Smooth and silky, homemade Mexican Hot Chocolate, is flavored with cinnamon, a bit of chili powder and a splash of vanilla. Made with a combination of cocoa powder and melted chocolate this homemade drink is rich, lightly sweetened with a hint of spice.

Reasons why we love this mexican hot chocolate…

  • Rich and Creamy: using a combination of cocoa powder and real melted chocolate gives this drink a rich and creamy texture and flavor.
  • Flavor: adding cinnamon, vanilla and a bit of chili powder gives this drink a unique sweet, smooth chocolate heat flavoring.
  • Comforting: there’s nothing better than curling up with a warm mug full of hot chocolate. Topped with a swirl of whipped cream or melted marshmallows. This recipe is a hit with the entire family.

Ingredients:

Ingredients needed to make homemade Mexican Hot Chocolate laid on the counter.
  • Milk: any type of milk or cream can be used for this recipe. For ultra thick and creamy a combination of whole milk and cream. I prefer to use just whole milk. But you can also use 2% or 1% if you prefer. Just know that the hot chocolate will come out thinner. 
  • Cocoa Powder: this recipe calls for unsweetened natural cocoa powder, but you could also use dutch process in this recipe. 
  • Ground Cinnamon: using ground cinnamon helps get a wonderful flavor to the hot chocolate, since we aren’t bringing this liquid to a boil or cooking it for very long, using cinnamon sticks alone don’t give as much flavor. 
  • Chili Powder: no this drink doesn’t come out spicy. You can omit this if you’re concerned. But it just adds a bit more depth and interest to the finished drink. You can use chili powder (my favorite is Gebhardt) cayenne powder, chipotle powder, paprika. Each one has a different amount of heat/flavor that they give, so start with 1/8 teaspoon, taste, and add the rest if desired. 
  • Chocolate: we’re using a combination of the cocoa powder and actual chocolate in this drink. Traditionally this drink is made with bittersweet chocolate, but I prefer using semi-sweet. Adding the real chocolate adds a bit more thickness and a stronger chocolate flavor. I prefer to use chocolate bars, like Ghiradelli, but you can also use chocolate chips like those shown above. Just be sure to heat gently and stir while melting to help make sure the chocolate mixes in well with the milk.

How to Make (step-by-step):

How to make mexican hot chocolate showing ingredient being added to a pot of milk and after cooking.
  1. Pour the milk to a small saucepan. Add in the cocoa powder (to help prevent clumps of cocoa powder, you can sift the powder before adding it in), ground cinnamon, chili powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. Whisk all of the ingredients together. The cocoa powder takes some time to incorporate into the milk. Just keep whisking until it’s smooth.
  3. Warm the mixture over medium/low heat. We don’t want to bring the milk to a boil, just to heat it through. Once the milk is warmed, add in the semi-sweet chocolate and stir while the chocolate melts.
  4. Remove from heat and carefully pour into mugs to serve. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon, chopped chocolate, an extra pinch of chili powder, or some flaky sea salt.
Ladle pouring hot chocolate into a mug.

Tips:

  • Abuelitas Chocolate: This is a pre-made Mexican Chocolate tablet in most markets. This chocolate is grainy and almost gritty due to having sugar crystals in them. These chocolate tablets also have cinnamon flavoring. IF you are using Abuelita chocolate you would only need to melt the tablets in the milk and add extra flavorings as desired. This recipe is a replacement for the pre-made tablets.
  • Topping Ideas: top your hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream (or peppermint whipped cream!), marshmallows, extra cinnamon or chili powder, cinnamon sticks, a drizzle of caramel or dulce de leche.

Mexican Hot Chocolate: FAQS

What is different about Mexican Hot Chocolate?

The difference between Mexican Hot Chocolate and the standard American hot chocolate is the addition of spices such as cinnamon and chili powder. Some Mexican Hot Chocolates are made with bittersweet chocolate also. Making the resulting drink much less sweet than the Americanized versions. 

Is Mexican hot chocolate actually Mexican?

Technically speaking, yes. Historically Mexican is the birthplace of cacoa, with both the word and early use of chocolate being native to the country. 

What is the difference between champurrado and Mexican hot chocolate?

Champurrado is another hot drink that is made with masa harina, or corn flour, which is what gives it a thick texture. 

Overhead shot of homemade mexican hot chocolate topped with swirls of whipped cream and sprinkles of cinnamon.

More Mexican Christmas Recipes:

If you tried this recipe please leave a comment and a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below! Thank you so much!

Glass mug of homemade mexican hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and garnished with cinnamon sticks.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

5 from 6 votes
Creamy Mexican hot chocolate is made with real chocolate, and flavored with a combination of cinnamon, vanilla, and a pinch of chili powder.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups milk*
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla/almond extract, can choose which flavoring you prefer
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Optional Toppings

  • whipped cream
  • marshmallows

Instructions

  • Pour the milk in to a small saucepan.
  • Add in the cocoa powder (to help prevent clumps of cocoa powder, sift the powder before adding it in), ground cinnamon, chili powder, salt, and sugar.
    Milk, cocoa, cinnamon and chili powder in a pot for hot chocolate.
  • Whisk all of the ingredients together. The cocoa powder takes some time to incorporate into the milk. Keep whisking until it's smooth.
  • Warm the mixture over medium/low heat. We don't want to bring the milk to a boil, just to heat it through.
  • Once the milk is warmed, add in the semi-sweet chocolate and stir while the chocolate melts.
    Smooth hot chocolate in a pot with a whisk.
  • Remove from heat and carefully pour into mugs to serve.
  • Optional toppings: Sprinkle with additional cinnamon, chopped chocolate, an extra pinch of chili powder, or some flakey sea salt.

Video

Notes

  1. Milk: this recipe calls for milk. You can use a combination of milk and cream for a thicker drink. Whole milk will make for a thicker drink than using 2% or 1% milk. Of course you can substitute and use any milk you prefer/have on hand.
  2. Chili Powder: this isn’t going to make the hot chocolate spicy. It adds a depth of flavor to the finished drink. If you would prefer, you can leave this ingredient out, or you can start with a lower amount, taste test, and add more to taste if desired.
  3. Separation: as the drink cools and is being enjoyed it’s possible that the chocolate will start to settle on the bottom of the mug. This is normal and occurs with homemade hot chocolates. Which is why they are typically served with a spoon or stirring stick to continue to stir while enjoying. 
  4. Storing/reheating: if you end up with some leftover, you can store in a sealed container/jar in a refrigerator.  Chocolate may have settled to the bottom of the jar or container while in refrigerator. Just scoop out with a spoon. To reheat pour into a small saucepan and heat over medium/low.
  5. Nutrition information is being calculated showing this recipe yields 3 cups in measurement. While it will serve about 4, depending on the size of your mug/cup. Nutrition information is calculated at 4 servings per recipe. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1mug, Calories: 187kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 7g, Sodium: 77mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 23g
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Recipe first published December 17, 2019. Updated November 25, 2022 with new images and information, recipe is unchanged.

Photography by the talented @KJandCompany.co