Best Homemade Cocoa Mix Recipe...Just Add Water for a Cozy Winter Drink

February 5, 2024


This recipe for homemade hot cocoa mix puts you in control of the ingredients and flavor of a favorite warm winter beverage. Just add water for a delectable gourmet-inspired drink and you'll never buy the pre-packaged powder at the grocery store again.




COOK + BAKE   |    Published February 5, 2024





Jar of homemade hot cocoa mix











There is nothing more indulgent on a blustery day than a steaming cup of hot cocoa.


While using a packet of Swiss Miss is quick and easy, having your own homemade mix in the cupboard ready to go cannot be beat. The flavor is enhanced and you are in control of the ingredients going into your cup.


Making your own hot cocoa mix is easy, uses common pantry ingredients, and can be a cost effective way to make an elevated winter beverage that far outweighs the store-bought powder.









There are actually two types of DIY hot cocoa mix that you can prepare at home.


  • One recipe combines just cocoa powder, sugar and salt which is stirred into warmed milk. Learn more about how to prepare this version of homemade hot chocolate.


  • The other mix, which you'll learn more about in this article, includes dry powdered milk in the ingredients so you only have to add boiling water to have a creamy beverage. This version is convenient and perfect to take anywhere like the office or camping because it doesn't require having warmed milk to be combined with the chocolate powder.






Hot cocoa mix in jar with mug






Why You Should Prepare Cocoa Mix from Scratch


We've become accustomed to picking up items from the grocery store that can be prepared without a lot of time or effort on our part. While convenient, we sacrifice flavor. And have you noticed the ingredients that are included?


This homemade version of hot cocoa mix uses common pantry ingredients like cocoa powder, dry powdered milk, sugar and salt, while the manufactured versions also include corn syrup, seed oils, emulsifiers and additives that impart no nutritional value.


While it is hard to prove whether or not these additional ingredients are actually harmful, it is wise to avoid them whenever possible by preparing your own foods from scratch.





Ingredients for homemade hot cocoa mix




For your convenience, a full ingredients list, directions for making homemade hot cocoa, and a printable recipe option appear further down in this article. Here is all the details you need to know about making this mix:



Ingredients + Tools You'll Need



DRY POWDERED MILK - This is how you get a rich and creamy hot cocoa when adding only water to the mix. I prefer to use whole milk powder for the best flavor, but you can also use nonfat dry milk if you'd like. Look in the baking aisle of your local grocery store or shop online at Azure Standard ★ (my preference), Amazon or other food retailers.



COCOA POWDER - Most of the flavor of your beverage will come from the unsweetened cocoa powder you choose. For this recipe, I used Dutch-processed cocoa powder (Rodell brand ★) for it's darker color and rich chocolate flavor. But feel free to experiment with natural cocoa powder to discover what you like best. Ghirardelli mades delicious options that can be found most places. Just be careful that you shop for cocoa powder and not cocoa mix.









CONFECTIONER'S SUGAR - Most recipes for homemade hot cocoa mix call for powdered sugar because it dissolves easier in warm liquid. It can be found in any baking aisle. Love & Lemons has an article about how to make your own confectioner's sugar using granulated sugar and a blender in case you don't want to purchase it just for this recipe.


ARROWROOT - This white powder ingredient helps achieve a thick, velvety consistency in your hot cocoa and keeps the powder from clumping. It is sold near the flour in many grocery stores or can be purchased at Azure Standard ★, Amazon, and other online food retailers. You may substitute an equal amount of cornstarch if you don't have any.


SALT - Salt enhances the sweetness of the chocolate.


VANILLA POWDER - This optional ingredient provides additional flavor to your hot cocoa mix. You can add a small splash of vanilla extract when you prepare the beverage instead or leave the vanilla out entirely.


CHOCOLATE CHIPS - If you'd like to add a little more body and velvety texture to the hot cocoa, feel free to toss in a few chocolate chips and allow them to melt in your drink.






You’ll need a few tools in order to make this recipe. They include:

  • a blender ★ - while not completely necessary as long as you plan on using powdered sugar, the blender does a nice job of cutting the ingredients into a fine powder so that it dissolves easily. It is the key to getting something smooth like the commercial mixes. A food processor will work in a similar manner.

  • fine mesh sifter - if you do not want to use a blender, it is recommended that you sift the ingredients through the strainer once or twice to ensure you don't have any clumps of ingredients.

