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Whether you call it hot cocoa or hot chocolate, nothing feels quite as cozy as curling up with a mug of this nostalgic beverage. A wintertime essential, hot chocolate is the drink of choice whether you're celebrating the holidays with festive treats or warming up from a day spent in the snow. You can make your own from cocoa powder, sugar, and milk, but having a quality hot chocolate mix on hand is quicker and easier, so you can satisfy cravings in a pinch and always be prepared if an unexpected snowstorm hits.
The best hot chocolate mixes have plenty of actual chocolate flavor (versus just tasting sweet). Some have rich, intense flavor suited to an adult's palate, while other hot chocolate mixes are mild tasting and sure to please kids of all ages. We've reviewed lots of best-selling hot chocolate mixes for flavor, ease of preparation, and cost. Grab your favorite mug and some marshmallows or whipped cream. Here's our list of the best hot chocolate mixes.
Best Overall: Williams Sonoma Double Dark Hot Chocolate
Two different dark chocolates bring the flavor to this double-dark hot chocolate blend. It includes shavings of both Guittard bittersweet and semisweet chocolate for a product that melts easily and produces a smooth, creamy hot chocolate without the graininess you sometimes find in cocoa-based products. It’s perfect for sipping on cool evenings—along with a few cookies.
Since the "mix" is actually chocolate shavings, it can also be used as a garnish on ice cream or other treats, or you can mix the flecks of chocolate into cookie dough.
Best With Marshmallows: Swiss Miss Marshmallows Cocoa
A classic favorite, this Swiss Miss mix includes mini marshmallows that soften and then melt in the hot milk for a fun drink for all ages. The handy single-serve packets make it easy, since there’s no need to scoop or measure, and they mix with water so you can take a handful of packets camping or leave a few in the desk at work for an afternoon treat. This is a box of 50 packets, so there’s plenty for families and for sharing.
Best Fat Free: Nestle Hot Cocoa Fat-Free Rich Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
Made with fat-free milk, this hot chocolate mix may be lower in calories, but it’s still satisfying. The Nestle hot chocolate mix can be mixed with water for its lowest-calorie version—which is also great for camping—but it can be made with the milk of your choice as well, whether that's soy, oat, or dairy milk, for a richer, creamier drink.
Want to feel even better about this delicious treat? The mix contains 25 percent of your daily recommended value of calcium. The 7.3-ounce canister makes 26 servings.
Best Nostalgic: HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
Is there anything more familiar in the chocolate world than the Hershey’s name and logo? Growing up, if it wasn’t on a chocolate bar, it was on the tin of cocoa that was used for baking, or the bottle we used to drizzle chocolate over ice cream. For classic hot chocolate lovers, these handy packets will make a tasty hot indulgence that will remind you of the good ol' days—perfect on chilly evenings or as a special treat any time.
Best Milk Chocolate: Stephen's Gourmet Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
While packets of hot chocolate are convenient since you don’t need to measure, this bulk offering lets you choose how much chocolate you want to add to each mug. This is milk chocolate so it won’t be too assertive for youngsters, but it’s flavorful enough for adults. It’s also great for adding to coffee to make a tasty mocha in the morning.
All you need to do is add hot water, so you can bring a can to work for an afternoon treat or pack some for camping. Stephen’s makes a wide variety of hot chocolate mix flavors including white chocolate, cookies and cream, and salted caramel, but the plain milk and dark chocolate flavors are classic favorites.
Best for Nespresso: Podista Nespresso Original Line Compatible Hot Chocolate Capsules
There are plenty of options for alternative drinks with Keurig machines, but Nespresso owners have fewer options. Fortunately, Nespresso owners can enjoy an easy cup of hot chocolate with these capsules from Podista. Just add water for rich sipping hot chocolate, or steamy, frothy milk can be added for a more traditional hot chocolate.
The used pods are biodegradable, so they’re better for the environment. Keep in mind, though, that these pods are compatible with original Nespresso machines; they are not compatible with the Vertuoline machines.
Best Mexican Chocolate: Abuelita Authentic Mexican Style Hot Chocolate Mix
The hint of cinnamon in this chocolate mix strikes the right balance for a perfect mug of Mexican hot chocolate where the spice complements the chocolate rather than overpowering it. Instead of a powder, like most other mixes, this one comes in solid tabs of chocolate that melt in hot milk. The disks can be broken into pieces for those who like a lighter chocolate flavor or simply want a smaller cup of hot cocoa.
Besides hot chocolate, the disks can be used to make champurrado, a traditional Mexican chocolate drink. The tabs can also be used for making mole, or for simply nibbling. For an easier cup of hot chocolate, Abuelita is also available as a granulated mix that some describe as smoother and less gritty—but also less traditional.
Best Flavored: Penzeys Hot Chocolate Mix with a Hint of Mint
Penzeys might be best known for its herbs and spices, but this mix is a favorite among hot chocolate drinkers. It has just enough mint to add a pleasant flavor without overwhelming the chocolate taste or reminding you to brush your teeth. The mix is sold in a resealable plastic bag that’s easy to spoon out of, or you can transfer to your favorite jar or storage container for safekeeping. It also comes in 1/2-cup or 2-cup jars, but we like the 1-pound bag for the best value and plenty of hot chocolate to savor. It mixes with milk for a rich, creamy, minty chocolate treat.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
From her first simple hot chocolate as a child to indulgent adult versions, Donna Currie has sampled a wide variety of brands and even made her own mix when supplies ran low. She hasn’t tried every brand on the market, but she’s attempting. And she’s certainly done her research on what chocolate lovers really crave.