Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Cold wintry days, aren't they just made for steaming cups of hot cocoa? Here's how to make homemade hot chocolate mix from scratch, either a large batch that's tailor-made for conveniently serving hot chocolate for a crowd (with tips for serving outdoors) or naturally, a small-batch home-size recipe too! And as a bonus, how I make hot cocoa with chocolate milk! Grab your favorite mug ...

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix ♥ KitchenParade.com. How to make it from scratch for a crowd, for home, for gifts.

Hot Chocolate Mix, an Easy DIY and a Long-Time Family Favorite. Fun Winter-Camping & Winter-Tailgating Food. A New Addition to The Homemade Pantry, a Kitchen Parade Specialty. Budget Friendly. Great for Holiday Food Gifts & Winter Meal Prep. How to Feed a Crowd. Potluck & Party Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. So Good!!
Collage from our first buffalo roast in 2010 where we served Homemade Hot Chocolate.

Crazy. Pure Crazy. Or Is It?

So only a crazy man would cook a buffalo. (Yes. You. Read. That. Right.)

A whole buffalo. That means 875 pounds of bison on the hoof, 419 pounds dressed and butterflied.

Outdoors. On a jerry-rigged spit. Over open flame.

And invite 200 people to the party. In the middle of De.CEM.Brrr. At a place without walls or electricity or running water.

This would be the very definition of crazy. Right?

So only a crazy woman in charge of everything at the party except the buffalo would decide to go easy on herself and serve store-bought hot chocolate – but then check the ingredient list and change her mind.

Now that’s crazy.

But it turns out, it wasn’t crazy at all. It was easy!

Beforehand, I tested several hot chocolate recipes for one I loved, then adapted the recipe to conveniently serve a crowd.

In the warmth of my kitchen, I mixed the dry Hot Chocolate Mix in giant bags, just the right amount of mix for adding convenient gallon-size jugs of milk and water later. This made my homemade mix just as convenient as a commercial mix – but far less sweet and without all the processed ingredients.

For the party, we heated the hot chocolate in a 30-quart stockpot from an outdoor turkey fryer like these (affiliate link) – it heated up fast and kept the hot chocolate hot all afternoon long. Because a turkey fryer heats liquid so quickly, it took no time at all to mix a new batch when one ran out.

And let me assure you, chocolate-y less-sweet homemade hot chocolate hits the spot on what turned out to be a cold, blustery, gray but dry! December day!

What Do You Think, Is It Crazy to Make Homemade Hot Chocolate for a Crowd?

So was Homemade Hot Chocolate for a crowd crazy? Maybe. (Ahem. Maybe especially since I also did giant vats of hot red mulled wine a la my much beloved Finnish Glögi?)

But then again, maybe falling for the commercial food companies’ processed food is crazier still.

Me, I’m sticking to my homemade hot chocolate. Maybe this recipe will make it easy for others to do so too.

But! Help me keep it real. Let me know what you think in the comments!

My husband and I at the second buffalo roast.

Crazy X Three

Consider this a P.S.

Turns out, that crazy "buffalo roaster" and I would cook whole bison three years in a row. Our story even made the front page of the Wall Street Journal! Just see Wholly Cow! A Few Brave Grillers Go "Nose-to-Tail".

Each year, the party grew as friends and family gathered from all over the country, even the world. That first year's one-day party turned into four days of extravaganza: a gathering dinner on the Thursday night; a setup/chef's dinner after the bison was put on the fire on the Friday night; the actual "buffalo roast" on the Saturday; an "after-party" back at our house on the Saturday night; and finally, a farewell breakfast on the Sunday morning.

Whew. Twas fun, yes, but crazy big effort.

The last time there was talk of one last buffalo roast, we got a call from some of the first instigators (fellow elk hunters, family, friends and Marines) who announced, "We're gonna do a wild game feast on your property. You'll be invited."

