Mexican Hot Chocolate


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This Mexican hot chocolate is one you’ll be sipping on all winter long. It’s a rich, creamy blend of milk, cacao powder, and chocolate, with dashes of cinnamon and chili powder for a spiced touch. Just let everything simmer on the stovetop, and you’ll have a cozy chocolate treat ready in 10 minutes!

A mug of Mexican hot chocolate.
Photo: Gayle McLeod

After having Mexican hot chocolate at a local cafe in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico — I instantly fell in love with it. It’s not as sweet as regular hot chocolate, which is a plus for me, and the cinnamon and chili powder give it this lovely depth of flavor that you wouldn’t expect.

So to answer the question – how is Mexican hot chocolate different from regular hot chocolate? It’s really two things:

  • Bittersweet chocolate: Regular hot chocolate uses semi-sweet chocolate whereas Mexican hot chocolate uses bittersweet chocolate. You won’t get quite the sugar rush from the latter!
  • Spices: Cinnamon and chili powder (or cayenne pepper) impart a little warmth and something special. But no, it’s not spicy hot, just flavorful.

I love making a batch for myself to enjoy throughout the week for a cozy, after-dinner treat. But it’s also become a recent Christmas tradition since I made it for my family a couple of years ago. That just goes to show how good it is!

Ingredients for Mexican hot chocolate.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Ingredients

Good news — this ingredient list is super simple, though I do have a few suggestions for each below.

  • Milk: The texture of your hot chocolate will depend on the milk you use. For a creamier texture, I suggest using full-fat milk. Otherwise, dairy-free milk such as almond milk, oat milk, or cashew milk will work just fine!
  • Maple Syrup and Vanilla Extract: I love using maple syrup as a sweetener, but you can also use honey or other sweeteners.
  • Chocolate: Cacao powder and bittersweet chocolate make for the dreamiest chocolate combo that’s not overly sweet. You can use chocolate chips or a chocolate bar. If using a bar, make sure to chop it finely.
  • Spices: This version has extra flavor with ground cinnamon and a dash of chili powder. Feel free to add a pinch of cayenne pepper to kick up the heat!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below

How To Make Mexican Hot Chocolate

Simmer the ingredients. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, cacao powder, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and chili powder to a simmer. Stir until there are no clumps, and keep an eye on this because milk can overheat and boil over quickly.

Stirring Mexican hot chocolate in a pot.

Add the chocolate. Add the finely chopped chocolate and whisk for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the hot chocolate is completely smooth.

A pot of Mexican hot chocolate.

Serve. Pour the hot chocolate into mugs and enjoy it as is, or top it with coconut whipped cream and an extra dash of cinnamon.

Mugs of Mexican hot chocolate.

Storage Tips

  • To store: Pour any leftover hot chocolate into an airtight glass jar and store it in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Note that it might separate a bit, but just stir it before reheating and it’ll be good to go.
  • To reheat: Add the hot chocolate to a saucepan and gently reheat on medium heat. This will probably take a few minutes, so keep an eye on it until it’s warmed through. Alternatively, you can warm individual glasses in the microwave for a minute or so.

More Winter Drinks

It’s almost natural for us to crave warm, cozy drinks this time of year. So here are a few favorites to keep in rotation. They’re also great accompaniments to your Christmas dinner on the big day!

I hope you love this Mexican hot chocolate as much as I do! If you make it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the recipe in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community.

Mexican hot chocolate in a mug.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

5 from 7 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


This Mexican hot chocolate is a cozy drink you'll want to enjoy all winter. It's rich, luscious, and perfectly spiced. Watch how I make this recipe below in my kitchen!




  • Simmer the ingredients. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, cacao powder, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and chili powder to a simmer. Stir until there's no clumps.
    Mexican hot chocolate whisked in a pot.
  • Add the chocolate. Add the finely chopped chocolate and whisk for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the hot chocolate is smooth.
    Mexican hot chocolate in a steel pot.
  • Serve. Pour the hot chocolate into mugs, and if you'd like, add your favorite toppings.
    Cups of Mexican hot chocolate.

Lisa’s Tips

  • With homemade hot chocolate (using real chocolate) you might end up with clumps of chocolate in the bottom of your mug. That’s normal. 
  • Keep an eye on the stove as milk can easily boil over (and that’s never fun). 
  • If you like it extra spicy, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper. 
  • 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. 


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: Mexican
Keyword: Mexican Hot Chocolate, Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I love making hot chocolate with maple syrup, so good! I’m allergic to cinnamon but I love chili powder, so you think that it would taste good with just the addition of chili powder?

    1. Yes, I think you’d still like it! You could always add a bit of nutmeg if you want those holiday vibes. Let us know what you think!