Homemade Hot Cocoa With Marshmallows

Hot cocoa with marshmallows

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
250 Calories
9g Fat
34g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 250
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 24mg 8%
Sodium 158mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 9g
Calcium 292mg 22%
*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.)

There's nothing quite like coming in from the chilly weather outside to a steaming hot mug of hot cocoa topped with marshmallows. While you could make it from an instant powdered mix, it's just as easy to make it from scratch with cocoa powder, sugar, milk, and vanilla.

The terms "hot cocoa" and "hot chocolate" are often used interchangeably, but there are technical differences. Hot cocoa is differentiated from hot chocolate because it's made with cocoa powder. Hot chocolate, on the other hand, is made with melted chocolate, and because it is typically made with sweetened milk or dark chocolate, sugar is not usually added. If you want cocoa with more intense chocolate flavor, whisk some melted bittersweet chocolate into the hot cocoa or add an extra tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the sugar mixture.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Gather the ingredients for hot cocoa.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk to scalding.

    Milk in a saucepan
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. While the milk is heating, blend the cocoa and sugar in a small bowl.

    Combine the sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Mix about 1/3 cup of the hot milk into the cocoa and sugar mixture and then pour cocoa mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan. Add the vanilla and whisk until well-blended.

    Combine the milk and cocoa mixture.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Serve the cocoa topped with mini marshmallows. Sift a dash of cocoa powder over the marshmallows, if desired.

    Cocoa with marshmallows in a large cup.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray


  • To decrease the calorie and grams of fat in the recipe, use reduced-fat or skim milk in place of whole milk.
  • For a richer hot chocolate, replace the cocoa powder with 2 ounces of grated and melted bittersweet chocolate. If you use chocolate with a higher sugar content, such as milk chocolate, decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe.
  • Experiment with using brown sugar in place of white granulated sugar for a different, complex flavor.
  • Bring the milk to about 180 F, which is around when bubbles start to form on the sides of the saucepan. Don't let the milk boil.
  • If there's leftover hot chocolate, cool it to room temperature and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can be reheated by heating it up in a saucepan on the stove. Like when first making the hot chocolate, don't bring the liquid to a boil.

Recipe Variations

  • Non-dairy variation: Replace the milk with the same amount of coconut or almond milk.
  • Mexican hot cocoa: Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 heaping tablespoon instant espresso or coffee, plus a pinch of salt, to the saucepan when heating the milk. Dust the top of the hot chocolate with chili powder.
  • Minty hot cocoa: Add 1/4 cup creme de menthe (or to taste) or 2 tablespoons peppermint extract to the milk mixture.
  • Cinnamon white hot chocolate: Replace the cocoa powder with 2 ounces of chopped and melted white chocolate. Add 4 cinnamon sticks to the milk while it's heating; discard before mixing with the white chocolate.
  • Chai hot chocolate: In a coffee grinder, combine 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, eight whole cloves, six peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 10 fennel seeds, and 1 tablespoon ground ginger. Process the spices to make a powder. Add the chai mixture to the milk with the cocoa, tasting as you add to find your desired spice level.