Christmas Hot Chocolate

This Christmas hot chocolate is made with just three ingredients and is thick, creamy and rich, making it perfect for the holidays. It can also be made paleo and vegan.

I’m sort of skipping past Thanksgiving this year and working on adding more Christmas recipes, of which I have shockingly few.

But you can obviously make this hot chocolate any time! Omit the Christmas decorations, and you’ve got Thanksgiving hot chocolate. ;)

Super rich + creamy

I’m super picky with my hot chocolate. Most are too thin, not sweet enough and not chocolaty enough for me.

Even my healthy hot chocolate recipe, this Paleo Vegan Hot Chocolate, is insanely thick and rich. I posted that recipe 6 years ago, and it’s still my favorite.

Tastewise, it’s tied with this Christmas hot chocolate, but I prefer the ingredients in the other recipe. It calls for cocoa powder, dates, coconut milk and vanilla.

But you need a high-speed blender to make it, which I know not everyone has, so here’s another decadent option.

Today’s recipe consists of evaporated milk or coconut milk, chocolate and vanilla. That’s it.

You can make it paleo and vegan, and if you use naturally sweetened chocolate, it’s not absurdly unhealthy. But it’s still a treat.

If you don’t want to start off the day with something so rich, I suggest this fruity Christmas morning punch! There’s no added sugar, and everyone loves it.


This recipe yields about 2 cups, meaning 2 measuring cups, not drinking cups. It’s so thick and rich that those 2 cups are likely enough for 4 people.

It might be too rich for some people. In that case, let them stir in a little milk until it’s to their liking.

I’ve served this to one person who said it was too rich for her. It’s been a big hit with everyone else.


You can add up to 2 tablespoons of liqueur, like Baileys or Kahlua, per serving. Start off with 1 tablespoon and add more to taste.

If you want to add something like rum, or brandy, I’m thinking 2 tablespoons would be a bit excessive. 😄 Add 1/2 tablespoon per serving and add more to taste. You could also try this Spiced Rum Hot Chocolate!

Amaretto is also fantastic in hot chocolate! And Frangelico.

Make it in advance

It only takes a few minutes to make, but if you’re like me and would prefer to have everything possible prepared ahead of time, then you can make this 2 to 3 days in advance.

It’ll firm up in the freezer. I just keep it in the pot, put on the lid, and then a few minutes before serving, place it on medium heat to warm up.

What is evaporated milk?

Evaporated milk comes in a can in the US and often in a tetra pak in other countries, and is shelf-stable. It undergoes a heating process to evaporate 60% of the water, leaving you condensed, unsweetened, creamier, thicker milk.

It was popular before refrigeration because of its shelf life, and it can be reconstituted by adding water.

The difference between evaporated and condensed milk is that condensed milk is sweetened, and evaporated milk is not. Both undergo the same evaporation process, and it’s just a matter of adding sweeteners.

Paleo and vegan option

You have to use canned coconut milk, or a mix of canned coconut milk + a thinner milk, like cashew milk, whipped coconut cream for the topping, and paleo or vegan chocolate.

There are so many brands of truly paleo chocolate now! That wasn’t the case a few years ago.

If you use something very lightly sweetened, then your hot chocolate will be very lightly sweetened.

The recipe was developed with chocolate of a regular sweetness. If I used my son’s date-sweetened chocolate in this, I’d probably have to add quite a bit of maple syrup.

Hu Gems are easy to find these days and are labeled as both paleo and vegan. They’re sweetened with coconut sugar and work in this recipe.

But, unless you like dark chocolate, you’ll need to add sweetener. I added 2 teaspoons of maple syrup per serving. So that’d be 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons maple syrup for the whole batch.

If you prefer to use cocoa powder instead of chocolate, check out my Vegan Hot Chocolate Recipe. It’s also paleo.

If you’re paleo, you also need to omit the sprinkles (or make homemade paleo vegan sprinkles) and candy cane. Rather than making homemade sprinkles, I would sprinkle some freeze-dried strawberry or raspberry powder on top of the whipped coconut cream.

If you don’t have powder, just break up freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries with your hands. Or put them on a cutting board and use a mallet if that sounds like fun. ;)

If you’re vegan, use vegan sprinkles and candy canes. Most brands of candy canes are already vegan! Make sure to read the ingredients on the package before buying.

For the sprinkles, I found these Vegan Christmas Sprinkles that are also labeled gluten-free, soy-free and they don’t have artificial dyes.


I tried this with ChocZero Dark Chocolate Baking Chips. I took a sip and spat it out.

I don’t love the chips on their own, but they’re okay (to my taste). But in combination with the coconut milk, it was just awful.

I added 2 teaspoons of maple syrup to my serving and then it tasted almost like the Hu Gems version, but with a tiny bit of aftertaste.

I think adding any kind of keto sweetener would have just made it taste worse. So I can’t recommend this recipe if you’re keto.

Other Christmas drinks

I haven’t tried it, but I think this Cherry Hot Chocolate looks amazing!

It calls for half-and-half (or milk), so it’s also nice and rich.

