Mexican Hot Chocolate might take a few minutes longer than a pre-made hot chocolate mix but it’s worth every second. A rich, creamy, perfectly spicy and fragrant mug will warm you up even on the coldest winter day. Don’t forget the marshmallows or whipped cream topping!

A quick recipe for rich, creamy, and slightly spicy Mexican hot chocolate. One sip and you'll never go back to those packets again.
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Last year, I was in New York City meeting a friend for lunch in Chelsea market. After stuffing our faces, we were walking around trying our best to resist the urge to buy all the amazing gourmet items from cheeses to every kind of olive oil you can imagine to spices and salts when we came face to face with a little shop selling hot chocolate.

I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the place but it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they had Mexican hot chocolate on their menu and I was sold in about .3 seconds.

It was thick, dark, smooth and just slightly spicy.

In other words, perfection.

Lately, on nights when tea doesn’t cut it, hot chocolate has been my go to treat.

Sometimes I like sipping on this tart cherry hot chocolate, other times I like this easy pumpkin spice hot chocolate but when I’m in the mood for a bit of spice, nothing beats Mexican hot chocolate.

So, I took a stab at recreating that amazing chocolaty goodness since Chelsea market is a bit too far of a hike when the craving strikes.

Mexican hot chocolate is the perfect balance of creamy, sweet, chocolaty and spicy. Perfect for a cozy winter day.

How To Make Mexican Hot Chocolate

Just like regular hot chocolate the main ingredients in Mexican hot chocolate are:

  • any sort of milk (or non-dairy alternative)
  • chocolate 
  • spice

What makes it “Mexican” is that third ingredient, the addition of spice! Let’s talk about all three ingredients though because when the ingredient list is short, the quality matters a little more than usual.


The milk I use depends on my mood. If I want an indulgent, creamy and thicker hot chocolate, I use whole milk or at minimum, 2% milk.

If I want to keep things a little lighter, I’ll usually choose a non-dairy alternative milk like an unsweetened almond or coconut milk. I always choose unsweetened when I use non-dairy milks because I prefer to control the sweetness level myself by adding the sweetener of my choosing and the amounts I like.


I love using dark chocolate in Mexican hot chocolate. The slight bitterness goes really well with the spice in a way that milk chocolate just can’t replicate. 

I suggest using 70%-75% dark chocolate or 80% if you really love dark chocolate!


Ah, the fun part – spice!

Some recipes for Mexican hot cocoa will just use ground spices like cayenne pepper but what I think makes this recipe special is the addition of a dried chile pepper to the simmering hot chocolate.

The spice permeates the milk and chocolate as it simmers on the stove-top and imparts the perfect level of heat throughout. You can adjust the heat to your preference by adding more dried chiles or using a small one, or using just the dried chile and not adding the cayenne pepper as the recipe instructs.

A cinnamon stick, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt are also used to help balance out the spiciness of this drink.

Once you make this Mexican hot chocolate you'll never want to drink the regular stuff again. Creamy, fragrant and just a touch spicy, it'll warm you up on the coldest winter day.

Delicious Toppings for Mexican Chocolate

To enhance the flavor and frothy texture of this drink, consider adding a dollop of whipped cream or a sprinkle of cocoa powder.

For an extra kick, top it off with a pinch of cayenne pepper or chili powder to complement the bittersweet chocolate taste.

What makes Mexican hot chocolate different from American hot chocolate?

Mexican hot chocolate differs from the American version due to its incorporation of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and sometimes a hint of cayenne pepper, giving it a distinct sweet and spicy flavor profile. Additionally, Mexican hot chocolate often uses dark chocolate, resulting in a richer and more intense taste compared to the American version.

What are Mexican chocolate tablets?

Mexican chocolate tablets are solid, disk-shaped bars made from a blend of cacao, sugar, cinnamon and sometimes other spices. They are used to prepare traditional Mexican hot chocolate and other desserts by melting in hot water or milk.

Is Mexican hot chocolate nutritious?

Mexican hot chocolate can be nutritious, as it contains antioxidants from the dark chocolate and potential health benefits from the spices used. However, sugar is a main ingredient in this drink depending on how it’s made so take that in consideration when consuming.

So put down the instant Swiss Miss packets away (do people seriously still buy that stuff these days?) and get the saucepan out.

When you can have a mug of this Mexican hot chocolate in under 20 minutes you’ll never even consider a packet hot chocolate again!

More Hot Drinks To Try

This coconut chai hot toddy and this apple cinnamon tea latte are both great cozy warm seasonal drinks too!

Craving a warm weather version of hot chocolate? Try this hot chocolate ice cream recipe. It’s deliciously decadent and has marshmallow bits throughout!

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4.97 from 51 votes

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Servings: 2 servings
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 17 minutes
A quick recipe for rich, creamy, and slightly spicy Mexican hot chocolate. One sip and you’ll never go back to those packets again.


  • 1 1/2 cups of milk, *see note
  • 1 dried chile pepper
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 ounces chopped dark chocolate, 70% or higher
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch of salt


  • Combine milk, chile pepper and cinnamon stick in a small sauce pot over medium-low heat. Bring to a low simmer for about 10 minutes until cinnamon is fragrant, stirring occasionally so milk doesn’t burn or boil.
  • Add chocolate, sugar, vanilla and spices and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and chile pepper from the pot.
  • Pour into a mug and top with dash of cinnamon, cocoa powder, red pepper flakes, marshmallows and/or whipped cream.


*You can use any milk, nut milk or milk combination you’d like.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 279kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 8gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 169mgFiber: 3gSugar: 20g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I love how the spices linger on your palate. It’s different but very delicious and comforting. The cinnamon and cayenne pepper created an interesting flavor combination that’s perfect for chilly evenings by the fire.

  2. 5 stars
    There’s a coffee shop near my house that has amazing Mexican hot chocolate, but it’s $$$ and I’ve been trying out different recipes to try and get close to theirs. I finally found the one! This is just the right amount of heat and spice and cocoa-ness. The pinch of salt really rounds out the flavors.

  3. 5 stars
    A friend recommended this Mexican hot chocolate recipe to me, and I’m so glad they did. Sometimes I add a little extra cinnamon for an even richer flavor. Nothing beats snuggling up with a mug of this deliciously spicy hot chocolate.