Nutrition Diva's Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe

Craving a cup of hot cocoa? Here's Nutrition Diva's basic recipe for Healthier Hot Chocolate, plus a bunch of ways to boost the flavor and nutrition even more!

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
2-minute read


Q. "Now that the weather is getting colder, I'd love to treat my family to a healthy version of hot chocolate. Any recipes or recommendations?"

A. Hot chocolate is a lovely cool weather treat for kids and adults alike. But grocery store mixes often contain ingredients like hydrogenated oils or artificial sweeteners. I suggest making up your own "instant" hot chocolate mix using cocoa powder, sweetener, and powdered milk. 


Nutrition Diva's Hot Chocolate Recipe

  • 2 cups powdered milk

  • 2/3 cup sugar (or less, see below)

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  (more if you like it extra chocolaty)

  • pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients and store in an air-tight container. To make a cup of hot chocolate, measure 1/4 cup of mix into a mug, add boiling water, and stir until blended. The recipe makes about 14 servings. 

Make it Healthier

  • For a creamier cup (plus some extra protein and calcium), use heated milk instead of boiling water.

  • For a dairy-free mix, leave out the powdered milk. Use a rounded tablespoon of the mix per cup of your preferred non-dairy alternative milk (almond, soy, etc.). Whisk together until blended and heat in a saucepan over low heat or in microwave. See also this comparison of various non-dairy milks

  • Use regular cocoa powder instead of "dutch" cocoa.  The dutching process mellows the flavor but strips out a lot of the flavanols that are responsible for chocolate's many health benefits.

  • To reduce sugar, replace up to half a cup of the sugar with a stevia-based sweetener like Pure-via or True-via. (You could replace all the sugar for a sugar-free mix but I think the flavor really suffers.)

Pump Up the Flavor (and the Benefits)

  • Vanilla enhances the flavor of chocolate. Bury a whole vanilla bean in the container to infuse the mix with a warm vanilla essence.

  • Add 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon to the mix. Not only is it a great flavor addition, but cinnamon also helps to mitigate the impact of the sugar on your blood sugar levels.

  • Add 1 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper to the mix for a hot-and-spicy cocoa that offers an anti-inflammatory boost.

  • Skip the marshmallows and whipped cream, which add a lot of extra sugar. Instead, use a whisk to make it nice and frothy and add a sprinkle of cinnamon or cocoa powder.

  • For adults: Add 1/2 to one teaspoon of instant espresso granules to your cup for a mocha with a little caffeine kick.  (Check out more on the Benefits of Caffeine)

Hot chocolate image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.