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Nov 23, 2022

Hot Cocoa Recipe Hacks for the Holidays

two glass mugs full of hot cocoa

Hot cocoa warms hands and hearts at the holidays and is the perfect cozy beverage all winter long. And with Hershey staples you have at home, you can make café-worthy hot chocolate in eight unique, flavorful ways.

7 Ways to Make Holiday Hot Cocoa

The beauty of hot chocolate is that it pairs nicely with a variety of other flavors. Every mug you make is a moment for a little magic. We’ve gathered some of our favorite hot cocoa recipe hacks, so which one will you taste first?

hersheys classic perfectly chocolate hot cocoa recipe

Classic “Perfectly Chocolate” Hot Cocoa

We’ve perfected our hot chocolate for just the right amount of sweetness, richness and creaminess. The result is a recipe that has become a tradition for generations. Once you've mastered this cocoa, it can serve as the base for our many variations in this blog!

Hot Cocoa Mocha

Whip up this afternoon pick-me-up at home when you don’t have time to swing by your favorite café. You might just end up loving your concoction even better! Just substitute half the milk in the classic recipe above with a hot coffee of your choice, then top with whipped cream and a drizzle of HERSHEY’S Chocolate Syrup.

  • Secret ingredient: hot coffee
  • Perfect topping: chocolate drizzle
  • Pairs well with: Chocolate Turnovers
mugs of hot chocolate mocha topped with chocolate syrup

Mexican Spiced Cinnamon Hot Cocoa

Though we think of hot chocolate as a simple chocolate drink, hot cocoa originates from Mayan and Aztec cultures where it was enjoyed with a little bit of spice. To give your hot cocoa a kick and depth of flavor, add 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon chipotle or chili powder. Trust us — it will be a memorable mug to enjoy!

Mint Chocolate Hot Cocoa

Chocolate and mint is a hugely popular flavor combination, especially at the holidays! And refreshing mint is always welcome in any mug of hot cocoa. This variation has three flavor options depending on what you’ve got on hand. Or try them all and choose a favorite, but it’ll be a tough call! You can: (1) Add 1/2 teaspoon mint extract; (2) add 3 tablespoons crushed hard peppermint candy; or (3) add 2-3 tablespoons white creme de menthe.

mug of mint chocolate hot cocoa topped with whipped cream

Orange Chocolate Hot Cocoa

Does your family associate oranges with Christmas? Maybe you look forward to finding one in the bottom of your stocking. One reason oranges are tied to Christmas is that they were considered a luxury before cold transport existed. Thus, it was quite the exotic gift if you’re thousands of miles from an orange tree! Tap into the nostalgic taste of chocolate and orange when you add 1/2 teaspoon orange extract or 2-3 tablespoons orange liqueur to your mug.

Swiss Mocha Hot Cocoa

You’ll never wait in a drive-thru again once you try this homemade Swiss mocha hot chocolate: When you’re making our classic cocoa for one, add 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder. For best results, add your dry ingredients to a mug first (cocoa powder, sugar, salt and instant coffee) and pour warm milk over until it forms a smooth paste. Then stir in the rest of your milk. Switch up your Swiss mocha with different instant coffee flavor variations for an instantly delicious variation.

two mugs of Swiss mocha hot cocoa topped with whipped cream

Café Au Lait Hot Cocoa

This one is fancy to say but simple to make! Just like a warm brownie, your cup of cocoa is just begging for a scoop of ice cream. Make a mug of classic hot cocoa, but replace your marshmallows and whipped cream with 2 tablespoons vanilla ice cream. Melting starts immediately, so serve right away! Change up your drink with any flavor ice cream you have on hand, like chocolate, mint chocolate chip, or cookies and cream!

  • Secret ingredient: ice cream
  • Perfect topping: chocolate chips or sprinkles
  • Pairs well with: Deep Dish Brownies

Morning Maple Hot Cocoa

This hot cocoa recipe is the epitome of cozy — because it guest stars maple, the flavor you know from breakfast and all things fall! You’d think the key ingredient would be maple syrup but you’re actually going to want to use 1/2 teaspoon of maple extract. It’ll give you a pure flavor but won’t affect the consistency of your hot cocoa.

  • Secret ingredient: maple extract
  • Perfect topping: whipped cream and caramel chips
  • Pairs well with: Fluffy Flavored Pancakes
holiday hot chocolate bar craft

Holiday Hot Cocoa Hacks for a Crowd

Have a house full of hot chocolate hopefuls? You can level up any of the recipes above using this six-serving HERSHEY’S Perfectly Chocolate Hot Cocoa as your base. Then increase your add-ins times six! Everyone can enjoy something unique during holiday movie night.

If you’ve got a lot of creative types around, set up a DIY Hot Chocolate Bar and let them mix and match flavor pairings and toppings. Think of it like a holiday gift card to get the exact thing they wanted!

More Holiday Desserts & Celebration Ideas

Fill your holly jolly season with all the best Christmas cookies, holiday party ideas, and unique DIY gift inspiration. We're ready to celebrate with you!