Who could use a little comfort or joy right about now? How about both! This hot cocoa recipe is just what the doctor ordered. It's SO easy to make, SO yummy, and it's honestly giving us all. the. feels.

cup of hot cocoa, from Shelf Cooking

Sure, we love the snowy landscapes, the beautiful lights, the cozy fires, and nostalgic holiday movies. But one of our favorite things about winter? Hot cocoa! Is there anything better than snuggling up under a warm blanket and sipping a big cup of hot chocolate after a long, cold day? We don't think so!

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If you love hot cocoa, you're gonna love this recipe! We shared it to Instagram stories recently, and since you guys asked, we are sharing all the deets here. Get ready for a TREAT!


two glasses of hot cocoa with marshmallows, from Shelf Cooking

This is seriously one of the EASIEST recipes of all time, but that doesn't mean you can't swap out an ingredient or two if you need to! Here are a few quick ideas:

  • Hot Chocolate Substitute – Allergic to chocolate (we're sorry!)? All out of the mix? Try hot vanilla! Just add some honey and vanilla extract to a cup of warmed milked. It's super yummy! You can also use unsweetened cocoa powder to make your own hot chocolate mix. Peep the container for a recipe!
  • York Peppermint Patty Substitute – If you don't keep peppermint patties around, that's ok! Crush up a candy cane or peppermint and serve it on top as a garnish. You can also experiment with adding your favorite candy bars.
  • Coconut Syrup Substitute – We love keeping coconut syrup on hand because it's so dang cheap and a way better option than throwing money down the drain on fancy schmancy drinks all the time. But if you don't have any in your pantry, don't worry! Try coconut coffee creamer instead.

See? You can totally make this tasty little treat using ingredients you probably already have. Now, let's talk about the fun part — mix-ins!


homemade whipped cream on a whisk, from Shelf Cooking

One of the best things about making hot cocoa at home is that you can customize it to your liking. If you're feeling fancy, you can go all out and get extra creative! Looking for some inspiration? Try one of these additions:

  • Marshmallows – That cup of hot cocoa is just begging for some marshmallows.
  • Whipped Cream – We can't resist topping our hot drinks with a little whipped cream. If you don't have any, try this easy whipped cream recipe!
  • Caramel Drizzle – There's never a wrong time to break out some caramel. Wait until you try this recipe for homemade caramel. You guys, it's SO good!
  • Chocolate Chips – You could use white chocolate or butterscotch, too!
  • Cookies – Crush them up, and serve them on top, or grab one or two cookies and dip away. If you have Girl Scouts cookies in your freezer, now would be a good time to get those out. Chocolate + mint, for the win!
  • Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods – Dip a pretzel in some melted chocolate, add on some sprinkles, and you have the fanciest stir stick ever.
  • Sprinkles – Why not, right? Enough said!
  • Cinnamon – Again. Why not?! Cinnamon adds a soothing warmth!

You can even round up all these ingredients and set up a hot cocoa bar. It's the perfect party trick! Easy peasy, but super impressive.


stack of chocolate pancakes, from Shelf Cooking

While we definitely don't expect you'll have leftovers from one cup of hot cocoa, you might end up with extra packets of hot cocoa mix lying around, and you can totally use them in other recipes. In fact, we encourage it! Try one of these ideas:

  • Pancakes – Toss two tablespoons of cocoa into your pancake mix for a fun breakfast twist. One word of caution: if you're using a sweetened cocoa mix, be sure to cut back on any sugar you add to your batter.
  • Cookies – If you like our cake mix cookies, you'll love these! Try this hot chocolate cookie recipe from The Spruce Eats.
  • Chocolaty Trail Mix – Grab some Chex cereal, confectioners sugar, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. Add some cocoa mix. Shake, shake, shake in a large freezer bag. Enjoy!
  • Overnight Oats – Stir some cocoa mix into those overnight oats. You won't be sad you did.
  • French Toast – You know we love French toast around here! One super-easy way to make french toast feel fancy is to add some chocolate. Just stir a packet of hot cocoa mix into your egg and milk mixture.

P.S. We want to come over for breakfast if you make that french toast. Just sayin'!


With all this talk of candy, we bet you're ready for a sweet treat now! Well, the wait is over. Here's the hot cocoa recipe we're obsessed with right now.

cup of hot cocoa, from Shelf Cooking

Jordan's Hot Cocoa Recipe

This is the most effortless holiday treat you'll whip up this year, but we have to warn you. It's super addictive!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 6 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cup


  • 1 packet hot cocoa mix (We love Stephen's from Costco, but use your fave!)
  • 8 oz hot water
  • 1 mini York Peppermint Patty
  • 1 splash coconut syrup


  • Heat your water first, either in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in a kettle.
  • Add your hot cocoa mix to a mug, then pour the steaming hot water on top and stir.
  • Drop in the candy bar, then add a splash of coconut syrup.
  • Stir, top with whipped cream or your favorite add-ins, and enjoy!
Keyword holiday

Be right back; we're going to go make a quick cup of this drool-worthy hot cocoa for ourselves. (What can we say? We're givers.)

Enough about us, though. Tell us, what's your favorite way to enjoy hot cocoa? Leave a comment below or in our FB Shelf Cooking Community!

Image with text that reads "super easy hot cocoa with a secret ingredient" from Shelf Cooking

Looking for more sweet treats?

Stay sweet!