The 9 Best Hot Chocolate Mixes of 2023

The Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate deserves a spot in your cupboard

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Hot Chocolate Composite

The Spruce Eats / Photo Illustration by Chloe Jeong / Retailers below

The Spruce Eats Top Picks

You'll have a rich chocolatey cup each and every time with the Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate. If you need something quick (and possibly from a pouch), we recommend the Nestle Hot Cocoa Fat-Free Rich Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix.

Sure, as an adult, coffee may be a more socially acceptable drink of choice, but deep down, everyone knows the satisfaction that truly good hot chocolate can bring any time of day. While we may associate this drink with the cold winter months, some would argue hot chocolate is just as good any time of year (and you can always ice it). Gone are the days of just a handful of options at the supermarket; now, there are dozens to choose from at stores and online, ranging from budget-friendly to super-splurge, as well as options tailored to your desirable chocolate intensity, flavorings, add-ins, dietary needs, and much more.

But which is best for your chocolate preferences? We researched so you can decide.

Best Overall

Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate

4.6
Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate

Amazon

What We Like
  • High-quality, luxurious consistency

  • Minimal ingredient list

  • Can be used for baking

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Guittard is known for its top-notch baking chocolate chips, so it comes as no surprise it would also offer a best-of-the-best drinking chocolate mix. What is unique about this mix is that it is a blend of both cocoa powder and ground chocolate, providing an ultra-chocolatey, smooth, rich drink once heated with milk. The mix is also non-GMO, peanut-free, and gluten-free. We appreciate the minimal ingredient list, meaning you’re getting just a handful of necessary ingredients without any extra additives or preservatives. As an added bonus, it can be used in baking (the Hot Chocolate Brownie recipe is conveniently provided on the can).

Price at time of publish: $14

Calories Per Serving: 40 | Cacao Percentage: 53% | Ingredients: Pure cane sugar, cocoa (Dutch processed with alkali), cacao beans, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, natural flavor

Best Dark Chocolate

Valrhona Dark Hot Chocolate Mix

Valrhona Dark Hot Chocolate Mix

Amazon

What We Like
  • Chocolate chips for extra chocolatey experience

  • Short ingredient list

  • Can be used for iced drinks

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Valrhona, a chocolate company based in France, dates back to 1922 and is well-known for its baking chocolate. This hot chocolate mix was the first item the company produced in the U.S., and it is a combination of cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips, providing a super-rich drink. Valrhona is also a certified B corporation. The mix is packed in a convenient, resealable pouch, making it easy to store. A 2-tablespoon serving contains 120 calories and 22 grams of sugar, and the product has a relatively short ingredient list, so you know you’re getting quality chocolate ingredients without a bunch of unnecessary additives.

Price at time of publish: $20

Calories Per Serving: 120 | Cacao Percentage: Not indicated | Ingredients:  Sugar, chocolate chips (cocoa paste, sugar, fat-reduced cocoa powder, emulsifier: lecithin, natural vanilla flavor), cacao powder (processed with alkali), natural vanilla flavor, cellulose gum, sea salt

Best for Coffee Lovers

Lake Champlain Chocolates Mocha Hot Chocolate

Lake Champlain Chocolates Mocha Hot Chocolate

Amazon

What We Like
  • Minimal ingredients list

  • Organic and fair trade

  • Family business

What We Don't Like
  • May not appeal to non-coffee drinkers

Lake Champlain Chocolates is a certified B Corporation and family business based in Burlington, Vermont. According to the company’s website, products are non-GMO, organic, and use fair trade certified ingredients (whenever possible), and they never use preservatives, extenders, or additives (resulting in a very small ingredient list). If you’re an avid coffee lover or your go-to order at the local coffee shop is a mocha, look no further than this Mocha Hot Chocolate. A 2-tablespoon serving contains 100 calories and 20 grams of sugar. The company also offers traditional, spicy Aztec, and marshmallow varieties (or variety packs), if you want to try other flavors.

Price at time of publish: $12

Calories Per Serving: 100 | Cacao Percentage: Not indicated | Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, coffee, natural flavor

Best Variety Pack

Whittard of Chelsea Luxury Hot Chocolate Selection Luxury Hot Chocolate Selection

Whittard of Chelsea Luxury Hot Chocolate Selection

Amazon

What We Like
  • Popular varieties

  • Enough for almost 20 cups

  • Two are dairy-free

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat pricey

Whittard of Chelsea’s variety selection features three of its most popular flavors—all of which are in its luxury collection. The Luxury Hot Chocolate is made with 39% cocoa sugar, and salt, the Luxury White Hot Chocolate has 15% cocoa butter, sugar, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, and salt, and the 70% Cocoa Hot Chocolate simply contains 70% cocoa and sugar. Basically, there’s an option for any palette. The collection makes a great gift or addition to any pantry.