Here are some of my favorites for the holidays.

  • Espresso Martini with Baileys is elegant, perfectly sweet, and a super treat to perk up the holidays.

  • Vegan Espresso Martini is a classic espresso martini with a vegan twist. It’s easy to make, and it tastes luxurious.

  • Vegan Baileys Recipe tastes so much like regular Baileys that even non-vegan friends can enjoy it.

  • Eggnog White Russian is easy to make and combines two classic winter holiday treats.

  • Vegan Eggnog Recipe is an amazing sub for regular eggnog. It’s cashew and date-based, so it’s even good for you, but it tastes just as decadent as the original.

  • Paleo Eggnog is a real holiday treat! It’s got all the flavor of traditional eggnog, but it’s better for you.

That’s it! If you try this Christmas hot chocolate, I’d love to hear about it! Please leave a comment or snap a pic and tag #texanerin, so I can be sure to see it. Thank you. :)

Christmas Hot Chocolate

Rated 5.0 by 4 readers
Christmas Hot Chocolate
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 2 cups (450 ml) - about 4 servings

Please see the notes at the bottom for the vegan / paleo version!


  • 1 12-ounce (340-gram) can evaporated milk (that's 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup (113 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional add-ins: 1-2 tablespoons Kahlua (or another liqueur such as Frangelico or Amaretto) and / or 1/2-1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • milk, optional – to thin it down a bit


  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the evaporated milk and chocolate.
  2. Continue stirring until melted – about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve. If it's too rich and thick, add milk to taste. This can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.


  • For a paleo, vegan and dairy-free version - you can make this with canned coconut milk or half cashew milk (or whatever you like) and half canned coconut milk if you don't want it so rich. Make sure to use vegan/paleo-friendly chocolate. When using Hu Gems, I had to add 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of maple syrup to make the hot chocolate sweet enough for me, but note that I do not like dark chocolate.

Adapted from thick and rich homemade hot cocoa on Sing For Your Supper

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34 comments on “Christmas Hot Chocolate” — Add one!

  • Gill
    February 1, 2018 @ 11:18 pm

    I’m a hot chocolate addict from the UK. I have never heard of Joan or Kahlua, but I loved your story so had to try the ultimate hot choc as a tribute to Joan, who was obviously much loved. My favourite tipple is Baillies Irish Cream Liqueur, so I added a splash of this……….pure heaven!!! This will be my ‘go to’ night cap from now on.

    • Erin replies to Gill
      February 3, 2018 @ 9:17 pm

      I’ve also made this with Baileys and love it! So delicious. :) I’m so happy that you gave it a try and will be making it again. Kahlua is coffee-flavored liqueur and is super tasty – especially in this hot chocolate. Thanks for your nice comment and feedback!

  • Sunshine Stouffer says
    May 12, 2016 @ 3:45 pm

    Hi, which brand of coconut milk did you use, and if you don’t remember, is there any in particular you would recommend that don’t have a coconut-y taste? The only stuff I use coconut milk in is really strong (like curry) and I don’t use it often so I wouldn’t know.

    • Erin replies to Sunshine Stouffer
      May 12, 2016 @ 9:52 pm

      Hello! I unfortunately live in Germany so my recommendations aren’t of any help. I’ve tried about a dozen brands of coconut milk and they all taste coconut-y. I think they all do! You can taste the coconut a bit in this hot chocolate so I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t like the taste of coconut.

  • Meg @ With Salt and Wit
    November 4, 2015 @ 6:21 pm

    this is such a heart-filled post, Erin! So lovely. I love our blogging community for this exact reason. Giving with not asking for anything in return.

    This hot chocolate? Perfect for my out of control sugar cravings I have going on!

  • JulieD says
    November 1, 2015 @ 6:17 pm

    Joan was such a great person! She is missed…wonderful that you paid tribute to her. This hot chocolate…looks amazing, Erin! <3 xoxo

  • Heidi @ Food Doodles says
    October 30, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

    So sad to hear about Joan! I didn’t know her at all but I’ve been reading so many amazing things about her :)

    Your hot chocolate looks incredible!

  • Heather | All Roads Lead to the Kitchen says
    October 30, 2015 @ 3:19 am

    This looks so incredibly thick, rich, and delicious. I’d say it’s the perfect tribute.

  • Becky Hardin | The Cookie Rookie
    October 30, 2015 @ 2:28 am

    This looks amazing! Such a beautiful tribute to Joan!

  • Angie | Big Bear's Wife says
    October 30, 2015 @ 1:01 am

    I’m literally trying to convince my husband to go make this for me right now. I need it in my life! ps. I KNOW joan would have loved this!

  • Cate | Chez CateyLou says
    October 29, 2015 @ 9:39 pm

    what a lovely post for Joan – she sure was an amazing woman. This hot chocolate is the perfect treat to drink all winter long!

  • Ashlyn @ Belle of the Kitchen says
    October 29, 2015 @ 5:52 pm

    I would love to kick back with a big mug of this after the kids go to bed! And what a wonderful tribute recipe, to boot.

  • Kirsten/ComfortablyDomestic says
    October 29, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

    Your Joan story completely embodies her generous heart. Love it. She will definitely be missed. I’m sure that she would have adored this hot chocolate.

  • Renee - Kudos Kitchen says
    October 29, 2015 @ 2:37 pm

    I remember Joan shared two of my recipes and my stats went through the roof for several days. To say Joan had the golden touch is an understatement. So sad that she was taken so soon. She will be missed by everyone who knew her. This hot chocolate has Joan’s name written all over it. She would have loved it. It looks amazing!

  • Sarah Walker Caron (Sarah's Cucina Bella) says
    October 29, 2015 @ 11:57 am

    Wow, that sounds like an amazing cup of cocoa. And what a nice tribute to Joan. I appreciate that you’ve shared so much info about heart attacks in women — we should all know those signs.

  • heather @french press says
    October 29, 2015 @ 4:06 am

    this hot coco with Kahlua would be PERFECT for Joan! and man those days she shared are the BEST traffic days ever

  • Isabelle @ Crumb says
    October 29, 2015 @ 4:06 am

    Love this tribute to Joan. She really was so generous and supportive of other bloggers, especially when it came to sharing on Facebook. I affectionately called that crazy spike in traffic the “Joan Effect”.
    I think she’d have very much approved of adding a splash of Kahlua to this hot chocolate. After all, the only thing better than decadently creamy hot chocolate is decadently creamy hot chocolate with booze!

  • Kim Beaulieu says
    October 29, 2015 @ 3:02 am

    Don’t ever be embarrassed by that story. She loved helping others and seeing people get a boost in traffic. Made her as happy as the people she did it for. She would love this tribute. It’s just so sweet. And that hot chocolate is perfect.

  • Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts says
    October 29, 2015 @ 2:43 am

    Kindly referred to as “The Joan Effect” It was a real thing, and had crazy powers! Love when she shared something on her page. This hot chocolate looks insanely creamy, wish I had a cup!

  • Amy @ Amy's Healthy Baking says
    October 29, 2015 @ 2:21 am

    I never met Joan either, but I was always amazed by how much she gave to the food blogging community, whether through sharing other’s content on Facebook or Pinterest, answering questions in various Facebook groups, or sharing her insightful wisdom. I’m sure she would’ve been touched by this recipe. It looks so decadent, and I think you piped on the cream just beautifully!

  • Lora @cakeduchess says
    October 29, 2015 @ 2:08 am

    What an endearing story about Joan and how generous she was on her FB page and sharing. How I would love to enjoy a cup of this lovely hot chocolate right now with a good book. :)

  • Carrie @Frugal Foodie Mama says
    October 29, 2015 @ 1:52 am

    This hot chocolate looks so creamy and decadent! :) Joan would have LOVED this- especially with the addition of a little Kahlua. ;)

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
    October 28, 2015 @ 11:22 pm

    Joan was seriously the most giving, wonderful person. She is going to be so terribly missed–but I know she would’ve loved all the support AND this decadent hot chocolate!

  • Lauren Kelly Nutrition says
    October 28, 2015 @ 10:45 pm

    I love what Joan said, she was so thoughtful and generous. I love this post and this amazing hot chocolate!

  • The Food Hunter says
    October 28, 2015 @ 10:45 pm

    this is a nice tribute to Joan

  • sue|theviewfromgreatisland says
    October 28, 2015 @ 10:19 pm

    Isn’t it funny that we both came up with Ultimate Hot Chocolates today? Your post is so great, I love that message from Joan, that just says it all…

  • Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes says
    October 28, 2015 @ 7:50 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to Joan. I never met her but she shared for me once on Facebook, and like you said, so much traffic! I felt like crying when I wrote her a thank you note. I love this hot chocolate and so would she!

  • Aimee @ ShugarySweets says
    October 28, 2015 @ 6:32 pm

    She had a generous kind heart!! This hot chocolate would be fantastic with Kahlua :)

  • Lauren @ Hall Nesting says
    October 28, 2015 @ 3:46 pm

    I didn’t know Joan but knew of her deep love of chocolate and this will definitely hit the spot at our house!

  • Mary says
    October 28, 2015 @ 3:25 pm

    Joan would’ve loved to be remembered this way. She also would’ve adored this hot chocolate. Her love and support for the food blogging community will be felt for years to come. She was one in a million.

  • Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says
    October 28, 2015 @ 3:16 pm

    I adore that you added chocolate chips to the top! Such a fun topping for a classic treat. Joan would have approved for sure!

  • Becca from says
    October 28, 2015 @ 2:49 pm

    My love for Joan runs hard and fast, and baby oh baby, so does my love for rich and creamy hot chocolate. This was a great choice for a recipe. Joan is smiling down upon us… and probably wishing you had added just a drop more booze. ;)

  • Kacey @ The Cookie Writer says
    October 28, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

    It is really wonderful all the support that is going around for Joan. This ultimate hot chocolate recipe is definitely chocolate-worthy, and true to anyone’s love of chocolate :)


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