Hot cocoa and hot chocolate: what’s the difference?

By November 2, 2020

Difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate-1

As the cold season approaches, a cup of hot cocoa or hot chocolate would be one of the best beverages in the afternoon. People usually use both the terms interchangeably, but are they the same thing exactly?

Technically speaking, hot cocoa and hot chocolate are both made from chocolate, but their flavor is slightly different. Hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, while hot chocolate is actually “sipping chocolate”, melted from chopped chocolate together with milk, cream, or water. If you have a sweet tooth, hot cocoa is the best option for you, but if you prefer thick flavors, hot chocolate can be better.

Difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate-2

As for the production process, both of the drinks are different, too. To make a cup of hot cocoa, you just need to mix some cocoa powder with steamed milk, water, or maybe a hot chocolate mix which usually contains sugar and other spices. On the other hand, you can choose all kinds of different chocolaty ingredients to make a cup of drinking chocolate, and then mix the chocolate with milk or cream, and then serve it up piping hot within an hour of prep time. There’s usually no need to add sugar because the chocolate itself already has sugar in it.

You’ve possibly been familiar with some hot cocoa mix brands that doesn’t need you to add any other ingredients anymore, including Swiss Miss, Nestlé, and Ghirardelli. And hot chocolate is also sold in stores typically in small quantities of beverages in general. However, if you are interested in making one on your own, that would be well worth the smidgen of extra time and effort.

Difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate-3

How to make hot cocoa at home:


  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 cup of milk


  • Mix the cocoa powder, sugar and 3 tablespoons of milk in a microwave-safe mug, and stir until all the ingredients dissolve a bit.
  • Microwave for about 45 seconds. Don’t heat too long, or else the mixture may bubble over.
  • Take out of the mixture and stir again. You can now notice the cocoa powder and sugar have fully dissolved in the milk.
  • Add in the rest of the milk and microwave for another minute.
  • Add marshmallows or whipped cream if you like.
  • Difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate-4

How to make hot chocolate at home:


  • 5 ounce chopped chocolate
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • Light brown sugar if you want it to taste sweeter


  • Low heat the milk in a saucepan until it gets warm
  • Then add in the chopped chocolate little by little, stirring the chocolate to let it fully melt. For a thicker taste, just low boil the mixture while stirring simultaneously for about 3 minutes.
  • Add brown sugar to your preference.
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