Chocolate Caliente: Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate

Chocolate Caliente: Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate

The Spruce / Julia Estrada

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 18 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Yield: 3 to 4 mugs
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
350 Calories
17g Fat
37g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 350
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 148mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 34g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 373mg 29%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 500mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Authentic Mexican chocolate caliente is comforting, as hot chocolate should be, but it is also unexpectedly refreshing. The main ingredient is less intense than the darker chocolate often used in other versions of this beverage, and the cinnamon is nothing short of stimulating. There are many variations for Mexican hot chocolate, which can vary the taste from spicy to sweet.

In Mexico, hot chocolate is most often prepared with tablets of rustic chocolate de mesa, “table chocolate,” which can be easily found in the U.S. at Mexican grocery stores and even large supermarkets. The two most common brands are Ibarra (made by a company in Jalisco, Mexico) and Abuelita (a Nestlé product). These tablets contain cacao paste, of course, but also sugar and cinnamon. This chocolate has a grainier texture than baking or milk chocolate because of those ingredients; it's not necessarily meant to be eaten like you would a chocolate bar.

People in Mexico often partake of this comforting drink for breakfast or a late supper any day of the week, as well as at Christmastime (such as Las Posadas celebrations) and for special occasions such as Day of the Dead.

Mexican hot chocolate is often served with delicious sweet bread or basic white bread (such as bolillos), which is dunked into the hot liquid. And take note: regardless of how well your milk and chocolate are blended, some solids will settle inside the cup. This is normal and has to do with the nature of the ingredients. It’s not uncommon to serve each mug with a stick of cinnamon or a teaspoon to stir the drink as it's enjoyed.


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"This Mexican hot chocolate is super easy to make and is a great alternative to typical hot cocoa mixes. I purchased artisan chocolate tablets from Rancho Gordo. They were less sweet than tablets at the supermarket, with a hint of cinnamon. I used an immersion blender to get maximum frothing." —Danielle Centoni

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Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Mexican hot chocolate

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  2. The tablets of chocolate de mesa are usually divided into 6 to 8 wedges. Place each tablet on a cutting board and cut with a sharp knife into wedges. Don't worry if they don’t cut perfectly—you are going to be dissolving the chocolate.

    Cutting the chocolate de mesa

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  3. Place milk in a saucepan over medium heat.

    milk in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  4. Once the first tiny bubbles begin to appear in the milk, add the wedges of chocolate and continue heating, stirring slowly but constantly, until the chocolate has melted. Do not let milk boil; if it looks as if it is going to start boiling, take the pan off the heat for a few minutes, continue to stir, then turn burner down a bit and return pan to heat.

    chocolate and milk mixture in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  5. Drink hot chocolate as is, or place in a blender, half of the amount at a time, and carefully blend mixture until the desired degree of frothiness has been reached.

    Chocolate Caliente: Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada


  • In Mexico, a good mug of hot chocolate has some delicious espuma, or froth, on the top. Traditionally, this is created with a utensil called a molinillo. These are often very beautifully made and are as decorative as they are useful. The molinillo is inserted into the hot chocolate, either while the liquid is still in the pan or after it has already been poured into a cup. The cook then takes the handle of the utensil between her palms and spins it quickly back and forth in the liquid until the desired amount of froth is produced. It can take several minutes to create a lot of froth; patience and persistence are key.
  • If you don’t have an official molinillo, try a wire whisk, a portable electric mixer, or an immersion blender. An authentic method even older than the molinillo involves pouring the drink back and forth between two bowls or pitchers until the espuma forms.

Recipe Variations

  • Sure, you can always add marshmallows, but why not change up your cup of comfort by making your hot chocolate with water, instead of milk. That’s how the pre-Hispanic Mexicans did it, as they did not have cows and so had no access to dairy products. Chocolate caliente made with water will definitely have a more pronounced cacao flavor. (Or try half milk, half water.)
  • For an even sweeter beverage, try a bit of brown sugar, piloncillo, or honey. Vanilla is just as Mexican as cacao, so feel free to add a couple of drops of good-quality Mexican vanilla extract to your batch of chocolate.
  • Spice it up with a pinch of cloves, nutmeg, or allspice—either in addition to the cinnamon or in place of it. Or make it a little “hotter” by including a dash of powdered chile pepper in the mix. Look for a good-quality ground ancho, chipotle, or other dried pepper. (The ancient Mexicans laced their chocolate with chile.)
  • Abuelita and Ibarra are ubiquitous commercial brands of chocolate de mesa, but they are far from the only ones. If you have access to other brands and/or artisanal chocolate products, take advantage of them. Try different kinds of chocolate for different occasions, or settle on just one favorite.
  • Feeling adventurous? You might even want to make your own blend of chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon.