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Healthy Hot Chocolate with Cacao Powder

Both kids and adults will love this healthy twist on hot chocolate made with just 3 clean, real food ingredients including raw cacao powder and coconut sugar. It’s easy to make a bulk batch to quickly mix with your choice of milk and warm up your insides on cold winter days!

two mugs of healthy hot chocolate with white background made with raw cacao powder

Making healthy hot chocolate with clean ingredients is easy. Two recipes are provided for your convenience, one made directly in a mug and the second pre-made as a mix in a large mason jar. After making a bulk batch, just scoop out a couple tablespoons and mix into warm milk until dissolved. You’ll never have to buy the packets again!

Benefits of Cocao Powder

Hot chocolate is often viewed as a sweet treat that is not the healthiest option. This recipe actually provides some health benefits with the use of real cacao powder instead of cocoa. You have the option of choosing your favorite milk as a base such as coconut, cow’s milk, oat or almond milk. Here are are a few reasons to start using cacao in your hot cocoa (or smoothies and other baking favorites):

  • Cacao powder is rich in polyphenols which are a powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals
  • Polyphenols have been linked to health benefits such as reducing inflammation and improving cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • Raw cacao powder is abundant in flavanols which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
  • Flavanols lower blood pressure by improving nitric oxide levels and blood vessel function. Cacao containing between 30-1,218 mg of flavanols can reduce blood pressure by an average of 2 mmHg. Nitric oxide in the blood also relaxes and arteries and blood vessels to improve blood flow (see below for data source)
  • Heat and processing cause cacao to lose it’s beneficial properties so, as always, quality matters
  • This article provides multiple research studies suggesting the healthy benefits of cacao

The Difference Between Cocoa and Cacao

The cleaner and healthier choice is cacao powder. The difference between unsweetened cocoa powder and cacao powder is the way they are processed and therefore the amount of nutritional benefits retained in the food.

Cocoa is found at a cheaper price and often more available and therefore has been traditionally used more frequently. As consumers have learned the health benefits of cacao, it has become more available at grocery stores and certainly from online sources such as Amazon or Thrive Market.

bowl of cacao powder

How Long Can Hot Cacao Mix be Stored

It is important to note the expiration dates on the cacao powder and coconut sugar as you are making this hot chocolate mix. The expiration date of the mix will be whichever ingredient expires first. It’s good practice to place a sticker with the expiration date on the bottom of the storage jar.

Store this mix in a cool, dry location and it should last for months at top quality.

Customize the Recipe

This healthy hot chocolate recipe made with cacao powder can be customized in many ways depending on taste preference or the ingredients you have available.

  • MILK: feel free to substitute any milk in this recipe.
  • SWEETENER: coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey or even monk fruit powder can be used to sweeten this hot chocolate. If using monk fruit powder, you will decrease the amount by half.
  • ALTERATIONS: add 1/8 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of sea salt
two mugs of healthy hot chocolate with a white background

Healthy Hot Chocolate

This Meal by Design
This 3 ingredient clean version of healthy hot chocolate is easy to make and delicious. Choose milk preference for vegan/dairy-free version.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Dessert, Drinks
Servings 1


  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar (substitute honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 cup milk (cow, coconut or nut milk)


  • Mix cacao and sugar into mug.
  • Heat the milk (use a milk frother for extra fun!)
  • Add a little hot milk to mug and mix with whisk or fork to dissolve the cacao powder mixture.
  • Top with the rest of the milk to fill the mug and enjoy immediately.


There are many variables to customize this recipe. The amount of sweetener can be altered depending on taste. If you or your children are used to packaged hot chocolate mixes, you may want to start with more sweetener but gradually decrease the amount over time. My kids do not require much sweetener to love this recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Healthy hot chocolate mix in a jar with wooden lid and raffia tag

Healthy Hot Cocoa Mix (in a jar)

This Meal by Design
Simply combine cacao powder and coconut sugar in a jar and store in a cool, dry location for healthy homemade hot chocolate mix ready to stir into warm milk of choice!
Course Dessert, Drinks
Servings 16


  • 1 1 quart size wide mouth mason jar
  • 1 whisk or fork
  • 1 large bowl


  • 2 cups raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup coconut sugar can be altered to taste


  • Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix with whisk until well combined.
  • Store in well sealed glass jar.
  • To make hot chocolate, combine 2 tablespoons cocao mix with 1 cup heated milk of choice. Stir well and enjoy immediately.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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  1. Thank you for this recipe, and especially for explaining the difference between cocoa and cacao powder. I’ve been using cocoa, not realizing there was a difference! I can’t wait to try this recipe.

    1. You are welcome, Heather! If you are already using unsweetened cocoa, you shouldn’t notice a difference in flavor as you make the switch to raw cacao! And, knowing the health benefits makes it much more fun to add chocolaty goodness to so many other recipes!

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