The Best Cup of Hot Chocolate You’ll Ever Have: DIY Hot Cocoa Mix

As the weather gets colder, there’s nothing quite like a warm cup of hot cocoa to make everything just right.

But store-bought hot cocoa mix can be overly sweet and watery. Ew.

After building my coffee bar and my kids begging me to add a hot cocoa station, I knew I had to take it to the next level. That’s when decided to create my own DIY hot cocoa mix.

It’s seriously the best cup of hot chocolate you will ever have.

In this article, I’m sharing the essential ingredients for making a delicious and satisfying homemade hot cocoa mix and some helpful tips for preparation and storage.

Cup of cocoa with colorful marshmallows sitting on a reclaimed wood counter decorated for Christmas.

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Ingredients and Preparation

Hands adding hot cocoa mix ingredients to a large glass jar.

Main Ingredients

For a delicious and quick homemade hot cocoa mix, you’ll need just a few basic ingredients that you might already have in your pantry. Here’s the list:

  • Dry Milk: I use nonfat dry milk powder, but you can substitute that with a powdered nondairy creamer for a vegan version.
  • Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is perfect, but an alternative like coconut sugar will also work.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Both natural and Dutch-process cocoa powder work well. Just make sure to sift it to remove any lumps.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt brings out the chocolate flavor. Use kosher salt or sea salt rather than table salt.

Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:

Dry milk1 cups
Granulated sugar1 cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder1 cup
Mini chocolate chips1/3 cup
Salt½ teaspoon

Add all the ingredients to a large jar and mix until they’re well combined. Store your homemade cocoa mix in an airtight container. I used this beautiful vintage-looking glass jar from Amazon for my hot cocoa bar.

Here’s where the magic lies: in the preparation!

Milk being poured into a milk frother

Rather than water, I steam 1 cup of whole milk to add to the mix. This milk frother has been key to making the cocoa. It’s easy to use and cleans up in a snap. After quickly heating and frothing the milk in this, I pour about half into a cup with 1/6 cup of the cocoa mix, then use a mini electric whisker to blend thoroughly. This ensures no lumps and a velvety texture.

Mini electric whisker mixing hot cocoa in a glass mug.

Then I add the rest of the milk and any toppings that have been requested. Mini cereal marshmallows are a hit in our house.

Optional Toppings

For the ultimate cup of cocoa, try one or more of these toppings. The foamed milk does a great job of holding them up:

  • Whipped Cream: Provide a bowl of freshly whipped cream for guests to add a dollop to their hot cocoa.
  • Marshmallows: Offer a variety of marshmallows, including regular, mini, flavored, or even homemade ones.
  • Chocolate Chips: Mini chocolate chips or chunks of chocolate add extra chocolatey goodness.
  • Candy Canes: Crushed or whole candy canes can add a peppermint twist to hot cocoa.
  • Caramel Sauce: Drizzle caramel sauce over the cocoa for a rich, sweet flavor.
  • Cinnamon Sticks: Offer cinnamon sticks for stirring or garnishing, adding a warm spice aroma.
  • Nutmeg and Cinnamon Powder: Ground spices can be sprinkled on top of the whipped cream for a hint of holiday flavor.
  • Flavored Syrups: Have an array of syrups like vanilla, caramel, or peppermint for guests to customize their cocoa.
  • Sprinkles: Colorful sprinkles or chocolate shavings can add a festive touch.
  • Miniature Cookies: Offer small cookies or biscotti for dunking.
  • Sliced Fruits: Sliced oranges or strawberries can provide a fresh contrast to the richness of cocoa.
  • Alcoholic Add-Ins (for adults): Baileys, Kahlúa, or peppermint schnapps can be options for those who want to spike their cocoa.
  • Nuts: Chopped nuts like almonds or hazelnuts can provide a crunchy texture.
  • Grated Chocolate: Provide a grater and a block of high-quality chocolate for guests to grate over their hot cocoa.

A DIY hot cocoa mix also makes a fantastic homemade food gift! Create a cute package in jars or bags, and add a personalized label with instructions on how to prepare the perfect mug of hot cocoa. You can also include some of the above-mentioned add-ins for a more customized gift. Enjoy!

Cup of prepared hot cocoa in from of a large jar containing homemade hot cocoa mix.


To ensure the best taste and quality, it’s essential to store your mix properly. I recommend using an airtight container or a mason jar to store your mix. A container with a tight seal is crucial, as it prevents moisture from seeping in and compromising the mix’s flavor and shelf life.

You can expect a shelf life of at least six months when stored properly.

Cup of prepared hot cocoa in from of a large jar containing homemade hot cocoa mix.

DIY Hot Cocoa Mix

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes

This homemade instant hot cocoa mix is a million times better than the prepackaged kind.


  • 1 cup of dried milk
  • 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup of mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt


  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large, airtight container.
  2. Store for up to 6 months.


To make a cup of cocoa:

  1. Steam 1 cup of whole milk and pour about half into a cup with 1/6 cup of the cocoa mix.
  2. Use a mini electric whisker to blend thoroughly. This ensures no lumps and a velvety texture.
  3. Add the remaining milk and toppings of your choice!

Like this recipe?

Be sure to save it for later on Pinterest!