The Best Hot Cocoa Mix To Keep You Warm And Cozy This Winter

Two of the best hot cocoa mixes with buying this winter include William Sonoma's Classic Creamy Hot Cocoa Mix and Nestle's Rich Milk Chocolate variety.

By Kari Apted | Published

As the weather cools in the Northern Hemisphere, nothing warms the body and soul like a warm mug of hot cocoa. Although there are countless recipes online for homemade hot chocolate, most of us turn to store-bought hot cocoa mix when the craving hits for a milky cup of chocolate comfort. All brands are not created equally, though most are delicious topped with a handful of marshmallows or a pile of sweet whipped cream.

Food blogger Taylor Kocher of taste-tested every brand of store-bought hot cocoa mix she could find. She tested a wide variety of flavors and types, including dark chocolate hot cocoa, “double” hot cocoa, and a few Mexican-style mixes. She finally narrowed her search down to milk chocolate flavors only, as that is the most common hot cocoa mix flavor.

During the first round of her taste tests, Kocher knew what brand she was drinking. For her second round, she performed a blind taste test, noting sweetness levels and whether or not the beverages left a bitter aftertaste. At the end of her sampling, only two brands made her “Must Buy Again” list.

Williams Sonoma Classic Creamy Hot Cocoa was Kocher’s favorite out of the nearly 20 different hot cocoa mix types she tried. The company describes its signature hot cocoa beverage as “warm and cozy, decadent, a family favorite” and “smooth and velvety with rich chocolate flavor.” Kocher agreed.

“Mug for mug, Williams Sonoma’s hot cocoa is much richer and creamier than any of the brands I grew up drinking,” said Kocher. “I could really taste the higher-quality cocoa used in the mix. It had a lovely, creamy layer on top and smelled of pure cocoa.”

hot cocoa mix

Hot cocoa lovers will pay a premium to enjoy a cup of Williams Sonoma’s mix. A 7 oz. can retails for $12.95 and only contains five servings. However, its homemade flavor makes it worth the indulgence. The powder also thoroughly dissolves into hot milk, leaving no chocolate remnants in the bottom of the cup.

People searching for a more affordable hot cocoa fix will be satisfied with Nestle Rich Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix. The bright red canister is easily found in supermarkets nationwide. At $5.59 for a 27.7 oz. can, it’s a good bargain, considering that it includes “39 delicious servings.”

According to Kocher, Nestle’s hot cocoa mix delivered a rich, real cocoa flavor that satisfied her nostalgic longing for her favorite chocolate beverage. Nestle’s mix wasn’t overly sweet, something that Kocher found appealing. This brand did leave a small amount of cocoa residue in the bottom of the mug, but it wasn’t enough to interfere with her enjoyment.

While it’s tempting to interchange the terms “hot cocoa” and “hot chocolate,” they are actually two different beverages. The ingredients in a can of hot cocoa mix are the same as you would use if you were whipping up a batch from scratch: cocoa powder, sugar and milk. Instant mixes and homemade recipes often include other flavors like mint, vanilla or cinnamon.

Hot chocolate can also include other flavors or a shot of whiskey or liqueur. It is made by shaving or finely chopping good-quality chocolate bars and melting the chocolate bits into hot water, hot milk or cream. Unlike hot cocoa mix, hot chocolate may or may not include added sugar, depending on the sweetness of the chocolate bars.