Hot Chocolate
Photo: Thinkstock
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

Hot Chocolate, 10 Ways

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

peanut butter
Photo credit: BarnabyChambers/iStock
Mix-in: 1 Tbsp. peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
Topping: Chopped, salted peanuts

Nutella Hot Chocolate

Photo credit: Sabrina Pintus/iStock
Mix-in: 2 Tbsp. Nutella (omit sugar from the master recipe)
Topping: Shaved milk chocolate

Raspberry Hot Chocolate

raspberry jam
Photo credit: ChristianJung/iStock
Mix-in: 1 Tbsp. raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord; or 1 Tbsp. seedless raspberry jam (if using jam, omit sugar)
Topping: Drizzle of raspberry jam thinned with a splash of boiling water

Ginger Hot Chocolate

ground ginger
Photo credit: Elenathewise/iStock
Mix-in: 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Topping: Julienned strips of candied ginger

Minty Hot Chocolate

Photo credit: billnoll/iStock
Mix-in: 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
Topping: Shaved, dark chocolate; mint sprigs

Mexican Hot Chocolate

mexican hot chocolate
Photo credit: molka/iStock
Mix-in: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper
Topping: Dried cinnamon sticks, as stirrers

Cognac Hot Chocolate

maple syrup
Photo credit: EasyBuy4u/iStock
Mix-in: 2 Tbsp. Cognac; use 1 tsp. maple syrup in place of sugar
Topping: A pinch of maple flakes

Citrus Hot Chocolate

orange chocolate
Photo credit: MrKornFlakes/iStock
Mix-in: Peel from 1 orange
Topping: Finely grated orange zest

Coconut Hot Chocolate

coconut milk
Photo credit: iStock
Mix-in: Swap 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk for half of the milk
Topping: Toasted coconut flakes

Curried Hot Chocolate

curry powder
Photo credit: FotografiaBasica/iStock
Mix-in: 1/4 tsp. curry powder
Topping: Cardamom marshmallows (or plain marshmallows dusted with ground cardamom)

More Sweet Treats to Try


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