This easy, rich, and creamy vegan hot chocolate requires a handful of ingredients and just minutes to prepare (+ bonus crockpot method). Even better, you can make this dairy-free hot chocolate as simple or decadent as you like with the sweetener, dairy-free milk, flavorings, and toppings of your choice!
Creamy, Versatile 5-Minute Vegan Hot Chocolate
The Christmas/ holiday period wouldn’t be complete without drinking my body weight in creamy, delicious, warming vegan hot chocolate! You’ll find me sipping on it while baking cookies (like these cinnamon stars and thumbprint cookies), wrapping presents, curled up watching movies, and the list goes on. Luckily, this dairy-free hot chocolate with chocolate chips and cocoa powder is just decadent enough without being overwhelmingly sweet. So you can enjoy it daily without guilt!
Unlike underwhelming vegan ‘hot chocolate mix’ powders that are often watery and bland while also packed with sugars and chemicals, this dairy-free hot cocoa is creamy, mildly sweetened (with unrefined or even sugar-free options), all-natural, and can be adapted and flavored in so many ways that you’ll never run out of ways to experiment (and at a far cheaper cost than going to a local coffee shop/café). Even better, the base vegan hot chocolate recipe requires just 5 versatile ingredients (plus a pinch of salt) and takes just minutes to prepare!
For another holiday-ready winter warming drink, you might also like this vegan mulled wine!
The Dairy-free Hot Chocolate Ingredients
Hot chocolate with chocolate chips is rich and creamy while still requiring just a handful of ingredients:
- Cocoa powder: You can use regular cocoa, cacao (more bitter but packed with antioxidants and several nutrients), or Dutch-processed cocoa (what I used – Dutch cocoa is the key ingredient in Oreo’s, with a milder flavor than regular cocoa).
- Chocolate: For this creamy vegan hot chocolate recipe, you’ll also need dairy-free chocolate chips/ a bar. You can use ‘milk’ or dark chocolate.
- Dairy-free milk: Use the milk of your choice (almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk). I made a wonderfully creamy coconut milk hot chocolate using light canned coconut milk.
- Sweetener: You can use a granulated or liquid sweetener (coconut sugar, date sugar, maple syrup, etc.). For a sugar-free hot chocolate recipe, use Erythritol. Adjust the amount to taste.
- Salt: Just a tiny pinch of salt will enhance the flavor of the cocoa/chocolate and add depth to the dairy-free hot chocolate.
- Vanilla: Use natural vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Cinnamon: Technically optional, but I love the added flavor.
- Vegan whipped cream: Optional for topping. Several brands (like So Delicious Coco Whip and Reddi-Wip) have vegan options. Alternatively, whip up some coconut cream.
Keep reading for other favorite hot chocolate toppings of mine!
The flavor and add-in options are practically endless for this dairy-free hot chocolate. Here are just a few easy recipe add-ins/adaptations.
- Extracts: The simplest way to add extra flavor to your non-dairy hot chocolate is with a few drops of your favorite extract. Peppermint extract, orange, coffee, hazelnut, toffee, coconut, etc.
- Alcohol: Add a splash of Amaretto, vegan Baileys, brandy, etc. Alternatively, add in a few drops of alcohol-flavored extract.
- Coffee: Adding a pinch of instant coffee powder/espresso powder will enhance the cacao flavor, without tasting like coffee (add more for a mocha).
- Other spices: Instead of cinnamon, experiment with adding other spices like pumpkin pie spice or gingerbread spice (along with a drizzle of molasses). You could also make a Mexican-style hot chocolate by adding a pinch of cayenne/chili powder to the vegan hot chocolate recipe.
- Carob: Carob powder and chips are an interesting substitute for cocoa powder/chocolate chips with a unique sweet and nutty chocolatey flavor. It’s also packed with fiber and antioxidants and twice the amount of calcium as cocoa.
- Orange: Add some orange peel to the milk while heating for a naturally infused vegan orange hot chocolate.
- Vegan Nutella: Add a spoonful of vegan Nutella for extra richness and sweetness (adjust the remaining sweetener amount accordingly).
Read the FAQs to make a richer vegan hot chocolate recipe with optional add-ins.
Hot Chocolate Toppings:
You can make this dairy-free hot chocolate as simple/basic or as decadent as you’d like with your choice of hot chocolate toppings.
- Vegan marshmallows
- Peppermint candies (crushed)
- Vegan caramel sauce
- Chocolate syrup
- Pinch of flaky sea salt
- Shredded coconut/ flaked coconut
- Crushed nuts (candied)
- Crushed biscuits
Please read the recipe card below for the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information.
How to Make Vegan Hot Chocolate?
- In a small saucepan, combine the dairy-free milk, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, and sweetener and stir well.
