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Keeping warm this season with my favorite Vanilla Mocha Hot Cocoa. Steamed milk, sweet chocolate, hints of coffee, and spiced with real vanilla. This is creamy, rich, perfectly sweet, and best enjoyed with a large helping of homemade whipped cream. Perfect for sipping while trimming the tree. this recipe requires just 6 simple ingredients (that you probably have on hand) and takes only minutes to make. Best part? It’s not loaded with sugar, making this a delicious festive option to be enjoyed by all!

front on photo of Vanilla Mocha Hot Cocoa with whipped cream and cookies

There’s really nothing better than a steaming mug of hot cocoa on a cold day…especially during the holidays. With Thanksgiving past, and December arriving in just a few short days, it’s full on Christmas mode over here, and I couldn’t be happier. No matter how hectic or hard life is, something about the holidays always makes things a little better. Or at least that’s how I view it. I know this time of year can be hard for some, but I really try and make it the best ever by doing at least one festive thing a day.

It can be as simple as ending the day by lighting my favorite candle, whipping up my favorite hot cocoa, or putting on my festive Christmas sheets. But by doing just one small holiday…ish thing a day, it makes this time of year so much fun. And really, everyone has time to light a candle or spare 15 minutes to make a mug of hot cocoa. It’s true, you do.

I know many of you may be planning to decorate the tree this weekend. So to get us into some holiday spirit, I thought I would share my go-to hot cocoa recipe. This recipe is perfect for sipping on while trimming the tree. Honestly, this is the hot cocoa I make every time the weather turns cool. It’s so simple to make and not overly sweet. So I don’t feel guilty enjoying a mug while typing away at the computer or enjoying some time by the fire.

Vanilla Mocha Hot Cocoa being poured into cocoa mug

Today’s post was originally supposed to be a new cookie recipe, but something in me really wanted to share this hot cocoa. It just felt so fitting. Maybe because we’ve had seriously cold temperatures and very snowy days. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to make hot cocoa. Either way I’m glad I’m finally sharing this recipe with you all.

And don’t worry, the cookies are coming later this week…because tis the season for all things sweet…

Vanilla Mocha Hot Cocoa with hands on mug

As mentioned, this hot cocoa is very simple and uses ingredients you probably have on had right now.

You’ll need milk, real maple syrup, cocoa, semi-sweet or dark chocolate, instant coffee, and vanilla. Pantry staples, right?

Mix all the ingredients in a pot and warm until steaming. Then just ladle into mugs and top with whipped cream and a little grated nutmeg, cinnamon, or a mix of the two…vanilla sugar would also be delicious.

So quick, but so delicious. What I love so much about this hot cocoa recipe is that while it feels rich and indulgent, it’s actually not loaded with any added sugars. It uses just a touch of maple for sweetness. You really can’t taste the maple, but it adds just the right of amount of sweetness to balance out the unsweetened cocoa powder and dark chocolate.

overhead photo of Vanilla Mocha Hot Cocoa

I’m all for over the top treats this time of year. But I also think it’s nice to have something that’s sweet and delicious, but not worthy of a sugar headache at the same time, you know? This is perfect for sipping any day of the week, morning or night.

If you’re looking for a sweeter hot chocolate, try using milk chocolate in place of the dark chocolate. Or go all out and try my sugar cookie hot chocolate.

My recommendation? Be sure to have these ingredients on hand at all times. Then you can make this homemade cocoa anytime you’d like. Personally, I love enjoying a mug while typing away on the computer, or watching my favorite holiday movie. Either way, it’s the perfect way to relax and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year…

Please forgive all my cheesy lines that will be said throughout the next month. I truly can’t help it!

Vanilla Mocha Hot Cocoa with whipped cream dripping down the mugs

If you make this vanilla mocha hot cocoa be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Vanilla Mocha Hot Cocoa

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories Per Serving: 670 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.



  • 1. Add the milk, maple syrup, cocoa powder, chocolate, vanilla, coffee powder, and pinch of salt to a large pot. Place the pot over medium low heat until the milk is scalding, but not boiling. Be sure to stir the pot often to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and burning.
    2. Once the hot cocoa is steaming, ladle into mugs and dollop with whipped cream. Drink and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Instructions

  • 1. Add the milk, maple syrup, cocoa powder, chocolate, vanilla, coffee powder, and pinch of salt to the bowl of your crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Switch to warm until ready to serve, up to 2 more hours. 
    2. Ladle into mugs and dollop with whipped cream. Drink and enjoy!
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  1. 5 stars
    For myself, I made this. Instead of use instant coffee granules, I just added 1 cup freshly brewed dark coffee into the mixture. I noticed adding the cup of coffee actually smoothed out the drink more for me. Esp since real chocolate bar is used in this recipe.
    More specifically….

    4 1/2 cups whole milk (or nut milk)
    1/3 cup real maple syrup
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    (6 ounces or 3/4 cup) semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped (I like to use 72% dark)
    1 tablespoon vanilla
    (1 cup freshly brewed dark coffee)
    1 pinch flaky salt
    whipped cream, for serving
    grated nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

  2. 5 stars
    There is nothing like getting in the Christmas spirit like listening to Christmas music and decorating the tree with a cup of hot cocoa in hand. I love the flavors of vanilla, coffee and maple syrup that you have added. Thanks for the post, You just got me in the Christmas mood!

  3. Tieghan,
    Would love to cut this recipe down as there’s only me but I’m dying to try this. I know I could just cut everything in 1/2 but sometimes that doesn’t quite work I’ve found. I’d love to have your recommendations on 1/2 or 1/4 of this recipe…basically for 2 servings.
    Thank you!
    Beachmom_loch aka Karen

    1. Hey Karen! Measurements below for 2! Cutting in half works great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe. Thanks so much!! xTieghan ?

      2 1/4 cups whole milk (or nut milk)
      2-3 tablespoons real maple syrup
      2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
      3 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped (I like to use 72% dark)
      1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
      1 pinch flaky salt
      whipped cream, for serving
      grated nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

  4. 5 stars
    You make EVERYTHING look so divine, rich, colorful, flavorful, and exquisite!!! I enjoy looking at all of your pictures. The details are superb. I am amazed at your creations. WOW WEE lady. I want to eat everything you whip up! We have made several of your recipes and they were exceptional and we enjoyed every last bite! So thankful and delighted for your gift of working with food. Sigh.

    1. Awh this is so sweet Jamie! I am so glad you love the photos and recipes on my blog! I hope you love this hot cocoa if you get a chance to try it!

  5. Hot chocolate has pretty much been a nightly staple for me lately! I’m actually drinking some right now haha. I love how this uses pure melted chocolate into it!! 🙂

  6. I feel the same way about the holidays! It can definitely get chaotic, but there’s something about this time of year that’s so special <3

  7. I’m going to have to make this soon!!!! Your photos are so stunning, they make me just want to reach in and grab the mug=)

  8. 5 stars
    Yes! Here’s to delicious-yet-no-sugar-coma hot cocoa and a festive daily action. Love it. And please don’t judge me, but my Christmas tree always goes up on thanksgiving evening – family tradition 🙂