Easy Hot Cocoa

hot cocoa

Today’s super simple recipe is brought to you by the weather cooling down drastically (we got snow two days ago!), the air smelling like Christmas, and the crazy busy-ness of this week.

Sometimes, you just want a danged cup of cocoa. I know I did when this recipe gem came along – I didn’t have any mixes, but I thought, can’t I just make hot cocoa out of, y’know, cocoa? The answer, of course, was yes.

If you’re still using packets of manufactured hot chocolate or hot cocoa, you can stop that nonsense right now. Homemade hot cocoa takes ten minutes max, and tastes worlds better than anything in an individually-wrapped package. Plus, you control the amount of sweetener, and what kind you choose to use. Drop in a homemade marshmallow or two and you’ve got coziness in a cup, my friends. You can add or exclude as much sweetener as you want, as well as make it as milky, creamy, and chocolatey as your heart desires. The vanilla smooths out the bitterness of the chocolate, as well as gives the cocoa a bit of marshmallow flavor without marshmallows. We’re big fans of dark chocolate and minimal sugar around here, ourselves, because we’re chocoholics. I’ve also experimented with coconut milk with decent results.

You probably have everything you need for homemade hot cocoa in your pantry right now. Go check. I’ll wait. Meanwhile, I’ll make some cocoa.

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Double, triple, quadruple, or multiply this recipe as necessary – this version makes 1 cup (literally, 1 measured cup) of hot cocoa. Variations, as usual, below the recipe.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp cocoa, regular or Dutch processed, sifted
  • 1 c milk or water, or a combination of both (I like to do half water, half milk)
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar or sweetener of choice (optional, especially if you use marshmallows)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


  1. Place cocoa, sugar, and salt into a small saucepan and turn the burner on to medium. Whisk in about 1/4 c of the milk or water, making sure to thoroughly combine the cocoa and milk into a thin paste.
  2. Whisking the mixture constantly, add the rest of the milk or water into the saucepan until you have a homogenous mixture. Heat, stirring frequently to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan, until the mixture is steaming and hot.
  3. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla extract. Pour into a mug, top with marshmallows if you wish, and enjoy!


  1. Mexican Hot Cocoa: Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cardamom, and a pinch of cayenne pepper to the cocoa mixture in step 1. Proceed with recipe.
  2. Peppermint Hot Cocoa: Omit vanilla extract. Add 1/8 tsp peppermint extract in Step 3. If you’re feeling boozy, use a shot or two of peppermint schnapps in place of the peppermint extract. If you’re feeling festive, stir your hot cocoa with a candy cane. I won’t tell anyone.

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