Classic Hot Cocoa (Naturally Sweetened)

There is nothing like a cup of steaming hot cocoa on a cold night. This recipe is so simple to throw together and warms you right down to the toes. It is lightly sweetened, and deliciously dark. You can make it dairy-free with coconut milk, or use rich whole milk. Maple syrup or honey are both delicious as the sweetener, making this hot cocoa free from any refined sweeteners.

We enjoyed our cups this last weekend while trimming our Christmas tree. It’s a family tradition that I think we’ll keep around. Top it with coconut whipped cream to be extra special! I like to use Fair Trade cocoa like this brand hereΒ Β (Affiliate link).

Classic Hot Cocoa
Definitely sweeten to taste. We’ve done as low as two tablespoons of honey, but some might find even the 1/4 cup not sweet enough. You can also use stevia.

      3 cup of whole milk


      1 1/2 cups of coconut milk, unsweetened and full fat and 1 1/2 cups of water


      1/4 cup of cocoa powder


      1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey


    1 teaspoon vanilla extract(make sure it’s gluten-free, if needed)

In a small bowl or cup stir the cocoa powder with about 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth with no lumps. Combine in a small or medium pot with the rest of the milk and sweetener, whisk to combine. Heat to desired serving temperature and add vanilla.
Serve, as desired, with whipped cream or marshmallows.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. says

    Great photo! I make mine the same way and really like the way it’s nice and chocolate-y, but not over-sweet. It was just the thing today – our first below zero morning.

  2. Christine says

    After much experimentation, around Thanksgiving I came up with a hot chocolate almost identical to this recipe and have now permanently turned my husband against the fake hot cocoa mixes. He especially loves it when i mix in a few drops of mint extract. It is so warming and satisfying on these cold nights!

  3. says

    Another awesome source for hot chocolate that we use is Chocolate Rice Milk by Rice Dream. No additives required. It is already dairy free and no sugars required. Warm and enjoy. Perhaps not as fun as “making” something but really yummy!

  4. Jen says

    I do about the same – I just use stevia powder – about 1/32nd of a tsp, and I use probably more like 1/3 c of cocoa. And a pinch of salt. Mmm… For chocolate milk cold, I do the same thing – just wait until the milk warms up slightly out of the fridge and shake. My favorite on-the-go snack πŸ™‚

  5. susan says

    I am anxious to try this recipe. I have made from scratch hot chocolate for years but have never used coconut milk. What a great idea. I add a pinch of chipotle chile powder to mine for just a bit of heat. Thank you for a great recipe!

  6. Joyce says

    I am thoroughly addicted to dark chocolate almond milk. With great difficulty I limit myself to one carton per month. But if I used this recipe to make my own…

  7. Michelle says

    Kimi – this is fantabulous! I made it tonight and oh my goodness. I am a convert. I used 75% organic cream & 25% water … holy moly was it smooth!

  8. says

    Glad to have found this as we were just talking about making our own hot cocoa this winter as we have eliminated processed foods from our home. We’ve gone dairy free and will substitute with plain almond milk. Do you use a whisk to make it lump free while you are heating it up? I suspect I will be visiting thist site often!

    • KimiHarris says

      It’s so much fun to know that you don’t have to eliminate tasty food and special treats when on a “clean” diet. Glad to help!

      And I stir some of the cocoa power with a fork or a whisk in a small bowl before adding it to the rest of the milk.

  9. says

    I love making this with a few drops of peppermint extract during the holidays. So yummy! Sometimes I add part decaf or Teeccino to make a mocha. Yum, yum!

  10. Kristina says

    So glad you reminded me on Facebook to make this. I happened to have just enough coconut milk on hand. I have made other homemade cocoa recipes before but this one is the most satisfying yet! So creamy and delicious! I wondered if the honey and coconut milk combo would taste strange but they are good. I will probably always use coconut milk when I make this and I feel very good about giving this to my kids. Fingers crossed they like it as much as I do.

  11. Kristy says

    I was looking for a healthy hot chocolate option as I can’t bring myself to buy conventional packaged stuff with all the junk in it and give it to my little lovelies. I had been trying to get them on Ovaltine, as it seemed to be a little less gunky, but they only ate the marshmallows and left the drink haha.

    I made this recipe for the first time tonight, however I substituted the cocoa powder for carob powder and it turned out great. I also forgot to put the vanilla in before serving it so I’m excited to see what it takes like next time with the vanilla.

    The kids drank up this hot cocoa tonight quite happily and so did my husband! He’s also a hard sell on some of the cleaner recipes I try. This will become a winter staple in my house!

  12. Jen says

    Made this for brunch as I am trying to limit coffee even more (I never go over a cup a day). Excellent! I used a quarter cup of xylitol, since honey and maple syrup are heat-sensitive. Added a bit of honey along with vanilla after I poured it out. Oh, and I only used two cups of milk additionally after mixing the cocoa with a quarter cup of milk. Xylitol is alkalizing so it helps balance the acid-forming characteristics of cocoa. Good for teeth, too.

    Will be experimenting with this recipe further–cinnamon, dash of salt. Oh, and whipped cream, of course! πŸ™‚


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