BistroMD Health Library

Get excited about reading again with fun and interesting tips from our experts, including The M.D., our dietitians, and our fitness expert. In our health library, you will find all of the information you need to achieve your goals of making a healthy lifestyle change. So, start reading and start losing!

Healthy Recipes

Looking for a perfect recipe for tonight’s dinner, or need something healthy and delicious to take to a friend’s house for a party? Crafted by our award-winning chefs, and built on the nutritional foundation developed by Dr. Cederquist, these recipes are exactly what you’re looking for!

8 Healthy Hot Cocoa Recipes

Hot chocolate and cocoa is a winter staple and desired treat! However, prepackaged types can be loaded with sugar and unnecessary ingredients. Keep the taste buds excited, body soothed, and waist line slimmed this cool, winter season with eight healthy hot cocoa recipes!


Hot chocolate and cocoa is a winter staple and desired treat! However, prepackaged types can be loaded with sugar and unnecessary ingredients. Keep the taste buds excited, body soothed, and waist line slimmed this cool, winter season with eight healthy hot cocoa recipes!

Is It Hot Chocolate or Cocoa…?

Though hot chocolate and cocoa are often used interchangeably, they are actually considered to be different. Hot chocolate offers the rich taste from melted chips or bark while cocoa utilizes cocoa powder. Hot cocoa is more adaptive to health, as you can adjust sugar amounts or even types, including nonnutritive sweeteners such as Stevia. In both, you can tweak and adjust liquid types to modify fat content – skim, reduced-fat, and unsweetened milks. But whether desiring a simple or a more narrative flavor, bistroMD has you covered!

Homemade Hot Cocoa Recipe

Making homemade hot cocoa in the comfort of your own kitchen is not only simple, but embraces more natural ingredients while controlling unwanted sugars or lessening fat in milk. The recipe below is for a single serving, but offer a warm cup of cocoa to your loved ones by multiplying the ingredients to desired number of servings!


• 1 cup milk (1 percent or skim)
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon of sugar, Stevia, or other desired sweetener
• ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
• A pinch of salt (optional)


In a small sauce pan or microwavable-safe mug, heat the milk until hot or desired warmth. Add in cocoa powder, sweetener, vanilla extract, and salt and mix until all ingredients are fully dissolved. Pour into your favorite hot cocoa mug and enjoy!

8 Healthy Hot Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes and Ideas

For the ideas listed below, add the additional ingredients to the simple, homemade hot cocoa recipe indicated above, unless indicated otherwise.

1. Mexican Hot Chocolate.
For a unique hot chocolate flavor, mix a pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper into the hot cocoa recipe. Stir and garnish with cinnamon sticks if desired.

2. Dark Chocolate Mint.
Swap out the unsweetened hot cocoa powder with a dark cocoa powder and mix in mint extract or create your own minty-milk by infusing fresh mint into milk – just be sure to take out the sprigs and leaves prior to serving!

3. S'more, Please.
Top hot cocoa with a few mini marshmallows and microwave (optional) for a few seconds, or until the marshmallows have become “fluffed”. Sprinkle crushed graham crackers atop as a flavorful garnish.

4. Pumpkin Pie.
Over medium heat, mix together hot cocoa recipe, 1 teaspoon pumpkin puree and ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Pour into favorite mug and top with optional whipped cream and a few pinches of ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

5. Chocolate Peanut Butter.
For a rich, nutty flavor, melt peanut butter into your hot cocoa! Add a dollop of fresh whipped cream and accompany with rough-chopped peanuts. You can also experiment with other nut butters, including almond and cashew butters for a decadent, robust taste. 

6. Gingerbread Hot Cocoa.
Stir in a few dashes of brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, and sea salt into hot cocoa. Pair with these healthy holiday gingerbread cookies!

7. Orange Hot Chocolate.
Whether freshly-squeezed or store-bought, add a splash of orange juice into the hot cocoa. Offer visual appeal by garnishing with on orange peel. Raspberry or strawberry juice or jam further compliments chocolate!

8. Chai Hot Chocolate.
Steep hot chocolate with a chai tea bag! Top with fresh whipped cream and a few dashes of ground cinnamon and relish the warmth and spices of the holidays.

Though the indicated recipes are sure to not disappoint, everyone has their own set of preferences. Feel free to take the ideas and swap, add, or take out ingredients to tailor to your liking. For example, add more hot cocoa powder if desiring a richer chocolate flavor, even swapping for a dark chocolate. Additionally, exchange milk for various almond, cashew, soy, or other milk types. One of the greatest aspects of homemade hot cocoa is not necessarily the increased healthfulness, but creating and trying new flavors with loved ones!

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on December 12, 2016. Updated on May 10, 2019.


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