Rich, homemade, creamy vegan hot chocolate you can have ready in just a few minutes. Top your delicious dairy-free hot cocoa just how you like (dairy-free whipped cream and vegan marshmallows recommended!).
All you need is a handful of ingredients for one of the best hot chocolate recipes you'll ever make!
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We should all have a small collection of warm, cozy drinks to get us through the cold winter months. If you've been looking for the perfect easy vegan hot chocolate, it's here!
This rich and creamy homemade hot drink is just what you need after being out in the cold or when you just want a nostalgic drink to enjoy with your favourite snack. You can even make it your special vegan Christmas hot chocolate, it's that good!
It's a quick and easy recipe to make and you don't need a lot of ingredients or time. Just five ingredients and five minutes. Plus, it has two different types of chocolate, so chocolate lovers, you're going to love this!
Sure, you can buy one of the pre-made hot chocolate mixes, add it to your dairy-free milk or hot water, and call it a day, but taking a few extra minutes to make it from scratch is so worth it.
Before you head down to read all the details, if you're looking for something to enjoy alongside your delicious non-dairy hot chocolate, try one of these:
- Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Gluten-Free Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Oatmeal Cookies
- Vegan Chocolate Donuts
Ingredients You'll Need
All you need is FIVE simple ingredients and you can substitute some of them if needed. Read on for those details.
Ingredient and Substitution Notes
Dairy-Free Milk - Any type of plant-based milk will work in this recipe. I usually use almond milk or oat milk, but use what you like: soy milk, rice milk, etc. Whichever one you use, make sure it's unsweetened and unflavoured, this will give you full control over how sweet your hot chocolate is and that it has the intended rich, chocolaty flavour.
To make your hot chocolate even creamier, you can use a barista blend of milk which is thicker and creamier than regular plant milk because it contains less water.
Coconut Milk - In addition to the regular dairy-free milk, canned coconut milk is also a part of this recipe to add creaminess and richness. It also helps to make this a thick vegan hot chocolate rather than a runny one. I use "lite" canned coconut milk but you can also use full-fat coconut milk.
If you don't have or can't have coconut milk, replace it with more dairy-free milk.
Cocoa Powder - Dutch-process cocoa powder will give you the richest most chocolaty flavour. Don't use a hot cocoa mix, it needs to be made with unsweetened cocoa powder, the type you would bake with. Cacao powder can be used in this recipe but the flavour will be different than classic hot chocolate. (Read this article to find out which cocoa powder brands are vegan AND Fairtrade)
Sweetener - The recipe calls for maple syrup, however, if you don't have any, you can use brown sugar, coconut sugar, regular sugar or any other natural sweetener to taste (make sure the sugar is vegan, organic cane sugar is always vegan). Sugar alternatives can also be used, adjust the amount as needed.
The recipe gives a range for the amount of syrup to add. Start with the smallest amount and adjust based on how sweet you like it.
Chocolate Chips - Chocolate is used to contribute to the richness of the hot chocolate, it also helps, just like the coconut milk, to make it a little thicker and more decadent. If you don't have chocolate chips, you can chop up a vegan regular or dark chocolate bar OR if you want to make vegan hot cocoa, you can leave the chocolate out.
Make sure the chocolate chips you use are vegan. Not sure which brands are vegan? Find a large list of brands to look for in this article: Are Chocolate Chips Vegan?
How to Make It
(Note: I’ve outlined the step-by-step on how to make this recipe here, but find the full recipe, ingredients, and directions in the recipe card at the end of this post.)
1. Start by adding both the non-dairy milk and coconut milk to a small saucepan.
2. Add the cocoa powder and whisk the mixture together. At first, the cocoa powder will resist being mixed in, but keep going, it will eventually combine. Whisk until there are no more lumps. Place the pot over medium-high heat.
TIP: Sift the cocoa powder before adding it to the pot if the cocoa powder so it mixes in quicker and easier.
3. Add the chocolate chips and continue to whisk until they have all melted. Continue heating until the mixture is steaming, don't allow it to boil. If the mixture starts to boil before the chocolate chips have melted, remove the pot from the heat and whisk until they are melted.
4. Add the maple syrup and at this point, give it a taste (be careful, it's hot!). If you don't find it sweet enough, add more until you reach the level of sweetness you prefer.
Carefully pour the steaming hot chocolate into your mug(s) and you can serve it just as it is, or you can take it over the top with one or more garnishes, see some suggestions below!
Serve your hot chocolate plain or top it with vegan marshmallows as I've done in the pictures above and below. If you want something other than marshmallows, these are all great additions:
- coconut whipped cream (or any other type of vegan whipped cream (find a list of vegan whipped cream brands in this article: "Is Cool Whip Vegan?")
- vegan marshmallows (I use and love Dandies brand, but see the "Recipe FAQ section below for more brand recommendations)
- shaved chocolate or mini vegan chocolate chips
- cocoa powder
- chocolate syrup / sauce
- caramel sauce
Topped with just vegan whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.
Make it extra decadent by topping it with dairy-free whipped cream AND vegan marshmallows!
This hot chocolate is perfect as-is, but if you want to change things up, here are some ways you can do that.
- Chocolate Peppermint - You'll need peppermint extract and crushed candy canes for garnish. Follow my peppermint hot chocolate recipe.
- Chocolate Orange - Add a drop or two of orange extract. Adjust as needed.
- Chocolate Spice - Add a pinch of cinnamon and / or nutmeg. Adjust as needed.
- Spicy Hot Chocolate - Add a small pinch of cayenne pepper for a little kick of chocolaty spicy heat.
- Chocolate Vanilla - Add a little vanilla extract for extra flavour.
- Coffee - If you like to mix your hot chocolate with coffee, give my vegan peppermint mocha a try.
Need great options for what to enjoy along with your decadent vegan hot chocolate? How about some of these vegan gluten-free cookies?
How to Make Large Amounts of Hot Chocolate
If you would like to make this hot chocolate recipe for a crowd or make a hot chocolate bar, it's easy! Simply scale the recipe up based on how many servings you'd like to make.
This recipe makes one serving, so multiply accordingly. You can make it in a large pot on the stovetop or one of these ways:
Add both types of milk and the cocoa powder to your slow cooker and whisk well. Next, add the chocolate chips and set the slow cooker to low.
Cook until the hot chocolate is hot, the chocolate has melted, and all the ingredients have combined well, this will take 2-3 hours. During the cooking time, whisk every 30 minutes. This is to prevent the chocolate from sticking to the bottom of the crockpot.
After the cooking time has passed, add the sweetener, taste, and adjust as necessary. Turn the slow cooker down to warm and let it sit until you are ready to serve. Stir before serving and ladle the hot chocolate into mugs and garnish as you like.
Set your pressure cooker to sauté, then add both types of milk and the cocoa powder and whisk well. Next, add the chocolate chips and continue to whisk until they have melted, the mixture is smooth, and the hot chocolate is steaming, this will take 2-3 minutes.
Once it is steaming, press cancel and set the Instant Pot to warm mode. Add the sweetener, taste, and adjust as necessary. While it's resting, give it a whisk now and then so the ingredients don't settle at the bottom.
When you are ready to serve, stir the hot chocolate, and then ladle it into mugs and garnish as you like.
NOTE: Don't use the pressure cook function to heat your hot chocolate, it does not need to be heated that high.
Tips for Success
- Use unsweetened, unflavoured milk. This will allow you to control both the sweetness and flavour.
- Sift the cocoa powder before adding it to the milk. This will prevent any stubborn lumps when whisking the mixture together.
- Heat the mixture only until it's steaming. Hot chocolate made with milk can scorch and boil over quickly, so remove it from the heat before it starts to boil.
- Adjust the amount of sweetener you add to suit your taste. A range is given in the recipe, use less or more depending on how you like it. If you will be adding a sweet topping like whipped cream or marshmallows, you may need less sweetener.
- Read through the recipe before getting started and read through this post from top to bottom for lots of tips to make the recipe perfect every single time.
- Follow the recipe exactly as it’s written for the very best results.
Any type of plant milk will work, just make sure it's unsweetened AND unflavoured. This will ensure that you can control the sweetness and the rich flavour of your hot chocolate will shine through as it should and not be masked or overpowered by any flavours coming from flavoured milk.
Yes, simply add the milk and cocoa powder to a mug and whisk. Next, add the chocolate chips and microwave in 25-30 second intervals, whisking in between each interval, until it's steaming. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't boil. Add the sweetener, adjust as necessary and add any toppings you'd like.
Dandies, Yummallo, Sweets from the Earth, Ananda's, and Trader Joe's gelatin-free marshmallows are all vegan and for even more brands, read my article: "Are Marshmallows Vegan?"
Even though many of us use these two names interchangeably, there is a difference. Hot chocolate is usually made with cocoa powder and melted chocolate whereas a hot cocoa recipe is made with just cocoa powder or a hot cocoa mix.
If You Make This Recipe...
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If You Like This Recipe...
You may like this recipe for vegan hot chocolate mix or some of these other cozy vegan homemade hot drinks:
Creamy Vegan Hot Chocolate
- 1 cup (240ml) unsweetened dairy-free milk
- ¼ cup (60ml) coconut milk (full fat or lite, see note below)
- 4 ½ teaspoons (8g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons (23g) chocolate chips
- 2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (see note below)
- coconut whip, marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, or caramel sauce to garnish (optional)
- Add dairy-free milk and coconut milk to a small pot.
- Add the cocoa powder and whisk the mixture until there are no lumps and the cocoa powder has fully incorporated into the milk. Place the pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the chocolate chips and continue to whisk until they have all melted.
- Continue heating until the mixture is steaming, don't allow it to boil. When the hot chocolate is steaming, remove the pot from the heat.
- Add the maple syrup and give it a taste (be careful, it will be hot!). If you don't find it sweet enough, add more until you reach the level of sweetness you prefer.
- Garnish with toppings (optional).
- Please read all of the information and FAQ info above, as well as the notes below before making this recipe.
- This recipe makes 1 ¼ cups of hot chocolate but can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled if needed. If you need to make a larger amount, multiply the recipe by the number of servings required and it can either be made in a large pot on the stovetop or warmed slowly in a slow cooker / crockpot or pressure cooker. See info above for information on how to make it those ways.
- For the best results, use unsweetened, unflavoured dairy-free milk to control the flavour and sweetness. If all you have is sweetened milk, you will need to adjust the sweetener you add accordingly.
- If you don't have maple syrup, sugar can be used such as brown, coconut, cane, or white. Sugar alternatives can also be used.
- Keep a close eye on the chocolate mixture while it's heating, hot chocolate can scorch and boil over quickly, so only heat until it's steaming and remove it from the heat before it starts to boil.
- Whisk continuously until the chocolate chips have melted so they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. If the mixture starts to boil before the chocolate chips have melted, remove the pot from the heat and whisk until they are melted.
- To make it in the microwave, add the milk and cocoa powder to a mug and whisk, and then add the chocolate chips and microwave in 25-30 second intervals, whisking in between each interval, until it's steaming. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't boil. Proceed with step 5.
- Nutrition info is for the full recipe prepared as written using unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk, lite canned coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and without any toppings and garnishes. The data below is only to be used as a rough guide. Click to learn how nutrition info is determined on this website.
This recipe was originally published on March 11, 2015. It was updated in January 2023 to provide more helpful info and to add new images.