Adding a spoonful of something spicy, sweet or nutty to plain hot cocoa barely takes more time than tearing open a packet of powdered hot-cocoa mix and stirring it into warm milk. Yet, such a small effort transforms the drink into a way-more-special-than-usual morning treat, a spectacular midafternoon pick-me-up or an over-the-top way to end dinner.

Here, we offer a standard recipe for homemade hot chocolate that you can take in 10 different directions. It's easily doubled, tripled or even quadrupled.

Master Recipe

Serves 1


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Mix-in (see suggestions, next page)


Whisk together milk, cocoa powder, vanilla and sugar in a small pot on the stove.

Gently warm mixture but do not boil, and then whisk in the mix-in of your choice (see options, next page), stirring to thin out any clumps.

Pour into a mug and serve with whipped cream and the corresponding topping.

Next: 10 ideas to take your hot chocolate to the next level


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