This easy homemade hot chocolate recipe begins with simple ingredients, such as milk, half & half, cocoa powder, chocolate and salt. This rich and creamy hot chocolate puts powdered mix to shame.
Homemade hot chocolate is the perfect winter drink to cozy up with when it’s cold and blustery outside. It’s creamy, warm and full of rich chocolate flavor.
Being from California, we don’t often get exceptionally cold winters. Typically, it’s a mix of cold-ish weather (it’s weather I’d call cold but anyone from a snowy state probably wouldn’t…and they’d probably roll their eyes at me 😉) with a few days of really cold weather peppered in.
Last year was one of those years where I felt like we had a lot of exceptionally cold days, and my wimpy southern California body couldn’t handle it.
It was in that moment I realized living in snow and ice was probably out of the question. As much as I’ve dreamt of white winters and belted “Tennessee Christmas” at the top of my lungs (because who doesn’t dream of a tender Tennessee Christmas?!), the girl who wears flip flops religiously and owns only a handful of sweaters would get taken down by the snow.
Regardless of whether or not you’re a snow champ or a sissy like me, when it’s too cold for you to take it, this Homemade Hot Chocolate is always the answer. Always. (Pair it with a sugar cookie, molasses cookie or a snickerdoodle, and I’m not sure life can get any better).
While I’m a sucker for cute packaging (and the hot chocolate packaging this time of year is always 100% adorable. Penguin in a Santa hat on a box of hot chocolate packets? Here’s all of my money…), making hot chocolate from scratch simply cannot be beat.
Even though those festive boxes with cute design and interesting cocoa flavors are tempting, let me tell you, once you make homemade hot chocolate, you’ll never go back to the boxed stuff.
I know, I know. That’s a big claim for me to make, but I’m telling you, it’s not that much extra work to whip up some homemade cocoa, and it tastes wayyyy better than the hot water/packet mixture.
You can’t get rich, creamy hot chocolate from a box (or at least not a box I’ve found yet), and I’ve decided that ‘going big or going home’ should apply to my hot chocolate choices in life as well.
Now let’s talk specifics. Homemade Hot Chocolate Ingredients:
- half & half
- cocoa powder
- chocolate chips
- vanilla extract
What kind of chocolate should I use in this recipe?
- If possible, use a high quality cocoa powder and high quality chocolate chips (or chocolate you’ve chopped into smaller pieces). I like to use Ghirardelli, Baker’s Hershey’s, Nestle Tollhouse, Godiva, or Guittard (whatever I can find that’s quality yet a reasonable price).
Can I use any kind of milk in this recipe? And, do I have to use half & half?
- Yes, you can use any kind of milk. However, it is important to note that using whole milk will yield a richer, creamier hot chocolate and using skim milk will yield a thinner hot chocolate. For me, 2% is just right (but then again, I’ve grown up using 2% so it’s my natural choice).
- No, you do not have to use half & half (which is a combination of heavy cream and whole milk), and you could substitute milk for the half & half.
- But, here’s why I use half & half: My go to milk choice is 2% so adding in the half & half makes the hot chocolate nice and rich without going overboard.
This is a basic hot chocolate recipe. It’s amazing as is, especially when topped with marshmallows or whipped cream. However, because this is so basic, you can definitely mix it up and add other ingredients.
-As mentioned above, you can omit the half and half and instead use all milk. Additionally, you can use heavy cream instead of half and half (it will be even creamier and richer).
-You can use peppermint extract instead of vanilla extract (although I’d only use 1/4 -1/2 tsp of peppermint extract. It’s very, very strong and can overpower other flavors easily).
-You can add in some cinnamon (about 1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon) or another spice (ginger and nutmeg will give it a bit of kick).
-Feel free to get creative! Because this is a classic hot chocolate, there are plenty of ways you can doctor this up with mix-ins to get whatever flavor you want.
Lastly, here are a few tips and tricks to make this the best hot chocolate ever (and easiest!):
- Over med-low heat, you whisk the cocoa powder, sugar and salt with milk/half & half mixture. It will take a little bit of time before the cocoa is fully incorporated, but it will eventually whisk in smoothly.
- You need to whisk constantly while making this, and you need to make sure the milk doesn’t boil. Basically, as long as you keep an eye on this, you won’t be able to mess anything up.
- Once the milk and cocoa has just come to a simmer, whisk in the chocolate and vanilla extract. Keep whisking until the chocolate is fully melted and the hot chocolate is smooth.
- This recipe should make about 4 cups of hot chocolate (more or less depending upon how big or small your mugs are).
Get cozy and grab a mug!
- 3 cups milk (I used 2%)
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Whisk milk, half & half, cocoa powder, sugar and salt together in a medium saucepan over med-low heat.
Whisk the mixture constantly, until it just reaches a simmer (do not let the mixture boil). Then, add in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract, and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the hot chocolate is smooth.
Remove from heat and serve immediately.
- Top with whipped cream or marshmallows, and dust with powdered sugar and chocolate shavings, if desired.
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