Make your own just-add-water hot cocoa mix in minutes with this easy recipe. With all real ingredients, you'll feel good about serving this to kids and adults.
It's perfect for camping, after sledding, or for sipping around an outdoor fire.
This is another updated Pantry Basic recipe - recipes of foods we typically think of as only store bought, but that are actually better tasting, and of course better for you when you make them yourself.
I'm pretty sure most of us have some hot cocoa mix in a corner of our pantries.
Even if we don't drink it ourselves much, it's nice to have on hand for fun winter moments (how can you not have hot chocolate after playing in the snow?) or when camping. We also have a number of family and friends who enjoy hot chocolate instead of coffee or tea.
Of course this is something I used to buy at the store until I started reading ingredient labels. Have you ever looked to see what's in hot chocolate mixes? I was shocked at the length of the list, which drove me to find a recipe for homemade cocoa mix.
For reference, here's the ingredients from the Swiss Miss brand just-add-water hot cocoa:
sugar, modified whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, nonfat milk, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglyderides, artificial flavor, carrageenan.
Hmmm, doesn't sound too yummy, does it?
(By the way, calcium carbonate is ground up shells added for calcium, dipotassium phosphate is water soluble salt "generally recognized as safe" by the FDA, and the others are all emulsifiers and thickeners we can do without.)
Our favorite recipe came from Brian's Kansas grandmother's old Farm Journal cookbook that's so well-used the binding is coming apart in places. It was first published in 1959 and we inherited the revised edition from 1972. It's become a treasure trove for me of good recipes for cooking from scratch that I can adapt.
The recipe contained just four simple ingredients most of us have in our cupboards. I slightly adapted it for our tastes (decreasing the sugar and upping the cocoa a bit) and it's a hit.
What type of cocoa mix is this recipe?
There are actually two types of hot cocoa mixes you can make:
- One that includes powdered milk, so that you only have to add boiling water to it.
- The other consists of just the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt and you'd add this to warmed milk.
The most popular seems to be the mix that includes the milk, so that you can take it anywhere and make it with just water. This was the type of mix I wanted so that it would be convenient for camping and super easy to make for anyone wanting hot chocolate.
If you don't need the convenience of a mix, you can always make hot chocolate by adding another favorite pantry basic, homemade chocolate syrup, to hot milk and stirring it together.
But when you need a mix for hot chocolate on the go, this easy hot cocoa mix recipe makes a great cup of cocoa.
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
I love picturing the ingredients for super easy recipes like this - it makes it so clear how simple even convenience food can be, right? You'll need:
- Dried Milk Powder
- Cocoa Powder
- Sugar (regular or both powdered work)
So the next time you are at the store and are tempted by those cocoa mixes on the shelf, remember the FOUR ingredients in this picture. That's all you need - so buy them instead if you don't have them already and make yourself a stash of cocoa mix!
1. Dump the four ingredients in a blender.
Using a blender is the key to getting a smooth mix like the commercial mixes.
Technically you can just mix it all together with a spoon, but we've found that the dried milk won't fully mix in with the water when you're making it. It's weird because the milk is supposed to just dissolve in water, but if you blend the mixture as fine as possible, it dissolves better.
2. Whir it up until the consistency is as fine as possible.
With some blenders you may have to shake it a bit and use a spatula (with the machine off, of course!) to push the ingredients to the center to get it fully blended. You'll want to see all the ingredients blended into a new single mix like pictured above.
You can also watch the quick video I made showing how to make it.
3. Store in a glass jar with a scoop.
This mix will last indefinitely on the shelf, but I suggest using within a year for the best results.
How do you make hot chocolate with this mix?
1/4 cup = 1 packet of commercial mix
In a regular size mug, add 1/4 cup cocoa mix and pour boiling water over. Stir for a few minutes before drinking. Add marshmallows or whipped cream to make it even better!
4 Ingredient Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe
- 3 cups dry milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa tip: make it heaping for more chocolate flavor
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until mixed thoroughly with no visible milk powder left.
- Store in a container with a 1/4 cup scoop for up to a year.
To Make Cocoa:
- Put 1/4 cup in an 8-ounce mug, pour in boiling water, stir well and enjoy!
More Pantry Basic Recipes You May Like:
- Homemade Mayo in 5 Minutes using one of two easy methods.
- Make Chicken Broth From Bones + bone broth 101
- Baked Chewy Granola Bars
- Fast & Healthy Homemade Salad Dressings
Or see all the Pantry Basic Recipes here!
This recipe has been updated - it was originally published in February 2009.
I made gallon jars of cocoa mix for our grandsons as part of their Christmas. Both boys are away from home, one in a first job after graduation from college, and the other in college. The recipe I used also added powdered French vanilla creamer (they have a sugar free one for trying to cut calories) and used 1/2 cup of the mix, both of which would “deepen” the chocolate taste.
What a great gift idea, Kathy - thanks for the tips!
Mrs Mary Beth DeAngelis says
Not very flavorful even with adding more chocolate and warmed milk instead of water.
Thanks for sharing! Does it keep long?
I've had some for a year and it's been great!
It's not a good recipe. At all. I had to add way more chocolate and sugar and salt. It's weak in taste if you don't.
Our family really likes this, Jenni, as-is - but everyone's taste is different.
This looks so good! What a great gift to make for friends or to enjoy yourself!
My husband asked for more sugar but I put some tiny marshmallows in and he was fine. To me it tasted perfect... he has a crazy sweet tooth!
That's too funny, Carla - but your solution was perfect! Glad you enjoyed this.
I'm excited to try this! I'm working now at a summer camp/retreat center, and we like to serve hot chocolate at breakfast for the fall events. When my boss and I were looking at the ingredients when buying the mix recently, I was surprised at the multiple ingredients that started with sodium! As a kid (and still now) my favorite part of hot chocolate was the undissolved mix that swirled around in the cup, so I'm a fan of a smidge salty cocoa, but the growing list of ingredients made me think there has to be a healthier way! So excited to try this version especially since I can just add water! And if all goes well, I'll probably use it at camp! Thanks for sharing!
Oh, I hope you can use this at camp, too!
And yes - ingredient lists can sure be scary sometimes.
Taste like cap to me. Never make it again
Tracy Darby says
love this recipe just made it my whole family loved it. not too chocolaty not too sweet just right but so easy to adjust to your own taste, I added a dash of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla after adding water. Sooo yummy.
Those are great additions, Tracy - so glad you and your family enjoy this recipe!
Thank you so much for the comment and review. 🙂