18 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Hot Chocolate

Warm up with a steaming cup of homemade cocoa

Adult Hot Chocolate Cocktail

The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

A steaming cup of hot chocolate is just the thing you need on a chilly autumn afternoon or cold winter night. There's no need to grab that store-bought instant cocoa mix next time you get the craving, especially when you have a rich and comforting hot chocolate recipe at your disposal.

As you explore and taste these recipes, you will discover the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. Also called "drinking chocolate," many of the most luscious recipes melt real chocolate into warm milk, creating the ultimate comfort drink. Hot cocoa is typically a dry mix that just needs hot water or milk. It's simple to make your own cocoa mix, and there are several ways to improve or customize it.

From new ways to spice up your average cocoa to recipes from around the world, these yummy drinks are sure to please the entire family. We'll even show you a few tasty ways to transform this favorite beverage into a tempting hot cocktail.

  • 01 of 18

    Old-Fashioned Hot Chocolate

    Old-Fashioned Hot Chocolate With Variations

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

    One of the first recipes that you will want to try is old-fashioned hot chocolate. It is simple, takes just a few more minutes than a packet of cocoa, and is delightfully lush and creamy.

    For this recipe, you will melt unsweetened chocolate into the milk as it warms—do this gently to avoid curdling—and add a little sugar and vanilla. The method is used to make almost every other hot chocolate, so it's excellent practice for your sweet adventures.

  • 02 of 18

    Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate

    Chocolate Caliente: Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

    Also called chocolate caliente, Mexican hot chocolate requires a particular type of chocolate. Chocolate de mesa (or "table chocolate") is dark cacao flavored with sugar and cinnamon, and the spice instantly upgrades the drink. Available at many stores, some brands offer options with additional spices. A little chili pepper gives it a nice kick, for instance. If you can create the luscious espuma foam on top of your cup, it's even better.

  • 03 of 18

    Viennese Hot Chocolate

    Viennese Hot Chocolate
    Riou, Jean-Christophe / Getty Images

    The word "luscious" can barely begin to describe Viennese hot chocolate. It is rich and thick and requires just three common ingredients. You'll need a full six ounces of semisweet chocolate, along with milk, but the egg yolk is the real secret to its decadent taste. The recipe makes two cups, so don't keep this one to yourself.

  • 04 of 18

    Spanish Hot Chocolate

    Spanish Hot Chocolate (Chocolate Caliente)

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

    These thick hot chocolate recipes are the epitome of "drinking chocolate" and are often served in small cups. Spanish hot chocolate is among the densest and it's nearly a national drink in Spain. The secret is cornstarch, and you can choose between sweet or semisweet versions to perfectly match your chocolate craving. It can also be thoughtfully paired with food.

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  • 05 of 18

    Dutch Hot Chocolate

    Dutch Hot Chocolate
    James Baigrie / Getty Images

    Called warme chocolademelk, Dutch hot chocolate is a classic recipe from the Netherlands. It uses two types of chocolate—dark chips and Dutch cocoa—and doesn't skimp on the milk. While the freshly whipped cream is optional, it and a dusting of cocoa or cinnamon add to the experience. If you like, you can even spike it with brandy or rum.

  • 06 of 18

    El Submarino

    Argentinian Hot Chocolate

    JulijaDmitrijeva / Getty Images

    El submarino comes from Argentina, and it's a fun, interactive way to enjoy hot chocolate, especially with kids. For this recipe, you'll hold off on the chocolate and simply warm milk, sugar, and vanilla. Serve that in a mug along with a piece of dark chocolate. Dunk it and allow the sweet "submarine" to melt into the steaming milk, then drink away and enjoy the chocolate slurry at the bottom of the cup.

  • 07 of 18

    French Hot Chocolate

    French Hot Chocolate
    Annabelle Breakey / Getty Images

    Chocolat chaud is the French take on hot chocolate. The French hot chocolate recipe is similar to others, though it's unique because it uses both water and milk. It also prefers semisweet chocolate, to which you can add as much sugar as you like. The method is a little different, too, as this one uses a double boiler to melt the chocolate.

  • 08 of 18

    Iced Hot Cocoa

    Iced hot chocolate recipe

    The Spruce

    Iced coffee is excellent, but have you tasted iced hot cocoa? It's just as satisfying and a perfect way to get your chocolate fix on a warmer day. This recipe uses a powdered cocoa mix, and there's no need to turn on the stove. The real appeal is the chocolate ice cubes. Taking the time to whip up these fun additions and letting them freeze overnight ensures your iced drink doesn't get watered down.

