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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. Cinnamon is a great add-in! It can help the body regulate blood sugar levels, especially when having a sweet treat like this one.

    1. Oooh girl, we feel ya! Any of our smoothies def helps to boost energy. Yet to help with the PMS symptoms, we’d recommend ones that contain hormone balancing ingredients like flax seeds, spinach, kale, almonds, matcha or avocado. In addition to that, using probiotics is also helpful for bringing balance during those special times each month. Check out our Clean Skin Diet Smoothie, our Vanilla Matcha Smoothie or the Peach Probiotic Smoothie to start.

  1. 5 stars
    An absolute a hug in a mug on this cold winter day. Added a scoop of chocolate coconut collagen and oh my gosh! !

    1. Love that collagen upgrade Lisa! And “hug in a mug” – aw! 🙂

  2. This seems delicious but the nutritional info lists a very high sodium content – is it possible this is an error? None of the ingredients listed contain that much sodium.

    1. Good catch, Manuela! I think it should be more like ~300mg sodium. We’ll make sure to get that changed!

  3. 5 stars
    Love that my daughters enjoy this just as much, if not more, than the store bought mixes with tons of yucky ingredients. So grateful for your clean recipes!

    1. So glad we can help you make your kids healthier versions of classic favorites!

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve been trying to make more things from scratch and this is such an easy win right here. I liked the maple syrup, and prob used a little extra. Haha! Thanks for another delicious and healthy recipe.

  5. 5 stars
    I was surprised how sweet and creamy this turned out to be. I did think the almond milk tasted a little burnt, so next time I’m definitely trying the oat milk.

  6. 5 stars
    I just made some of this awesome hot chocolate for my husband and myself. So delicious! And even though it’s a little indulgent, I feel good knowing it’s made with clean ingredients and no processed junk. Will definitely be making again!

    1. A great recipe to have in your arsenal as we get into fall and winter! 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you very much for this space you have created. Recently found the website and I’m very happy I followed the Instagram link, thank you again.

    1. Hey Dinkeng,

      We are so happy you found us too! Let us know if you give our recipes a try 🙂

  8. 4 stars
    I am new to your website, but so excited about everything I see. Where can I get maple syrup? In our grocery store is only maple flavoured syrup full of cane sugar, I am sure that is not the ingredient you are referring to his in this and in the Almond spice drink?

    1. Hi Annelize,

      We’re so excited you found us in this busy digital world! Having trouble tracking down maple syrup? If you have access to or, both have a wide variety of organic pure maple syrup.

  9. I’ve been looking for some healthy hot cocoa ideas! This one sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to try it out!

  10. I made this with Almond Milk (cold from frig) in the VitaMix with the rest of the ingredients. Started on the lowest speed and turned it up slowly until it was hot. Everyone loved it!!! This will be made a lot this winter. 🙂 Yummy treat when you are really cold.

    1. YAY, Renee! We’re so excited to hear everyone enjoyed our Hot Chocolate recipe! We hope you enjoy all winter long!!

    1. Hi Jo,

      I personally love NOW Foods Organic Maple Syrup! But don’t worry about the brand too much. We just love reaching for organic + 100% pure maple syrup.

      Cheers 🙂

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      As long as you’re reaching for unsweetened cocoa powder you’re good to go! Cacao powder is very similar to cocoa powder, it just hasn’t been heated to a high temperature and therefore contains more nutrients and antioxidants.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

    1. Hi Barb,

      You’re right. My tip for blending hot liquids is to vent the top slightly, I cover the top with a dish towel to prevent any leaks. That way the steam is able to be released while blending and causes no explosions! But definitely check your individual blender to make sure its made for hot liquids.

      Still not comfortable blending hot liquids? Simply heat this recipe on your stove top after blending.

      Cheers 🙂