This Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe is the best drink when you’re craving a decadent treat. Rich creamy cocoa, with warming spices - cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and vanilla - make this a delicious hot cocoa for a cold winter day! Plus, it only takes a few minutes to make!
What is Mexican Hot Chocolate?
You may be wondering what Mexican Hot Chocolate is, and how it differs from the typical Swiss Miss hot chocolate you may be used to. Unlike “American hot chocolate”, Mexican hot chocolate contains less sugar and has a stronger, more intense chocolate taste. It also contains warm spices like cinnamon and cayenne pepper to add an extra dimension to the drink.
Basically, it’s divine. More decadent, richer, and a bit more of a kick make this hot chocolate recipe my favorite.
Why I Love It
- Mexican hot cocoa is decadent, but not sickly sweet at the same time. I’m typically not a huge sugar fan, but I LOVE really good dark chocolate. This Mexican hot chocolate really amps up the bitterness of darker chocolate and isn’t as sugary sweet as your typical hot chocolate found in the packets from the store.
- It uses real, whole milk to make it extra creamy.
- The spices used in Mexican hot chocolate make it so unique and different from the hot chocolate you are probably used to. But don’t worry - it’s not super spicy. Rather, the spices amplify and complement the chocolate. They add extra warmth to this drink - perfect on a cold winter day!
- This hot chocolate recipe doesn’t use a thickener. Some hot cocoas recommend using corn starch to help thicken the hot chocolate and prevent clumps. If you’re looking for a thicker drink, this works, but I love the creaminess the whole milk alone provides, without the added starch.
- This Mexican hot chocolate is really easy to make and comes together quickly. Perfect when you’re looking for a quick treat, and great for both kids and adults.
Ingredients For Mexican Hot Chocolate
This delicious Mexican cocoa has just a handful of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Whole milk. Be sure to use whole milk here as it will add to the creaminess of the drink. A lower-fat milk yields a more watery cup.
- Dark chocolate + a little bit of cocoa powder. I find that using 60% dark chocolate works well for this Mexican hot chocolate - not too bitter and not too sweet. Note that if you’re looking to use true Mexican chocolate here, be careful to check the ingredients, as some already contain some of the spices below. Adjust accordingly.
- Sugar and vanilla extract. To add a touch of sweetness and caramel flavor to the hot cocoa.
- Spices. Whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and cayenne pepper make this hot chocolate unique and extra special.
How To Make Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe
This is so easy to make, and so much better than your standard hot chocolate packets - you’ll never go back to Swiss Miss hot chocolate again!
- Start by combining the milk, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to steam. Watch this carefully, and don’t let the milk boil or burn.
- Once the milk is warm, add the chocolate and cocoa powder. Stir the chocolate with a spoon until it’s completely melted and integrated into the milk mixture.
- Once the chocolate has melted, remove the mixture from the heat and fish out the cinnamon sticks and cloves. A strainer helps make this process easy.
- If you’re using the cayenne pepper, add it here. Be careful - a little goes a long way. You may want to add a tiny bit then taste, and add more as needed.
- Pour the Mexican Hot Chocolate into individual mugs and top with your desired toppings!
What Toppings Can I Use On Mexican Hot Chocolate?
This Mexican hot cocoa is great all on its own, but I these add-ins are so fun! Try any of the following to amp up this drink or make for a prettier presentation.
- Whipped cream
- Fresh cinnamon sticks
- An extra sprinkle of cayenne pepper
- Chocolate shavings
FAQs/Tips For Success
- Why is it called Mexican Hot Chocolate? The chocolate drink is thought to have originated from the Mayans and was a big part of Aztec culture for thousands of years. It was originally used medicinally to treat various health conditions and was made by grinding cocoa beans with various spices like chili pepper, vanilla, and cinnamon.
- Can I use low-fat milk? You could, but the hot chocolate drink will be a bit watery and less creamy than if you use whole milk.
- What percentage of dark chocolate should I use? I find that 60% dark chocolate yields perfect hot chocolate. It’s not too sweet, and not too bitter.
- How long should I cook the milk? Only about 5 minutes. Stir it occasionally, watch the heat, and don’t walk away. Milk that starts to boil will burn quickly. Plus, the milk can start to overflow in your pan, leaving you with a giant mess to clean up.
- Is this drink really spicy? The spices add a little bit of a kick to the hot cocoa, but it’s not super spicy. If you’re sensitive to spice, omit the cayenne pepper, or add just a small amount at a time and taste as you go.
- Can I make this ahead? Yes! You can make this ahead and store it in the fridge. In fact - I did this as a surprise for my kids just the other day. They loved coming home to this decadent homemade hot chocolate!
Did you try this Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe? I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below, or tag me on Instagram @frontrangefed with a pic!
More Delicious Treats
- Homemade Soft Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels
- Snickerdoodle Cookies With Vanilla And Maple
- Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies
- Fig Toast With Cream Cheese And Honey
- Easy Chocolate And Peppermint Icebox Cake
- Chocolate Dipped Orange Shortbread Cookies
Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ⅛ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 oz dark, bittersweet chocolate (60%)
- 1 tablespoon 100% cocoa powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Combine milk, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla in a medium sized sauce pan. Heat over low-medium heat on the stove until mixture steams, about 5 minutes. Watch carefully and don’t let the mixture boil or burn.
- Add chocolate and cocoa powder to the steaming milk and whisk until it’s melted, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the hot chocolate from heat and use a strainer to discard cinnamon sticks and cloves.
- Add the cayenne pepper, if using.
- Pour the Mexican hot chocolate into individual mugs. If desired, top with homemade whipped cream, a dusting of cayenne pepper, marshmallows, or chocolate shavings.
- Be careful when heating your milk on the stove. You want it to be warm and steamy, but not boiling. It can burn easily so stay close by, and reduce heat if needed.
- Use whole milk. This Mexican Hot Chocolate works best with whole milk. Using lower-fat milk will leave you with a more watery hot chocolate.
- Omit the spice if you’re sensitive to it. While the cayenne isn’t too spicy, feel free to reduce or omit it if you’re worried about spice.
- Make ahead and store in the fridge. This is a great make-ahead treat, especially if you’re serving it at a party. Just store it in a pitcher in the refrigerator until you need it.