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Spread festive cheer this holiday season with this decadent Christmas hot chocolate recipe. Made from scratch, this rich and creamy cocoa delight will add a sprinkle of holiday magic to your seasonal gathering. Savor the spirit of Christmas in every warm sip!
Looking to kick things up a notch? Try this spicy hot chocolate recipe!
It feels like a Christmas present when a recipe this simple and easy to make tastes THIS indulgent. Having hot chocolate for Christmas morning is sure to be a family tradition in no time! It's a delicious treat for both kids and adults.
This homemade hot cocoa is made from scratch with simple ingredients, staples in most pantries:
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: The rich base of our hot chocolate. If you only have sweetened cocoa in the pantry, then omit the sugar.
- Granulated sugar: Sweetens the cocoa and balances the bitterness. You can swap the regular sugar for maple syrup, if you'd like.
- Whole milk: For an extra-indulgent, creamy hot chocolate, sub some of the milk for whipped cream (see recipe notes for the ratio), or switch it up to a dairy-free milk alternative.
- Vanilla extract: Adds a warm, subtle sweetness.
- Add-ins: Peppermint Kahlua, Bailey's Irish Cream, Chocolate liqueur, or Amaretto.
- Toppings: Whipped cream, Christmas marshmallows, red and green Christmas sprinkles, and/or crushed candy canes.
How to make Christmas hot chocolate
This is done in one pot on the stovetop in under ten minutes – it's so easy, even Santa would have the time! Here is how to make it:
- Heat the cocoa: Add cocoa, sugar, and a splash of milk to the pot. Whisk until it's smooth. Heating the cocoa and sugar with just a little milk here makes it blend much better into the rest of the milk.
- Bring to simmer: Add the rest of the milk and vanilla, and simmer gently.
- Top it off: Divide your hot chocolate into mugs. For an adult twist, add an ounce of one of the add-in liqueurs. Otherwise, add the toppings and enjoy!
Set up a Christmas hot cocoa bar
Hot chocolate goes hand in hand with youthful joy, so why not elevate your Christmas gathering by setting up an interactive hot chocolate bar? Its easy to do and sure to be a conversation starter! Here is how it's done:
- Location: Choose a spacious yet unobtrusive location. A table off to the side works great.
- Supplies and decor: Adorn your table with a festive tablecloth. Include mugs, stirrers, napkins, and any decorations. You can also create labels or little signs for different toppings and add-ins.
- Make it flow: Create an organized flow by placing mugs at one end next to the cocoa, then the add ins and toppings, and finally, serving spoons at the other end. Have a designated area for guests to put used cups or utensils. Add any decorations as finishing touches!
- Keeping it warm: A slow cooker is a great solution to keep your cocoa base warm – keep it on the lowest setting and add a ladle for an easy pour.
- Mix-ins and flavors: Offer an assortment of flavored syrups, like peppermint, hazelnut, or vanilla. A drizzle of caramel sauce or cinnamon sticks taste great, too!
- Toppings: Include whatever garnishes you'd like.
- Adult add-ins: Offer a selection of flavored liqueurs for adult guests. Cheers to a warm and joyful celebration!
Christmas hot chocolate garnishes
You can get as creative as you please with your toppings, or stick to some true classics. Here are some suggestions of what you'll find at our hot chocolate bar:
- Marshmallows: Near the holidays, you can often find festive marshmallows at your local supermarket or Walmart. These are the marshmallows that we used in the pictures.
- Chocolate: Use a vegetable peeler to create delicate chocolate shavings, or sprinkle on some mini chocolate chips. You can use white, milk, or dark chocolate.
- Cinnamon stick: Stir your hot chocolate with a cinnamon stick to impart a subtle warmth.
- Grated nutmeg: Grate some nutmeg on top of the whipped cream for a festive aroma.
- Orange zest: Add a bright, refreshing note to your mug!
- Gingerbread cookie: Garnish the rim of your mug with a warming gingerbread cookie.
- Sprinkles: Use red and green for Christmas!
- Candy cane: Serve them to the side to stir your hot chocolate, or crushed candy cane to float on top of the whipped cream.
- Caramel sauce: A drizzle of caramel sauce can go in the mug before the hot chocolate, or on top of the whipped cream!
- Coconut flakes: Toasted coconut flakes add a little crunchy texture to your hot chocolate.
Feel free to mix and match these toppings. If you have another topping you love, drop us a comment to tell us!
Can I use a milk alternative?
Yes, opting for a milk alternative makes the recipe dairy-free or vegan. Use almond or cashew milk for a slightly nutty note in your cocoa. Oat milk is another dairy-free option that works great. Feel free to customize the toppings to align with your dietary requirements or preferences as well.
How do I prevent the hot chocolate from curdling when adding milk alternatives?
Be careful to monitor the temperature, gently bring it to a simmer without boiling. Using stabilized milk alternatives specifically made for cooking can maintain consistency.
Can I make this any other time of the year?
Certainly, this hot chocolate can warm you up for any occasion! Simply omit the Christmas-y garnishes and use regular toppings or add a twist for another occasion. For example, pink marshmallows for Valentine's Day!
Can I make the hot chocolate ahead of time and reheat it for my Christmas gathering?
You can make the chocolate base in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Reheat gently on the stovetop, stirring occasionally.
What to serve alongside Christmas hot chocolate?
Check out our collection of holiday cookies that go so well with this hot chocolate! (They just might be too good to leave a plate out for Santa!)
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (more to taste)
- 4 cups whole milk (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Christmas Hot Chocolate Add-Ins
- Peppermint Kahlua, Bailey's Irish Cream, Chocolate liqueur, or Amaretto
Christmas Hot Chocolate Toppings
- Whipped cream, Christmas marshmallows, red and green sprinkles, and/or crushed candy canes
- Add the cocoa powder and sugar to a small pot over medium heat. Add a splash of the milk and whisk until it dissolves.½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Add the remaining milk and the vanilla and bring it to a gentle simmer.4 cups whole milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Divide the hot chocolate into 4 mugs. If you'd like to spike the hot chocolate, add one ounce of one of the add-ins. Top with any of the Christmas hot chocolate toppings.Peppermint Kahlua, Bailey's Irish Cream, Chocolate liqueur, or Amaretto, Whipped cream, Christmas marshmallows, red and green sprinkles, and/or crushed candy canes
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.