This pumpkin spice hot chocolate is a cozy and comforting seasonal drink and perfect to enjoy as the weather gets colder with its aromatic warming spices.
I am not a pumpkin spice freak. I do not count down the days until a particular coffee chain releases the PSL (In August, nonetheless) and debuts its yearly holiday cups. I don’t enjoy sickly sweet syrups in my coffee and the sugar bomb creations baristas concoct that are enough to send you into a diabetic coma upon one sip.
This pumpkin spice hot chocolate is not something you’d find at a coffee shop; it uses real pumpkin puree and actual pumpkin spice — no artificial flavors. If you want to add some pumpkin syrup, you can. I’ve included it in the recipe for the sweet tooths out there, but it’s 100% optional and, truthfully, unneeded.
The flavors of pumpkin spice in this hot chocolate are subtly delicious. It offers the nutritious benefits of real pumpkin (like fiber, vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin C) along with cinnamon spices’ cozy, warming effect. It’s precisely how fall should be enjoyed before America ruined it with commercialization and wasteful indulgence.
This pumpkin hot chocolate recipe is evidence you can enjoy the pretty fall foliage, the cooler temperatures and chunky sweaters with a mug of something seasonal in your hand without feeling like you just drank ½ a cup of sugar.
Pumpkin spice hot chocolate ingredients
- Milk — Any milk can be used to make hot chocolate. Whole milk will result in the most indulgent drink, but vanilla oat milk, almond milk or coconut milk are all excellent non-dairy milk choices. Some people make hot cocoa with water but that really only applies when using a hot cocoa mix from a packet. When making hot chocolate from scratch, it’s best to use milk.
- Cocoa powder — Choose a high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder for making hot chocolate.
- Pumpkin puree — Make sure to choose pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. You can also use homemade pumpkin puree.
- Pumpkin pie spice — This spice blend makes adding seasonal fall flavor to baked goods and drinks easy.
- Maple syrup — Just a touch of maple syrup sweetens the hot chocolate to the perfect level. You can add more or less based on your taste preferences. Brown sugar can be substituted if preferred.
- Pumpkin spice syrup — This is an optional ingredient that can replace the maple syrup. A small amount of syrup can be used if you crave extra pumpkin pie spice flavor. It’s too sweet, however, when combined with the maple syrup, so choose one or the other.
- Salt — Salt helps the flavors pop. Just a pinch is needed.
- Whipped cream — A decadent option to finish off the hot chocolate and an enjoyable addition for kids.
How to make pumpkin hot chocolate
Whisk together the milk, cocoa powder, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, maple syrup (or syrup if using) and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Bring it to a simmer, whisking the mixture constantly. Once incorporated and hot, pour into two mugs. Top with whipped cream, dust with some extra pumpkin pie spice and serve.
Using real chocolate for a decadent and rich variation
Cocoa powder is the easiest way to make hot chocolate quickly, but if you want a genuinely indulgent cup of pumpkin hot chocolate, adding some actual chocolate is the way to go. Both this tart cherry hot chocolate and my favorite, Mexican hot chocolate, include real chocolate in the recipe, and they’re wonderfully luxurious in taste and texture because of it.
I tested this hot chocolate in various ways, including milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate. Despite being a dark chocolate fanatic, I found that dark chocolate overpowered the delicate flavor of the pumpkin. Milk chocolate, however, was not chocolaty enough.
The Goldilocks chocolate of this testing used semi-sweet chocolate combined with maple syrup. It offered the perfect level of sweetness and chocolaty flavor.
You can use semi-sweet chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate blocks you chop yourself. My preference is the latter.
To add chocolate to this pumpkin spice hot chocolate drink, add the chocolate to the saucepan along with all the other ingredients. Make sure it’s fully melted before pouring it into glasses.
What can I substitute pumpkin spice with?
Pumpkin spice is made of a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves. If you don’t have the pre-mixed spice blend on hand, you can combine these spices to create it yourself.
Tips for making the best pumpkin spice hot cocoa
- Stir the hot chocolate often while simmering so the milk doesn’t scorch.
- Not a fan of whipped cream? Toss in some mini marshmallows instead.
- To serve a crowd, make a big batch on the stove, transfer it to a slow cooker and set it to warm.
- Use a splash of vanilla extract for added flavor.
- Add a splash of bourbon for a grown-up version of this pumpkin spice hot chocolate. It makes a great addition to a Halloween party while the kids are off trick-or-treating.
More Fall and Winter Drink Recipes
Or, if you’re not in the mood for warm and cozy but still want the delicious flavors of fall, try this easy pumpkin banana smoothie made with just five ingredients.
If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below! I’d love to know how it goes. Leave a comment below if you have any questions. Tag @runningtothekitchen on Instagram & Facebook.
Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate
- 2 cups milk any kind
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin spice syrup *optional, see note
- pinch of kosher salt
- whipped cream for topping
- 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate chopped, or use chocolate chips (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Whisk and bring to a simmer.
- Pour into mugs once hot and top with whipped cream.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.