Cold weather necessitates hot drinks. We have no choice but to stay inside with steaming mugs of Healthy Hot Chocolate. It’s for our well being, really and truly!
I am a lifetime consumer of and enthusiast for hot chocolate.
Growing up, Santa left us multipacks of different flavored instant hot chocolates in our stockings (and sometimes, he still does!). When I studied abroad in France, I went crazy for the intensely rich French Hot Chocolate sold in Paris cafes. It’s so thick, the serve it along side a big bowl of whipped cream so you can stir in the cream to “thin” it out (heaven!).
I still adore that French hot chocolate for a special treat, but it’s certainly not an every night affair. Even my two-ingredient Homemade Hot Chocolate, while super easy and fantastic, can be a bit excessive when you are trying to behave…or when you are pairing it with Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies or Andes Mint Cookies, which is my signature move.
Some nights you need a more wholesome, healthy hot chocolate recipe. Here it is!
This healthy hot chocolate recipe won’t positively knock your socks off with its decadence (make the French hot chocolate recipe I mentioned above for that), but if you are looking for a low fat hot chocolate recipe that you can enjoy more often and that still satisfies, this is the recipe for you.
You can make this healthy hot chocolate recipe with almond milk to keep it naturally vegan and gluten free. I’ve also included options to make it richer if you like. Since this recipe is meant to be an everyday/all-the-time hot chocolate (versus a special occasion hot chocolate), I also included a few of my favorite flavor twists to keep it feeling fresh and new.
How to Make Healthy Hot Chocolate
Good news! I bet you have everything you need to make this simple hot chocolate recipe in your pantry right now. I don’t even buy the packets any more, because it’s so easy to make from scratch.
- Milk of Choice. Use almond milk if you’d like to make your healthy hot chocolate vegan, as low calorie as possible, and dairy free. The richer the milk you choose, however, the richer the hot chocolate.
I know from experience with the packets that while you can make instant hot chocolate with almond milk, the texture will be thin, similar to a hot chocolate made with skim milk. Personally, I like 2% milk in my healthy hot chocolate; the taste/calorie trade off is worth it to me. For a vegan/dairy free option that is richer, I recommend splashing in some full-fat coconut milk. You can also use soy milk (which is thicker than almond milk), but I don’t love the taste of soy in my hot chocolate. It truly is personal preference. Play around until you find your perfect cup.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. The taste of chocolate doesn’t get any more full-on than this pantry ingredient. You can also make the healthy hot chocolate with cacao, though you’ll want to adjust the maple syrup to taste. I find cacao to be a little more bitter.
- Maple Syrup. I suggest starting with a small amount, then increasing a teaspoon at a time, until you hit your perfect level of sweetness. Again, this is your cup!
- Pure Vanilla Extract. An excellent way to deepen the flavor of chocolate and make this healthy hot chocolate taste richer than it actually is.
- Kosher Salt. It sounds odd, but it is so needed. Even in dessert recipes, salt helps other flavors pop, without making them salty.
- Chocolate Chips or Chopped Dark Chocolate. You’ll find plenty of healthy hot chocolate recipes online that leave these out for the sake of saving calories, but I really do prefer my hot cocoa with some chocolate melted in. It makes it taste more real and less sad. You can always taste the healthy hot chocolate without it first, see if you are satisfied, and then add the melted chocolate if you are not.
- Heat the milk until just simmering, then whisk in the cocoa powder, maple syrup, and salt.
- Add the chocolate chips and vanilla. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and combined. Serve in a mug with additional chocolate as desired. DONE. ENJOY!
Healthy Hot Chocolate – Recipe Variations
This low calorie hot chocolate is made to be enjoyed everyday! Here are some fun ways to keep it tasting new.
- Healthy Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon. Simmer the milk with a cinnamon stick. Discard the stick or serve it inside your cup as a garnish. I don’t recommend ground cinnamon, because it floats on top, versus incorporating nicely with the hot chocolate.
- Vegan Hot Chocolate. Use dairy free milk (such as almond milk) and make sure your chocolate is dairy free also.
- Hot Chocolate with Coconut Oil. Another option to add decadence. Melt ½ tablespoon coconut oil in the saucepan with the other ingredients.
- Mexican Hot Chocolate. Simmer the milk with a cinnamon stick (as suggested in cinnamon variation above). Stir in a baby pinch of cayenne (a little goes a long way!)
- Irish Hot Chocolate. Add a splash of Irish Cream liqueur, such as Bailey’s, or Irish whiskey. Not nearly as healthy but YUM.
- Peanut Butter Healthy Hot Chocolate. Stir in powdered peanut butter to taste, such as PB2.
- Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream. The classic hot chocolate topping! Feel free to use the can (I won’t judge). To keep the recipe vegan/dairy free, use whipped coconut cream.
More Hot Drink Recipes to Keep You Warm
Recommended Tools to Make Healthy Hot Chocolate
- Two sided measuring spoons. These are easy to store and require less cleaning.
- Small Whisk. I love the size of this one because it fits nicely into a small saucepan, is easy to maneuver, and doesn’t splash ingredients all over the counter.
Cozy nights with steaming mugs of healthy hot chocolate are ahead. Cheers!
Healthy Hot Chocolate
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- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice (I like 2%)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup plus additional to taste
- Tiny pinch of kosher salt or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Shaved dark chocolate or chocolate chips for serving
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk until just simmering. Whisk in the cocoa powder, maple syrup, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla. Whisk and heat until the chocolate is melted and smoothly combined.
- Taste and add more maple syrup if you'd like it sweeter. Pour into a mug, and top with extra chocolate as desired. For more variations, see the blog post above.
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