The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate

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It’s cold outside. Very cold.

Vertical image of a white mug filled with a dark brown creamy beverage, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Soooooo… have you made any hot chocolate yet?!

If you’re thinking of opening a bag of prepackaged mix, erase that thought immediately and try something new that will warm you from the inside out in the most decadent way imaginable:

My easy homemade hot chocolate!

Vertical image of a large white mug filled with a creamy dark brown drink topped with marshmallows on a wooden board.

Made with melted deep and dark candy bars instead of cocoa powder, this recipe is exceptionally indulgent and flavorful. It’s an easy recipe to choose to make from scratch, rather than choosing a store-bought option.

You only need a short list of ingredients you can count on one hand to make your own rich and creamy beverage – while the other hand grabs the marshmallows, of course, as the final touch added upon serving!

This limited number of ingredients warrants the use of higher quality products to yield a truly special beverage reserved for enjoying through the span of just a few months of the year.

Vertical top-down image of mugs filled with a dark brown creamy beverage on a wooden board next to marshmallows, a white towel, and a spoon.

While you could use any kind of chocolate you like – you honestly won’t be disappointed by substituting an equal amount of any variety of semisweet or bittersweet chips or bars here – there are so many beautifully crafted varieties you can use for this very special beverage!

Consider something like the Madagascar Dark Chocolate Bar with 75% cacao from Ritual Chocolate, a Denver-based brand that makes handcrafted single-origin bars with just two ingredients: cacao and cane sugar.

You can buy these bars now from Mouth.

Vertical image of two mugs filled with a dark brown creamy beverage topped with jumbo marshmallows on a wooden board.

For richness that isn’t too heavy, I use a combination of whole milk and half-and-half for the milky base.

After gently heating the milk, you whisk in the chopped chocolate, a splash of vanilla extract, and a little granulated sugar to balance the bitterness from the cacao.

When all of the ingredients are completely melted and dissolved into a lusciously smooth liquid, pour the drink into mugs and enjoy immediately.

Vertical image of a messy mug with a creamy dark brown beverage topped with marshmallows.

You’ll have a hot beverage at your side, ready to take on chilly nights, wintry mixes, freezing rain, and blustering blizzards.

Any form of wintry weather seems apropos when you’re safe and cozy inside, in the comfort of your home, caressing a mug of this concotion. Drop in the marshmallows, dim the lights, play some Christmas tunes or crank up the smooth jazz, and start sipping!

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Horizontal image of white mug filled with a dark brown creamy beverage on a wooden board next to mini marshmallows.

The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate

  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1-cup servings 1x


Rich and creamy homemade hot chocolate made with bars of bittersweet chocolate is a seriously decadent upgrade to the classic hot drink for wintertime.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60-75% cacao), chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Marshmallows, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat the whole milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk reaches a gentle simmer, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the chocolate, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. Continue whisking constantly until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth, another 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and distribute between mugs. Serve hot, topped with marshmallows.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Hot Chocolate
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Beverage

Keywords: hot chocolate

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure

Set out a medium saucepan, a whisk, a ladle, a cutting board, and a sharp chef’s knife. Set out 4 mugs.

Horizontal image of sugar, milk, vanilla, and chopped candy prepped and measured in white bowls.

Measure out the whole milk, half-and-half, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. Set out the marshmallows – you know, the soft and fluffy ones you made from scratch? They’ll be perfect floating on top of the warm beverage in the mugs!

Measure out 12 ounces from your bars, and roughly chop them.

Step 2 – Heat the Dairy

Pour the milk and half-and-half into the saucepan and warm over low heat until the liquid starts to gently simmer without coming to a boil. This will take about 5 minutes.

Horizontal image of heating milk in a pot.

To prevent scorching, whisk the liquid occasionally and watch it carefully so it does not boil. Adjust the heat level as needed.

Step 3 – Whisk in the Chopped Chocolate and Flavorings

Horizontal image of a partially mixed creamy beverage in a pot.

Add the chopped pieces, sugar, and vanilla to the saucepan. Whisk constantly to help the pieces melt.

Horizontal image of a dark brown liquid in a pot.

Continue to whisk over low heat until all the pieces are completely melted and the mixture is very smooth. This will take about 5 more minutes.

Step 4 – Serve

Remove the pan from the heat, and ladle into mugs.

For a lusciously smooth mixture, you can also choose to carefully ladle the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the mugs to catch any pieces of unmelted chocolate or clumps of sugar that did not dissolve properly.

Horizontal top-down image of mugs filled with a dark brown creamy beverage on a wooden board next to marshmallows, a white towel, and a spoon.

Place a couple – or three, or four, or more! – marshmallows on top of each mug, and serve immediately while it’s still warm. Enjoy!

Mooooove Over Cow’s Milk

If you don’t want to use whole milk and half-and-half from the dairy department, you can use whatever milk you prefer to drink in this recipe, as long as you’re prepared to make just a couple slight adjustments as needed for certain products.

Horizontal image of white mug filled with a dark brown creamy beverage on a wooden board next to mini marshmallows.

Alternative milk substitutions like oat, soy, nut, or coconut milk beverages will have a similar consistency to cow’s milk.

If you are planning to use one of these options, you can use 4 cups total in this recipe as a replacement for the whole milk and half-and-half.

However, if you adore the thick creaminess of canned coconut milk, you may need to thin the drink with a little water. Start by using 4 cups of coconut milk. If it’s too thick, whisk in 1/8 cup of hot water at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

Canned coconut milk will also have a stronger coconut scent and flavor than the boxed beverage, so you can also add a little more vanilla extract and granulated sugar if you want to restrain the strong personality of the coconut a bit.

How will you adjust this recipe to make it your own? Do you have a particular type of chocolate that you are dreaming of melting for this beverage? Or maybe you like one of our other suggestions to make the ultimate hot chocolate or cocoa drink? The comment section is wide open, so leave me a message. I have so many more empty mugs to fill with new recipe ideas!

You know how cows have multiple compartments in their stomachs? We humans have a whole other second stomach, just for sinfully delicious sweets! If you love chocolate recipes, and always have room for tasty – and drinkable – treats, here are a few more homemade beverages to make next:

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on August 14, 2012. Last updated on November 28, 2022.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

12 thoughts on “The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate”

  1. This hot chocolate looks perfect. Once you give up those little packets of fake chocolate and milk, it’s impossible to go back. I’ve tried sweetening with agave before, but honey and maple are such good ideas.

  2. you know what, I believe this homemade hot chocolate recipe will find its way into my kitchen soon! Especially since there are still some days of chilly weather this spring! sending plenty of love my friend!

  3. Homemade hot chocolate is the best. My mom makes Filipino hot chocolate with special cacao balls/tablets and peanut butter, and mixes it on the stove top with a batidor, which I always thought was one of those honey dippers (and always wondered why my mom had one of those things) but is actually a wooden whisk that Filipinos use just for making hot chocolate.

  4. We’re having a warm late-autumn here in California. It doesn’t snow here, but it does get cold enough to relate to the fireplace with hot chocolate sentiment. And I agree, “from scratch” hot chocolate is pretty simple and delicious.

  5. Oh, this post is just full of holiday joy. First of all, congrats again on the official cookbook release day! This gorgeous hot chocolate, at this time of year. There’s nothing quite like it.

  6. Now I want to have friends over for a hot chocolate drinking and cookie eating party! Hot chocolate definitely has good feelings associated with it 🙂


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