In the end, timing got complicated and a family wedding supplanted the bison roast. But what did my husband and I do for the after-wedding dinner? Roast a pig. A whole pig. 🙄 🙄


About This Recipe: Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

  • This recipe is for the dry mix for making hot chocolate, just like store-bought cocoa mix except without all the unnecessary ingredients and preservatives. There are two versions of the recipe, a large batch for serving hot chocolate to a crowd and a small batch for keeping on hand at home. Once the dry mix is ready and waiting, just add milk, water and vanilla ... and mini marshmallows!
  • The recipe was especially developed for conveniently making hot chocolate for large groups for either indoor or outdoor gatherings. Once the dry mix is prepped, there's no measuring on the spot, just pouring in whole gallons of water, milk and a bottle of vanilla. The first time I used the recipe for an outdoor party, I made five large batches for about 200 cups of cocoa.
  • I've also scaled down the recipe for home use, that's the one I make every winter to keep in the kitchen cupboard.
  • Distinctive Ingredients = Unsweetened Cocoa Powder + Vanilla
  • Short Ingredient List for the Dry Mix = sugar + unsweetened cocoa powder + non-fat powdered milk + salt + cinnamon + nutmeg
  • For hot cocoa, just add = water + milk + vanilla
  • For Garnish, optional = mini marshmallows, of course
  • This is a time-friendly recipe, it takes just a few minutes to stir together the dry ingredients ahead of time, even weeks ahead of time, then add the liquid ingredients when it's time for a cozy cup of hot chocolate.
  • This is a budget-friendly recipe. When you buy a box or container of store-bought hot chocolate mix, you're paying a premium for commodity ingredients like sugar and dried milk powder.
  • So good! I hope you love it!

  • Not into a dry mix for hot cocoa? I also share how to make hot cocoa that starts with store-bought chocolate milk.
  • Not quite what you're looking for? Check out my other recipes for beverages & drinks.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix for Food Gifts

Make a batch of the dry mix and distribute among glass jars or another container. Add a label that reads:

For a hot cup of homemade hot chocolate, add a spoonful or two to a microwave-safe mug. Add a splash of hot water and stir well until smooth. Fill the mug with milk and stir again. Heat in the microwave until hot, about 30 seconds at a time. Stir in a splash of vanilla and a few mini marshmallows. Recipe from KitchenParade.com.

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Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix ♥ KitchenParade.com. How to make it from scratch for a crowd, for home, for gifts.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time-to-table: 10 minutes
    (enough for 40 liquid cups of hot chocolate)
  • 4 cups (800g) sugar
  • 4 cups (300g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 cups (960g) instant non-fat powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 gallons water
  • 1 gallon 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup (4-ounce bottle) vanilla
  • Mini marshmallows on the side, optional

    (enough for 10 liquid cups hot chocolate)

  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 cup (75g) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Hershey's Special Dark
  • 2 cups (240g) instant non-fat powdered milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 cups (1-1/2 quarts) water
  • 4 cups (1 quart) 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla

DRY MIX Stir together the dry ingredients. For either batch size, this may be done well ahead of time, a couple of weeks before a big party, a jarful before the holidays. Just store the Dry Mix in freezer bags or a glass jar with a tight lid or similar containers. For the large batch, if using small garbage bags for temporary storage, double-bagging is recommended.

TO COMBINE A good while before serving, place the dry mix in a large pot. Add a cup or two of hot (if possible) water and stir well until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. (Do take time to stir really well at this stage.) Add the remaining water, the milk and vanilla and gently heat clear through, stirring often. Lower the heat to keep just hot. Throughout, stir the pot all the way through to the bottom so that the bottom doesn’t scorch.

TO SERVE Use a soup scoop to serve, topping each cup with a few marshmallows if desired.

ALANNA’s TIPS for the LARGE BATCH For the large batch, I've constructed the recipe so that it's easy to prepare the Hot Chocolate Mix in advance, then to just "pour" without really measuring from there. The Hot Chocolate Mix is rich enough, chocolate-y enough that I think you could easily double the water and milk for twice the volume without serving "watery" hot chocolate. It’s hard to find hot-drink cups that are the right size – most are way too small or way too big. This matters because cup size makes a huge difference in estimating how many "servings" a single batch will make. The bigger the cups, the more batches you’ll need. Even "small" cups are 8.5 ounces big (a liquid cup is eight ounces). But many cups hold a full 16 ounces or two cups. I finally found six-ounce cups at a Wal-Mart Superstore but you may have to hunt around. Amazon? (affiliate link) Of course. Start with a search for small hot-drink cups, you'll find many options. Me, I'd avoid anything with a lid but lids might be appropriate for your event. If you’d prefer to use evaporated milk instead of powdered milk, no problem. For the large batch, use eight 12-ounce cans, then add only 1 gallon of water. For the small batch, use two 12-ounce cans, then add only 4 cups of water. I have great luck with low-fat evaporated milk, another way to save a few calories. To my taste, this hot chocolate made with whole milk is just too rich and with skim milk is just too plain. That makes 2% milk the total sweet spot.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See https://www.kitchenparade.com/2010/12/homemade-hot-chocolate-mix.html .
MIX ONLY Per Tablespoon with Splenda/Sugar: 31/50 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 1mg Cholesterol; 76mg Sodium; 5/10g Carb; 1g Fiber; 4/9g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points .5/1 & PointsPlus 1 & future WW points
TO DRINK Made as written with Splenda/Sugar, per cup: 129/196 Calories; 1g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 6mg Cholesterol; 278mg Sodium; 18/38g Carb; 3g Fiber; 14/34g Sugar; 11g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2/3.5 & PointsPlus 3/5 & future WW points

