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Rich, creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix is perfect for keeping in your cupboard for whenever the craving for a warm treat hits you when the weather is chilly! It’s also fantastic for gifting to friends, neighbors, or co-workers during the holiday season!

There is nothing more comforting than sitting down with a warm, relaxing mug of hot cocoa! Some of our other favorite seasonal drinks are White Hot Chocolate, Slow Cooker Apple Cider, and of course, Homemade Eggnog.

A measuring scoop in a jar of hot chocolate mix


Easy Hot Chocolate Mix

We don’t live where it snows, but it definitely still gets cold and rainy during the winter season here in the California Bay Area. And it’s on mornings like that that the best way to coax my kids out of bed is with a mug of hot chocolate! It’s always such a treat!

My very favorite hot chocolate is actually this European-style version that is super thick and creamy, but it isn’t quite as convenient to make in the morning as just having a mix available to do individual portions. I have to say that this hot chocolate mix takes a close second place and is still pretty darn rich, creamy, and decadent, especially when mixed with hot milk instead of water.

Sometimes I will double or triple the batch to always have it one hand to enjoy all season long!

Marshmallows, hot cocoa mix, and a mug.

I made batch after batch of hot chocolate mix, testing various proportions of cocoa powder, sugar, and other ingredients to get things just right. I found that adding a little cornstarch helps thicken the hot chocolate every so slightly giving it a silkier feel in your mouth.

Red and white mugs with cocoa and marshmallows.

And I have a couple of suggestions to take your hot chocolate mix from good, to really, really good, PREMIUM hot chocolate.

Both of these ideas are optional and you can skip them and still have good hot chocolate milk for gifting or enjoying yourself, but they do make a difference if you have the time.

Try adding vanilla powder!

The first is to add some vanilla powder (affiliate link) to your homemade hot chocolate mix. I have never actually seen this in stores and have just ordered it online. Nielsen-Massey makes a good one two, but at almost triple the price, it’s much more expensive. The wonderful vanilla flavor really balances out the cocoa powder and really somehow makes it taste more chocolate-y.

Obviously you can’t add regular vanilla extract to a dry, powdered hot chocolate milk, but using vanilla powder lets you add that vanilla flavor without the liquid!

Toast the powdered milk!

The second trick is one I learned from Alton Brown: try toasting the powdered milk in the oven before adding it to your hot chocolate mix.

I made multiple batches of hot chocolate mix when I was recipe testing and I definitely noticed a difference between the batches made with toasted milk powder versus those where I skipped this step.

Again, both approaches are still super delicious, and admittedly, it’s a bit of a nuisance to heat the oven, then toast the powered milk and cool it before you can make the hot chocolate mix, but it’s worth a try at least once!

Bubbles on the top of a mug of hot cocoa.

How to make homemade hot chocolate mix

  1. Toast the powdered milk. This step is optional, but it really does make a difference! Just line your baking sheet with parchment paper first, then spread the powdered milk in an even layer and toast for 20 minutes in a 300 degree F oven. Let it cool down to room temperature after toasting.
  2. Pulse everything in a food processor (affiliate link). You could also sift or whisk everything together by hand, but a food processor (affiliate link) makes it so much easier. Plus, some brands of nonfat powdered milk tend to have slightly larger granules than others and pulsing helps make them a bit more fine so they dissolve into hot liquid even better.
The ingredients for making homemade hot chocolate mix in a food processor.
  1. Transfer to an airtight container to store. I like mason jars with wide mouths for easy measuring.
  2. Make your hot chocolate! Everybody has their own personal preference for how strong to make their hot chocolate but a ratio of 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the hot chocolate mix to 1 cup of hot water or milk works best.

What chocolate is best for hot chocolate?

I tested several reputable recipes when coming up with this version, some of which used chopped up white chocolate and others going the other route with dark cocoa powder. Ultimately, our favorite batches were made by combining a little Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder with their regular unsweetened cocoa powder to give us the overall best chocolate flavor that is on the dark side, but not too dark.

It tastes much more rich and chocolatey, with more complex cocoa flavor than just regular unsweetened cocoa powder alone.

A mug of hot cocoa with marshmallows melting in it.

How long does hot chocolate mix last?

If you store your hot chocolate mix in an airtight container (mason jars are great for storing and gifting this mix), it will last all season long since all of the ingredients are shelf-stable! We just keep our mix in the cupboard so it’s ready and within easy reach whenever we want to make a mug.

Can you add marshmallows to this hot cocoa mix?

Absolutely! My kids love those dehydrated marshmallow bits (affiliate link) in their hot chocolate mix and it makes for a really pretty presentation when gifting to not mix them in but instead fill a mason jar with the hot chocolate mix first, then pour a layer of marshmallows on top.

A jar of hot chocolate mix next to mugs of hot chocolate.

Gifting ideas

  • Fill cellophane bags with the hot cocoa mix and tie them with a ribbon. Stick them in a cute mug with a candy cane and a card explaining that they will need to add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the hot chocolate mix to 1 cup of hot water or milk.
  • Fill pint or quart size mason jars with the hot chocolate mix, then cover then tie a ribbon around the lid.
A cup of hot cocoa beside the powdered mix.

Variations to try

  • Mexican hot chocolate: Try adding 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon to the mix for a unique flavor combination that is super delicious!
  • Peppermint candy cane hot chocolate: Unwrap 8-10 candy canes and add them to the food processor (affiliate link) to pulverize them really well before adding them to the mix for a chocolate peppermint version.
  • Other flavors: The easiest way to add other flavors it to purchase flavored powdered coffee creamer and replace 1 cup of the powdered milk with 1 cup of the coffee creamer. The hazelnut version is my personal favorite.
A batch of homemade hot chocolate mix in a decorative glass container.

More Edible Gift Ideas

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Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
Yield: 24 servings

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Rich, creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix is perfect for keeping in your cupboard for whenever the craving for a warm treat hits you when the weather is chilly! It's also fantastic for gifting to friends, neighbors, or co-workers during the holiday season!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups nonfat powdered dry milk
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla powder (optional but so good!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grained salt

Instructions

  1. OPTIONAL: Toast the powdered milk. To do this, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the powdered milk in a 1/4-inch thick layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. If it clumps up, which is likely, you may need to pulse the toasted powdered milk in a food processor so it is powdery again.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a large food processor. Pulse to evenly combine. This can also be done in a large bowl with a whisk, although you will want to sift through a fine mesh sieve so there aren't clumps. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4-6 months.
  3. To make hot chocolate from the mix, add 4-6 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix to a mug and fill the rest of the way with about 1 cup of hot milk or hot water. Hot water works fine, but the hot chocolate won't be as creamy and rich. Top with marshmallows or whipped cream.

Notes

  • Toasting the powdered milk is an idea I got from Alton Brown and I really do think it adds a richness and depth of flavor to the hot chocolate mix that isn't present otherwise.
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix: Add 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon with the other hot chocolate ingredients.
  • Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix: Try finely crushing 8-10 peppermint candy canes and adding them to them mix for a minty flavor.
  • For more flavor variations, try replacing 1 cup of the nonfat powdered dry milk with 1 cup of flavored powdered coffee creamer instead.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 89Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 62mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 3g

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household. These numbers are based on the dry mix only and do not include milk.

A collage of edible gifts.

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