14 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Hot Chocolate

Warm up with a steaming cup of homemade cocoa

Homemade Hot Chocolate

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 instant cocoa mix next time you get the craving, especially when you have a rich and comforting new 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 drinks.

There are many ways to make hot chocolate as well. From new ways to spice up your average cocoa to recipes from around the world, we have fun and delicious recipes for the entire family. We'll even show you a few tasty ways to transform this favorite beverage into tempting hot cocktails. Or if you're feeling like something more substantial, try this decadent hot cocoa-inspired mug cake.

  • 01 of 14

    Old-Fashioned Hot Chocolate

    Homemade Hot Chocolate
    Photo: Diana Rattray

    One of the first recipes that you will want to try is an 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 need unsweetened chocolate. Melt that into the milk as it warms and add a little sugar and vanilla. There are many ways you can enhance this steaming cup and you'll use this method for making almost every other hot chocolate, so it's great practice.

  • 02 of 14

    Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate

    Authentic Mexican hot chocolate

    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska

    Also called chocolate caliente, authentic Mexican hot chocolate requires a very special type of chocolate. Chocolate de mesa is dark cacao flavored with sugar and cinnamon and the spice adds an instant upgrade to this favorite drink.

    The chocolate can be found at many stores and some brands offer options with even more spices added. Bringing in a little chili pepper gives it a nice kick and if you can create the luscious espuma froth on top of your cup, it's even better.

  • 03 of 14

    Viennese Hot Chocolate

    Viennese Hot Chocolate
    Riou, Jean-Christophe / Getty Images

    The word "luscious" can barely begin to describe Viennese hot chocolate. It is perfectly thick and the most comforting drink for chilly nights. Best of all, it requires just three common ingredients.

    A full six ounces of semi-sweet chocolate is required for this recipe. The secret to its rich thickness is the addition of an egg yolk. Stirring that in while combining the milk and chocolate makes a world of difference. Also, the recipe makes two cups, so don't keep this one to yourself.

  • 04 of 14

    Spanish Hot Chocolate

    Spanish Hot Chocolate
    Tom And Steve / Getty Images

    These thick hot chocolate recipes are the epitome of "drinking chocolate," which is why they're served in such small cups. If you thought the Viennese recipe was thick, wait until you taste the Spanish version. Because they're so small and rich, they can also be thoughtfully paired with food.

    Spanish hot chocolate is so popular that it's nearly a national drink in Spain and one taste will show you why it's such a hit. The secret is cornstarch and you can choose between sweet or semi-sweet versions to perfectly match your chocolate craving.

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  • 05 of 14

    El Submarino

    El Submarino Argentina Hot Chocolate
    Stockbyte / Getty Images

    El submarino comes from Argentina and it's a fun, interactive way to enjoy your hot chocolate. It's definitely one you have to try with the 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 your favorite dark chocolate bar. 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.

  • 06 of 14

    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 and doesn't skimp on the milk, either, opting for whole milk over any of the lighter options.

    The double-duty chocolate for this recipe comes from a combination of dark chips and Dutch cocoa. While the freshly whipped cream is optional, it and a dusting of cocoa or cinnamon add to the decadent experience. If you like, you can even spike it with brandy or rum.

  • 07 of 14

    French Hot Chocolate

    French Hot Chocolate
    Annabelle Breakey / Getty Images

    Chocolat chaud is the French take on hot chocolate. They even say it has some health benefits, so you don't have to feel bad when you indulge. 

    The French hot chocolate recipe itself is similar to others, though using both water and milk make it unique. The French also prefer a semi-sweet 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 14

    Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate

    Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate
    creacart / Getty Images

    Can you really make hot chocolate without dairy products? Absolutely, so there's no need to think that your special diet restricts you from enjoying this creamy beverage. 

    The key to pulling off a dairy-free hot chocolate is smart shopping. You'll need to find a dark chocolate that's made without milk, then pick up your favorite soymilk. The sugar and vanilla add to the flavor and sweeten it up perfectly, so you will not be missing a thing.

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  • 09 of 14

    Iced Hot Cocoa

    Iced hot chocolate recipe

    The Spruce

    Iced coffee is all the rage, but have you taste iced hot cocoa? It's just as satisfying and a perfect way to get your chocolate fix on a warmer day.

    This recipe goes back to your favorite powdered cocoa mix and there's no need to turn on the stove. That's simple enough, but 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.

  • 10 of 14

    White Hot Chocolate Mix

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

    A twist on a traditional homemade cocoa mix, this white hot chocolate mix makes a great gift for the holidays. Be sure to keep some for yourself because you're going to love the layers of sweet white chocolate.

    To create this luxurious dry mix, you'll combine grated white chocolate with white chocolate pudding. Add a little powdered vanilla for sweetness, then ground orange peel for contrast. It's fantastic and, when it's cocoa time, you'll simply mix it into warming milk.

  • 11 of 14

    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 that is hot, sweet, and sure to warm you up. This is a fantastic idea for camping or a trip to the cabin since everything's "instant" and no kitchen is needed.

    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. To make it even easier, mix all the dry ingredients before you leave home and your campfire pick-me-up is ready to brew.

  • 12 of 14

    Peppermint Patty

    Hot Peppermint Patty Cocktail

    S&C Design Studios 

    It is now time to get into the cocoa recipes that are for adults only. We'll kick off our decadent hot chocolate cocktails with an all-time favorite, the peppermint patty.

    To create this mint-chocolate delight, you can use a cocoa mix or add the liquors to any of the recipes we've already explored. For the mint, crème de menthe is used and the chocolate is enhanced with crème de cacao. Add marshmallows or whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles as you see fit.

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  • 13 of 14

    Ski Lift

    Ski Lift - Spiked Hot Cocoa Cocktail

    S&C Design Studios

    The ski lift recipe is truly unique, adding an entirely different flavor profile to this boozy chocolate treat. This one is anything but boring and, again, relies on your favorite hot chocolate recipe.

    The key to the ski lift is a shot each of peach schnapps and coconut rum. It sounds a bit odd at first, but it really does work and gives this winter favorite a fruity, tropical flair. No schnapps? That's okay because coconut rum alone creates an equally tempting Mounds Bar.

  • 14 of 14

    Hennessy Hot Cocoa

    Hennessy Hot Cocoa

    Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

    The Dutch were on to something with the shot of brandy and we're going to take that a step further with a Cognac-based cocoa. This Hennessy hot cocoa has a wonderful layer of flavors and you can skip the liquor and serve it to the entire family.

    This recipe sweetens your favorite cocoa with a special spiced syrup made of brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. That is also easy to make and when paired with the brandy, chocolate and a hint of vanilla, a sweet cup is yours to enjoy.