Healthy hot chocolate is a delicious, naturally-sweetened drink that taste better than store bought powdered version. All you need is 4 simple ingredients to make it!
Why You’ll Love It
When you make homemade hot chocolate, you can customize the chocolate flavor exactly to your liking. If you prefer a dark chocolate drink, you can add more cacao powder, and if you prefer a sweeter drink, you can add more sweetness.
You can also add a pinch of salt, to help balance out the sweet flavor. Since you can taste this mixture as you go, it’s practically fool-proof!
When you make this hot chocolate recipe with dairy-free milk, it’s gluten-free, vegan & Paleo friendly, too. It’s perfect for anyone following a special diet, or anyone who likes an easy recipe made with simple pantry ingredients. (Which I consider my specialty!)
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in a healthy hot chocolate?
- Your favorite milk
- Cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- Maple syrup
- Vanilla extract
That’s it! For a vegan hot chocolate, choose a non-dairy milk, like almond milk or coconut milk. You can also use hemp milk or soy milk for extra protein, or cashew milk, if you’d like.
I don’t recommend using homemade oat milk for this recipe, because it will thicken up when heated. Store-bought oat milk usually has additives that will prevent this, though. (Especially if you buy a “barista” style milk option.)
How to Make Healthy Hot Chocolate
- Mix. Add the ingredients to a small saucepan.
- Simmer. Whisk well over medium high heat, until the mixture is piping hot.
- Serve. Pour it into a mug, and enjoy it with any toppings you love.
You can top this hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, vegan marshmallows or coconut whipped cream, if you like. Or try it with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, for a little spice.
You can store leftover hot chocolate in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It will separate when stored, but it will quickly come together again when you whisk it in a saucepan.
Dutch Cocoa vs. Cacao Powder
Wondering what the difference is between cacao powder and cocoa powder?
Raw cacao powder is the least-processed version of cacao beans, which are a rich source of flavonols. This may also be why cacao has been linked to lowering risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Dutch-processed coca powder, on the other hand, is usually heated and alkalized, to help reduce bitterness. As a result is has a lower flavonol content and a slightly different flavor.
You can use either in this hot chocolate recipe, but you may want to adjust the sweetness, to taste, as you go.
Frequently Asked Questions & Variations
Can I make a peppermint hot chocolate? Yes! I’ve tested a Peppermint Hot Chocolate with peppermint extract, if you’d like a minty variation.
Can I use a different sweetener? Yes! You can use honey if you don’t need a vegan hot cocoa recipe, or try agave, coconut sugar, or any other sweetener you love. Zero calorie sweeteners will need a different amount, so be sure to start with less, and add more to taste as you go.
Can I use fruit to sweeten it? I have a date-sweetened hot chocolate recipe, if you’d like to give that a try. (You’ll need a high-speed blender to make it, FYI, to help break down all the fiber in the dates.)
Is chocolate vegan? Cocoa powder is vegan, but if you want to add chocolate chips or shaved chocolate on top, be sure to check the label to make sure it’s dairy-free.
More Warm Drink Ideas
If you love this hot chocolate recipe, you may also love these:
I can’t wait to hear which one you try next!
Healthy Hot Chocolate
- 1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
- 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir, using a whisk to break up any clumps. Keep stirring until smooth and piping hot.
- Pour into a mug right away and serve warm. Top with coconut whipped cream and chocolate shavings, if desired, or any other toppings you love.
If you try this dairy-free hot chocolate recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it!
Questions and Reviews
Oh my goodness, send some sunshine please?! And this sounds delish, I’ll be making this tomorrow during Snowmageddon:)
You have changed your recipe?
Was it not two teaspoons of cacao and a pinch of salt
Yes, you’re the only one who has noticed! 😉 I was finding the two teaspoons not “chocolatey” enough, and I had received other feedback feeling the same way, so I added an extra teaspoon to the recipe. I don’t think I actually meant to remove the salt, so I’ll add that back in!
so it is supposed to be 2 teaspoons or two tablespoons because you have tablespoons in your recipe
The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of cacao powder, which is the equivalent of 3 teaspoons.
Hi thanks I had cacao in the cupboard but no maple syrup or vanilla
So I used uht organic almond milk a tablespoon of honey and a sprinkle of nutmeg mixed in
Absolutely delicious and fortified .my tummy said yummy
I love your blog! I’ll have to try that hot chocolate recipe. It sounds delicious. I have a raw chocolate syrup (made from cacao and agave), but I’ve never thought to use it to make hot chocolate. I’ll have a big cup after I get home from the stressful snowy drive home.
Is it more cost effective to make your own almond milk or buy it? Almonds are expensive nowadays!
I think homemade is a bit cheaper– I recently bought a BIG bag of almonds for about $10 at Whole Foods, but it’s made 3 jugs of almond milk so far, and there’s still enough left to make at least 3 more! I started using a ratio of 1 cup almonds to 5 cups water, so I get more “bang for my buck.” (The cartons I used to buy had 4 cups of almond milk for $1.99, I think)
Also, I prefer the taste of homemade and love that there are no “fillers” in my milk!
