Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 10 min.
Cold winter days beg for a sweet, warming and creamy beverage, but this Mexican hot chocolate recipe does even better. You’ll love the spicy aromas and touch of dark chocolate bitterness in every frothy cup. 

Updated: Jul. 10, 2024

Drinking chocolate is an ancient tradition in Mexico and was a special occasion drink for the Aztecs, who took theirs unsweetened. This Mexican hot chocolate recipe is a world away from that harsh, bitter beverage. It’s creamy and spicy and is the breakfast drink that starts the day in Mexico for good reason. The wonderful sense of ritual woven into its traditional preparation makes it so much more than a drink. It’s a moment to savor.

Mexican hot chocolate differs from the American version. It includes aromatic (and peppery) spices not featured in your standard vending machine or coffee shop hot chocolate. If you want a fully authentic Mexican hot chocolate, you’ll also finish with a more grainy and bitter beverage. As a result, it soothes the soul without swamping your senses with a sugar rush. A second mug is even perfectly feasible.

Ingredients for Mexican Hot Chocolate

  • Cocoa: If available in your local store, use unsweetened baking cocoa powder or a solid tablet of Mexican chocolate.
  • Sugar: Brown sugar brings out the best in cocoa, giving this hot chocolate its sweetness.
  • Spices: Ground cinnamon is the signature spice in our Mexican version, but you can also add ground cloves and nutmeg. When serving, keep a cinnamon stick for decorative purposes.
  • Milk: For a properly frothy hot chocolate, choose a full-fat whole milk. Lactose-free or nut milks will be too watery.
  • Vanilla extract: Adds a lovely layer of exotic flavor to the cocoa and cinnamon.
  • Whipped cream: Gives the chocolate its thick, creamy top if you’re looking for a shortcut alternative to frothing the hot chocolate by hand.

Directions

Step 1: Create the cocoa paste

In a small saucepan, mix the cocoa powder and sugar with a little water to make a thin paste. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes, stirring constantly.

Step 2: Add the milk and spices

Add the spices and stir in the milk, then simmer for five minutes. Take care not to let the milk boil over. Whisk in the vanilla extract, pour into mugs and top with whipped cream. Add cinnamon sticks for stirrers.

Editor’s Tip: For an earthy, gritty and authentic Mexican hot chocolate heat the milk and spices and add a tablet of real Mexican chocolate, stirring continually until it has fully melted.

Recipe Variations

  • Spice it up: Add a touch of heat with chili or cayenne powder and a pinch of salt to boost the chocolate flavor. Try ground cardamom and almond essence for a full-powered version.
  • Try more toppings: Mini marshmallows are another popular alternative (or addition) to whipped cream and will form a foamy head as they melt. Want a touch of bitterness? Sprinkle the top with bittersweet chocolate shavings or 80% dark chocolate.

How to Store Mexican Hot Chocolate

If no one’s coming back for another mug, store the remaining hot chocolate in the refrigerator once cooled. Make sure it’s in an airtight container so it doesn’t form a thick skin.

Can you make Mexican hot chocolate ahead of time?

Since cocoa contains lots of fatty solids, it stores for a long time. You can make the Mexican hot chocolate one or two days ahead of time and store it in an airtight jug or mason jar in the refrigerator. Reheat it on the stovetop and add the whipped cream as a final step.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Tips

What’s the original method for getting frothy Mexican hot chocolate?

According to tradition, Mexican hot chocolate should be frothed with a wooden molinillo, a Mexican cooking utensil. It is so important that it would be passed down through generations. Using an electric milk frother instead of the wooden whisk is said to lose the love that every cook should put into their hot chocolate.

Can I use regular American hot chocolate?

The powder you get in an American hot chocolate sachet usually has sugar and milk solids and is significantly sweeter than Mexican hot chocolate. The solid tablets you’ll find in Mexican stores are just coarse ground cacao. You could use milk chocolate powder, but it can be cloyingly sweet.

What can I serve with Mexican hot chocolate?

Churros would be the obvious choice to dip into a mug of hot chocolate. But any sweet pastry or bread will pair well with the beverage. Many people take the salty route instead and balance the sweetness with a pretzel or crusty bread.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Prep Time 10 min
Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash ground cloves or nutmeg
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream
  • Whole cinnamon sticks

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, mix cocoa and sugar; stir in water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add cinnamon and cloves; stir in milk. Simmer 5 minutes (do not boil). Whisk in vanilla. Pour hot chocolate into mugs; top with whipped cream. Use cinnamon sticks for stirrers.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 156 calories, 7g fat (4g saturated fat), 25mg cholesterol, 92mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate (15g sugars, 1g fiber), 7g protein.

This delicious, not-too-sweet Mexican hot chocolate is richly flavored with cocoa and delicately seasoned with spices. The whole-stick cinnamon stirrers come in handy, as the old-fashioned chocolate mixture settles if not stirred before drinking. The blend of cinnamon and chocolate flavors is wonderful! —Kathy Young, Weatherford, Texas
Recipe Creator