Sure, you could make your own hot cocoa from scratch, but there’s something so satisfying about being able to tear open a packet of hot chocolate, add warmed milk and indulge (especially when you’re one remote-control button press away from finally binging And Just Like That... or the latest season of Virgin River). But all that convenience is for naught if your drink tastes like gritty chocolate water. Trust us: Not all packets are created equal, which is why we took it upon ourselves to taste test some of the most popular brands, uncovering the best hot chocolate mix around.
How We Tested Hot Chocolate Mixes
We averaged the scores of two taste-testers, offering half portions of each flavor (all prepared with milk, according to the package’s instructions), with coffee and water on hand as palate cleansers. The brands were chosen based on reviews and availability (both in stores and online), with our scores targeting five areas: value, quality of ingredients, texture, aroma and flavor.
The Best Hot Chocolate Mixes, Ranked from “Passable” to “Pass Me Another One!”
12. Good & Gather Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix
Most Memorable Twist on the Classic
Target’s in-house label is known for its high-quality foods at generic-brand prices (seriously, its mac and cheese is beyond), but we can’t say that holds true for its hot cocoa. At $5, it’s more than twice the cost of Swiss Miss, and it was just…all right. There was no minty aroma when you picked up a cup, but that first sip has a strong, almost mouthwash-like jolt of mint, which soon takes a backseat to a smooth cocoa finish. It’s fine for half a cup, but we found we didn’t want any more than that.
11. Jacques Torres Classic Hot Chocolate
Thickest Hot Chocolate
We wanted to like this so much more than we did! Torres’s chocolates are divine, and so was the flavor here—the kind of rich, dark chocolate you’d expect from the Nailed It judge—but we couldn’t get past the texture of this hot cocoa. With piping hot milk and a lot of stirring, you can break down the chocolate to a smooth consistency, but it quickly turned gloppy.
10. Nestlé Classic Rich Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
At $1 a box, Nestlé’s Rich Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix is one of the cheapest ways to satisfy a sugar craving. If you prefer your chocolate on the milkier end of the spectrum, this is the box for you. It’s a thinner, lighter drink than the others on this list, and at 99.9 percent caffeine-free, it’s a late night treat that won’t keep you up until 3 a.m. (On the flip side, though, testers complained it had a bit of a saccharine aftertaste.)
9. Chamberlain Cocoa Grizzly Hot Chocolate
YouTuber Emma Chamberlain's building an empire with her Chamberlain Coffee line. Her cold brew maker and coffee beans are some of our favorites, and her hot chocolate mix is on point, too. Made with three ingredients—cocoa, sugar and milk, all organic—it's about as straightforward as it gets, with a smooth, almost latte-like crema on top and well-balanced chocolatey flavor. However, at $15 a bag, we'd hoped for more. Maybe a mocha riff? Or gobs of microscopic marshmallows? We're open to suggestion.
8. Swiss Miss Marshmallow Hot Chocolate
Best Mini Marshmallows
After sampling several types of Swiss Miss over the years, we decided to focus on what’s arguably the brand’s most iconic offering: hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. This sweet drink tastes like childhood, and while we’ll always wish it came loaded with more marshmallows (even the Marshmallow Lovers pack doesn’t quite cut it for us), you really can’t beat the milky, chocolatey flavor at such a low price point (less than 20 cents a cup).
7. Starbucks Classic Hot Cocoa
Best Traditional Hot Chocolate
Starbucks gets to claim two spots in our roundup, simply because the two flavors wound up being so different. Sure, you can buy Peppermint and Salted Caramel varieties, but the Classic is named so for a reason—it’s a 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.
6. Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
Best Milk Chocolate Flavor
This one is for the milk chocolate lovers out there: Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa 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.
5. Swiss Miss with Lucky Charms Marshmallows
Best for Kids
Dehydrated mini marshmallows have met their match. Swiss Miss outdid itself with its Lucky Charms variety, which features the classic rainbows, clovers, horseshoes and blue moons (just to name a few) in separate packets to top each cup of its classic cocoa mix. We worried the end result would be too sugary, but the cocoa itself is rich, and as the marshmallows melt, they imbue a slight cereal milk flavor on the backend, creating a more layered drink that feels worthy of a Christina Tosi creation…all for less than $3 a box.
4. Starbucks Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa
Best Mocha Flavor
It’s no wonder the back of each packet includes a recipe for an easy Caffé Mocha—the mocha flavor in this drink is undeniable. Rather than being extra sweet, Starbucks’s take on Double Chocolate is sophisticated, with a richer, more semisweet taste overall. (The rich, smooth texture is what really sold us though.)
3. Godiva Dark Chocolate
Best Dark Chocolate Flavor
Godiva’s Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa is fine and all—until you try the 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.
2. Jummy Cocoamy Organic Hot Chocolate Mix
Best Better-for-You Hot Chocolate
Admittedly, we had concerns about any hot chocolate mixes that claim to be healthy-ish. They often taste earthy or have an herby or mushroom-y aftertaste; not so with Cocoamy. Yes, it's vegan (provided you prepare it without milk), soy-free and gluten-free, but it also contains 20 percent less sugar than many traditional hot chocolate mixes, is a solid source of fiber and contains 4 grams of prebiotics per serving. And you'd never know it. It's a smooth—but not too thick—drink that has a hearty chocolate flavor, but it's not so overpowering that you want a glass of water between sips.
1. Kerber’s Farm Hot Cocoa Mix
Best for Gifting
We’ll be honest: We didn’t see this one coming. The homespun mason jar packaging is sweet, but we feared this Long Island-made mix would taste like cocoa powder with a hint of sugar sprinkled in. We’ll never judge a cocoa by its container again. Kerber's ultra-thick (yet ultra-smooth) drink had a luscious dark chocolate flavor with the faintest hint of smokiness to it. It immediately made us dream of cozying up by the fire—and enjoying a second cup ASAP.
The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.
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