I too make my own so it’s yes, cheaper, but also better. PLUS, save the almond pulp and make almond flour, and then it’s REALLY cost effective. 🙂
Sharyn, do you have a recipe for turning almond pulp into almond flour?? That’s an awesome idea!
Place almond skins & pulp on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel & allow to completely dry. Then run it through a food processor until it’s finely ground into powder/flour. This can be used as a thickener as well as a baking flour.
Do you have a recipe for your almond milk you make ?
Yes, here you go: https://detoxinista.com/how-to-make-homemade-almond-milk/
a detox hot chocolate?! Whoa, sign me up! 🙂
Right, I’m confused as to what’s detoxifying about maple syrup, added sweeteners/artificial sweeteners/coconut oil/butter/whipped cream/shaved chocolate!
I make something similar to that hot chocolate at home,but I never thought about using maple syrup! I am going to try it tonight. 🙂
Yum, I’m trying this tonight.
yummm, looks so good!!
Could I make this with coconut milk (due to tree nut intolerances)?
Yep, I bet that will be delicious!
Hello! I live in Illinois and this is what I have every morning during the winter. I love it because the cocoa gives me a bit of a lift which I need since I gave up caffeine. I add a couple of disks of cocoa butter to give added richness. Also, a teaspoon of coconut oil tastes great as well as a drop of hazelnut extract.
Love your recipes! I love adding a heaping tablespoon of the Artisana organic raw coconut butter to my hot chocolate as well
I made this tonight- so delish. I added more cocoa because I like my hot cocoa really chocolatey; I added more vanilla to balance the extra cocoa, too.
I was so pleased to find a great almond milk only hot cocoa recipe. Thanks for making one!
Just tried this recipe… Loved it! I’m gonna try adding the disks of cocoa butter for richness, that was suggested above, that way my hubby will drink it, too! THANK YOU for the recipes for my sweet tooth… It makes this journey SO much easier 🙂
I made this last night, it was great. I substituted a sugar free maple syrup and added a pinch of cinnamon.
Sugar free maple syrup???
Just tried this tonight. Delish! So good that I had to make a second cup!! Thanks for the recipe!!!
Awesome hot cocoa!! And Vegan… I added a shot of espresso made with a French Press and WOW!!
I Just made this and Wahoo!!!! Love it, thank you for the recipe
I adapted this recipe a bit i add some grated ginger and 1 tablespoon of vanilla whey protein powered
Chilly this eve in CT. I made this for my 11 and 9 yr old boys to satisfy their sweet craving after dinner. They said, “This is amazing!” ; ) I loved it too. Ofcourse I made enough for me too!
This was a great recipe for people with dairy intolerances! Thanks for coming up with it! So yummy!
I just tried this and it is amazing!!!! I’m struggling on my candida diet and craving chocolate SO BAD. this was perfect to satisfy my craving. Thanks for sharing!!!
sipping one right now, bit too sweet for me so i add extra almond milk, but i love it 🙂
My mom and I just tried this hot chocolate and it is DIVINE! My mom is very picky when it comes to healthy alternatives to the classics she loves and this one was a total hit. Thank you for sharing! The best part is we already had all of the ingredients. Perfect for the fall and winter months when we want something warm and delicious to sip on. I made it exactly as the recipe says above. YUM!
I LOVE the glass jar you use to keep your almond milk in! Can you tell me where to get one?
That jar actually isn’t glass (this is an OLD picture), so I’ve replaced it with this glass jar that I love: http://amzn.to/1xmMENh
Thank you ,thank you, thank you. This is fantastic!
I just made this, it was so quick and easy, and tastes so yummy! I’m lactose intolerant, so this recipe was perfect 🙂 I had to add mini marshmallows on top though haha
Just wondering, cacao or cocoa powder? 🙂
I almost always use cacao in my home, but either way tastes similar, for those who don’t want to spend the money on the more expensive stuff.
This looks delicious! Can you use agave instead of the maple syrup?
I microwaved a cup of almond milk for 1 1/2 minutes then added the ingredients substituting the maple syrup with 1 tbsp of agave and it was REALLY good!
Try adding 2 tbsp unsalted grass-fed butter and 1 tbsp coconut oil Makes a wonderful breakfast drink that lasts until lunch time. Even better than my old favorite – Hot Chocolate! I skip the vanilla and the salt.
Just tried this tonight as I’m searching for a fall drink that’s good for my low carb diet. VERY yummy! Thanks so much!
Is there any way to make this in the microwave instead of on the stove? We were going to try this at work, but we don’t have a stove!
I combined all the ingredients. Put it in a jug in the microwave, whisked it a few times and it was done in a few minutes and tastes great! Smooth and creamy hot chocolate
How much Stevia do you use if not using maple syrup?
VICKI, Start by adding ALITTLE. Then taste it.
