Mexican Hot Chocolate

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Nothing beats a cold day quite like cozying up by the fireplace with a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate! This comforting, indulgent, and flavorful drink is warmed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of cayenne.

Alternatively, give our original Hot Chocolate recipe a shot, or, if you’re serving a crowd, set up a Hot Chocolate Bar and offer this Crockpot Hot Chocolate!

Steaming Mexican Hot Chocolate crowned with fluffy whipped cream, marshmallows, and a cinnamon stick for the final touch.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

My sister used to work at this adorable local cafe known for its soups, salads, sandwiches, stunning pastries, and hot drinks. She couldn’t ever stop raving about their Mexican Hot Chocolate. So, I finally convinced her to snag the recipe for me, and she did! The cafe’s pastry chef, who crafted this cocoa masterpiece, was kind enough to share it. Even though it’s been about a decade since my sister worked there, that recipe is a staple for us every winter.

We’ve made a few tweaks over time, like adding a bit more milk, opting for Dutch-process cocoa powder (total game-changer!), and upping the sugar slightly. Now, no winter hangout is complete without this drink. Seriously, everyone raves that it’s the best hot chocolate ever!

What Is Different About Mexican Hot Chocolate?

Mexican Hot Chocolate stands out with its unique blend of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne. The cayenne doesn’t make the drink too spicy; instead, it delivers a subtle warmth that’s super comforting in the cold weather. We can’t get enough!

Arrangement of ingredients including milk, rich cocoa powder, and additional elements for the Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Is Made Of:

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: We use Dutch-processed for a more intense and smoother chocolate flavor. 
  • White, granulated sugar: Adjust to your preference, keeping in mind that the milk and cocoa naturally add some sweetness.
  • Ground cinnamon and nutmeg: These spices are crucial for an authentic, flavorful Mexican Hot Chocolate.
  • Salt: A pinch balances the sweetness and enhances the chocolate flavor.
  • Cayenne pepper: It provides a subtle heat, so add it cautiously. You can always put in more, but reducing the spice level later is tricky!
  • Whole milk: Its fat content contributes to the hot chocolate’s rich, creamy texture. For an even thicker drink, substitute 1 cup of the milk with heavy cream.

Optional Ingredients

  • Vanilla extract: Adds a subtle, nuanced flavor.
  • Cinnamon sticks: These are great for both flavor and garnish. They infuse a bit more cinnamon as you stir and sip.
  • Whipped cream: This is an amazing topping that cools the cocoa slightly and adds a creamy richness.

Sugar, cocoa, and seasonings combined and whisked, with milk introduced for slow heating.

How To Make Mexican Hot Chocolate

  1. Consistent whisking: Keep the cocoa mixture moving from the moment you start adding the milk to prevent lumps and scorching.
  2. Low and slow heat: After the milk is incorporated, heat it gently and avoid boiling. High heat can scald the milk, affecting the texture and taste.
  3. Taste and adjust: Before removing from heat, taste the hot chocolate. If it’s too intense, add more milk. Not sweet or spicy enough? Adjust sugar or spices, but do it gradually.
  4. Use Dutch-process cocoa powder: Dutch-process cocoa powder, treated with an alkalizing agent, is less acidic and bitter, with a richer color and flavor. It’s darker, smoother, and mixes easily in liquids, making it ideal for Mexican Hot Chocolate. Hershey’s® “Special Dark” cocoa powder is a great, easily accessible option–or here’s my favorite cocoa powder.

QUICK TIP

Since this Mexican Hot Chocolate relies entirely on cocoa powder for its chocolatey flavor, there’s no concern about the gritty or grainy sediment often caused by improperly melted chocolate.

Warm, inviting Mexican Hot Chocolate prepared for pouring into a cup, promising a cozy, flavorful experience.

Why is it called Mexican Hot Chocolate?

Mexican Hot Chocolate is named for its distinct heritage and recipe, combining chocolate with spices such as cinnamon and chili, a contrast to the typically spice-free European versions. This beverage embodies Mexico’s long history with cocoa and customary spices, distinctive in taste and often frothed with a traditional tool called a “molinillo.”

