When the weather turns colder at the end of the year, that means it is time to stock up on some delicious hot chocolate. But not all hot chocolates are created equally. You can take your time and hover over a stove, slowly integrating chocolate into simmering milk, but let’s face it, hot cocoa in mere seconds is so much easier. Luckily, there are endless options for this delicious hot drink. Read on for five of the best hot chocolate mixes that encapsulate all of the chocolatey goodness you need into a five-minute prep time.
Once you find your ideal brand of hot chocolate, stock up. A new study finds drinking cocoa is not just the popular choice. It may also be the “smart” choice as well. Researchers at the University of Birmingham say consuming flavanol-rich products, such as cocoa, increases one’s mental performance. Flavanols are a group of molecules that occur naturally in fruits and vegetables. They’re a member of the plant flavonoid family and are common in cocoa, grapes, apples, tea, berries, and even wine. While previous studies reveal these molecules can improve brain health, the new report finds they also stimulate brain-blood oxygenation levels. The results show this actually helps people to think faster and perform cognitive challenges more efficiently.
Enjoying chocolate is particularly beneficial to women, especially those who work night shifts or suffer from sleeping disorders, the researchers noted. That’s because the flavanols can counteract the damage caused by sleep deprivation. When chocolate or cocoa was consumed by women after a night of poor sleep, researchers found that participants didn’t struggle to complete work or suffer from other forms of cognitive impairment as much as those who didn’t. As for helping the elderly, the authors discovered that consuming cocoa on a daily basis improved attention, memory, processing speed, and verbal fluency. The benefits for older participants were greatest in those showing signs of memory impairments and mild mental decline.
As if we needed more excuses to consume chocolate. Perusing the shelves of hot chocolate brands on your next grocery run can be a bit intimidating, so to save you the hassle, StudyFinds sought out reviews from ten expert websites to compile this list of the best hot chocolate. These are the most frequently recommended brews, but as always, if you have a favorite that we missed, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Hot Chocolate, According to Experts
Swiss Miss has a version with marshmallows that almost made this list of best hot chocolate, but sometimes you don’t need to mess with a classic to get the best. “If you’re looking for a sweet and creamy hot cocoa to get you in the holiday spirit, Swiss Miss is the hot cocoa mix for you. Our #1 pick is the hot cocoa many would enjoy on a cold rainy afternoon or just when you’re in the mood for a warm, chocolatey treat. Even with water, the flavors and aromas shone through and made our tasters almost unanimously pick this one as their top choice,” says Eat This, Not That.
Swiss Miss makes a variety of flavors of hot chocolate mix from seasonal favorites like pumpkin spice, to a mix made with Lucky Charms marshmallows. “Made with cocoa powder, powdered nonfat milk, and coconut oil, Swiss Miss has a surprisingly creamy mouthful and balanced sweetness. Our tasters agreed that Swiss Miss lives up to the communal memories shared of childhood snow days, and for some, it actually impressed even more,” shares Food and Wine.
While some cocoa mixes include corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, and other yucky ingredients, Swiss Miss doesn’t. “There are five ingredients total—sugar, cocoa, nonfat milk, salt, and ‘natural flavor’—that when combined with warm milk, result in a silky, rich drink that doesn’t feel like an instant trip to the dentist’s office,” says Pure Wow.
Next time you are at your local Starbucks, make sure to grab a bag of Starbucks Classic Hot Cocoa Mix for the cozy season. “If you’re looking for a solid hot chocolate option, you can’t go wrong with the classic hot chocolate mix from Starbucks. Simply add hot milk and mix for a rich, velvety drink perfect for a cold night at home,” informs Food Network.
With Starbucks being the powerhouse of coffee, we aren’t surprised that they knocked it out of the park with their hot cocoa. “Taste’s just like homemade hot cocoa. It’s rich and slightly bitter, not overly sweet,” says The Cookful.
Sure, you can buy Peppermint, Double, and Salted Caramel varieties of Starbucks Hot Cocoa, but the Classic is named so for a reason. “Starbucks Classic Hot Cocoa is velvety, smooth chocolate that’s not too bitter that kids won’t enjoy it, and not so sugary that adults will complain of a toothache three sips in,” informs Pure Wow.
Ghirardelli is the oldest continuously run chocolate factory in the U.S. There is no surprise that they make this Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix that dissolves into hot milk with ease. “It had a deeper chocolate flavor with roasty notes we didn’t detect in many of the other samples and a sweetness level our tasters unanimously agreed was just right. One of the only detractions was a slight powderiness towards the tail end of the sips. Otherwise, it was creamy and well-balanced,” boasts Tasting Table.
This one is for the candy bar lovers out there. Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate tastes like a molten candy bar. “It’s milkier and sweeter than the rest, but not cloyingly so. There’s a light hint of vanilla that balances out the richness of that double dose of chocolate,” says Pure Wow.
If you are a health nut, you’ll be happy to know that Ghirardelli has a bit less sugar than some of our other picks. “If you demand the richest chocolate taste you can find, then Ghirardelli is probably going to become your go-to. Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate mix is admittedly almost too decadent, so it’s best left for small servings. That means that a little of the mix should go a long way. On the other hand, if you find yourself constantly craving this delicious drink, then take heart; for a specialty hot chocolate mix, it’s not all that experience,” explains All Recipes.
There is no doubt that the cocoa flavor of Godiva could be anything other than divine. What would we expect from one of the biggest names in chocolate? “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,” explains Taste Of Home.
You can’t help but feel luxurious while drinking Godiva milk chocolate as a warm, soothing drink. “This hot chocolate mix produces a delicious, rich cup of hot chocolate that we think is fitting for any holiday event, movie night, or snowy morning during the winter months,” offers Food Network.
Godiva’s Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa is delicious and they also make an equally satisfying Dark Chocolate version. “It’s so rich, velvety, and decadent that you’d swear you’re sipping a bougie, $6 hot cocoa from a boutique café. Only each serving will set you back less than $2 when you buy it by the canister,” informs Pure Wow.
What could be better than chocolate, other than double chocolate? “These cocoa packets make super-rich cocoa. This hot chocolate isn’t too sweet, rather it has 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,” explains Taste Of Home,
Starbucks’ Double Hot Chocolate mix has a comforting familiarity while still being delicious. “When it comes to hot chocolate, Starbucks is a personal favorite. While it might not have a blend of spices or be sourced from hard-to-reach locations, ‘It tastes just like the one you get in the store,’ shared one editor. For me, that’s a big achievement for hot chocolate made at home in seconds. Have some peppermint syrup on hand, and maybe some espresso? Add a pump or two and make a peppermint mocha in the comfort of your own home,” boasts Food and Wine.
Some sites were surprised at the richness of the Starbucks mix being surprisingly chocolatey. “This dark and stormy Starbucks riff is the most minimalist of the bunch, and notably the only one that doesn’t contain dairy. It’s made with only a handful of ingredients: cane sugar, cocoa, dark chocolate, and natural vanilla flavor,” offers Bon Appetit.
You might also be interested in:
- Tasting Table
- Taste Of Home
- Eat This, Not That
- The Cookful
- The Kitchn
- Food and Wine
- Pure Wow
- All Recipes
- Bon Appetit
- Food Network
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.