I made this last week and am going to make it again for my daughter and niece tonight. We loved it! THANK YOU!
I also have this every morning for breakfast after my cleansing lemon water..
Since I have a high speed blender (nutribullet, vitamix etc.).. I use dates for sweetness..
as dates are very nutrient dense and very healthy…Use 1 to 3 according to the desired sweetness..
add 1/2 to 1 tbls cocoa powder and blend.. then just heat and add 1 tbls coconut oil if using..
(this is using my cup/mug to measure the amount of milk I am using)
But please everyone use only raw unpasteurized almonds.. Even the almonds you get from
the health food stores are pasteurized.. That’s because by law all almonds sold in the U.S. have
to be pasteurized.. Pasteurization and heat destroy important enzymes and vitamins.
So Order your Almonds online to get them right from the growers….
Be sure to Soak them overnight before using them to make your Almond Milk..
Then put them in your blender (regular blender works) with 3 to 6 dates and 4 to 6 cups
of water and blend…. (experiment with amounts to get the milk to your taste)
Strain (using a nut bag, old clean nylon, etc) saving the pulp.. And use for your Milk…
I reuse the pulp a second time using the same process (without the dates) but do not strain it..
and use this for making my smoothies.. So nothing is wasted…
If you can, store your milk in glass bottles and it will keep in the fridge for a week..
Hope this was helpful…
A Thousand times, YES! I just made the lifestyle change to no processed sugars and other nasty foods from my diet. I made it to day 2, and was already feeling the pressure to crack. I have the biggest sweet tooth and staying away from a slice of cake is difficult. I am so glad I found this recipe, it saved me. Its healthier and uses natural sweeteners. I add a sprinkle of cinnamon to mine and it makes it PERFECT. Thank you for sharing.
I made this with 6oz of canned coconut milk and 2oz of water. The thickness and richness was warm-you-to-the-bone DIVINITY!!!
This was so good! I added a little more almond milk than 1 cup and also added some pumpkin pie spice. Thank you!
Instead of cocoa powder, I substituted Hershey’s Dark Chocolate liquid. I also used coconut milk as the described alternative. I like it better than regular hot chocolate!
Hello! This recipe is great. I want to add some of Tropical Tradition’s Coconut Cream. I’ve tried using the TT Coconut Cream in the past, along with the chocolate powder. No matter how much I whisked the powder, and then the cream, it comes out pasty. My question is has anyone tried making this with an Immersion Blender? I am thinking of getting one for when I make hot drinks, soups and sauces. I’ve seen people on YouTube using the Immersion Blenders for the soups and sauces, as well as smoothies, but I was wondering how it would work with hot chocolate, etc. Thanks.
My favorite Christmas drink is hot chocolate too! but i think its because i associate it with happy things… like sledding outside or being cozy inside during a snowstorm. my recipe is very similar to yours. only i like to add a bit of sweet potato puree to it to make it really “creamy”. i haven’t tried pumpkin or other squashes, but i think they would be similar… i also love mulled wine. but i’m sure that isn’t all that detox friendly. But happily it is the the reason i now have a daughter. Ha!
Where did you get yoour white ceramic mugs? LOVE THEM
I followed this recipe mostly..My little sister said it wasn’t sweet enough so I added 1 T more maple syrup. I just dumped in about a teaspoon of vanilla. My mom loved it!!!!💗💗💗 She doesnt do dairy products, and said the hot chocolate was sooo creamy and rich. Thank you, this was the perfect drink for her to warm up after shoveling.
Also I used two tablespoons of cocoa, I was rushing and probably misread the recipe.
I used maple syrup, cocoa powder and oat milk! Yum! Thank u!
Perfect combo of ingredients! have been looking for something that’s not too sweet and paleo approved. Subbed for coconut sugar and was still tasty. Thank you!
ive turned dairy free meat free sugar free recently have made this hot chocalate with homemade almond milk with sime cinamon am looking for different delicious recipes that are packed with nutrition and are mainly alkaline
Wow!!! I am SO glad you made this. Best vegan hot chocolate ever!!! I love the internet, was craving something sweet and healthy, found this and you totally nailed it. Much love sister! Keep creating your magic! You have a new fan!
Aw, thank you! Glad you loved it!
I use 5 tsps of raw cacao and add a teaspoon of coconut oil for creaminess. I love the taste the maple syrup adds!
Oh my stars, made this with Ripple milk, type 1 diabetic, a little too sweet for me, but oh so delicious…….thank you so much!!!!
I used vanilla almond milk and stevia. It was very tasty and only had only 60 calories.
Me and my son make homemade almond milk and he wanted to make hot chocolate with it. I’m so glad I found this recipe. After dinner he said, we have all the ingredients let’s make it now. So yummy!!! I had stopped drinking hot chocolate because of the dairy, but no more. Next time I will add less syrup for me and for my son, less cacao.
I’m neither vegan nor dairy free, but yet, this is my new favorite hot chocolate. Thank you for such a great recipe!