Healthier Homemade Hot Chocolate

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Hot Chocolate and Why Homemade is Better


Many people have fond memories of a mug filled with hot chocolate on a chilly winter night, and may even remember their favorite hot chocolate recipe that mom or grandma made for them after going sledding. Delicious and tasty hot chocolate just seems to warm you up from the inside out. Now you’re probably wondering if such a yummy beverage fits into your healthy diet? Well, for the most part yes, of course you can enjoy this yummy warming beverage once in awhile.

How many calories are in a traditional hot chocolate?

According to the USDA, an average homemade hot chocolate contains 192 calories per 8 oz. serving, depending on the fat percentage of the milk used. Although not a low calorie drink, this is an amount that can easily fit into a healthy diet on occasion, especially after winter workout such as skiing or sledding. One caveat however is that hot chocolate does contain added sugar, in addition to the sugar naturally found in milk, something diabetics need to be aware of. Adding marshmallows can increase the carbohydrate count even more. However, there are other important nutrients in hot chocolate, too.

What healthy nutrients does hot chocolate provide?

Hot chocolate made from milk can be a good source of protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate can provide flavonoids and antioxidants, which provide additional health benefits. Put them together in this delicious warming beverage and you can get some good nutrition along with the tasty treat.

What are the benefits of homemade hot chocolate?

The benefits of making hot chocolate at home rather than purchasing at your local coffee shop are many. Consider the cost savings, with a typical hot chocolate costing upwards of $2.50 depending on the size. Saving money isn’t the only benefit. At home you can easily make your hot chocolate to fit your taste and dietary needs. You could make it lactose or dairy free, low fat or fat-free, choose sugar, honey or an alternative non-caloric sweetener, or choose to use organic ingredients. You can also be creative and add mint, orange or even cinnamon to your favorite hot chocolate recipe.

Why to avoid packaged hot chocolate mix

Although convenient, packaged hot chocolate mixes can contain a lot of various chemicals including trans fats, which are primarily from the non-dairy creamer used in the mix. Other chemicals can include anti-clumping agents, artificial colors and flavor enhancers. Choosing whole fresh ingredients over processed ingredients is always better for a healthy diet. Considering that hot chocolate is quick and easy to make, why not whip this tasty hot chocolate recipe and fill up your thermos before heading out the door for your next winter activity?

Perfect Hot Chocolate Recipe

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I prefer Dutch processed cocoa)
1-2 Tbsp. sugar or sugar substitute
pinch of salt
1 cup milk or milk alternative
¼ tsp. vanilla or other flavoring

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together cocoa, sugar, salt and about 2 tablespoons milk, stirring until cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Whisk in remaining milk and continue stirring until heated through, but not boiling. Stir in vanilla or other flavorings as desired.

Jennifer M. Wood, MS, RD

Jennifer M Wood, MS, RDN is registered dietitian nutritionist and successful food and nutrition consultant in Southeastern Minnesota. As the founder of a nation-wide gourmet food company, Wood wrote Jenny’s Country Kitchen…recipes for making homemade a little easier! (2003), which is a timeless collection of make-ahead, freeze-ahead and pantry-stocking recipes and time saving tips to help busy families put nutritious food on table. Wood graduated with a pre-med bachelors degree in nutritional science in 2001, completed her dietetic internship in 2007 and went on to complete a master’s degree in food and nutrition in 2011.

Leave a Reply