Food gifts really are the best for the gifter and the giftee! For the giver, food gifts are easy to make, affordable, and everyone loves something tasty. For the receiver, they are delicious, thoughtful, and—maybe best of all—consumable! No extra bits or baubles that are going to the donation pile in January.
This handmade hot chocolate mix is my new favorite food gift this holiday season! It is stupendously easy to make—you can make dozens of gift jars in just a few minutes—and who doesn’t love a cozy mug of hot cocoa on a winter’s day?
What makes this the best hot chocolate mix recipe out there?
You can feel good about gifting this hot cocoa mix, because it’s been tested on dozens of very discerning teachers! Last year, we created a hot chocolate bar using this mix at my daughter’s school during teacher appreciation week, and it got rave reviews, with lots of folks asking for my just-add-hot-water hot chocolate mix recipe!
If this mix satisfied over 60 busy teachers, you know it’ll satisfy all the folks on your Christmas gift list! Even better: we took this recipe back into the test kitchen and tweaked it to make it even richer and creamier!
What goes into hot cocoa mix?
All the ingredients for this hot chocolate mix are an easy find at any supermarket. You’ll need:
- Powdered Sugar (AKA: Confectioner’s Sugar)—Don’t try to sub other kinds of sugar—powdered sugar is fine enough to dissolve well while mixing up your cocoa.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder—We prefer Dutch-processed because it has a darker color and less acidity, but any kind of cocoa powder works.
- Dried Milk Powder—Yes, most grocery stores carry this (typically in the baking aisle). Grab whole milk powder if you can!
- Fine Sea Salt—A little bit of salt is a must-add to help balance the sweetness. Trust us!
- Mini Chocolate Chips—The secret ingredient that makes this the best hot cocoa mix ever! The chocolate chips melt and make your cocoa super decadent and rich.
Make sure to grab mini chocolate chips—the standard-size ones don’t typically melt fast enough to combine into the hot chocolate mix.
How do you make hot chocolate mix at home?
If you can mix things together in a bowl, you can make hot chocolate mix! Here’s the method:
- Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl.
- Stir well to combine.
- Spoon the mixture into your gifting or storage jars. The end!
Feel free to experiment with your mixture of chocolate chips in your mix. Peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, and peppermint baking chips are all delicious additions!
Can you make dairy-free or vegan hot chocolate mix?
Sure can! To make this vegan, swap out the dried milk for dried coconut milk, and make sure to grab chocolate chips that are dairy-free. We used dried coconut milk in our Golden Milk Mix with great results!
What’s the best way to package hot chocolate mix for gifting?
You can put your hot chocolate mix into any kind of covered container. Some folks like to use candy bags, but we love the simplicity of packing the mix into Ball® Regular Mouth Pint Jars. These pint jars are 16 ounces, and you’ll get three jars out of the recipe down below. Each jar makes four servings of hot chocolate.
To make it easy for you, we made free printable tags that you can download and tie to your jars with a simple red ribbon!
How do you make a mug of hot cocoa from this mix?
Easy peasy! To make a mug of hot chocolate: combine 1/2 cup mix with 3/4 cup hot water or milk in a mug, and stir until frothy and well-combined.
We recommend making your hot cocoa in a mug and not a Ball® Jar. Pouring hot liquid into cold jars could result in thermal shock breakage. Use your favorite mug instead!
Is hot chocolate mix better made with milk or water?
Milk (and in particular, whole milk) is always going to give you the creamiest result. However, since we use dried milk powder in our mix, our hot chocolate is creamy and rich even when you make it with just water.
How much hot chocolate mix do I need for one cup of hot cocoa?
We recommend using the ratio of 1/2 cup mix to 3/4 cup of water or milk, but you are free to experiment with the ratio that gives the right amount of flavor for your taste buds!
How long does hot chocolate mix last in the pantry?
Since all the ingredients are self-stable, in a tightly sealed container your hot cocoa mix will last indefinitely. Keep some on hand for easy gifting!
While the recipe will last indefinitely in the pantry, it is not a canning safe recipe—do not try to process this hot chocolate mix in your water bath or pressure canner.
Can I mix hot chocolate with coffee to make a mocha?
Not only can you, but we highly recommend it! It’s a delicious way to make a shortcut mocha.
Looking for even more easy homemade food gifts?
We’ve got a list of over 50 options for you to choose from! Browse the list of all of the food gifts, or check out a few fan favorites:
Thanks for sharing! How far ahead of time can I make it?
This looks so good! What a great gift to make for friends or to enjoy yourself!
Hello, I’m going to put these together soon hopefully. How much cinnamon would you suggest, in the whole mix or individual jars.
I have some hot chocolate lovers that I’m sure are going to love this! Thanks.
Hi, Cyndi! If you want to add cinnamon to the mix, we recommend you add it to the entire batch so that it will get evenly distributed. We haven’t tested it ourselves, but we recommend starting with 2 teaspoons for a light cinnamon flavor or up to 2 tablespoons for a strong cinnamon punch. You’ll have to play around to find the perfect amount for your tastes. Let us know how it turns out for you!
I made this last night and packaged up two jars to gift. Then I made a couple of mugs so we could try it and it was delicious! I’m having the labels printed now and can’t wait to put it all together. Thank you so much for this quick and easy Christmas gift!
We’re so glad you like it, Kristen! Thanks for taking the time to come back and tell us about it. We really appreciate it!
I wanted to make a homemade hot chocolate mix for gifting, & like your recipe. I have not made it yet.
Question: I bought Cacao powder to make it with. I see Dutch process is preferred. Will Cacao powder work as well?
Hi, Kathie! Cacao powder will work, but it may affect the overall sweetness and flavor a bit. If you’ve made hot cocoa with cacao powder before and you know you like the flavor, then it should work out well for you. If you’ve never made it with cacao before, we recommend mixing up a single mug of hot cocoa using the cacao to see how you like it. You may find that the cacao has more bitterness to it than regular unsweetened cocoa. In that case, you’ll want to add more sugar to the mix. If you like it as is, then the recipe will work as written. I hope this helps! Let us know how it turns out for you =)
How much vanilla bean powder would you recommend adding?
Hi, Tracey! We recommend adding a tablespoon of vanilla bean powder to the batch. That’s a great place to start and then once you’ve tasted it, you can always make adjustments to future batches to suit your tastes. Let us know how it turns out for you!