What do you eat with Mexican Hot Chocolate?

Mexican Hot Chocolate pairs wonderfully with a variety of foods, often those that complement its rich, spiced flavors. Here are some favorites:

  1. Churros: A sweet, crunchy delight perfect for dipping.
  2. Pan dulce: Various Mexican sweet breads that complement the chocolate’s richness.
  3. Conchas: A specific type of sweet bread, ideal for soaking in the chocolate.
  4. Tamales: A savory option that balances the beverage’s sweetness.
  5. Biscotti: Crunchy and perfect for dipping, though not traditionally Mexican.
  6. Flan: This creamy caramel custard contrasts nicely with the spiced chocolate.
  7. Empanadas: Sweet versions create a comforting combo with the hot chocolate.

Finished steaming beverage in a mug, lavishly topped with whipped cream, marshmallows, and a cinnamon stick.

QUICK TIP

Fun gift idea! Spread some warmth and cheer this season by gifting this homemade Mexican Hot Chocolate mix. Just layer the cocoa, sugar, and spices in a glass jar or clear bag, then tie it off with a colorful ribbon. Don’t forget to tuck a couple of cinnamon sticks into the bow and maybe even attach a mini whisk for a special touch. Include a note with instructions on how to whip up the cocoa!

More Delicious Beverages:

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Mexican Hot Chocolate

5 from 1 vote
Nothing beats a cold day quite like cozying up by the fireplace with a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate! This comforting, indulgent, and flavorful drink is warmed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of cayenne.
Finished steaming beverage in a mug, lavishly topped with whipped cream, marshmallows, and a cinnamon stick.
Print Recipe

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Finished steaming beverage in a mug, lavishly topped with whipped cream, marshmallows, and a cinnamon stick.
5 from 1 vote
Nothing beats a cold day quite like cozying up by the fireplace with a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate! This comforting, indulgent, and flavorful drink is warmed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of cayenne.
Course beverage, Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine Mexican, Vegetarian
Keyword Mexican Hot Chocolate
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 beverages
Chelsea Lords
Calories 223kcal
Cost $4.53

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (like Hershey's Special Dark) (Note 1)
  • cup white, granulated sugar (add to sweetness preference, up to ½ cup)
  • ½ teaspoon each: ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
  • teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For serving: whipped cream
  • Optional, for serving: cinnamon sticks

Instructions

  • COMBINE: In a medium-sized pot, mix together the cocoa powder, sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, salt, and cayenne. (See Note 2)
  • MILK: Place on stovetop, heating to medium heat. Gradually add a few tablespoons of milk to the mixture, whisking to create a smooth, lump-free paste. Continue adding the rest of the milk gradually. Gently heat the mixture to your preferred drinking temperature, making sure it doesn't reach a boil.
    Sugar, cocoa, and seasonings combined and whisked, with milk introduced for slow heating.
  • VANILLA: Remove the pot from the heat and, if using, stir in the vanilla extract.
    Warm, inviting Mexican hot chocolate prepared for pouring into a cup, promising a cozy, flavorful experience.
  • ENJOY: Serve hot, topped with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick for garnish, if desired. (Cocoa tends to settle over time, so it requires a good whisk before serving again.)
  • LEFTOVERS: Allow the hot chocolate to cool before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge; it'll keep for 4-5 days. When you're ready to reheat, use low heat in a saucepan, microwave, or slow cooker, making sure not to let it boil. Give it a thorough whisking before serving.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Dutch-process cocoa powder: This cocoa, treated with an alkalizing agent, is less acidic and bitter, with a richer color and flavor. It's darker, smoother, and mixes easily in liquids, ideal for this recipe. Hershey’s® “Special Dark” cocoa powder is a great, easily accessible option or here's my favorite cocoa powder.
Note 2: Spices: Adjust the chili powder or cayenne pepper to your preference for spiciness, and the sugar for sweetness. Remember, the whipped cream (if used) will also add a bit of sweetness.
Nutrition information does not include any of the optional toppings.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 223kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 167mg | Potassium: 448mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Calcium: 307mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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