwise, you might end up with clumps of chocolate in the bottom of your mug.
  • Keep an eye on the stove! Milk can easily boil over, and that's never fun.
  • This is a really thick and luscious hot chocolate, though the type of milk you use will affect the level of creaminess. Nut milks naturally won't be as thick as full-fat milk. If you're using full-fat milk and would like it a bit thinner, just swap one cup of milk for one cup of water.


Calories: 225kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 2mg, Sodium: 165mg, Potassium: 240mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 14IU, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 2mg
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best hot chocolate, hot chocolate, hot chocolate recipe
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
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54 comments on “Best Hot Chocolate”

  1. Omg this way AMAZING!!! I added the vanilla too 
    Hubby licked to cup clean hahaha 5 stars

  2. Loved the recipe! Love the idea that it worked for different milk types. I made it with Almond and Lactose free milk. Works every time, and I can drink it without nasty side effects!5 stars

  3. The hot chocolate it’s amazing and I love it, the only thing it that there is so much milk I empty out one cartoon of milk from the recipe so idk if I could replace the milk with water ?5 stars

  4. Yummy I like it look deliscouse

  5. Do you have an oat milk recipe for a barista to use in steamed espresso coffees?

  6. yummy! Even my husband liked this hot chocolate! It was so good. It will remain a special occasion treat for our family (anything can be considered a “special occasion”5 stars

  7. Super quick to whip up and really tasty! I also added a piece of Peppermint because I was using a mint chocolate bar for some Peppermint hot chocolate. And I’m using the leftovers for a mocha tomorrow.5 stars

  8. Can you pre make this? I’d like to take this on an adventure.  If yes how could it be stored? Thanks 

  9. This really is the BEST hot chocolate recipe! Delicious and so easy to follow. (p.s. Take her warning about not walking away from the pot seriously! Milk really can boil over quickly, haha!) We saved the rest and heated it up the next day. So good!5 stars

  10. Best chocolate ever!  Awesome taste and way better than store bought!5 stars

  11. I am from Mexico, and I followed you. Your recipes are really great! and I learn to much!5 stars

  12. My husband loves hot chocolate so I told him to try this recipe, and he swears it’s the best one he ever had! He says he’ll be trying again throughout the winter.5 stars

  13. I love this hot chocolate. Its the perfect balance of richness without being overwhelming. A million times better than the powder! I have made with with half water and half milk and used semi sweet and milk chocolate chips. Although the flavor changes slightly, it’s still excellent! I think its the vanilla that rounds out the flavors.5 stars

  14. Amazing!! This is sooo good Lisa. I added cinnamon and few chilly flakes :) 5 stars5 stars

  15. Hi I was wondering what cocoa powdered did you use exactly?

    Thank you for sharing!

    CG5 stars

  16. Your recipes and lifestyle are amazing. By adapting a few of your tips, I’ve lost 30 lbs. I am forever grateful! 5 stars

  17. WOW. I’m definitely a hot chocolate snob and I have to say this made the best cup of hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Holy moly. I ended up using about 2-3 cups whole milk + the liquid from a can of coconut cream (I used the hardened cream to mak a coconut whipped cream). I also added the optional vanilla extract and a touch of cinnamon. Make this ASAP. You won’t regret it.5 stars

    • Hi Michelle – I’m so thrilled you loved the recipe! Especially as you’re a hot chocolate connoisseur. ;) I’m sure your version was extra creamy with the whole milk and coconut cream – yum!!

  18. This does look like the best hot chocolate. Can’t wait to make this for my family!5 stars

  19. YUMMAY! I love hot chocolate in general but adding in extra dark chocolate 🤯spectacular!!!! This recipe is a keeper.5 stars

  20. Just came back from a quick walk outside and made this to warm us up. Perfect!5 stars

  21. Thank you for all of your amazing recipes Lisa!!! We are on our journey of healing from Autoimmune disease and with your bulletproof recipes, videos, tips and tricks we are able to enjoy delicious meals&treats all year around! Happy Holidays!5 stars

  22. This really is the best hot chocolate recipe I’ve had in a long time!! I love how creamy and thick it becomes, I’ll be drinking this all winter long!5 stars

  23. Lisa, your recipes are always the bomb! This one is no different. I’ve always made hot cocoa thinking it as hot chocolate. Now I know the difference… hot chocolate is the way to go!!! I also want to mention that I LOVE all the tips you give for each recipe – all the different flavor variations, ways to store the recipe, ways to reheat, etc. it’s all very helpful info and sets your recipes apart from others. 5 stars

    • Hi Becky – Yay, I’m thrilled you love this recipe! And thanks for your lovely feedback on the recipe post as well. I’m glad you enjoy all those little tidbits. :)

  24. This cocoa is rich and decadent! I never would have guessed it is so easy to make from scratch! I’m never going back to hot cocoa packets again.5 stars

  25. Made this yummy Hot Chocolate for my family and it was a Hit!!!
    It’s the best ever!5 stars

  26. This hot chocolate looks epic. You really can’t beat homemade hot chocolate.5 stars

  27. I made this recipe for my family and it was a hit. It’s not too sweet and it’s very delicious! We made it with oat milk and it was still creamy. Great recipe – thank you! 5 stars