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Nothing warms me up better when winter strikes than a steaming mug of hot cocoa. This homemade hot chocolate recipe is dairy-free so you can enjoy it without the unwelcome side effects!

Homemade hot chocolate hits all the cold night cravings using only whole food ingredients. Designed to be mixed right in the blender, then poured into a favorite mug. This recipe from my Simple Green Meals book is a favorite for both my family and our friends all season long.

Table of Contents
  1. How to Make Hot Chocolate Dairy-Free
  2. Homemade Vegan Milk Bases
  3. Store-Bought Bases
  4. Why use Cacao Over Pre-Made Hot Chocolate Mixes
  5. Other Chocolate-y, Dairy-Free Drinks
  6. Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe
vegan hot chocolate made with creamy plant milk

How to Make Hot Chocolate Dairy-Free

While the star of any good hot chocolate recipe is the powder, the liquid base is also important, especially if you’re looking for a dairy free option. Dairy milk is creamy and rich, which helps bring out the flavor in the cocoa. Yet did you know that dairy-free milks can also offer that same creamy richness?

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 68% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. So I created a hot chocolate recipe that eliminates the need for dairy, as well as any gut issues after enjoying a cup or two.

Homemade Vegan Milk Bases

When searching for a good plant milk base for this vegan hot chocolate, I recommend making your own. It’s super easy, simple, and really just better than store bought. In making my own plant milk, I control what ingredients are added, so there are no processed surprises. Here are my fav plant-based milks to make:

  • Homemade coconut milk: This light dairy free milk is great for smoothies, cereal, hot chocolate and more!
  • DIY oat milk: When you just need an ultra creamy base, oat milk is a winner. It’s my preferred base for my homemade hot chocolate.
  • Homemade almond milk: I actually just finished a seasonal 21 day cleanse, and used homemade almond milk throughout the whole cleanse.
  • DIY cashew milk: A super creamy option just as easy to make as the rest!
  • Hemp milk: There are so many nuts/seeds/etc. that can be turned into milk, so don’t limit yourself to the first three choices! Change it up every time you make this vegan hot chocolate, until you find the perfect blend for you.

Store-Bought Bases

There isn’t always time to make your own plant milk, so my team of rawkstars and I did our own research to discover the very best options for almond milk, oat milk, and coconut milk in stores now. We update this list annually (and no one pays us to do this!), so keep checking back for new brands, or current brands that might be cleaning up their ingredient lists.

I recommend using an unsweetened vegan milk for this dairy-free hot chocolate recipe, as you’re adding in some pretty epic sweeteners already.

This is our homemade hot chocolate and I can’t wait for you to try it!

foamy cup of vegan hot chocolate with cacao nibs in a blue mug.

Why use Cacao Over Pre-Made Hot Chocolate Mixes

Store bought hot chocolate mixes often contain dairy in some form, as well as a host of processed ingredients. For example, a leading brand’s ingredient list is as follows: sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa, hydrogenated coconut oil, nonfat milk, salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, natural flavor. Cocoa is 4th on the list!

Meanwhile, the ingredient list for my homemade mix includes: cacao powder, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt. 4 easy, recognizable, minimally-processed ingredients. I dare you to do a test comparison of both versions and let me know which one you like the best.

mug of dairy-free hot chocolate on top of a cheese cloth, next to a tablespoon of cacao powder.

Other Chocolate-y, Dairy-Free Drinks

This recipe might have you searching for other decadent + healthy chocolate drink recipes. Not to worry, I’ve got you covered:

If cold drinks are hard for you during cold weather, I’ve done a roundup of 6 warms smoothie recipes to keep you warm and energized as the weather changes. Will you leave a comment letting me know your hot chocolate must-have toppings? I’d love to share them!

packages of raw cacao beans, cacao roasted powder and chocolate bars on a white counter top.
4.91 from 10 votes

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Take a spin on the classic hot chocolate recipe and not even miss a beat with this homemade hot chocolate recipe. This one is even better tasting AND twice as good for you. Let's cheers to that!
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Author: Jen Hansard
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: Plant-Based
Serves: 1


  • 1 cup almond milk warmed
  • 1 ½ tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
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  • Place the hot "milk" and other ingredients in blender.
  • Puree until combined.
  • Serve this frothy chocolatey goodness immediately.


  • Use caution when blending hot liquids. Start on lowest speed. I also like to put a towel on top of the blender container when blending hot liquids.
  • This recipe can also be made in a pan on the stove. Heat the milk in a small pan over medium heat, then whisk in the other ingredients.
  • Top with cacao nibs for a richer chocolate flavor, sprinkles, coconut whipped cream or marshmallows. 


Calories: 145kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 330mg, Potassium: 187mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 19g, Calcium: 343mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Show me!Mention @SimpleGreenSmoothies or tag #SimpleGreenSmoothies!

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  1. Have you heard about A2 milk? It’s original milk and easier to digest, so it doesn’t cause the same lactose issues as with widely commercially available milk.

    1. Hi Christian!

      Yes! I’ve heard of A2 milk and if that’s your preferred milk to use, I say, “go for it!”

      At Simple Green Smoothies, we’re all about plant-powered nutrition, so we use plant milk options in our recipes. My favorites to use in smoothies are almond milk, cashew milk and oat milk.

  2. 5 stars
    This is the best way to drink hot chocolate, I make mine extra chocolaty and non-diary. 🙂