Dairy-free hot chocolate is one of the cosiest vegan drinks to make in the winter months, and this healthy-ish version can be more than an occasional treat if you want! I make it every few days, and more around the holidays.
I chose oat milk as the base here, because it’s cheap, delicious, and easy to find/make. It keeps things light enough that you can feel great after drinking this and has a neutral taste that works well here.
Instead of choosing a higher-fat milk, then, we’re adding cacao butter to the mix to make this hot chocolate properly rich despite being plant-based. If you can’t easily access cacao butter, use chocolate as outlined below.
It tastes great without, too, but the cacao butter is what turns this drink into chocolate instead of cocoa water (worth noting that traditional cacao drinks are unsweetened and made with water though).
Blending after heating makes this into a rich, light drink with a foam top – highly recommend. You could also top with coconut whipped cream or vegan marshmallows for an even more decadent drink.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Sweetener: for vegan hot chocolate, sweeten with maple syrup. You could also use date syrup, but I find that granulated sweeteners like coconut sugar don’t mix as well here, so it’s best to stick to liquid.
- Milk: other non-dairy milks work well in place of oat milk. Nut-based milks like cashew are great. Coconut is good, but very rich, and can be a bit overwhelming. Note that homemade milk does tend to thicken slightly when heated, but I find that blending fixes this.
- Cocoa: raw cacao and regular baking cocoa powder can be used interchangeably. Note that baking cocoa has a smoother flavour and that raw cacao is slightly more bitter.
- Cacao butter: if you can’t get cacao butter, don’t worry! Just sub dark chocolate in place of it and the cocoa powder. I add them individually here because it makes it easier to really control the level of sweetness in the hot chocolate, but of course you can melt chocolate in instead. Use the same amount of dark chocolate in place of cacao butter, leave out the cocoa powder, and sweeten to taste.
- Vanilla: to use vanilla extract instead of powder, heat it with the milk. This will help to reduce any slight alcohol taste from the extract.
Step by Step
1. Heat: heat the oat milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil boil, then remove from the heat and add the cacao butter. Set aside until the cacao butter has melted.
2. Add remaining ingredients: once the cacao butter is melted, add the cacao, maple syrup or honey, vanilla, and salt.
3. Blend: mix with an immersion blender until very foamy and completely emulsified.
4. Serve: serve hot, as is or topped with whipped cream or marshmallows.
I highly recommend using an immersion blender to mix the hot chocolate if you have one. It creates the foam you see in the photos and really ensures a good emulsification. Something like a milk foamer might also work.
Don’t mix up cocoa powder and hot cocoa mix. Read the ingredients to make sure, as the drink mix will have sugar and usually milk powder added, and you’ll end up with a very sweet drink.
Homemade oat milk has a tendency to thicken slightly when heated. I don’t mind that here as I find it loosens up again when blended with the other ingredients, but go for store-bought if you want to avoid the chance of thick cocoa.
- Make it without an immersion blender: if you don’t have an immersion blender, either whisk like mad or use a heat-safe blender.
- Sweeten to taste: you can make a sugar-free hot chocolate if you’d like, as the sweetener isn’t an integral part of the recipe. Add as much as works for you.
- Mix very well: if it’s not properly mixed, you’ll end up with the cacao butter floating to the surface of your drink and that’s not very pleasant.
More Chocolate Recipes
If you make this Vegan Hot Chocolate or any other dairy-free drink recipes on Occasionally Eggs, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more OE, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, purchase the Occasionally Eggs cookbook, or subscribe for new posts via email.
Deluxe Dairy Free Hot Chocolate
- 500 ml oat milk
- 2 tablespoons cacao butter* about 25g
- 3 tablespoons raw cacao
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean powder**
- Tiny pinch sea salt
- Heat the oat milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil boil, then remove from the heat and add the cacao butter.500 ml oat milk, 2 tablespoons cacao butter*
- Cover and set aside until the cacao butter has melted.
- Once the cacao butter is melted, add the cacao, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.3 tablespoons raw cacao, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder**, Tiny pinch sea salt
- Mix with an immersion blender until very foamy and completely emulsified, about 30 seconds. Serve hot, as is or topped with coconut whipped cream or marshmallows.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
This post was originally published in February 2019. It has been updated with new pictures and text as of December 2020.
If you’re looking for approachable, seasonal vegetarian recipes, you’re in the right place! Occasionally Eggs is all about healthier plant based recipes that follow the seasons.