Price at time of publish: $23

Calories Per Serving: 79 for Luxury Hot Chocolate, 91 for Luxury White Hot Chocolate, and 81 for 70% Hot Chocolate | Cacao Percentage: 39% for Luxury Hot Chocolate, 15% cocoa Butter for Luxury White Hot Chocolate, and 70% for 70% Cocoa Hot Chocolate | Ingredients: Mixtures of sugar, cocoa, cocoa butter, salt, skimmed milk powder, flavoring, and dextrose

Best Dairy-Free

COCO Colombian Plain Hot Chocolate Mix

COCO Colombian Plain Hot Chocolate Mix

Food52

What We Like
  • Made with dark chocolate and cocoa powder

  • Good for gifting

What We Don't Like
  • Small amount

Hot chocolate can be made with milk or water, but even choosing the latter doesn't guarantee the drink will be dairy-free. Many mixes have milk powder or another form of dairy in the ingredients—but not this one. There's only two ingredients, dark chocolate and cocoa powder, so you can mix it with your favorite alternative milk (or water) for a vegan beverage. With its bright and colorful design, the COCO Colombian Plain Hot Chocolate Mix isn't one to just keep in the pantry, it also makes a great gift.

Price at time of publish: $18

Calories Per Serving: Not indicated | Cacao Percentage: 45% | Ingredients: Dark chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: non-GMO soya lecithin, natural vanilla flavor), cocoa powder

Best White

Land O Lakes Arctic White Hot Cocoa Mix

Land O Lakes Arctic White Hot Cocoa Mix

Amazon

What We Like
  • Comes in individual packets

  • Creamy

  • Not expensive

What We Don't Like
  • Can get watery

Milk and dark chocolate aren't the only types that can be made into a creamy, warm drink. Land O Lakes—yep, the company known for its butter and other dairy products—also has a white hot chocolate mix that is sweeter than others on this list. It is sold in individual packets large enough for a cup, but be careful with how much water or milk you put in, as too much can saturate the flavor.

Price at time of publish: $8

Calories Per Serving: 160 | Cacao Percentage: Not applicable | Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup solids, coconut oil, non-fat milk, white chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk solids, dextrose, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), sodium caseinate, salt, cellulose gum, potassium & sodium phosphate, dextrose, mono & diglycerides, natural & artificial flavor, maltodextrin, food starch, gum acacia, soy lecithin

Best for Easy Preparation

Nestle Hot Cocoa Fat-Free Rich Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix

Nestle Fat-Free Rich Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa

Wal-mart

What We Like
  • Low in calories and fat

  • Works with water or milk

  • Available in multiple sizes including in pouches

What We Don't Like
  • Contains artificial sweeteners

Sometimes the hot chocolate craving strikes and you want it quickly. This mix is convenient because you can make it even if you're completely out of milk. It’s quick and easy to prepare, providing both stovetop and microwave instructions for using either milk or water. Not only is this Nestle Hot Chocolate fat-free, but it’s also relatively low in calories (25 calories per 2 tablespoons), has 0 grams of added sugar, and is quite high in calcium (340 milligrams per serving). Nestle is also committed to using only real cocoa from sustainably sourced cocoa beans.

Price at time of publish: $14

Calories Per Serving: 25 | Cacao Percentage: Not indicated | Ingredients: Dairy product solids, nonfat milk, cocoa processed with alkali, calcium carbonate, cellulose gum, salt, lactose, and less than 2% artificial flavor, sucralose, sodium phosphate, acesulfame potassium

Good to Know

If the mix you’re using is able to be made with water or milk, using water will yield a lower-calorie and lower-fat (depending on the type of milk you have) final product, so if that's important to you, keep this in mind. Whole milk will provide the richest hot chocolate, and skim milk (or water) will be on the opposite end of the spectrum; 2 percent is a solid middle-ground option. You can also get creative and play around using different types of alternative milk (whether your go-to is almond, oat, soy, etc.)—just remember it will slightly alter the nutritional information, consistency, and hot chocolate mix flavor.

Best for Kids

Swiss Miss Fun Bundle, Unicorn Marshmallows and Lucky Charms

Swiss Miss Fun Bundle, Unicorn Marshmallows and Lucky Charms

Amazon

What We Like
  • Fun marshmallow shapes

  • Convenient portion-control envelopes

  • Just add hot water

What We Don't Like
  • Higher in calories and sugar

You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate marshmallows in your hot chocolate, but these particular mixes are extra fun and very kid-friendly. Instead of the standard plain mini marshmallows, why not top your steaming cup of chocolatey goodness with unicorn marshmallows or Lucky Charms marshmallows (the best part of the cereal)? These mixes are on the higher end when it comes to calories (190 per envelope for the Unicorn variety) and sugar (32 grams), but the portion-control envelopes are convenient for whipping up single servings.

