Ready to snuggle up and have a warm, chocolatey beverage by the fire to keep warm? Learn to make this bulk DIY Hot Cocoa mix for your pantry for winter-time snuggles.
Here's an interesting tidbit! Did you know that there is actually a difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa? Does it really matter? It's all a hot, chocolatey drink in the end, right?
What is the Difference Between Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa
The basic difference really comes down to this:
Hot Chocolate is a beverage made from melted chocolate and milk or cream. Richy, dark, and chocolately...with a little whipped cream or marshmallow snow on top, it is a decadent treat for a cold winter's night.
Hot Cocoa, on the other hand, is a lighter, sweeter drink, made from cocoa powder, sugar, and milk or water (or even cream). It can be flavored with vanilla, caramel or cinnamon, and tends to be what we know as those store-bought packets with far too few of those teeny little marshmallow pieces
• LEARN MORE: DIY Marshmallow Bits
While it's dreamy to make a fresh cup of hot chocolate for the family as a special treat, I know you're busy. I also know you also want to be able to stock your pantry with easy and healthy options for your family (well, who am I kidding, hot cocoa isn't exactly healthy!).
It is easy to store chocolate in the pantry to make hot chocolate from, I want to help you save a little time and money with this fast and easy hot cocoa mix to stock your pantry with.
Mom's DIY Hot Cocoa Mix (Bulk)
I will be completely upfront and tell you that this recipe is highly influenced by Alton Brown. But I've made a few of my own changes, over-time, with testing, researching, and more testing.
Mom: "Hey, kids, wanna test the next batch?
Kids: "Nah," said no child of mine ever.
Mom's Hot Cocoa Mix Ingredients:
- 3.5 cups confectioners' sugar (this can be adjusted down to meet your preference)
- 1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder*
- 1 ½ cups dry milk powder (See non-dairy options below). I prefer to use whole milk powder, you can choose nonfat, instead.
- 1 cup malted milk powder . (Your store might carry it as Ovaltine malt powder)
- 1 teaspoon ground salt (not table salt, but you might want to grind up your real salt or kosher salt a little to help it blend better).
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder **
Yes, this may seem like a lot of sugar, but it is between a barely sweet hot cocoa and the overly-sweet instant packs from the store. If you like less sweet, add less powdered sugar.
This recipe makes approximately 7.5+cups of powder, which is approximately 40 cups of hot cocoa
- Place confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, milk and malt milk powders, salt, and arrowroot powder into an airtight container.
- Shake to combine (and remember to shake before each use).
Directions for serving:
- Place 2 heaping tablespoons of Mom's Hot Cocoa Mix into a mug (needs to be a mug, a teacup won't do).
- Pour 2 oz. of hot milk or water and thoroughly mix. A whisk is really handy for this.
- Fill the rest of the mug with hot milk or water.
*You can use natural cocoa powder instead of Dutch-process cocoa powder if that's what you have in your pantry. But the Dutch-process is a deeper, richer flavor than natural cocoa powder, but you really can use either.
**The inclusion of arrowroot powder serves two purposes. It helps make the cocoa mix less prone to caking or clumping in storage, AND adds a little creamier texture to the final product.
Mom's Secret Sleepy-Time Hot Cocoa Mix
This is the magical, sleepy-time hot cocoa mix that I have served my boys during the annual viewing of Polar Express on Christmas Eve their entire lives (and the oldest one is 20 now!) it blends a little of both worlds of an instant hot cocoa mix with creamy hot chocolate.
I've never told them the secret....but it's a quite simple piece of love that I add to the above hot cocoa mix before they hit the sack to dreams of sugar plums and Christmas cheer.
- 1 Serving of Hot Cocoa Mix
- Add 1 Hershey's kiss or another favorite chocolate chunk (or more...it's Christmas Eve!)
- Add 1 peppermint candy. You can use a candy cane, instead, if you don't mind giving away a little of the secret.
- A little marshmallow snow or whipped cream on top.
When will I give up the secret? Once they have kids of their own. They've pretty much already guessed the secret already, but it can't be officially confirmed until they've become parents themselves.
If you are already a member of The Purposeful Pantry Library, grab your worksheet here.
Hot Cocoa Topping & Add-in Suggestions
- Dehydrated marshmallows (or buy some commercially done bits in bulk)
- Mini Marshmallows
- Marshmallow snow (peppermint might be your family's favorite, too!)
- Whipped cream
- Chocolate Shavings
- Crushed peppermint candies
- Cinnamon or pumpkin spice sprinkled on top
- Pure vanilla extract or peppermint extract added into the cup
- Raspberry Powder - add a teaspoon of raspberry powder per cup for a subtle raspberry flavor
- For an adult version, add a splash of rum or bourbon
Healthy Hot Cocoa Ingredient Swaps
These healthier ingredient swap ideas are safe for storing the bulk recipe in your pantry for long-term.
Something to keep in mind when using non-diary milk alternatives is that the powders may not dissolve well. I'm listing a few alternatives that do, but you'll want t experiment with the ones that work best for you.
You can cut back on the amount of powdered sugar in the recipe to something more to your liking. But if you are wanting to come up with some sugar substitutes, try one of these:
You can also cut back on the amount of powdered sugar in the recipe to something more to your liking.
How to Store Bulk DIY Hot Cocoa Mix
Storing your DIY hot cocoa mix is best in an airtight container (mason jars are perfect for this) in a dark, cool place.
If it makes things easier for kids or to transport, feel free to divide this mix up into zip-top bags or reusable sandwich bags or even modified Foodsaver bags, then store in an airtight container together. Then you can grab a few to tuck into your bag and make your own hot cocoa mix wherever you can find hot water.
Hot Cocoa Mix in a Jar Gift Idea
This hot cocoa mix is perfect for Christmas or hostess gifts! Be sure to attach a gift tag with the instructions!
- Layer the ingredients for a pretty sand art effect in mason jars.
- Place mix in a cute jar, and layer mini chocolate chips and dehydrated marshmallows.
- Package up in individual, holiday, cellophane treat bags.
- Buy a cute holiday mug, and stuff a zip-top bag with a few servings, a card with the instructions and a nice candy cane 'garnish'.
More DIY Hot Cocoa Mixes
Here are a few hot cocoa mixes from a few of my favorite friends! I hope you'll try a few out for yourself!
- Spiced Hot Cocoa Mix
- Hot Cocoa and Homemade Marshmallows
- Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix
- All Natural Hot Cocoa Mix
- Vegan Hot Chocolate Mix (you can store this!)
- Hot Chocolate Bombs (this is not a shelf-stable recipe, but you can make up bulk and store them in your freezer!)
- DIY Hot Cocoa Mix from Pioneer Woman
- Hot Spiced Cocoa Mix from Common Sense Homesteading
- Hot Cocoa Mix from Alton Brown
- Homemade Dark Hot Cocoa Mix from Countryside Cravings
Hot Cocoa Bulk Mix
Making the Bulk Mix
- Place all ingredients into a large bowl and mix
- Store in an airtight container
Making Hot Cocoa
- Place 2 heaping tablespoons of Mom's Hot Cocoa Mix into a mug
- Add 2 oz of water or hot milk and thoroughly mix with a whisk or fork
- Fill the rest of the mug with water or hot milk
- Coconut milk powder
- Soy Milk Powder
- Non-dairy creamer - while not the cleanest substitute, it can be used for those who need to stay away from dairy, but don't want the cost of alternative milk substitutes.