Give the gift of a homemade hot cocoa mix this holiday season! Make it with a handful of pantry staples, store it in a jar and use the printable gift tag provided with instructions. A super cute way for you and your loved ones to enjoy a rich cup of hot cocoa at any time!

jar of homemade hot cocoa mix next to a mug of cocoa.

DIY Hot Cocoa Mix

I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of winter, but I will say that a really good cup of hot cocoa is one of the things I look forward to at the first sign of falling leaves!

Whether it’s slow cooker hot chocolate or cosmic brownie hot chocolate bombs, it’s my and my kid’s favorite way to warm up!

With this time of year being so busy, sometimes I just need something quick and easy. Keeping a jar of the homemade hot cocoa mix comes in very handy.

It also makes a sweet and thoughtful gift and a last-minute gift when I need one!

It’s easy to whip up with just a handful of pantry staples including cocoa powder and sugar and one jar makes 4 cups.

All you do is add hot milk to the mix and you’ve got a fast and delicious way to warm your tummy and your soul!

Hot Cocoa vs Hot Chocolate

The terms get used interchangeably often, and why wouldn’t they? They’re both a cup of heavenly chocolate! There is a difference and if you pay close attention to the names, you’ll see why.

Hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder. Hot chocolate is made with melted chocolate.

Both can be mixed with hot milk or water, but hot cocoa can sometimes be sweeter because of the added sugar. We don’t usually add sugar to hot chocolate because the chocolate already has some.

Hot chocolate is usually thicker and slightly richer, while hot cocoa is thinner with less of that deep chocolate taste.

Like I said, it’s chocolate, so give me a cuppa either!

Why you’ll love this Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix ☕️

So easy – It’s way too easy to make to ever need to buy a package again. This hot cocoa mix recipe without powdered milk is just one step away from a cup of rich chocolatey goodness!

Makes a great gift – When you present it with a printable gift tag ready with instructions, it makes the perfect holiday gift for a friend, a neighbor, or a teacher!

Tasty! – A hot cocoa mix that comes with chocolate chips and marshmallows has to taste amazing!

Convenient – We don’t always have the time to stand over the stove watching chocolate melt, so this is a great alternative. If your kids can microwave their milk, they can easily make their own hot cocoa!

mason jar of layered homemade hot cocoa mix.

Equipment you’ll need

  • Mason Jars – 16 ounce mason jars are needed.
  • Twine – An adorable rustic way to attach the gift card for any occasion.


Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

  • UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER – We’re using unsweetened so we can control the amount of sugar we use in the mix. In this case, because we’re not baking or using any leavening agent, you can use either natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
  • GRANULATED SUGAR – Used to sweeten the mix and will dissolve nicely in the hot milk.
  • SALT – This is a flavor enhancer that not only brings eliminates any bitter taste of the cocoa but also balances out the sweetness.
  • SEMI SWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS – I like semi-sweet just for the fact that they’re not as sweet as milk chocolate chips. The cocoa with the sugar is perfectly sweet as is.
  • MINI MARSHMALLOWS – What’s a cup of hot cocoa without marshmallows?! Using miniature ones means you can fit more in the jar. My kids also like those dehydrated marshmallow bits.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients to make DIY hot cocoa mix.

How to make Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

  1. STEP ONE: In a small bowl, stir together the cocoa, sugar, and salt.
  2. STEP TWO: Transfer the mixture into a mason jar then top it with the chocolate chips.
  3. STEP THREE: Top it with the mini marshmallows then close the lid tight.
  4. STEP FOUR: Cut a piece of twine and attach your gift tag with instructions.
collage of 4 photos showing the process of making homemade hot cocoa mix.

How to Make the Hot Cocoa

Before adding the mix, shake the jar to make sure everything is evenly distributed.

Then, add 1/2 cup of mix to 1 1/2 cups of hot milk. Stir until the mix has dissolved. Enjoy!

What to serve with Homemade Hot Cocoa

Top it with whipped cream and a few extra marshmallows! Add a drizzle of chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Extra chocolate chips or chocolate shavings would be nice.

During the Christmas holidays, I like to stick a candy cane in there when serving for a bit of that peppermint hot cocoa flare. You can also add some crushed candy cane on top of the whipped topping.

Whatever cookies are on your baking list this year could always use hot cocoa to wash them down. Serve it with some of the classics like gingerbread cookies, soft and chewy ginger snaps, chocolate shortbread, and reindeer cookies.

Possible Substitutions/Additions ☕️

  • I love the look of twine, but you can just as easily use colored ribbon. Think green and red for Christmas, pink and red for Valentine’s day, or brown and orange for Thanksgiving!
  • While you can’t spike the mix, you can certainly spike the hot cocoa! Add bonus instructions on the back for fun liqueurs to add. A shot of either mint or chocolate liqueur, rum, Bailey’s, or Kahlua would be yummy.
  • Add a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon to the mix.
  • Double or triple the recipe to fill more than one mason jar.

How to store Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Always keep it stored in an airtight container. Even if it’s not a pretty mason jar, you can reuse a jam jar, a honey jar, or any type of container with a lid to keep it from hardening (marshmallows especially!).

How long will a homemade mix last?

It doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can last in the pantry for up to 6 months!

jar of homemade hot cocoa mix with gift tag.


What is the difference between Dutch processed and natural cocoa powder?

Dutch-processing takes it one step further by adding a coat of alkaline to the cocoa beans before grinding them up. This gives it a more mild taste as it balances the acidity that comes naturally with cocoa powder.

There is no right or wrong one to use for hot cocoa. There is a slightly different flavor and color, depending on which you use. Either way, you’ll end up with a great cup of cocoa.

How many cups of hot cocoa does this mix make?

Each 16 oz mason jar of this mix can make enough for 4 cups of hot cocoa.

Can I make it with water instead of milk?

You can, but just know that it won’t be as rich. The milk, especially whole milk, will give the mix a thicker, creamier finish, whereas water will be much thinner and less creamy.

Need more warm drink recipes? Try these:

Slow Cooker Apple Cider

Copycat Starbucks Medicine Ball Tea

Christmas Morning Cocktail Mimosa (warm on the inside still counts!)

Click here for my entire collection of drink recipes.

jar of homemade hot cocoa mix next to a mug of cocoa.
4.91 from 11 votes

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Servings: 1 jar
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Give the gift of a homemade hot cocoa mix this holiday season! Make it with a handful of pantry staples, store it in a jar and use the printable gift tag provided with instructions. A super cute way for you and your loved ones to enjoy a rich cup of hot cocoa at any time!



  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 Tablespoons semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup miniature marshmallows


To Make the Mix

  • In a small bowl, stir together the cocoa, sugar, and salt.
    ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup granulated sugar, ¼ tsp salt
  • Pour the mixture into a 16 ounce mason jar.
  • Top with the chocolate chips.
    4 Tablespoons semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Finish with the mini marshmallows.
    ½ cup miniature marshmallows
  • Twist on the lid, and cut a piece of twine to attach your gift tag!

To Make the Hot Cocoa

  • Mix up the jar to combine everything.
  • Add ½ cup mix to 1 ½ cups hot milk.
  • Each jar contains 4 servings.


Recipe is for one jar – each prepared jar makes 4 servings of hot cocoa. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 1344kcal | Carbohydrates: 288g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 623mg | Potassium: 1326mg | Fiber: 29g | Sugar: 237g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 13mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

Did You Make This?

If you made this recipe, I’d love to know how it went in the comments section below.

You can also tag me on Instagram – @melissa_ppplates or share a pic in the Persnickety Plates Community Facebook group. I love seeing what you’ve tried!

4.91 from 11 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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