Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe (vegan & dairy free!) | Ambitious Kitchen (2024)

This time of year I’m always CRAVING hot chocolate. That’s not anything new though. As soon as the winter months roll in, I try to get my hot chocolate fix in any way I can. Pile on the marshmallows plus homemade whipped cream and don’t forget that adorable cute cinnamon stick for stirring.

I’m all about that hot cocoa life. For years now I’ve been making this healthy hot chocolate recipe at LEAST 4x/week. Tony and I love it!

A couple of years back I started myself on a little quest to make a really, really freaking good HEALTHY hot chocolate that I could sip on while I binge-watch all the Christmas movies on Netflix. Trust me, you’re going to fall in love with this easy hot cocoa recipe.

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe (vegan & dairy free!) | Ambitious Kitchen (1)

Ingredients in healthy hot chocolate

I say, screw those Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix packets, my version is something you can feel good about sippin’ down. Here are the 4 (yes, four!) ingredients you’ll need for this healthy hot chocolate:

  • Milk: I like to use a combination of unsweetened almond milk and light coconut milk to keep the healthy hot chocolate dairy-free and ultra creamy. The coconut milk adds a slight sweetness and amazing flavor. I recommend using light coconut milk from the can. You could also use oat milk or any dairy-free milk you’d like along with the coconut milk!
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: a high-quality cocoa powder or cacao powder is essential. I highly recommend using Ghirardelli’s 100% cocoa. I think it has the best flavor for hot chocolate (and trust me, I’ve tried quite a few!)
  • Pure maple syrup: I love how delicious the maple syrup tastes in this recipe, plus it’s a natural sweetener. I recommend sticking with maple syrup and not swapping it for something like honey because the honey flavor will overpower the chocolate.
  • Vanilla extract: a splash of vanilla brings lovely flavor to the hot cocoa. Not completely necessary, but oh so good!

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe (vegan & dairy free!) | Ambitious Kitchen (2)

What makes this hot chocolate healthier?

Traditional hot chocolate is made with full fat milk and/or half and half and lots of white sugar to make it creamy and sweet. While delicious and nostalgic, I wanted to make a healthy hot chocolate recipe with some more wholesome ingredients that you can enjoy even if you’re vegan or dairy free! This 4-ingredient healthy hot chocolate is:

  • Made with both almond milk and coconut milk to keep it vegan and dairy free
  • Naturally sweetened with only pure maple syrup

It took me a few times to perfect the recipe, but I truly believe that my healthy hot chocolate recipe is the BEST VEGAN & DAIRY FREE HOT CHOCOLATE EVER. It’s creamy, and perfectly sweet, with just the right amount of cocoa to keep it intense and rich-tasting.

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe (vegan & dairy free!) | Ambitious Kitchen (3)

Tips for making the best healthy hot chocolate

The best part about this dairy free hot chocolate recipe? How easy it is to make! I have a few tips for making it perfectly creamy and delicious:

  • Mix on low. Combine all of your ingredients in a small pot or small saucepan just over medium low heat.
  • Keep on whisking. Make sure to whisk continuously until smooth to get rid of any lumps from the cocoa powder.
  • Don’t let it boil. Be sure not to let the hot chocolate boil as the almond milk might burn and change the flavor — just whisk it until it’s nice and steamy.
  • Jazz up your mug. Remember to add your fav toppings! I love whipped cream, marshmallows and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Want a nightcap?

Try adding 1 shot of amaretto to your hot chocolate for a little extra coziness! Tony LOVES it this way and it’s perfect for the holiday season.

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe (vegan & dairy free!) | Ambitious Kitchen (4)

How to make hot chocolate in your slow cooker

This delicious, healthy hot chocolate can be made on the stovetop or right in your slow cooker! To do so:

  1. Feel free to quadruple the recipe (x all ingredients by 4) so that it serves 8.
  2. Whisk ingredients together in the slow cooker
  3. Place your slow cooker on the warm setting and allow the cocoa to warm for 1-2 hours before serving!

More cozy treats to try

  • Chocolate Chunk Toasted Marshmallow Ginger Cookies
  • 24k Gold Vanilla Turmeric Latte
  • Rebecca’s Mulled Wine
  • One Bowl Gluten Free Gingerbread Snacking Cake

Get more of our dessert recipes here, and drink recipes here!

I hope you love this healthy hot chocolate recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe (vegan & dairy free!) | Ambitious Kitchen (5)

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Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe (vegan & dairy free!) | Ambitious Kitchen (6)

Prep Time 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time 5 minutes minutes

Total Time 10 minutes minutes

ServesServes 2 servings

My favorite delicious healthy hot chocolate recipe that's both vegan and dairy free! This dairy free hot chocolate recipe is made with a mix of both coconut milk and almond milk and is naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup. The perfect nightcap during the chilly winter months!


  • 1 cup light coconut milk (from the can)
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli’s 100% unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • Pinch of sea salt


  • Add all ingredients to a small pot and place over medium low heat. Whisk vigorously to combine and to get rid of any lumps of cocoa. Do NOT let the hot chocolate boil or you risk burning the almond milk, which can turn the flavor into something you do not want. Simply warm in the pot until steamy, about 3-5 minutes.

