Picture it: You’ve just come inside after a long day of holiday shopping, shoveling or playing in the snow with the kids. The sweet treat you’re craving has got to be hot chocolate—but not just any hot cocoa; you want a hot chocolate mix so you can get cozy fast.
The Search for the Best Hot Chocolate Mix
As soon as the temperatures dropped, our Test Kitchen squad was ready to search for the best hot chocolate mix to warm up on cold days. For this delicious test, our experts wrangled up all of the most popular cocoa brands and put them in a head-to-head test, judging each (blindly!) according to these categories.
Chocolate flavor: The quality of cocoa is key in hot chocolate. Our team enjoys both milk and dark chocolate—if they are of a certain caliber. Overly sweet or bland hot chocolates just aren’t satisfying.
Creaminess: Even when made with water, packaged hot cocoa should still taste creamy.
Coziness: What sets an OK packet of cocoa apart from the best hot chocolate mix is the cozy factor. Would you want to come in from the cold and savor a cup? Does it hit the spot when it comes to your chocolate and comfy cravings?
Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Hot Chocolate Brands
Several mugfuls later, our team found four brands—many of which you may not have expected—that deserve the title of Test Kitchen-Preferred.
Best Overall Hot Chocolate Mix: Land O Lakes Chocolate Supreme Cocoa Mix
Land O Lakes is so much more than butter and cream, though the brand does make one of our Test Kitchen’s favorite butters. It turns out that the brand also makes a dynamite hot chocolate: Land O Lakes Chocolate Supreme Cocoa Mix.
This mix lived up to its name; mugs of this hot cocoa were supremely chocolaty. Landing somewhere between sweet milk chocolate and bold dark chocolate, Land O Lakes made a mix to please chocolate fanatics of all kinds.
Our pros say that this hot chocolate mix checks all the other boxes in our test, too. Even when made with water, this mix was rich and creamy—almost buttery in some ways. And it definitely hit on our Test Kitchen’s all-important cozy factor. This was just a great cup that had the team reaching for the mini marshmallows and wanting to queue up a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Best Cafe-Style Hot Cocoa: Starbucks Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
When you’re not stirring up a mug of cocoa at home, chances are you’re indulging in a cup at your favorite cafe. For the best of both worlds—cafe flavor but in your PJs—our Test Kitchen recommends Starbucks Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix.
These cocoa packets make super-rich cocoa. This hot chocolate isn’t too sweet, rather it had a nice dark chocolate flavor. While stirring, our testers noticed flecks of real chocolate that melted right into the drink. When there are bits of chocolate and not just cocoa powder, you know this sipper is going to be extra delish.
While this mix isn’t quite the same as getting your favorite Starbucks holiday drink, it’s still darn delicious and worth keeping in your cupboard.
Creamiest Hot Chocolate Mix: Godiva Chocolatier Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa
While we think of cocoa first when it comes to a good cup of hot chocolate, you can’t underestimate the role that milk plays in making this treat so satisfying. For an extra creamy cup, our Test Kitchen recommends Godiva Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa.
Mugs of this cocoa are sweet—exactly what you expect and want from milk chocolate—and incredibly creamy. The texture of the chocolate and the milk together with this mix created a pairing our testers couldn’t resist. This hot chocolate mix needed no doctoring up with extra whipped cream or marshmallows.
And for the cocoa flavor? It was divine. But what else do you expect from one of the biggest names in chocolate?
Best Grown-Up Hot Cocoa: Williams-Sonoma Classic Hot Chocolate
We may think of hot cocoa as more of a kids’ drink, especially when loaded up with mini marshmallows, but hot chocolate can be a sophisticated sip for a more mature crowd. Less sugar and more dark chocolate flavor is a winning combo for adults, and you’ll find it with Williams-Sonoma Classic Hot Chocolate,
Right away, our testing team noticed the dark color of this cup, which signals decadent sips to come. This hot cocoa has a dramatic dark chocolate flavor which is a nice departure from most mixes. Williams-Sonoma hot chocolate also has flecks of real chocolate and great body—even when made with water.
How to Make the Most of Your Hot Chocolate Mix
While a cup of cocoa on its own can be a great treat, there are lots of ways to take this cozy beverage to the next level. Creative cocoa mix-ins, like baking spices, peppermint and dulce de leche all add even more flavor to this rich treat.
If you’re planning on serving cocoa for a special occasion—be it Christmas or just coming in after sledding—you can take it to the next level by creating your own hot chocolate bar or hot cocoa board. Festivities like this are the perfect excuse to take out all your cute mugs and serving trays.
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