Price at time of publish: $18

Calories Per Serving: 190 | Cacao Percentage: Not indicated | Ingredients: Sugar, marshmallows (sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, gelatin, artificial color [red 40, yellow 6, yellow 5, blue 1], sodium hexametaphosphate, artificial flavor, natural flavor), corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, nonfat milk, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, natural flavor

Best for the Holidays

Ghirardelli Premium Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix

Ghirardelli Premium Hot Cocoa Mix, Peppermint

Amazon

What We Like
  • Well-balanced blend of peppermint and chocolate

  • Great for gifting

  • Large size yields 21 servings

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Nothing screams "holiday season" quite like a steaming cup of peppermint hot chocolate in a large, decorative mug. The beloved combination of chocolate and mint is both cozy and sentimental. The trusted Ghiradelli name ensures you're getting a high-quality chocolate taste that doesn't have to only be enjoyed in December but rather anytime you get a craving—did someone say Christmas in July? A 3-tablespoon serving contains 140 calories and 25 grams of sugar.

Price at time of publish: $9

Calories Per Serving: 140 | Cacao Percentage: Not indicated | Ingredients: Sugar cocoa processed with alkali. Creamer, oil maltodextrin, sodium, caseinate, silicon dioxide, sodium citrate, soy, nonfat dry milk, whey powder, salt, guar gum, gum arabic, natural flavor

Final Verdict

If you are looking for an overall winning hot chocolate that is super chocolatey and rich and has very few ingredients (meaning no questionable additives), Guittard Chocolate Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate is the way to go. It’s non-GMO, gluten-free, and can even be used in baking. If you’re in search of an easy cup of white hot chocolate, Land O Lakes Arctic White Chocolate Mix is an excellent and delicious choice.

What to Look for in Hot Chocolate Mixes

Type/Intensity

Most of us are familiar with the three main, broad types of chocolate—milk, dark, and white—but there are also percentages to take into account that further sub-divide those categories. You will often see a cocoa percentage listed on bars of chocolate or powders, and this captures how much of the product is actually "cocoa mass," as opposed to other added ingredients (sugar, vanilla, etc.). So if a product is labeled 70 percent dark chocolate, that means its cocoa mass is 70 percent, and 30 percent of the product is made up of other ingredients.

Preparation Instructions

In order to make the best hot chocolate, you will want to follow the instructions on the label and prepare it as the manufacturer recommends. Some brands may specify using milk, others may say water or milk will suffice, and you’ll want to ensure you’re using the correct cup amount so as to not dilute your drink. Some companies may recommend using the stovetop, while others may offer microwave instructions. If your instructions specify getting your liquid to a certain temperature (to boil or not to boil), make sure to follow those instructions, as well.

Ingredient Lists

Like all products, you always want to pay careful attention to ingredient lists. While this is especially important to those with food allergies or sensitivities, it’s also simply a good habit to be aware of what’s in your products. Generally speaking, the shorter the list, the better; as ingredient lists grow longer and fill up with more difficult-to-pronounce, mysterious ingredients, you end up with more additives and artificial flavors. With a short, concise list, it’s easy to see and understand exactly what you’re getting in your product.

FAQs

Does hot chocolate mix expire?

Hot chocolate can expire once the package has been opened. The USDA recommends one year in your pantry after opening. Always check your product’s label and follow the manufacturer’s expiration date on the package, as well as any storage instructions they provide. 

Does hot chocolate mix contain gluten?

Most hot chocolate should be gluten-free, but, like any food allergy or intolerance, you want to double-check the label to be sure. If a product has a gluten-free claim or certification on the label, you’re good to go. Products can also state if they’re made in a gluten-free facility. Your best bet is to be your own detective and carefully read your labels. 

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best hot chocolate mixes on the market, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, cocoa powder percentage, and price—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and foodie, always curious about the next food or ingredient craze and hungry to learn and try more. Having worked in cookbook publishing, CPG label data, nutrition writing, and meal kits, her diverse background and varied interests provide a unique perspective that fosters clear, well-researched, and trustworthy reviews. A self-proclaimed chocoholic, she’s tried her fair share of hot chocolates over the years and will always say yes to adding marshmallows and whipped cream.

Amanda McDonald is an editor at The Spruce Eats and has over seven years of experience researching, writing, and editing about all things food — from what new products are at the grocery store to chef-approved hacks that keep tricky leftovers fresh for days. She updated this article to include the most up-to-date information.

Updated by
Amanda McDonald
Amanda McDonald
Amanda McDonald is a journalist living in New York City and Commerce Updates Editor for The Spruce Eats. She has written and edited health, wellness, food, and fitness content as well as recipes for multiple publications.
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