Homemade Hot Chocolate

$3.96 recipe / $0.99 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 6 votes
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Baby it’s cold outside and there’s nothing that gets me into that holiday hygge mood more than a mug of hot cocoa! Thankfully, homemade hot cocoa recipe is super fast to make and you can make one mug at a time or make it in a big batch if you’re entertaining friends. Plus, I’ve got a bunch of fun ideas for add-ins so you can make a new flavor every time. :) Make sure to bookmark this one because you’re going to want this delicious, chocolatey goodness every night!

overhead view of four mugs of hot chocolate with different toppings

Why We Love This Hot Chocolate Recipe

I went all out with this homemade hot chocolate. To make it extra creamy and extra chocolatey I used a 50/50 mix of milk and half and half, semi-sweet chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa powder for a one-two chocolate punch. I added just enough sugar to keep it sweet, but not so much that it’s hard to finish your mug (you can always add more if you want it sweeter). The result is a perfectly balanced rich, sweet, and chocolatey mug of hot cocoa that will give you all the warm and fuzzy cozy winter vibes.

Ingredients for Hot Chocolate

Homemade hot chocolate is super easy to make. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Unsweetened cocoa powder is inexpensive and packs a huge chocolatey flavor punch without adding too-too much sugar.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate: Semi-sweet chocolate contains a lot more cocoa butter than cocoa powder, which makes this cup of cocoa extra rich.
  • Sugar: Adding sugar allows you to sweeten your cup of cocoa to your liking. Add a little for a more bitter sweet cup or add a lot for a truly decadent delight!
  • Salt: Salt is often underrated in sweet treats but a little bit goes a long way towards making the chocolate flavor extra bold.
  • Whole Milk & Half and Half: We use a combination of whole milk and half and half to make the hot chocolate extra rich. Half and Half is just what it sounds like, half milk and half heavy cream. So, if you don’t have half and half you can simply use a 3:1 ratio of milk to heavy cream for this recipe.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla makes chocolate flavors extra creamy and I wouldn’t want a cup of cocoa without it!

What Type of Chocolate to Use

I used Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate because that’s what I had on hand, but you can definitely use semi-sweet chocolate chips to make this hot chocolate more affordable. You can also experiment with using either milk chocolate or dark chocolate depending on how sweet or bitter you like your hot cocoa. Semi-sweet is right in the middle, which fits my flavor preferences.

Can I Use a Different Type of Milk?

Technically, you can use different types of milk or non-dairy milk substitutes for your hot chocolate, just keep in mind that the type of milk you use will directly impact the creaminess and sweetness of your hot chocolate. The recipe below is designed for a combination of whole milk and half and half, which I found to be rich and creamy without being too heavy.

Half and half is a 50/50 mix of whole milk and heavy cream, so if you don’t have half and half you can change the ingredients below to be 3 cups whole milk and one cup heavy cream for the same result.

Hot Chocolate Add-Ins

This is where homemade hot chocolate gets fun. There are so many extra ingredients that you can add to make new flavors. Here are a few things you can add to hot chocolate to give it more flavor:

  • Instant coffee or espresso powder
  • Almond extract
  • Peppermint extract
  • Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Cayenne pepper (see my Spicy Hot Cocoa)
  • Nutella
  • Caramel sauce
  • Malted milk powder
  • Maple syrup
  • Almond butter
  • White chocolate
  • Bailey’s Irish cream ;)
Side view of four mugs of hot chocolate with different toppings
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Homemade Hot Chocolate

5 from 6 votes
This homemade hot chocolate recipe is extra rich and cozy with two types of chocolate and just the right amount of sweetness!
close up overhead view of a single mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows and chocolate syrup
Servings 4 1 cup each
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 15 minutes


  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ($0.14)
  • 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate ($1.75)
  • 1/4 cup sugar ($0.04)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($0.01)
  • 2 cups whole milk ($0.84)
  • 2 cups half and half ($0.90)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract ($0.28)


  • Add the cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate, sugar, and salt to a medium saucepot. Pour the milk and half and half over top.
  • Place the saucepot over medium heat. Heat the ingredients over medium while whisking until the chocolate has fully melted into the milk and the milk is beginning to steam (but not simmering).
  • Once the chocolate is fully melted into the milk and the milk is has begun to steam, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Taste and adjust the sugar or chocolate to your liking.
  • Serve hot with your favorite toppings.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


This recipe scales up or down easily. Just change the number in the box next to “servings” at the top of the recipe and the ingredient amounts will adjust for you.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 377kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 9gFat: 24gSodium: 178mgFiber: 3g
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close up overhead view of a single mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows and chocolate syrup

How to Make Homemade Hot Chocolate – Step by Step Photos

Milk being poured into a sauce pot with chocolate sugar and salt

Add ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, ¼ cup sugar, and ⅛ tsp salt to a saucepot. Pour 2 cups whole milk and 2 cups half and half over top.

Finished hot chocolate

Heat the mixture over medium while whisking. The cocoa powder will sit on top at first while the milk is cold, but will begin to incorporate as the milk heats up. The semi-sweet chocolate will begin to melt as you heat, but will not fully incorporate into the milk until the milk gets so hot that it begins to steam. Once steaming, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

four mugs of hot chocolate with different toppings

Taste the hot chocolate and adjust the sweetness or other ingredients before serving and adding your favorite toppings! If you want it to be extra, EXTRA special, try topping it with some homemade whipped cream!


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    1. Hi, Dana! You can definitely substitute either for the sugar in this recipe (but it will slightly change the flavor). Although, since both Stevia and Splenda are much sweeter than actual sugar, you will need much less. The level of sweetness can also vary from brand to brand. Check the package label, which may have a conversion printed on it somewhere. If not, I would add around 1/2 tsp (or one packet) at a time, tasting after each addition to prevent the hot chocolate from becoming overly sweet. ~Marion :)

  1. I made this for over 50 people and everyone loved it. There were no leftovers and mutiple people came back for seconds and thirds. It was a hit! Thank you so much for creating a delicious recipe that is clean! I did use whole milk in replace of the half and half and it worked out great. Merry Christmas!!!

  2. Sort of off topic, but I bet another reason hot chocolate got so many searches in 2020 was the spike in workplaces trying to come up with a non-alcoholic drink people could bring to a group holiday Zoom. That’s exactly what my workplace did that year, a virtual hot chocolate party.

  3. You use actual chocolate and half n half. Ultimate hot chocolate for sure! Go big or go home!

  4. What is the reason for adding the dry items to the pot first? Wouldn’t adding the liquid first keep the dry stuff from sticking to the bottom of the pot?

    1. You could do it either way. :) It doesn’t stick to the bottom at all because you start stirring right away.

  5. Love the recipe! I like to add a shot of Peppermint Schnapps to make the Minnesota Classic Peppermint Patty YUMMY!!

  6. We had our first snow of the year here and this was the perfect warm-up after shoveling. Delicious!

  7. Really good ideas here. I like to mix the cocoa powder with just a little milk and make a sort of slurry first. Then I let it sit for a few minutes to get really hydrated. Then I’ll add the rest of the milk. That way the powder doesn’t float on top of the milk and stick to the edge of the pan. The cocoa slurry blends in well with the milk from the get-go. And your add ins? Genius. Lots of choices, Our favorite for many years now has been Bailey’s. A bottle purchased in the fall gets us through the fall and winter season spiking our hot chocolate. Happy holidays….

  8. Just pointing out that you actually didn’t list marshmallows as a possible topping anywhere in this recipe, despite having them in all of the pictures :D. Maybe in America it’s so obvious it’s not worth mentioning..? (In Europe whipped cream is the most frequent topping available, though I think I might’ve seen marshmallow hot chocolate once or twice :))

  9. So exciting and timely – my family was just talking about how the hot chocolate available even in lovely coffee shops is usually so underwhelming. Really excited to try this out. I like to add a sprinkle of chipotle powder to mine for a little kick!

    1. Yes, but it will be less creamy. Check the section above the recipe titled “Can I Use a Different Type of Milk” for more information.

  10. Ooo I would love to bottle the dry ingredients up and give them out as Christmas gifts! Think I could replace the half and half with powdered half and half to reduce the amount of ingredients people would have to add on their own?

    1. Probably. :) Most recipes I’ve seen for powdered hot chocolate mixes contain some sort of dry milk.

  11. This sounds amazing. About how long do you think this would last? Meaning, could I cool the mixture, transfer to a bottle and gently reheat by they cup for a few days? Thanks!!!

    1. Hmm, I haven’t actually tried cooling and reheating it, so I’m not sure if there would be any noticeable changes. But you can definitely make this one serving at a time!

  12. Yum! And don’t ever leave out the vanilla–it enhances and deepens the flavor of chocolate. I’m not much for marshmallows, but a generous splash of Kalua or other coffee liqueur is always welcome, as is a dollop of whipped cream. Just not every night.