Snowed in or just experiencing some cold weather? Looking for an easy, cozy hot drink idea? Here’s an idea. Try this Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe, made with only four ingredients! It’s a great clean-eats style recipe you can make in 15 minutes or less! It’s made without milk (at least – not the dairy kind). Read on for options and get details on how to make this delicious and simple clean eating chocolate dessert.
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Good Reasons to Make Hot Chocolate from Scratch
I used hot chocolate packets for many years. They were just so convenient. Open, add to hot milk or water, stir, drink. Easy, right? You can make from-scratch hot chocolate with the same simplicity. Even better, you can also control the quality of ingredients and make it a little healthier.
Sample Hot Chocolate Packet Ingredients (Ew)
I mean, have you seen what they put in some conventional hot chocolate packets? Here’s an example from one popular, unnamed brand:
SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.
What is all that stuff? There are more than a dozen ingredients in that list. If you’re a Michael Pollan fan like me, you’ll notice you can’t pronounce many of them. Food Rules fail. On top of that, who puts vegetable oil in hot chocolate? I mean, can you imagine making hot chocolate and stirring vegetable oil and corn syrup into your mug? And instead of sprinkling in cinnamon, you sprinkled in a dash of sodium aluminosilicate or sodium caseinate. Yum?
A Better Chocolate Base – Cocoa Powder
When I’m looking to keep my recipes simple and clean, I like to use ingredients that are as close to the original source as possible.
You know what the ingredient list is for the Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder I used? It’s:
Yup, that’s it.
- Related: Want healthy food fast? Click here for more recipes that are ready in 30 minutes or less
Another Chocolate Base Option – Chocolate Bars / Chips
But, then, I started thinking, well maybe they used semi-sweet chocolate pieces that were melted down?
However, here’s the ingredient list for a Ghirardelli* Semi-Sweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar:
Semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin – an emulsifier, vanilla)
This is WAY better than that unnamed package hot chocolate product above. But the list is still a bit longer than regular ole cocoa powder. For me, I just wonder…why would you want to eat that when you can eat hot chocolate made with only four simple ingredients? Perhaps it would be good on those days you’re wanting a more rich flavor.
*I keep referencing Ghirardelli because I bought a bunch on major sale awhile back, but there are lots of good, pretty clean chocolate producers out there. Check your local health food store.
How to Make Healthy Hot Chocolate from Scratch – 6 Easy Steps
It’s SO easy to make healthy hot chocolate from scratch. It takes just a couple minutes more than if you were using a pre-made mix because you’ll be gathering four ingredients instead of two.
Here are the steps for how to make healthy hot chocolate from scratch:
- Start warming milk of choice over medium-low heat in a small saucepan
- Make a paste with the dry ingredients (cocoa powder and sugar) by stirring them together with 1-2 tablespoons of milk in a mug or small bowl (you could also sub hot water here)
- Whisk the cocoa powder mixture into the warm milk until evenly mixed
- Heat until warm but not bubbling
- Stir in vanilla extract
- Serve and enjoy
It’s so simple and pretty darn fast too!
Sweet tooth? Click here for more Dessert Recipes
Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe Ingredients
My healthy hot chocolate ingredient list contains the following:
Milk, cocoa powder, raw sugar, vanilla extract
It’s a simple list and pretty much just as easy to make as the kind that comes out of a box. I wrote the recipe for heating the milk on the stove because I’m one of those hippies who doesn’t like using the microwave. But, you can use whatever you want to warm up your milk.
Bottom line – you don’t need those packets once you know how easy from-scratch hot cocoa is!
What Type of Milk Works Best
It’s so easy to make this homemade hot chocolate with dairy-free milk! To keep this recipe dairy free, opt for a non-dairy milk. My favorites for making healthy dairy free hot chocolate are:
- Oat milk
- Almond Milk, Unsweetened almond milk works best
- Soy Milk, Unsweetened soy milk works best
- Coconut Milk (in the carton, not the can)
- Cashew Milk
To make this with dairy anyway:
- Whole milk (I know – not a dairy-free option but for anyone reading, you can totally use dairy milk if you prefer)
Types of Milk to Avoid
- Canned coconut milk (full-fat coconut milk): I find this too thick to use in this recipe, but you can try a mix of 50/50 canned coconut milk to water if you only have the canned version on hand
Preferred Cocoa Powder
My preferred chocolate base to make my healthy dairy free hot chocolate recipe is cocoa powder.
In case you shop online as much I do, I found the cocoa powder (Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder) I’m currently using on Amazon.com.
You can also substitute raw cacao powder for the cocoa powder for a slightly different flavor profile.
Chocolate Chips / Chocolate Bar
For a more rich flavor, you could substitute the cocoa powder with chocolate chips or pieces of a chocolate bar. Or you could do a cocoa powder + chocolate chips / chocolate bar combo. Up to you! Try different things and see what works best for you.
I recommend trying dark chocolate chips, but use whichever chocolate chips you most enjoy.
Do check the ingredient list on your chocolate product since most are made with dairy.
Tip: There are some GREAT, more-clean chocolate bar / chocolate chips products out there these days. Check out the options at your fave health food store. My fave brands are Hu and Enjoy Life for healthier chocolate chips.
The Best Sweetener to Use
One of the best things about making your healthy hot chocolate from scratch is getting to avoid artificial sweeteners. When it comes to sweetener, I like sugar. I especially love raw cane and turbinado because they’re closer to clean and less processed.
You could also use pure maple syrup, honey, agave syrup, date syrup, or coconut sugar.
Adding a touch of pure vanilla extract gives this healthy dairy free hot chocolate recipe that special something.
Pinch of Salt
Okay, this isn’t in the recipe, but you could add a pinch of salt – just a sprinkle. This would help balance the sweetness of this healthy hot chocolate recipe. Just don’t go too wild when you’re sprinkling it in. Less is more here.
You could use table salt, sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, or whichever salt you prefer. I’d probably go sea salt or pink Himalayan, personally.
Is Hot Chocolate Dairy Free?
When you make your own healthy hot chocolate from scratch, you can guarantee that it will be dairy free.
However, if you use packaged hot chocolate mix, be sure to read the ingredient list. Most traditional hot cocoa mixes contain milk powder, which is typically the dairy kind. Though now that there are so many companies helping create products for different dietary needs, there are likely some options out there for you no matter what ingredients you’re trying to avoid.
Healthy Hot Chocolate Variations to Try
Want to switch up your healthy dairy free hot chocolate flavors? It’s so easy to make healthy hot chocolate variations. Here are some to try:
Coconut Hot Chocolate: Use coconut milk in this recipe for a more tropical flavor. Chocolate and coconut go so beautifully together!
Mexican Hot Chocolate: Stir in 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (be careful with the pepper – it’s spicy!)
Peppermint Hot Chocolate: Stir in a couple drops of peppermint extract. Optional garnish with whipped cream and a candy cane.
Get my Healthy Hot Chocolate RecipePrint
Ditch the packets of hot chocolate that come out of a box! Clean eats hot chocolate is just as easy and a thousand times better. Here’s a simple recipe that uses only four primary ingredients.
- 1 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons oat milk (or milk of choice)
- 2 rounded teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon raw sugar (or sweetener of choice)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- dash cinnamon, optional
- Place milk in a small saucepan over medium low heat.
- Meanwhile, place cocoa powder, sugar, and extra tablespoon of oat milk in a small bowl. Whisk until a paste/thick mixture forms and powder is absorbed. Add additional tablespoon of oat milk, if needed.
- Whisk cocoa mixture into milk mixture. Heat till hot but not boiling. Stir in vanilla extract.
- Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon, if using.
- Serve and enjoy once the drink is cool enough to safely drink.
The directions above are for a stovetop preparation, but you can just as easily make this in the microwave.
Multiplies easily if you need more than a single serving.
Healthy Hot Chocolate FAQ
Is hot chocolate good for weight loss?
Hot chocolate can be good for weight loss depending on your goals, dietary needs & preferences, medical care provider recommendations & requirements, and beyond.
For most people, this healthy hot chocolate is likely a good option for a weight loss dessert because it is relatively low calorie and can be made as sweetened or unsweetened as you prefer. You can even use sugar-free sweetener substitutes if your diet calls for it.
When I was going through my weight loss journey, a dessert like this would give me the full dessert enjoyment of a chocolate dessert but with far less calories and sugar. I did calorie counting, so I was able to easily incorporate this in my daily totals.
What can I substitute for hot cocoa mix?
This recipe! In case you missed it above, I shared an ingredient list for a popular packet of hot cocoa mix, and the ingredients include things I personally try to avoid as someone who likes to eat as clean as possible, within reason.
This recipe uses only four simple ingredients, so it’s a great, clean eating substitute for hot cocoa mix that also allows you to meet other dietary needs like sticking to a dairy-free, vegan, sugar-free or other form of eating.
This recipe is an easy way to make a healthier hot chocolate than most hot cocoa packets.
Should I use sweetened or unsweetened milk?
I recommend using unsweetened milk because you can control the quality and type of sweetener you use. When you purchase non-dairy milk that is already sweetened, you may be able to see what type of sweetener they’re using but you likely will not have insight into the level of quality of that sweetener.
See section above for recommended sweeteners and substitutions.
More Hot Drink Recipes to Enjoy
- Blue Moon Milk – a gorgeous, relaxing blue latte
- Healthy Beet Latte – a pretty pink latte – no caffeine
- Healthy Chai Tea Latte – a healthy twist on this classic hot tea drink
More Healthy Chocolate Recipes to Love!
You may also like these tasty recipes made with clean ingredients. Homemade desserts are so easy!
- A simple twist gives hot chocolate a fun new flavor with this Coconut Milk Hot Chocolate Recipe
- It has a funny name, but this cake recipe makes the perfect portion for two (or one if you’re feeling like doubling up!). If you can mix fast, you could have luscious chocolate cake in 30 minutes with this Chocolate “Depression” Cake Minis Recipe.
- And I put a chocolate twist on one of my most popular recipes to make this Healthier Chocolate Pumpkin Doughnuts Recipe with Chocolate Glaze. Remember to try the plain pumpkin version, too!
Even More Healthy & Clean Eating Recipes
Hope you enjoy this clean eating, Healthy Dairy Free Hot Chocolate Recipe! Thanks for stopping by!