Home » Hot Chocolate Recipes

Hot Chocolate Recipes

The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without a steaming mug of rich, creamy hot chocolate. As soon as the weather turns chilly, I start craving the sweet, chocolatey beverage that instantly makes everything feel more festive. The hot chocolate recipes included here begin with the basic recipe and include spiked variations. There is definitely something for everyone.

“Hot chocolate warms the soul like a good friend.” – Unknown

Hot chocolate in mug with marshmallows sitting on gray table with red napkin.

A History of Hot Chocolate

The first hot chocolate recipes can be traced back to the ancient Mayans and Aztecs, who roasted and ground cocoa beans for a bitter, spicy drink called xocolātl. The Spanish brought cocoa home after conquering the Aztecs in the 16th century, adding sugar to sweeten it. For years it was a luxury only royalty could afford.

Hot chocolate eventually spread to the rest of Europe, becoming fashionable in aristocratic circles in the 17th and 18th centuries. Parisian cafes and chocolatiers started selling more refined, velvety hot chocolate in the 19th century.

The drink became popular in America in the 1700s, with early recipes calling for chocolate shavings boiled in water. It was a favorite of Revolutionary War soldiers. Hot chocolate further edged its way into the American mainstream thanks to innovations like Dutch cocoa processing, milk chocolate, and instant cocoa powder.

Today it’s a wintertime staple, warming us body and soul no matter how the weather outside feels frightful!

White mug sitting on white now with evergreen branch and pinecones,

 Basic Hot Chocolate Recipe

This simple recipe makes approximately two mugs of classic hot chocolate. Feel free to double or triple it for a whole crew!


  • 2 cups of milk (whole or plant-based)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream and chocolate shavings for topping (optional)


  1. Place milk, cocoa powder and sugar in a small saucepan. 
  2. Heat over medium-low heat, until steaming but not boiling. 
  3. Add chocolate chips and stir constantly until melted and fully combined.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract.
  5. Pour into mugs.
  6. Serve immediately.

 Delicious Variations

Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, try these fun flavor twists!

  • Peppermint Hot Chocolate- Add a splash of peppermint extract and garnish with crushed candy canes.
  • Gingerbread Hot Chocolate- Include a pinch of ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Coconut Hot Chocolate- Use coconut milk and top with toasted coconut flakes.
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate- Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • White Hot Chocolate- Substitute white chocolate for the dark chocolate.
  • Caramel Hot Chocolate- Swirl in caramel sauce. 
  • Mocha Hot Chocolate- Mix in a shot of coffee.
  • Chai Hot Chocolate- Add spices like cardamom, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. 
  • Hazelnut Hot Chocolate- Mix in hazelnut liqueur.
  • Raspberry Hot Chocolate-  Blend in raspberry puree.
  • Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate- Stir in a spoonful of pumpkin puree and sprinkle with pumpkin spice.
  • Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate- Swirl in peanut butter.
Pair of hands holding mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Toppings For Hot Chocolate

A blob of whipped cream is fine, but why stop there? Take your hot chocolate to the next level with these decadent toppings.

  • Whipped cream- For classic indulgence, top with a dollop of freshly whipped heavy cream or coconut whipped cream.
  • Marshmallows- Nothing says holiday hot cocoa like a pile of fluffy marshmallows.
  • Crushed candy canes- Add festive flavors and crunch with crushed peppermint candy.
  • Chocolate shavings- Shave a bar of dark chocolate over the top for extra richness. 
  • Cocoa powder- Dust with a light sprinkling of cocoa powder for an extra chocolate hit.
  • Cinnamon- Add a dash of cinnamon or cinnamon sticks for warmth.
  • Chocolate sauce- Drizzle with chocolate syrup or hot fudge for chocolate overload.
  • Sprinkles- Roll the rim in festive sprinkles for a fun pop of color and texture.
  • Whipped cream- For classic indulgence, top with a dollop of freshly whipped heavy cream or coconut whipped cream.
  • Toasted marshmallows- Use a kitchen torch to toast large marshmallows for smoky caramelized flavor.
  • Hazelnut spread- Swirl in Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut spread.
  • Caramel sauce- Drizzle with thick salted caramel sauce.
Mug of hot chocolate with cinnamon stick, marshmallows and cinnamon sprinkles.