  • 1 – 4 tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix
  • Splash of hot water
  • 1 cup milk (any kind but 2% is my favorite)
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Mini marshmallows, optional

Stir the Hot Chocolate Mix and hot water well in a microwave-safe mug, smashing any lumps with the back of a spoon, ensuring all the Mix is wet. Stir in the milk, again stirring very well to mix completely. In the microwave, heat the milk 30 seconds at a time until hot, stirring after each 30 seconds. Stir in the vanilla and mini marshmallows, serve and savor.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup, when mix is made with Splenda/sugar and 1 cup 2% milk, my personal favorite: 165/184 Calories; 5g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 20mg Cholesterol; 176mg Sodium; 17/22g Carb; 1g Fiber; 16/22g Sugar; 11g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3.5/4 & PointsPlus 4/5 & & future WW points

  • 1 half-gallon Trader Joe's Chocolate Milk (or 8 cups another chocolate milk)
  • about 2 cups (for kids) or about 4 cups (for grownups) plain milk (such as 2% milk)
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Mini marshmallows, optional

Gently heat the chocolate milk and plain milk. Once it's hot enough to drink, add a little vanilla and marshmallows. That's it!

A WORD OF CAUTION Moms know, it's all too easy to hot drinks wayyyy too hot. (Just ask me, the loving auntie who still has PSD from giving my then four-year old nephew Matthew hot chocolate so hot that it burned him, lots and lots of tears ensued, and most of them were my own.) Use the "baby formula" test, dropping a few drops on your tender skin of the underside of your wrist: if it's too hot for your wrist, it's too hot to drink; if it's warm on your wrist, it's a good temperature to drink; if it's cool on the wrist, it needs to warm up more.

ALANNA's TIPS Oh my, that Trader Joe's Chocolate Milk is so-so sweet. In our clan, the Littles still like that sweetness, the Bigs not so much. Other brands may not be as sweet but it explains why I cut the chocolate milk with plain milk, usually 2% milk but unsweetened plant-based milks might taste really good too. That little splash of vanilla? So important!

Seasonal Eating: As the Year Draws to a Close

Savory Roasted Pecans Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Salad Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Soup Black Pepper Almonds Smoked Turkey Chowder Mini Crab Bites Finnish Glögi (Hot Red Mulled Wine) Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix Mini Tiramisu Cups with Pralines Smoked Salmon Spread Sautéed Collard Greens with Bacon

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If you like Kitchen Parade's recipes, you'll love A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables with more from-scratch recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, home to the famous Alphabet of Vegetables and vegetables in every course, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

Stop the Shiver: Hot Drinks for Cold Weather

~ hot drinks ~
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~ cocoa powder ~

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. This is a great idea. I will use it to provide a nuturing activity for staff during the winter. Will serve with a muffin

  2. Alanna, this is great! Thanks so much for the idea. :)

    And I would definitely make homemade cocoa for a crowd - it seems that once the mix is made up ahead of time, it wouldn't be any more trouble than instant anyway - and taste that much better. You go girl!

  3. Wow, a whole buffalo?! That was some party, I bet. I remember when my mother used to make a hot cocoa mix. She also made an instant Russia tea mix that I love to smell when she made herself a mug of it in the mornings.

  4. Andrea ~ Yes, a whole buffalo. Makes a whole chicken seem kinda puny, eh? :-) My mother did instant Russian tea too, it had 'Tang' in it. Does Tang even still exist?!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna