How to Make the Sweetest Hot Chocolate Board

With mini marshmallows, candy canes and our favorite holiday cookies, hot chocolate boards make any gathering more festive.

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A steamy, creamy mug of hot cocoa is a wintery treat we look forward to as temperatures drop. We love serving it at holiday gatherings, too—especially when it’s on a hot chocolate charcuterie-style board alongside hot chocolate bombs, marshmallows, peppermint sticks and our favorite Christmas cookies.

No matter how you make it, all the options on a hot chocolate charcuterie board instantly take a cup of hot cocoa from cozy to festive. Here’s how to put together the cutest hot chocolate board sure to make every holiday guest jump for joy.

Tools for Making a Hot Chocolate Board

How to Make a Hot Chocolate Board

There are so many options for what to include on your hot chocolate charcuterie board! We’ll share what ingredients and recipes we like to use, plus more ideas so you’ll have plenty of inspiration.

Foods to include

Chocolate-Dipped Beverage Spoons for hot chocolateTMB Studio

Hot chocolate: Make homemade hot chocolate bombs the star of your hot chocolate board, so everyone can watch them melt and explode under a stream of hot milk in their mugs. Along with the hot chocolate bombs, include a jar of holiday hot chocolate mix in case some of your guests would rather stick to the tried-and-true method of making hot cocoa. You can also prepare hot chocolate ahead of time on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, so guests just have to ladle the drink into their cups.

Another option is to buy hot chocolate packets (this is the best hot chocolate brand, according to the Taste of Home Test Kitchen). Just make sure you also have carafes of hot milk (whole milk makes for the creamiest cocoa) or water. Or, fill carafes with the prepared hot cocoa instead.

Candies: Smaller candies and chocolates like caramel bits, buttermints, chocolate chips and M&Ms will melt into your hot chocolate. For sweets to enjoy while you sip, add chocolate-covered pretzels and wrapped candies like chewy caramels and Hershey kisses to the board.

Cookies: A mug isn’t complete without a cookie (or three) to pair it with. Biscotti were made for dunking, especially cranberry walnut biscotti or any one of our other biscotti recipes. Consider including a few other festive cookies like chewy ginger cookies, mint twist meringues, chocolate-covered Oreos, peppermint bark or even Pirouette sticks. When it comes to cookies for your board, the sky is the limit!

hot chocolate board marshmallow toppersTMB Studio

Toppings: What’s hot chocolate without whipped cream and marshmallows? Go for mini marshmallows, snowflake-shaped marshmallows or even homemade holiday marshmallows coated in jimmies. Once you’ve got a dollop of whipped cream on top, don’t forget about mini chocolate chips, cinnamon, chocolate curls and Christmas sprinkles to top it off, as well as chocolate and caramel syrup for drizzling.

Want to go the extra mile? Coat the rims of a few mugs with chocolate syrup and crushed graham cracker crumbs so each sip tastes like s’mores. Or check out this handy hack that pairs hot chocolate with Cool Whip for a showy cup that looks like it’s straight out of your favorite coffee shop.

Stir sticks: With all of the mix-ins and toppings on your hot chocolate board, you’ll need spoons or stir sticks. Candy canes and cinnamon sticks are a festive choice—plus you’ll have less to wash later! Or make these easy chocolate-dipped spoons.

Liquor: Want a little extra holiday spirit(s)? Give your guests the option to spike their hot cocoa by putting out a selection of flavored liqueurs, like Bailey’s Irish Cream or Kahlua. Or go for spiced rum and peppermint or butterscotch schnapps.

How to build your hot chocolate board

Step 1: Start with the hot chocolate bombs

hot chocolate bombsTMB Studio

First, place your hot chocolate bombs (or hot chocolate mix or packets) on the board. After all, hot chocolate is the main event! Leave room to put the carafe of hot milk near the hot chocolate bombs so people don’t need to reach across the board to get started on their mug.

Step 2: Place the small bowls next

Find spots for small bowls to hold homemade candies and any other items that could otherwise roll around, like the caramels, buttermints and chocolate chips. Mini mason jars, glass bowls or even small mugs will do the trick.

Step 3: Arrange the cookies in groups

hot chocolate board cookiesTMB Studio

Working around the bowls, arrange the different kinds of cookies in groups in various spots on the board.

Step 4: Fill in the gaps with candies

In the extra space on your hot chocolate board, add wrapped candies, peppermint sticks and chocolate-dipped spoons. Find a spot or two for spoons or small tongs guests can use to scoop up marshmallows and other toppings.

Step 5: Serve

Don’t forget to enjoy a mug of hot cocoa with all the fixings yourself!

Tips for Making a Hot Chocolate Board

hot chocolate made from hot chocolate boardTaste of Home

Do you need to make homemade recipes for a hot chocolate charcuterie board?

Store-bought ingredients can be as festive as homemade on a hot chocolate board. If you have time to make hot chocolate bombs from scratch, great—but if you don’t, buy some! Taste of Home food stylist Josh Rink says one of his favorite things about any kind of charcuterie board is that it can be as simple or extravagant as you want (here’s an extravagant holiday cheese board Josh designed!).

How much of each ingredient should you put on the board?

Of course, the amount of items you put on a hot chocolate board depends on the number of people you’re serving. If you’re worried you won’t have enough, pick up some hot cocoa packets—they’ll keep for a while if you don’t use them for the board. And make sure you have extras of popular ingredients, including mini marshmallows, whipped cream and peppermint sticks for stirring.

How can you accommodate different dietary needs when serving hot chocolate?

One easy way to make sure even people who avoid dairy can enjoy elements of your hot chocolate board is by having some dairy-free milks like oat milk on hand.

What can you do with leftovers from a hot chocolate board?

Your guests may have touched leftover candies and toppings on the board, so you probably won’t want to put them back in the bag or jar, unless they’re wrapped. The perfect solution? Use candy leftovers on a gingerbread house! But toss any leftover whipped cream that was sitting out on your board.

What other kinds of hot chocolate boards can you make?

Holiday dessert boards aren’t just for end-of-year gatherings! Make a fall hot chocolate board with autumnal colors and flavors, like caramel apple candies and candy corn. Or try a Valentine’s Day hot chocolate board with heart-shaped cookies and red and pink candies.

Start with These Decadent Hot Chocolate Recipes

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Lauren Pahmeier
Lauren has spent four years in digital and print publishing since earning her professional journalism degree from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. As an editor at Taste of Home, Lauren spends her days leading SEO-focused projects and collaborating with the Test Kitchen to develop new recipes. She also writes daily about her favorite recipes, building seasonal charcuterie boards and more. Lauren previously pitched, wrote and edited content about event planning, catering and travel, but discovered her passion for food journalism in particular while she served as the editor and co-founder of her school’s chapter of Spoon University. After exploring the restaurant scene in Minneapolis for almost eight years, Lauren moved to Milwaukee where she continues to try every seasonal latte and scoop of frozen custard she can. No matter where she goes, she loves to share her finds with her friends and family on Instagram. When she’s not writing or posting about food, she’s either making it at home or deliberating where to dine next.