  • Once hot chocolate is hot, remove from heat and pour into 2 mugs. Top with whipped cream, dairy free whipped cream, marshmallows or vegan marshmallows. Chocolate shavings or a dusting of cocoa powder on top are fun too! Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

To make this recipe in the slow cooker: you can feel free to quadruple the recipe (x all ingredients by 4) so that it serves 8. Whisk ingredients together in the slow cooker and place on warm setting and allow to warm for 1-2 hours before serving to guests!

Optional: add a shot of amaretto into your hot cocoa before serving. My husband LOVES it this way and it makes a fun holiday cozy nightcap!


Serving: 1servingCalories: 166calCarbohydrates: 18.7gProtein: 1.8gFat: 10.2gSaturated Fat: 7.1gFiber: 2.6gSugar: 13.6g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by:Eat Love Eats

This post was originally published on December 21, 2020, republished on December 15, 2021, and republished on December 17th, 2023.

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe (vegan & dairy free!) | Ambitious Kitchen (2024)


What is the best non-dairy milk for hot chocolate? ›

COCONUT MILK: Using lite coconut milk yields the perfect creamy texture and taste. It is neutral in flavor (the lite leaves no coconut taste) and it is neither too thick or too thin of a milk.

What hot chocolate is suitable for vegans? ›

Vegan Hot Chocolate From Cocoba

Creating the perfect cosy drink is easier than you think with Cocoba's vegan hot chocolate recipe. Simply heat your favourite non-dairy milk in a small saucepan over a medium heat until warm. Add one of our vegan hot chocolate spoons or bombs, and stir completely until it's melted away.

Is Ghirardelli hot chocolate vegan? ›

Ghirardelli Hot Cocoa

The brand's Double Dark Premium and Chocolate Mocha are both vegan-friendly.

Which vegan milk makes the best hot chocolate? ›

Coconut Milk

Creamy, thick and slightly sweet this plant-based milk creates a great texture in your hot chocolates but it also tends to add a slight coconutty taste.

What is the best milk for vegan chocolate? ›

Coconut milk is one of the most popular milk alternatives when making vegan chocolate, and it is also an ingredient in many store-bought vegan chocolates that you might find at large grocery stores. Coconut chocolate is delicious and will replicate the creaminess that comes from a bar of authentic milk chocolate.

Is it healthy to drink hot chocolate everyday? ›

If you are mindful of your overall intake of added sugars and calories and choose a hot chocolate that is lower in sugar and fat, enjoying it regularly can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Opting for skimmed or plant-based milk versions with little to no added sugars is a sensible choice for daily consumption.

Does hot cocoa burn belly fat? ›

Some studies show that cocoa may help fend off fat.

Keep in mind that eating chocolate with added sugar won't help you fend off fat, and can actually make you gain weight. Pure cocoa is great, but cocoa with added ingredients won't help you lose weight.

Is hot cocoa better with milk or water? ›

Although hot chocolate doesn't necessarily need an even more creamy, decadent taste, using milk certainly enriches the experience. We suspect that milk adds a creamier taste than water alone, and when combined with the notes of chocolate, the smooth undertones of the milk simply add a delicious backdrop.

What is a non dairy alternative for hot chocolate? ›

I recommend using light coconut milk from the can. You could also use oat milk or any dairy-free milk you'd like along with the coconut milk! Unsweetened cocoa powder: a high-quality cocoa powder or cacao powder is essential.

Who makes vegan hot chocolate? ›

Vegan Hot Chocolate | Hotel Chocolat.

Does dairy-free mean vegan? ›

A vegan diet excludes all animal products, including dairy, eggs, meat, and fish, whereas a dairy-free diet bans all milk products but not necessarily any other animal products. While all vegan foods are inherently dairy-free, not all dairy-free foods are vegan.

Does Swiss Miss make vegan hot chocolate? ›

Crafted with nonfat dried coconut milk, this non-dairy hot cocoa mix is full of the same irresistible Swiss Miss goodness you know and love.

Is Ghirardelli hot chocolate dairy free? ›

Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix

Ghirardelli's milk-soluble hot cocoa mix in 0.85oz packets. Convenient single-serve packet with non-dairy formulation.

Is Lindt hot chocolate vegan? ›

Did you know that our Lindt Hot Chocolate powder is vegan-friendly?

What is a non-dairy alternative for hot chocolate? ›

I recommend using light coconut milk from the can. You could also use oat milk or any dairy-free milk you'd like along with the coconut milk! Unsweetened cocoa powder: a high-quality cocoa powder or cacao powder is essential.

What is the best type of milk for hot chocolate? ›

Dairy Milk: Full cream dairy milk remains a classic choice for a rich, velvety hot chocolate. Plant-Based Milks: Soy, oat, almond, and coconut milks offer delightful plant-based alternatives, each adding a unique twist.

What milk should you use for hot chocolate? ›

*MILK OPTIONS: I usually use skim milk, but 2% or whole will give the hot chocolate more body and richness. Dairy-free options such as almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk can be used well.

Does almond or oat milk taste better? ›

Oat milk tends to offer a sweeter taste and is naturally more thick and creamy—perfect for warm beverages in the morning and sweet treats. While almond milk is less creamy, it offers a subtle, nutty flavor that pairs nicely in savory dishes and cereals.


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