Whether you call it hot chocolate or hot cocoa, one thing we can all agree on is that it is the best thing about winter! On a cold day, nothing is cozier than a steaming mug of hot chocolate – especially if it’s topped with marshmallows! And especially if it’s snowing outside!

Lots of us are so accustomed to drinking powdered hot chocolate, from a packet, that we don’t even realize how much better freshly made hot chocolate can be. Homemade Hot Chocolate isn’t much more than warmed milk mixed with melted chocolate!

And since the recipe is so simple, you can add any of your favorite flavors to make it special. We like adding some sea salt, because salt is actually perfect paired with sweet, rich ingredients like chocolate (that’s why chocolate-covered pretzels are so good!). But you can add vanilla extract or beans, cinnamon sticks, peanut butter, or crushed candy canes to your milk as you warm it. This will infuse those flavors into the finished hot chocolate.

If you aren’t sure about adding flavors to the whole batch, you can experiment with different toppings. Marshmallows or whipped cream are crowd-pleasers, but you can also sprinkle ground cinnamon, a drizzle of caramel sauce, or even some fresh raspberries. Your parents might even like to mix hot chocolate with their coffee.

If you don't drink regular cow's milk, you can replace the milk with any of your favorite non-dairy alternatives, like almond or cashew milk, oat milk, or soy milk. Just make sure the chocolate you're using is also dairy-free.

For an even easier treat, or as a great gift, you can make your own Instant Hot Chocolate Mix. This mix is just like the kind you buy at the store, except with less ingredients and just a little bit better. It’s just simple dry ingredients, like cocoa powder, milk powder, and sugar, which store easily in a zip-top bag or glass jar. When you’re ready for a cup, you just mix 1/4 cup of the cocoa mix with warmed water or milk. Voila! Instant hot cocoa? More like instant hot cozy!

Instant hot chocolate ingredients in a bowl.