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  • 09 of 18

    Hot Chocolate Mix

    Hot cocoa powder

    The Picture Pantry / Getty Images

    Making hot chocolate mix from scratch is unbelievably simple. It's a mix of a few common dry ingredients, including powdered milk, sugar, and cocoa powder. You can also add chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. It comes together in minutes and produces a rich cup of cocoa with either milk or water. This one also makes a fun homemade gift for the holidays.

  • 10 of 18

    Keto Hot Chocolate Mix

    keto hot chocolate

    The Spruce / Haley Hazell

    The keto hot chocolate mix skips the sugar, opting for an allulose or monkfruit sweetener instead. It's also dairy-free and vegan because it uses powdered coconut milk; be sure to mix it with hot water or plant-based milk. However, what's really special about this recipe is that it includes excellent ideas for adding flavor to each cup. From minty to spiced and nutty to "sticky sweet," there are fun variations that you can use in any hot chocolate recipe.

  • 11 of 18

    White Hot Chocolate Mix

    White Hot Chocolate Mix Makes a Great Gift
    Michael Phillips / Getty Images

    A twist on a traditional cocoa mix, this white hot chocolate mix is a little lighter. You'll love the layers of sweetness created by combining grated white chocolate, white chocolate pudding, and vanilla powder. Dried orange peel gives it a wonderful contrast. When it's cocoa time, you'll simply mix it into milk as it warms on the stove.

  • 12 of 18

    Instant Hot Cocoa Coffee

    Instant Hot Cocoa Coffee in a cup

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

    Coffee and cocoa come together in one incredibly easy instant hot cocoa coffee. All you need are cocoa mix and instant coffee. The cinnamon adds sweetness and spice and, if you don't have milk, water will do just fine if your cocoa includes powdered milk. This cocoa drink is a fantastic option for camping or a trip to the cabin because you can mix the dry ingredients in advance.

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  • 13 of 18

    Unicorn Hot Chocolate

    Unicorn Hot Chocolate

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Utterly adorable, unicorn hot chocolate is sure to grab anyone's attention. A yummy made-from-scratch hot white chocolate lies under the colorful array of frosting, sprinkles, marshmallows, and whipped cream. Food coloring turns it a delightful pink and makes it a charming addition to unicorn-themed parties.

  • 14 of 18

    Frozen Hot Chocolate

    Frozen Hot Chocolate

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney 

    People wait in long lines for frozen hot chocolate, but you don't have to. This recipe will show you how easy it is to create this favorite frozen drink at home. Simply toss ice cubes, milk, chocolate syrup, and hot cocoa mix in the blender and give it a whirl. Adding a pile of whipped cream, a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup, and a dusting of shaved chocolate makes it restaurant-worthy.

  • 15 of 18

    Whipped Hot Cocoa

    whipped hot cocoa in two glasses

     The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    "Hot" is deceptive in this recipe because it is a cold drink, and making it doesn't require heat whatsoever. Instead, whipped hot cocoa is a twist on the coffee shop staple, whipped coffee. It's a milk drink served over ice that's topped with freshly whipped chocolate cream. On a warm day, it's sure to take care of your hot cocoa desire.

  • 16 of 18

    Adult Hot Chocolate

    Adult Hot Chocolate Cocktail

    The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

    It is time to get into the cocoa recipes that are for adults only. A perfect place to start is with a steaming cup of adult hot chocolate. You can use a cocoa mix or any other hot chocolate recipe for this drink, then add a shot of peppermint schnapps. Deck it out with whipped cream and grated chocolate or chocolate syrup (or both), then sit back and enjoy this mint-chocolate delight.

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  • 17 of 18

    Spiked Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

    Hot chocolate

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Hot chocolate is already sweet, so there typically isn't a need to add a sweetener. However, when that syrup includes warming spices, it's a welcome addition to cocoa. That's what happens in the spiked gingerbread hot chocolate recipe; it all starts with a homemade gingerbread-flavored syrup. Mix it with hot cocoa mix and give it a kick with spiced rum or ginger vodka. You can even skip the liquor and enjoy a more innocent treat.

  • 18 of 18

    Hennessy Hot Cocoa

    Hennessy Hot Cocoa

    Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

    Cognac gives this Hennessy hot cocoa a nice boost. It also has lovely layers of flavor, so you can pass on the brandy and serve it to the entire family. This recipe sweetens your favorite cocoa with a special spiced syrup of brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. That is also easy to make, and when paired with brandy, chocolate, and a hint of vanilla, a sweet cup is yours to enjoy.