Craving hot chocolate? Make a mug of this healthier vegan hot chocolate in just 5 minutes.

Close up of a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream on a small plate with a spoon and a small whisk.

This delicious, healthier hot cocoa is wonderfully smooth, creamy and decadent! You can make a simple, low calorie version with milk, sweetener and cocoa powder or melt in the chocolate chips for an extra treat.

This homemade treat is perfect on a cold day, especially during the holidays.

Recipe Features

  • Dietary Features: Vegan (dairy-free), can be made sugar-free.
  • Can be made low-calorie and low-fat by omitting the added chocolate.
  • Easy to make in 5 minutes.
  • Serves 2 for a cozy and delicious, homemade treat.
  • Perfect for the holiday season. Try it with peppermint extract, Bailey’s or another liquor of choice.
  • Customize with add-ins like spices (cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom), powdered peanut butter, coffee and anything else you can think of!

Ingredient Notes

Maple syrup, milk, chocolate chips and cocoa powder in bowls on a marble counter.

This list is not complete. Please see the recipe card at the end of the post for the complete ingredient list with measurements and detailed instructions.

  • Milk: Any dairy-free milk works, so use whatever you prefer or have on hand. Try soy milk, plain or vanilla almond or cashew milk, oat milk or carton coconut milk. Carton unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk will be the lowest-calorie option.
  • Cocoa Powder: Dark cocoa powder works best but any variety works. You can also use raw cacao powder. Use high-quality cocoa powder for the best result.
  • Maple Syrup: This can be swapped for any other sweetener. Try cane sugar, brown sugar, honey (not vegan), agave syrup, brown rice syrup or for a sugar-free option, stevia or monk fruit sweetener.
  • Chocolate: Use vegan dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate.
  • Kosher Salt and Vanilla: These are both optional but they help to enhance the flavour.

How to Make It

Add everything except for the chocolate chips to a small saucepan on the stovetop. Heat it up over medium-low heat, whisking to break up and incorporate the cocoa powder.

Note: I’d suggest starting with less sweetener, about 1 tbsp, then adjusting to taste after you melt in the chocolate.

Be careful not to boil or even simmer the hot chocolate. It should just be nice and steamy to avoid burning the milk!

Whisk sitting in a small saucepan of hot chocolate.

You can enjoy it as is, or for an extra decadent mug of hot chocolate, melt in the chocolate (recommended, of course!).

Add the dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate and continue whisking over low heat until they’re melted and you have a creamy consistency.

Whisk sitting in a small saucepan of hot chocolate.

Pour into a mug and enjoy!

Pouring hot chocolate from a glass jar into a mug.

Sweetener Options

  • Sugar-Free Hot Chocolate: To make this recipe sugar-free, use sugar-free chocolate chips and use liquid monk fruit sweetener or stevia instead of maple syrup.
  • Lower-Sugar: Use cacao paste, dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips.
  • Date syrup or homemade date paste.
  • Coconut sugar.
  • Raw Honey (not vegan).
  • Any granulated sugar: coconut sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, demerera, etc.


Can I use canned coconut milk?

Yes, you can. If using canned coconut milk, I’d suggest light coconut milk, or half light or full-fat coconut milk and half unsweetened almond milk.

I like using just a bit of full-fat coconut milk for a creamier, richer hot chocolate – something like 1.75 cups almond milk and 1/4 cup of full-fat coconut milk. You can play around with the ratio.

You can use all full-fat coconut milk if you like, I just find it a bit too heavy and rich for this recipe.

Can I use raw cacao powder?

Definitely! Raw cacao powder and processed cocoa powder are interchangeable in this recipe and both work well.

Mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream on a plate.


There are many different ways you can customize this recipe. I like to use add-ins like mushrooms, herbs, spices and coffee to change it up. Here are some ideas:

  • Spicy Hot Chocolate (Mexican Hot Chocolate): Add 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or more to taste. A pinch of chili powder is good too!
  • Peppermint Hot Chocolate: Add a few drops of peppermint extract.
  • Spiced Hot Chocolate: Try spices like cinnamon, chili powder, ginger, cardamom or nutmeg, starting with 1/8 tsp and adjust to taste.
  • Mushroom Hot Chocolate: Add 1-2 tbsp mushroom powder such as chaga or lion’s mane.
  • Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate: This is a great way to use adaptogenic herbs like maca or ashwagandha.
  • Mocha: Use half milk and half coffee to make a homemade mocha.
  • Cacao Paste: You can use cacao paste instead of cacao powder and chocolate chips. Start with 2 tbsp and go from there as it can be bitter and intense if you’re not familiar with it!
  • Boozy Hot Chocolate: Stir in 1-2 ounces per serving of Bailey’s, rum, Schnapps, or any other liquor you prefer.
Close up of a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream on a small plate with a spoon and a small whisk.

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Close up of a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream on a small plate with a spoon and a small whisk.

Healthy Hot Chocolate

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 2 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 2
  • Category: Drink
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
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Healthier hot chocolate for a cozy winter drink! Whip up this yummy treat in 5 minutes with just a few simple pantry ingredients.


  • 2 cups unsweetened plain or vanilla almond milk (500 mL)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder or raw cacao powder (15 g)
  • 13 tablespoons maple syrup, to taste (1545 g)
  • 3 tablespoons dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate (45 g)
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt, optional
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla almond milk)
  • vegan whipped cream for topping, optional


  1. Heat the almond milk, cocoa powder and maple syrup (or other sweetener of choice) in a small pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Suggested to start with 1 tbsp sweetener then adjusting to taste after you melt in the chocolate.
  2. Whisk to combine and break up any clumps of cocoa powder. Avoid coming to a boil and burning the milk, it should just be nice and steamy! You can enjoy the hot chocolate now or proceed to melt in the chocolate (recommended) for an extra decadent and delicious drink.
  3. Once heated, add the chocolate chips or dark chocolate and whisk until all of the chocolate has melted and everything is combined and creamy.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate into mugs and top with non-dairy whipped cream or vegan marshmallows and a dusting of cocoa powder and/or cinnamon, if desired.


Milk Options: You can use any dairy-free milk you enjoy. Try soy milk, half light coconut milk and almond milk, cashew milk or oat milk.

Sweetening Options: Maple syrup, agave syrup, yacon syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, date paste or syrup, stevia, etc. Start with 1 tbsp and sweeten to taste.

Low-Sugar/Healthier Option: For a healthier, low-calorie option, omit the added chocolate. It won’t be quite as rich and creamy but it’s still yummy! 

Nutrition facts include 2 tbsp maple syrup. The recipe makes a generous serving for 2 people. If serving 3, each serving will be 158 calories. The recipe can easily be halved to serve 1. If you omit the chocolate, it’s just 100 calories per serving for 2 people.


  • Serving Size: 1/2 of recipe
  • Calories: 237
  • Sugar: 20 g
  • Sodium: 337 mg
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 4 g