Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe | Dairy-Free, Clean Eating Recipe

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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Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe - only 4 ingredients!

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:

Cocoa

Yup, that’s it.

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.

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe - only 4 ingredients!

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:

  1. Start warming milk of choice over medium-low heat in a small saucepan
  2. 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)
  3. Whisk the cocoa powder mixture into the warm milk until evenly mixed
  4. Heat until warm but not bubbling
  5. Stir in vanilla extract
  6. Serve and enjoy

It’s so simple and pretty darn fast too!

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Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe - only 4 ingredients!

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.

I currently have organic cane sugar and organic turbinado sugar by Wholesome Sweeteners in my pantry.

You could also use pure maple syrup, honey, agave syrup, date syrup, or coconut sugar.

Vanilla Extract

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.

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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 Recipe - only 4 ingredients!

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.

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Get my Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe

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Hot Chocolate

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe {Clean Eats}

  • Author: Diana of thechiclife.com
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 1 1x
  • Category: Drinks

Description

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.
*Vegetarian, Vegan*


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

  1. Place milk in a small saucepan over medium low heat.
  2. 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.
  3. Whisk cocoa mixture into milk mixture. Heat till hot but not boiling. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon, if using.
  5. Serve and enjoy once the drink is cool enough to safely drink.

Notes

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.

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

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.

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More Hot Drink Recipes to Enjoy

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You may also like these tasty recipes made with clean ingredients. Homemade desserts are so easy!

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Even More Healthy & Clean Eating Recipes

Click here to view my full list of The Chic Life Recipes

Click here to view more Dessert Recipes

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Hope you enjoy this clean eating, Healthy Dairy Free Hot Chocolate Recipe! Thanks for stopping by!

20 thoughts on “Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe | Dairy-Free, Clean Eating Recipe”

  1. Hey, I am a (former) zumba instructor and a clean eating fan too! so glad I found your blog while I was looking for a healthy hot chocolate recipe for tonight.

    Reply
  2. I was looking for a clean hot chocolate recipe, so glad I found this! I made it with the cinnamon and also added a little nutmeg..really good. Thanks for the recipe

    Reply
    • Hi Allison, Thanks so much for checking out my recipe! I’m so glad to hear you liked it, and I love your idea of adding some nutmeg for extra zing! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  3. Yum just made this! Made the switch to less processed foods just yesterday and needed something to fill my hot chocolate addiction. I made it with whole milk and light brown sugar instead of raw sugar since I don’t have that. I also added a tiny bit of honey since my palate is still pretty sweet! Anyway thanks for the recipe 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Yasi! Welcome to the world of clean eating. I hope you enjoy your new style of eating. If you ever want to switch up the flavor profile of this drink, try using carob powder instead. It’s really good! 🙂 It tastes like chocolate but nooooot quite.

      Reply
  4. It being too cold for my usual smoothie, I was looking something warm to drink. So glad I found this! I cheated a little by microwaving the (unsweetened vanilla almond) milk and throwing everything in the Ninja to blend. Delicious! Cant wait to try some of the other recipes.

    Reply
  5. Very tasty! I made it in the microwave using vanilla almond milk. I added a little bit of Fat Free ReddiWip, cinnamon, and nutmeg on top. I noticed though that although vanilla extract is included in the ingredient list, it is not included in the instructions. I added it anyway (who can say no to vanilla extract?), and it was great. Thanks for a fantastic and simple recipe!

    Reply
  6. Hi! I tried this today because it is SO COLD! It was delicious and I love how it doesn’t have any of the artificial additives that my new diet has excluded. The only change I made to the original is I added about 1/8 tsp of nutmeg and a TINY dash of cardamom to the slurry (because I love spicy chocolate) and a very small dash of kosher salt, which really enhances the chocolaty-ness of the cocoa. Thank you so much for such a wonderful recipe!

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! I think your spice additions are great, especially for this time of year. I should try them, myself! Thanks so much for your comment and 5-star rating. 🙂

      Reply
  7. I’m very glad I found this recipe, I’ve been trying to eat healthier lately but I’ve had trouble satisfying my sweet tooth. I found that it is really nice if you add a few slices of ginger to the milk while heating it up.

    Reply
    • Hi Ally, I prefer cane or turbinado style raw sugars. I typically purchase mine at my local health food store from the bulk bins. Whole Foods usually has a good option. Bulk bins can be harder to get to in NYC, so I’ve been purchasing more packaged sugars. I currently have Wholesome Sweeteners (both the organic cane and turbinado) in my pantry, and I’m really enjoying them. I’ve updated the post to include links to both, but they’re only available on Amazon in large quantities. Hope this helps! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Thank you for recreating one of my favorite childhood memories–I’m drinking it as I write this!

    When I was young, I loved making a comforting mug of hot chocolate after playing in the snow outside. We had a giant tub of Nestlé’s instant hot chocolate powder; it was so quick and easy to add a scoop to some milk and heat it up. But now I like to eat as healthily as I can, so I’ve missed it for many years. Although I don’t remember the ingredients, I’m aware that instant hot chocolates typically have ingredients as bad ones you mentioned above! O_o

    Another thing holding me back way too long was my mistaken impression that it was somewhat complicated to make it myself. Not sure why–this was super quick!

    I like mine a bit sweeter, so I used equal parts cocoa and raw sugar. So delicious! My rather picky family, who don’t hesitate to share their opinions on food, enjoyed it, too. 🙂

    Pinned and will remake!

    Reply

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