Spiked Hot Chocolate

Adding a splash of liquor to hot chocolate is a delicious way to upgrade the classic winter drink. While hot chocolate on its own is creamy, sweet, and comforting, introducing alcohol brings in new complex flavors. The alcohol enhances the chocolate’s flavors and lends a sophisticated edge. The key is to not overdo it – just a small amount is all you need. About 1-2 ounces of liquor for a standard mug full of hot chocolate is plenty. This will allow the chocolate flavors to still come through while adding a subtle kick. The alcohol infusion also gives the drink a nice velvety texture.

Adult Hot Chocolate Recipes

  • Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate- Make Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon, then add a shot of tequila or rum.
  • White Russian Hot Chocolate- Combine coffee liqueur, vodka, and creamy white chocolate hot cocoa.
  • Spiked Hazelnut Joy- Mix in a shot of hazelnut liqueur for a nutty and comforting twist.
  • Cozy Baileys Magic- Stir in a shot of Baileys Irish Cream for a creamy and rich flavor.
  • Rum-infused Bliss- Incorporate a shot of spiced rum for a warm and spirited hot chocolate.
  • Kahlúa Cocoa Indulgence- Add a splash of Kahlúa for a delightful coffee-chocolate fusion.
  • Minty Cocoa-tini- Prepare your hot chocolate and add a shot of peppermint schnapps for a refreshing and minty kick. Garnish with a candy cane for a festive touch.
  • Irish Coffee Hot Chocolate- Incorporate a shot of Irish whiskey into your hot chocolate for a delightful blend of creamy cocoa and the warmth of whiskey. Top it off with a dollop of whipped cream.
  • Amaretto Hot Chocolate- Stir in amaretto almond liqueur and top with toasted almonds or whipped cream.
  • Coconut Rum Cocoa Paradise- Stir in a shot of coconut-flavored rum into your hot chocolate for a tropical twist. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.
  • Café Mocha Delight- Add a shot of espresso and a shot of your favorite coffee liqueur to your hot chocolate. Enjoy the rich and bold flavors of mocha with a delightful kick.
  • Grand Chocolate Royale- Enhance your hot chocolate with a shot of Grand Marnier, an orange-flavored liqueur. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of orange zest.

Tips When Adding Alcohol to Hot Chocolate

  • Add the liquor after removing the hot cocoa from heat so it doesn’t evaporate. 
  • Start with small amounts of alcohol and add more to taste.
  • Consider proportions – add more milk/cream for a lighter drink or more cocoa for rich flavor.
  • Top with whipped cream, candy canes, cinnamon, etc., to complement flavors.
  • Serve in Irish coffee mugs or glasses to let flavors blend.

Hot Chocolate & Cookies

Few treats complement rich, velvety hot chocolate more perfectly than freshly-baked cookies. The cookies add just the right amount of crunch and flavor to balance the creamy sweetness of the cocoa.  Classic choices like chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal cookies make excellent companions. Their familiar flavors beautifully enhance the chocolate experience. Heather over at The Fed Up Foodie has some delicious cookie recipes that pair nicely with hot chocolate. Her Whipped Shortbread Cookies , Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies and her Orange Cranberry Walnut Balls are perfect companions to hot cocoa. Creating your own perfect cookie and hot cocoa pairing is a wonderful excuse to spend an afternoon baking and sipping your way to chocolate-filled bliss.

Red and White striped mug on a plate filled with cookies and marshmallows.

Cheers to the holiday season and the warmth that comes with a mug of hot chocolate! However you choose to prepare it, hot chocolate is a soothing, smile-inducing way to ease the chill on a cold winter day. So go on, fix yourself a mug and start dreaming up your own signature hot chocolate – your tastebuds will thank you. May your days be merry, bright, and filled with chocolatey goodness. 

Air shot of cup with hot chocolate and marshmallows sitting on a table with leaves.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *