This creamy vegan hot chocolate contains just 3 ingredients and takes just 5 minutes to make. Vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and paleo, it's the perfect healthy version of a traditional favorite!
Hot chocolate is a fall and winter staple. It takes us back to childhood, remembering what it was like to come in from the cold to a steaming cup of hot cocoa waiting for us.
Warming our cold hands on the mug, smelling the creamy chocolate deliciousness rising with the steam.
I still want to be able to enjoy my hot cocoa, but when we started eating clean it became more difficult. So, I started making my own.
Whether it be dietary preferences, allergies, or just accessibility, this hot cocoa is the way to go.
First, this vegan hot cocoa recipe is SO EASY that once I made it, I wondered why I hadn't been doing it like this all along.
Second, it will not leave you with that somewhat lethargic, chemical-laden afterglow that comes with traditional hot chocolate mixes.
Third, the flavor is incredible. True chocolate, thickness adjusted to your liking. Rich, decadent, and delicious.
Store bought hot chocolate mixes
There's any number of store bought hot chocolate mixes that you can purchase. If you're looking for a good, clean, vegan hot chocolate, the store is not the place to find it.
Let's take a look at a few of the more popular brands, the options they have, and the ingredients they contain.
More of a European brand, but still available in the US, Cadbury's is known (at least by me) mostly for their Cadbury Eggs.
I was surprised to find that Cadbury's offers a number of different hot chocolate mix options. Here are the ones pictured on their website:
Their cocoa powder and their drinking chocolate are ok, but still have additives. Then look at where we go when we get into their instant hot chocolate mix.
Cadbury bournville cocoa: Cocoa powder, acidity regulator (sodium carbonate).
Cadbury drinking chocolate: Sugar, cocoa powder, acidity regulator (sodium carbonate), flavouring.
Cadbury's Instant Hot Chocolate: Sugar, whey powder (from MILK), fat reduced cocoa powder (13 %), glucose syrup, vegetable fats (coconut, palm), skimmed MILK powder, milk chocolate (4 %) (MILK, sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, vegetable fats (palm, shea), emulsifier (E442), flavourings), thickener (E466), salt, MILK protein, anti-caking agent (E551), flavourings, acidity regulator (sodium carbonate), emulsifier (E471), stabiliser (E339).
Yeesh. What a list.
The less sugar option uses corn fiber to reduce the sugar content:
Cadbury 30% Less Sugar: Soluble maize fibre, cocoa powder (29%), sugar, acidity regulator (sodium carbonate), flavoring.
So, Cadbury's offers some decent options - but I'd venture to say it's still better to make your own.
Oh, Swiss Miss. You and your little white envelopes of powder with desiccated marshmallows inside.
It's difficult not to hold a soft spot for Swiss Miss. Have we all not as kids, at some point, enjoyed a hot cup of Swiss Miss?
There's something magical about tearing open that packet, pouring it into the hot water, and watching the tiny little marshmallows grow and float to the edges of the mug.
And in keeping up with the Joneses', Swiss Miss has now released a Dairy Free hot chocolate mix, which uses dried coconut milk instead of regular milk.
Let's set our childhood memories aside for a second and look at these ingredient lists:
Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate: sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa, hydrognated coconut oil, nonfat milk, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, natural flavor.
Swiss Miss Dairy Free: Sugar, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Nonfat Dried Coconut Milk, Tapioca Maltodextrin, Coconut Oil, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup Solids, Gum Acacia, Less Than 2% Of: Corn Maltodextrin, Salt, Enzyme Modified Cocoa Butter, Natural Flavor.
I'll admit - they're not the worst I've seen (looking at you, Cadbury's Instant) but it's still pretty gross. And we can do better.
Starbucks is the mecca of warm, comforting beverages. You'll pay a bit more for their hot chocolate mix, but it's worth it.
Starbucks brand hot cocoa mix is tasty, dairy free, and vegan. Winning.
Since they didn't include any type of milk powder in their mix, they don't need a lot of shelf stabilizers, and it allows you to add your own dairy free alternative.
Starbucks Hot Cocoa: Sugar, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Dark Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate Mass, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin), Vanilla Powder.
Hershey's is best known for their candy - chocolate bars, kisses, and more.
But Hershey's also makes cacao powder, and it's one of the best options out there for making your own homemade vegan hot chocolate.
They offer both a regular version and a Special Dark version, for those who prefer the darker chocolate.
This is a great option for use in this recipe.
How to make vegan hot chocolate from scratch
I get it - purchasing something at the store is almost always easier than making your own.
That said, I'm going to argue in this case, making your own vegan hot chocolate from scratch is just as simple, if not easier, than using a store bought brand full of additives and preservatives.
Measure your milk and water first. I do half and half, because I like mine a bit thinner in a true hot chocolate consistency. If you're looking for more of a "drinking chocolate" consistency, use more almond milk and less water.
Pour the milk and water mixture into a pot on the stove and turn the heat on low-medium. We don't want to turn it too high or it will burn the milk. Blech.
Add your cocoa powder and your coconut sugar to the pot and whisk until they are incorporated. It will get a little frothy as you mix it all in, but the bubbles will settle down as it starts to heat up.
Heat slowly, checking the temperature as you go. When it reaches your desired temp, remove from the heat, pour into a mug, and enjoy.
Do you have to put milk in hot chocolate
Well, I would argue that you don't have to do anything you don't want to do, especially when it comes to eating.
That being said, some type of milk will make your hot chocolate much creamier, whether it's dairy free or not.
Almond milk is my favorite milk for making vegan hot chocolate. It's creamy, doesn't separate, and doesn't have a strong flavor on it's own.
I purchase store bought almond milk - the unflavored, unsweetened variety. If you're feeling ambitious, you can make your own almond milk.
Coconut milk would be my second choice. It's a bit thicker than almond milk, and has a higher fat content, so keep in mind it will be a different consistency than almond milk.
You could also use any other nut milk, or something along the lines of oat milk or pea milk if you are gluten free or dairy free but not necessarily paleo - these are all great vegan options. If you're looking for more info on the various milk alternatives, you can find that in this post.
- In a pot over low-medium heat, combine the almond milk, water, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar. Whisk until fully combined.
- Allow to heat slowly on the stove. Don't turn up the heat too high, or you risk either burning it or developing a 'milk skin' on top.
- Pour into two mugs and top with your favorite dairy free and vegan toppings to serve!
Milk skin formation is due to the loss of solids that the milk undergoes as it is warmed up. As heat is applied to the milk, the proteins start to coagulate, and form a skin on the surface. After further heating, the skin dries because of evaporation, and forms a still firmer barrier.
This doesn't happen as drastically with almond milk as it does regular milk - almond milk skin is less solid and breaks apart more easily, which I find to be worse - you can't just scoop it off.
Heat slowly and whisk frequently to avoid having to deal with it at all!
If you prefer a thicker hot chocolate/more of a drinking chocolate, simply change your almond milk to water ratios. You're looking for 1 cup of liquid per serving.
My husband prefers his thicker and does ¾ cup almond milk and ¼ cup water, or sometimes straight almond milk. Try it out and see what you prefer!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 148Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 5mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 2gSugar: 26gProtein: 2g
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