2020 Update! This quick homemade hot chocolate with cacao powder is made with milk, honey, cacao powder and a touch of vanilla.  Let me assure you that it’s nearly as easy to make as a powdered mix, but it’s even more delicious and much more nutritious. It’s a wonderful wintertime “treat,” that’s really not a treat at all. 😊  [New VIDEO below!]

Close-up overhead shot of a mug of cacao powder hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate with cacao powder recipe

I started making hot chocolate from scratch when Ella was little. It started out of necessity. One afternoon Ella was begging for hot chocolate, and since I didn’t have any mix I whisked together raw cacao powder with milk, honey and a splash of vanilla. It was so good (even though it had far less sugar than the packaged stuff), and we never went back. 

Close up of raw cacao powder in a bowl.

What is raw cacao powder?

Raw cacao powdered is a less processed form of cocoa powder. The beans are dried at a low temperature before being ground (which is why they’re considered raw). The powder is therefore higher in minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. Even better, it also has a richer, deeper chocolatey flavor. I use it in all my baked goods (see below for other ways to use it!). 

The ingredients for cacao powder hot chocolate on a countertop.

How to make hot chocolate with raw cacao powder

This recipe is super simple. First you whisk the raw cacao powder into cold milk with a drizzle of honey, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt (which balances the flavors) until smooth. Whisking the cacao into the milk before heating it allows it to dissolve completely (if you add it to hot milk it can clump up). Warm the hot chocolate on the stove, and you’re DONE! 

Process shot divided into four quadrants showing the steps for making hot chocolate with cacao powder.

Vegan hot chocolate

For a dairy-free hot chocolate, simply swap out regular milk for coconut milk. I prefer canned coconut milk (either whole-fat or low-fat) as opposed to boxed milks or nut milks because of its neutral flavor and silky texture (I find that nut milks can give the hot chocolate an off flavor, but that’s subjective). To make it vegan, use maple syrup instead of honey.

Mexican hot chocolate

To put a Mexican spin on this hot chocolate, add a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne before heating. 😍

Hand holding a mug of vegan hot chocolate.

Can you make cacao powder hot chocolate ahead?

Yes! You can refrigerate the hot chocolate and simply reheat it before serving. The chocolate will settle at the bottom, so just give it a whisk or shake before reheating (I store it in a large jar). If you prefer, you can even serve it as healthy chocolate milk!

How to serve hot chocolate with cacao powder

Now for the fun part. You can absolutely serve this healthy hot chocolate on its own (which is how we drink it for breakfast). However, if you want to take it over the top (and who doesn’t?) you can dress it up! The kids beg for marshmallows, but as for me, I’ll take a billowy dollop of whipped cream. Oh YES. 

Overhead shot of a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and cacao powder.

Tips for making homemade hot chocolate:

  • The best hot chocolate is made with cacao powder, which you can find at many grocery stores or online! Raw cacao powder is healthier and richer in flavor than regular cocoa powder. However, you can use a good quality cocoa powder in its place. 
  • It’s important to whisk the cacao powder into the milk before heating it up (it will take a bit of whisking to dissolve). If you add the cacao powder to hot milk it can clump up.
  • I love this small saucepan and mini whisk for making hot chocolate, as well as for oatmeal and sauces.
  • For a vegan version, use canned coconut milk in place of the regular milk (I don’t love the flavor of nut milk in this recipe, but that’s subjective). Swap out the honey for maple syrup. 
  • A pinch of salt helps to amplify all of the flavors. 

Other cacao powder drink recipes:

Baked goods that use cacao powder:

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Healthy Hot Chocolate with Cacao Powder

This quick homemade hot chocolate with cacao powder is made with milk, honey and a touch of vanilla.  Let me assure you that it’s nearly as easy to make as a powdered mix, but it’s even more delicious and much more nutritious. For a vegan version, use canned coconut milk in place of the regular milk and swap out the honey for maple syrup.
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time7 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy hot chocolate recipe, hot chocolate wtih cacao powder, vegan hot chocolate recipe
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk (preferably 2% or whole milk)
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch sea salt

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, combine the milk, cacao powder, honey to taste (a teaspoon or two should do you), vanilla and a pinch of salt (sometimes I also add a pinch of cinnamon or even cayenne, if I’m feeling racy). Whisk until smooth.
  • Place saucepan over medium heat, and bring the milk to a simmer, whisking often. Give the hot chocolate a taste—if you prefer it sweeter whisk in a bit more honey. Serve warm.

Notes

Do Ahead: The hot chocolate can be transferred to a jar and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Shake or stir it before serving (you can drink it cold or reheat it!).
Tips:
  • The best hot chocolate is made with cacao powder, which you can find at many grocery stores or online! Raw cacao powder is healthier and richer in flavor than regular cocoa powder. However, you can use a good quality cocoa powder in its place. 
  • It’s important to whisk the cacao powder into the milk before heating it up (it will take a bit of whisking to dissolve). If you add the cacao powder to hot milk it can clump up.
  • I love this small saucepan and mini whisk for making hot chocolate, as well as for oatmeal and sauces.
  • For a vegan version, use canned coconut milk in place of the regular milk (I don’t love the flavor of nut milk in this recipe, but that’s subjective) and swap out the honey for maple syrup.
  • A pinch of salt helps to amplify all of the flavors. 
  • For a Mexican-inspired hot chocolate, add cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Refrigerate any leftover hot chocolate for a healthy chocolate milk! 😊 

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