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Mexican Hot Chocolate

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Chocolate. So hot right now.

Learn how to make this rich, warming, traditional Mexican hot chocolate. This authentic Mexican hot chocolate recipe combines dark chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon for winter’s best drink.

Mexican hot chocolate recipe

What Makes Mexican Hot Chocolate Different From Regular Hot Chocolate?

Mexico — or the territorial region now known as Mexico — holds the distinction of being the historical cradle of chocolate cultivation and consumption. Chocolate was cultivated and enjoyed by the ancient Mayan and Olmec civilizations thousands of years B.C.E.

So it’s no wonder that the region has their chocolate game down, and continues to have a strong chocolate tradition.

Mexican hot chocolate recipes differs from standard, or American, hot chocolate or hot cocoa in several ways. 

  • Traditional Mexican hot chocolate combines ground, unsweetened cacao nibs (bits of dried cocoa pod seeds) with water, sugar, and spice — primarily cinnamon. This results in a very rich, somewhat grainy, drink.
  • American hot cocoa is made from milk warmed with sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder, instead of using actual melted chocolate. This makes a less rich drink — but one that is still delicious, of course.

This Mexican hot chocolate is more home-kitchen friendly than a very traditional recipe.

Instead of sourcing and grinding your own cacao nibs, you will combine good dark chocolate with sugar, cinnamon, milk, and vanilla — and a pinch of chili powder, if you like. The result is an earthy, spiced, and just sweet enough chocolate drink that warms you through and through with a rich texture and delicious flavors.

chopped dark chocolate ingredient
Mexican hot chocolate ingredients pictured with a traditional molinillo whisk

What does traditional Mexican hot chocolate taste like?

A warm cup of Mexican chocolate tastes absolutely amazing, like drinking a rich chocolate dessert. This Mexican chocolate drink is very rich, maybe a bit grainy from the sugar (though not if fully dissolved), and fragrant with vanilla and spices. This hot chocolate is often made a little spicy from cayenne, though you can make it as spicy or milk as you like.

What’s in the Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe

Abuelita hot chocolate is often confused with Mexican hot chocolate. The two are not interchangeable. All Abuelita hot chocolate is Mexican hot chocolate; not all Mexican hot chocolate is Abuelita.

Abuelita hot chocolate refers to stirring Abuelita discs, a brand of hot chocolate discs already seasoned and flavored with sugar and cinnamon, into milk to make Mexican hot chocolate. (The discs also vegetable oils and emulsifiers.)

Abuelita makes a quick “dump and stir” Mexican hot chocolate in one easy package. For the record, to make the Aubelita hot chocolate recipe according to package directions:

  1. Stir 1 disc into 4 cups of milk.
  2. Heat over medium heat, stirring or whisking, until hot and frothy. Add sugar to taste.
Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate recipe
Nestlé’s Abuelita hot chocolate discs, ready to add to milk. We are making homemade Mexican hot chocolate instead.

Homemade Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate: Spices and Recipe Ingredients

This hot chocolate Mexican style recipe teaches you to make the cozy, spiced winter chocolate drink from scratch.

You will need the following ingredients and spices to make your pot of Mexican hot chocolate:

  • Whole milk
  • Very good quality dark chocolate (I use Valrhona 70%chocolate, or bittersweet)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt and chili powder
milk, cinnamon, spices for Mexican hot chocolate recipe
Milk is simmered with cinnamon, salt, and spice before chopped dark chocolate is whisked in.

How to Make This Traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe

This authentic Mexican hot cocoa recipe is very straightforward to make.

  1. Heat 2 cups whole milk with sugar, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, vanilla, and the spicy chili or cayenne (if using).
  2. Let the milk simmer in a medium saucepan for about 10 minutes to bloom and dissolve the cinnamon and cayenne, if using. Try not to let the milk boil, which will make it bubble over.
  3. Add the chopped dark chocolate and whisk and stir until the chocolate is fully melted and emulsified.
  4. Taste. Some people may like it a bit sweeter. I like it on the bittersweet side, though.
  5. Add whipped cream, if desired, and garnish with some chocolate shavings or a cinnamon stick. You could also serve your Mexican hot chocolate with marshmallows, of course, but this is less traditional.

Oh — and many bonus points if you whisk your hot chocolate Mexican style with a traditional molinillo and clay pot!

hot chocolate mexican recipe authentic

Love this warming winter drink recipe? You’ll also like these chocolate recipes:

Mexican Recipes to Check Out:


Mexican hot chocolate recipe

Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate

This rich Mexican hot chocolate recipe makes a batch of luxurious, spiced hot chocolate that warms winter perfectly.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Course: beverage, Dessert
Cuisine: Latin American, Mexican
Keywords:: abuelita hot chocolate, chocolate, dessert, drinks, holiday drinks, hot cocoa, mexican hot chocolate, mexican hot chocolate recipe, valentine's day
Servings: 2 to 3 people


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks, lightly crushed
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Generous pinch cayenne pepper or hot chili powder (optional)
  • 3 1/2 ounces chopped dark chocolate, such as Valrhona 70%
  • Whipped cream, to serve (optional)


  • Combine the milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne or chili powder (if using) in a medium pot or saucepan. Heat over medium heat until simmering. Do not let the milk boil. Reduce the heat a little and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes to bloom the cinnamon and spices.
  • Add the chopped chocolate. Cook, whisking, until the chocolate is fully melted and emulsified. Taste for sweetness and spice.
  • If using cinnamon sticks, strain the liquid through a mesh sieve into cups. If not using cinnamon sticks, pour the Mexican hot chocolate directly into mugs.
  • Serve warm with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, and perhaps a garnish of a few chocolate shavings or additional cinnamon sticks. You could also top with marshmallows, but this is less traditional for Mexican hot chocolate.


  • 5 stars
    I second all the other reviews. This is soooo good 🙂 Served it for a little holiday cookie exchange with friends this past week!

  • 5 stars
    Perfect and delicious. Will make this again.

  • Wonderful recipe and easy to make. I recommend!

  • Jerseygirl42

    5 stars
    What a wonderful change from hot cocoa. This is a very good recipe, with hot chocolate that is rich but not overly so.

  • helenb

    5 stars
    Thank you for the good recipe.

  • Michael L Orlin

    3 stars
    I have a slightly different version that I make for my wife, who loves it more than other version, .and is very easy to prepare. I grind whole beans and use a coffee press to make the coffee. After this is done and filtered to remove grounds, I add a dash of vanilla, Stephen’s Mexican Chocolate drink mix (which has cinnamon in it) and a spash of Torani dark chocolate sauce to taste. She says it is better than any other coffee she has ever had.

  • Christine H

    5 stars
    SO GOOD!!! Happy holidays, Lisa. I love your blog 🙂

  • 5 stars
    This is very chocolatey and a fancier (sort-of) alternative to the usual hot cocoa. I know that whipped cream is probably the best choice, but I topped this with mini marshmallows and it was delicious! Thank you!

    • Unpeeled

      So glad you liked it. I fully support the mini marshmallows! hah.

  • 5 stars
    We enjoyed this very much. It was rich but not overly so. A nice “liquid dessert.”

  • Paula P.

    5 stars
    I made this over the weekend and am converted to this recipe for life. The dark chocolate to milk ratio was enough to make it rich but not too heavy, and I loved the hint of cinnamon.

4.86 from 14 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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