  • whisk - use this to stir the liquid and powder for a smoother beverage; a mini whisk is very useful.






Jar of homemade hot cocoa mix with spoon




How to Make Hot Cocoa with Dry Milk Powder from Scratch




HOW TO MAKE THE MIX


Place the dry powdered milk, cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar, arrowroot powder, kosher salt, and vanilla powder into the blender and pulse until the ingredients are fully combined, any lumps are broken apart, and it looks like a powdery commercial mix.


Transfer the dry mixture to an airtight container and store in the pantry until needed.



HOW TO PREPARE A MUG OF HOMEMADE HOT COCOA FROM THIS HOMEMADE MIX


Be sure to shake the container of mix anytime you are ready to use it to ensure that all the ingredients are well combined.


Add between 1/3 and 1/2** cup of the cocoa mix to a mug and top with about 1/4 cup of boiling water. Whisk together to create a paste (or slurry) ensuring the powder is fully dissolved. Then slowly whisk in the remainder of a cup (8 ounces) of hot water until the beverage is well blended.


Top with the toppings you'd like or drink as is. Feel free to adjust how much chocolate mix you add to the mug based on the flavor you prefer.


**Measuring this mix is like measuring flour in baking. If you dip the measuring cup down into the mix and scoop it out, 1/3 cup should be plenty because it compacts that powder into the cup. If you are loosly spooning the powder into a measuring cup, aim for about 1/2 cup of mix.










What are the Best Toppings and Add-Ins for Hot Cocoa?



While a steaming mug of this winter staple can be enjoyed as is, there are many flavors and toppings that can be added both to the mix and as you serve the beverage. Try including one or a few of the ideas listed below with your next drink:

  • Whipped cream

  • Mini marshmallows

  • Chocolate - Grate some fresh chocolate, add small pieces of your favorite candy bar, or drizzle with chocolate sauce

  • Caramel - A drizzle of topping or crush caramel candies to add to the top

  • Spices - Pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom lend a cozy spiced flavor; A pinch of chili powder or cayenne adds a bit of heat (similar to Mexican hot chocolate).

  • Espresso powder - Coffee deepens the flavor of chocolate while also adding a nice balance to the sweetness. Substitute 1 Tablespoon of espresso powder in place of the vanilla powder.

  • Extracts - Instead of the vanilla included in the ingredients list, try adding something like peppermint or raspberry extract for a change of flavor

  • Crushed peppermint candies or candy canes

  • Cinnamon sticks - great for mixing your drink and adding a hint of flavor

  • Syrup - Try fresh maple syrup or look for Torani brand flavored syrups ★

  • Peanut butter - Whisk in 4 teaspoons of peanut butter after dissolving the cocoa and stir until the beverage is smooth.






Clear mug of hot cocoa with spoon






Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix


Just add water for a gourmet-tasting warm beverage and you'll never buy store-bought mix again.


Makes about 3 1/2 cups of mix.






INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups dry whole milk powder
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla powder


INSTRUCTIONS


Place the dry powdered milk, cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar, arrowroot powder, kosher salt, and vanilla powder into the blender and pulse until the ingredients are fully combined, any lumps are broken apart, and it looks like a powdery commercial mix.

Transfer the dry mixture to an airtight container and store in the pantry until needed.


To Prepare a Mug of Homemade Hot Cocoa: Add between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of the cocoa mix to a mug and top with 8 ounces of boiling water. Whisk together until the powder is fully dissolved.

Top with the toppings you'd like or drink as is.


**Measuring this mix is like measuring flour in baking. If you dip the measuring cup down into the mix and scoop it out, 1/3 cup should be plenty because it compacts that powder into the cup. If you are loosely spooning the powder into a measuring cup, aim for about 1/2 cup of mix.






Frequently Asked Questions


Here are some questions that have been asked about making homemade hot cocoa mix using milk powder. If you don’t see your question answered here, feel free to send me an email and I’ll be happy to help.


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOT COCOA AND HOT CHOCOLATE?


People normally use these two words interchangeably, but there are some differences.

  • Hot chocolate is made by melting pieces of real chocolate and adding warmed milk, giving the beverage a richer flavor and thicker, creamier texture. It is already sweetened, thanks to the chocolate, so you don't need to add any extra sugar.


  • Hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder (rather than pure chocolate) and other dry ingredients creating a mix to stir into a mug of hot water or milk. Since cocoa powder is unsweetened, you'll have to add sugar to the mix which gives cocoa a sweeter flavor.  It typically has a thinner consistency as well. The powder can be stored year-round in the pantry. This is what you find in packets at the grocery store.




HOW DO YOU MAKE HOT COCOA WITHOUT COCOA POWDER?


Technically, you can't make hot cocoa without cocoa powder. If you'd like an alternative to using cocoa powder, you'll want to prepare hot chocolate using real chocolate bars or chocolate chips. Melt your favorite type of chocolate in a saucepan and add milk until it is a drinkable consistency. Be careful, however, because both milk and chocolate can burn easily over the heat.



HOW MUCH DOES THIS RECIPE MAKE?


This recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups of powdered mix. This is enough for between 7 and 10 8-ounce mugs of hot cocoa, but the amount of servings will vary based on exactly how much you use and how chocolate-y you’d like the beverage. Feel free to double the recipe for more mix.






HOW DO YOU STORE THE PREPARED MIX AND HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?


Fill an airtight container with your hot cocoa mix. Glass options like mason jars or stainless steel containers are perfect for keeping your powder fresh. Store the container in a cool, dry place like your pantry cupboard. Do not place the container in the refrigerator or freezer or store in a humid place like the cupboard over the stove because humidity is not good for dry ingredients.


If stored properly, the mix can last for years. While powdered milk has a shelf life of about 2 years and cocoa powder can last for about 3 years, I suggest using it within a year as it may loose some flavor over time.



ISN'T IT CHEAPER AND EASIER TO BUY COCOA PACKETS AT THE STORE?


It may be cheaper to buy premade cocoa mix like Swiss Miss or Nestle at the grocery store, but if you're looking for a premium mix without the questionable ingredients preparing your own will cost less. You have to weigh the choices about what is best for you and your family. And this recipe takes just a few minutes of measuring and blending, so it isn't much more than the store-bought options.



IS HOT COCOA MIX THE SAME THING AS COCOA POWDER?


Cocoa powder is made from roasted cocoa beans and is generally used for baking. It is just one ingredient in hot cocoa powder or mix, in addition to confectioner's sugar, salt, and other flavor-filled ingredients. The two are not interchangeable and you should not substitute cocoa mix for cocoa powder in your recipes.






CAN YOU JUST MIX COCOA POWDER WITH MILK?


While you can technically mix cocoa powder into warmed milk, it isn’t going to make the rich or flavorful beverage that you’re expecting. You need a sweetener and salt for a traditional drink.



CAN I ADD MILK TO THE MIX INSTEAD OF WATER


Yes, you can prepare the recipe with milk instead. Some people seem to prefer the taste of milk even though the recipe contains the dried milk. You may want to substitute non-fat dry milk for the whole fat option included in the ingredients list.



WHY DOESN’T MY COCOA POWDER DISSOLVE?


There are a few reasons that you cocoa powder may not be dissolving.

  • Use good quality ingredients as cheaper versions tend to have a coarser texture making them more difficult to dissolve.

  • Make sure you are stirring the powder into hot water as the heat helps break down the cocoa particles and facilitate dissolution. If your liquid is not hot enough, the powder may not fully dissolve.

  • Use a blender or food processor when preparing the mix. The machine not only combines ingredients, but turns them into a fine powder that will more easily dissolve.

  • Finally, you should be stirring the mixture thoroughly and consistently. Some clumps of cocoa powder may form if it is not fully incorporated. Keep stirring until it is completely dissolved.






Mug of homemade hot cocoa




Winter doesn't seem complete without a warm hot cocoa to sip on the cold afternoons. Enjoy customizing this recipe to satisfy your taste buds and make an extra batch or two for gifting to friends!






Other Posts You Might Love for Winter



THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES - Made with vanilla pudding for a delicious flavor

BANANA BREAD WITH SREUSEL TOPPING - Great for a winter breakfast, dessert or snack

HAM + POTATO SOUP - One of my favorite soups to enjoy year round....and a great way to use up leftover ham!

CREAMY BROCCOLI + CHEESE SOUP

POTATO CORN CHOWDER - My favorite way use use up leftover mashed potatoes in the winter.










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