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.
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 differ 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 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 dark chocolate with sugar, cinnamon, milk, and vanilla — and a pinch of chili powder, if you like. The result is rich, earthy, spiced, and just sweet enough chocolate drink that warms you through and through.
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:
- Stir 1 disc into 4 cups of milk.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring or whisking, until hot and frothy. Add sugar to taste.
Homemade Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate: Spices and Recipe Ingredients
This Mexican hot chocolate 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
- A pinch of salt and chili powder
How to Make This Traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe
This Mexican hot cocoa recipe is very straightforward.
- Heat 2 cups whole milk with sugar, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, vanilla, and the spicy chili or cayenne (if using).
- Let the milk simmer for about 10 minutes to bloom and dissolve the cinnamon and cayenne, if using.
- Add the chopped dark chocolate and whisk and stir until the chocolate is fully melted and emulsified.
- Taste. Some people may like it a bit sweeter. I like it on the bittersweet side, though.
- Add whipped cream, if desired, and garnish with some chocolate shavings or a cinnamon stick.
Oh — and many bonus points if you whisk your Mexican hot chocolate with a traditional molinillo and clay pot!
Love this warming winter drink recipe? You’ll also like these chocolate recipes:
Mexican Recipes to Check Out:
Traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks, lightly crushed
- Pinch kosher salt
- Generous pinch cayenne pepper or hot chili powder (optional)
- 3 ½ 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. Heat over medium heat until simmering. 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.
Joyce P. says
Will only make this from now on,absolutely delicious! Love the hint of cinnamon.
Paula P. says
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.
We enjoyed this very much. It was rich but not overly so. A nice “liquid dessert.”
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!
So glad you liked it. I fully support the mini marshmallows! hah.
Christine H says
SO GOOD!!! Happy holidays, Lisa. I love your blog 🙂
Michael L Orlin says
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.
Thank you for the good recipe.