- Then add the dairy-free chocolate and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Allow it to simmer for a few seconds, or until the chocolate has melted, whisking constantly. Then turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
At this point, taste it and adjust the amount of vanilla, cinnamon, sweetener, salt, etc., to taste.
- Finally, transfer the hot cocoa to your mugs and optionally top off with some vegan whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa powder, and a drizzle of melted chocolate – or the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
If you prefer your vegan hot cocoa super frothy, you can use a hand-held milk frother directly into the saucepan OR use a blender to blend the drink (for 30-60 seconds) until frothy.
Crockpot Hot Chocolate
If you’re making a large batch for a party/event, then using a crockpot is a great (and hands-off) way to prepare this drink in bulk. To do so:
Add the chocolate chips to the bottom of the crockpot, topped with all the remaining ingredients, and whisk well. Then cook on LOW for 2-3 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes until the chocolate has fully melted.
How to Store?
Make-ahead: You can prepare a large batch of this dairy-free hot chocolate for an event and keep it warm either on the stovetop (heat off, lid on) for a few hours or even in a thermos. If you’re trying to keep it warm for a party/event, you could keep it gently heating on the ‘warming’ setting in a crockpot.
Store: Once cooled, store the leftover non-dairy hot chocolate in a container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Reheat: Reheat gently either on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring well before serving.
How can I make a richer/thicker dairy-free hot chocolate?
There are several ways that you can do this, including:
- Oil: Add a spoonful of coconut oil/additional cacao butter to the chocolate recipe to mimic additional cacao butter in chocolate.
- Nut/seed butter: add a spoonful of your favorite nut or seed butter for extra richness (and protein).
- Cream: using a combination of your favorite dairy-free milk and a vegan ‘half and half’/cream makes for a super decadent hot chocolate with chocolate chips.
- More chocolate: you could also tweak the chocolate to cocoa powder ratio. More chocolate will act similarly to adding oil, with a silkier, richer mouthfeel and thicker texture.
You could also use cornstarch to naturally thicken the hot chocolate. However, only do this if you plan to enjoy all the vegan hot cocoa immediately, as the starchy version doesn’t store particularly well (in terms of texture).
Can I make hot chocolate in the microwave?
Yes. First, heat up the mug of milk for around a minute. Then add the remaining ingredients and whisk well. Return to the microwave in 20-second increments until the chocolate is almost entirely melted (the residual heat should help finish the job).
Recipe Notes and Top Tips
- Use high-quality ingredients: There are such few ingredients used to make this vegan hot chocolate, so make sure they count. For example, use high-quality cocoa powder and vegan chocolate.
- Serve with a spoon/stirrer: Sediment from the chocolate/cacao powder/cinnamon may sink in the mug. Serve with a spoon or even a cinnamon stick ‘stirrer’ to stir as you drink.
- Experiment with milk types: Each will affect the consistency and flavor of the non-dairy hot chocolate, so feel free to experiment and find your preferred results. I love making coconut milk hot chocolate, as it’s wonderfully creamy with a subtle coconut flavor. However, almond milk will work too!
- Don’t allow it to boil: This could scald ingredients and cause an ‘off’ taste.
- Don’t omit the salt: It perfectly balances the sweetness in the vegan hot cocoa while enhancing the cocoa flavor.
More Creamy Vegan Chocolate Recipes
- Chocolate Mini Cake
- Chocolate Avocado Cake
- Vegan Chocolate Mousse
- The Best Vegan Chocolate Pudding
- 2-Ingredient Condensed Milk Chocolate Truffles
- How To Make Vegan White Chocolate
- Double Chocolate Chip Fudge Cookies
If you try this easy vegan hot chocolate recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan #elavegan—I love seeing them.
Vegan Hot Chocolate
- 2 3/4 cups (660 ml) dairy-free milk (I used light coconut milk)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp sweetener of choice (e.g. coconut sugar)
- 3 tbsp (18 g) cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process)
- 3 tbsp dairy-free chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Vegan whipped cream (optional)
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.To a saucepan, add the dairy-free milk, cinnamon, salt, sweetener of choice, and cocoa powder.
- Stir thoroughly to combine, add dairy-free chocolate chips, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Let it simmer for a few seconds, then turn off the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour the hot chocolate into mugs, top with vegan whipped cream (optional), dust with cocoa powder, and drizzle with vegan chocolate (also optional). Enjoy!
- Check the blog post for lots of tips, additions, and subs.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
Absolutely fantastic! I used the serving size increase option when printing so I could make a 12 serving batch of this for a Cookies, Cocoa, and Carols event and it was ALL gone before I could get myself some 😂 I used three cans of Thai life organic unsweetened coconut milk and diluted it to my liking with water for the base. Will certainly remake this one!!
Sounds fantastic, Tracey! Thanks for your amazing feedback. 🙂
It turned out very nice!
So glad you liked it, Magdalena! Thanks for your feedback. 🙂