Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Switch up our homemade hot cocoa mix to make this hot cocoa recipe your very own. Choose between plain, peppermint, and Mexican chocolate versions. Homemade hot cocoa mix makes easy, thoughtful gifts!

Hot Cocoa Mix
Sally Vargas

Do you hate crowds? Do you have gift-giving anxiety? I do.

In fact, I’ll do almost anything to stay out of the stores during the holidays. My friends all know that they will receive a gift, but that gift will come from my kitchen.

Hot Cocoa Mix
Sally Vargas

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix Is the Perfect Gift

Now I’ve been given some doozies in the past from friends similarly inclined to edible gift-giving. So, I try to make gifts of food that will appeal to as many people as possible. No dilly beans. No “what’s-in-that?” unidentifiable candies. Nope. I’m playing it safe.

A cocoa mix like this one is universally loved and goes a long way toward solving my holiday shopping anxiety. Preparation time is ridiculously fast. The result is ridiculously charming.

Hot Cocoa Recipes: So Many Options!

I tried many versions before deciding that a simple approach is really the best—no fancy chocolate bits to melt, just cocoa powder, sugar, and flavorings. Dutch process cocoa is more alkaline and darker in color than natural cocoa powder, and therefore slightly more appealing in a hot cocoa. But you could really use either kind.

I've also included variations for Mexican Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Hot Chocolate, just in case you'd like to mix it up!

Hot Cocoa Mix
Sally Vargas

Try This Trick for Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

One pastry chef trick I use: Blend pure extracts or finely grated citrus zest into the sugar so the sugar becomes perfumed. I’ve done this here for this recipe, but the trick is good enough that you should think about using it in other sugary situations as well. Try combining sugar and lemon zest the next time you make a lemon bundt cake, for example.

Packaging and Gifting Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

When you’re shopping for ingredients, pick out some pretty jars, wrapping paper, ribbon, and few holiday baubles in which to wrap your gift. Print out the mix directions and paste them on oak tag labels, or write them out by hand. Check out your local office supply stores for ideas and supplies.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy Some Yourself!

A homemade gift is truly a gift of love. Love thyself, too, and keep a jar stashed in the cupboard for yourself. You’ll be glad you did, when the four o’clock slump hits on a chilly, gray day.

Hot Cocoa Mix
Sally Vargas

How Long Does Hot Cocoa Mix Last?

Once made up in jars with airtight lids, homemade hot chocolate mix will last about 3 to 6 months in the pantry. It'll last even longer in the freezer.

Fun Hot Cocoa Upgrades 

For some added fun, here are some other flavors and add-ins you can stir into the mix before you pop it into your jars and seal them.

  • Mini marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips
  • Candy cane bits
  • Some cayenne or other chili powder
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or other spices
  • Cinnamon sticks for stirring
  • Instant coffee for a mocha mix

Cozy Recipes to Enjoy with Your Hot Cocoa

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Serving 1 cup of cocoa
Yield 2 cups mix (about 24 servings)

Cornstarch gives the cocoa a smooth and creamy texture that doesn’t interfere with the flavor.


BASE RECIPE: Plain Hot Cocoa Mix

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

VARIATION: Mexican Chocolate Cocoa Mix

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon chile powder

VARIATION: Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 tablespoon pure mint extract

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

To make one cup of hot cocoa:

  • 4 teaspoons hot cocoa mix

  • 3/4 cup milk (any milk of your choice)

  • Cinnamon sticks, optional

  • Peppermint sticks, optional

  • Mini marshmallows, optional

  • Whipped cream, optional


  1. Combine the extract with the sugar:

    In a bowl, place the sugar and sprinkle the extract over the top (along with the orange zest, if making the Mexican Hot Chocolate variation). With a whisk or your fingers, work the extract into the sugar until thoroughly combined.

    (Note: the addition of extract to the sugar makes it slightly damp, but the moisture is distributed when you mix it with the cocoa and cornstarch.)

    Hot Cocoa Mix
    Sally Vargas
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the mix:

    Add the cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon (if using) to the bowl and whisk to combine. Store in jars for up to three months.

    Hot Cocoa Mix
    Sally Vargas

To make one cup of hot cocoa:

  1. Make a paste of the cocoa mix and cold milk:

    In a microwave-safe cup, stir 4 teaspoons of hot chocolate mix with 1 tablespoon of milk until blended.

  2. Stir in the rest of the milk:

    Pour in the rest of the milk and stir until the paste is dissolved into the milk.

  3. Warm the cocoa:

    Warm in a small pot on the stove top until steaming, or in the microwave for about 1 minute.

    Serve immediately with any optional toppings you like.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
240 Calories
5g Fat
40g Carbs
9g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 240
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 274mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 15%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 34g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 269mg 21%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 522mg 11%
*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. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.