To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best hot chocolate 2023: The most decadent cocoa drinks to curl up with right now

Enjoy an indulgent sweet treat any time of day with our pick of the best hot chocolate drinks

A good quality hot chocolate has got to be one of the most comforting and decadent drinks to curl up with. Available in flakes, powdered mix or even ready-to-drink, the cocoa-based beverage makes for a warming and indulgent treat even before you go crazy with the whipped cream and marshmallows.

But do you like yours dark and rich, thick and creamy or as more of a sweet treat? With an array of styles to choose from, it’s best to work out what will take you to your own personal version of chocolate heaven before picking up a tub.

The best hot chocolate: At a glance

  • Best instant hot chocolate: Aero | Buy now | £3.40 (288g)
  • Best luxury hot chocolate: Harrods Sea-Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate | Buy now | £12 (300g)
  • Best variety pack: Hotel Chocolat The Everything Selection | Buy now | £14.50 (350g)
  • Best vegan hot chocolate: Cocoa Canopy Rich Dark | Buy now | £14.60 (500g)

How to choose the best hot chocolate for you

It all adds up to cocoa percentages. The best hot chocolates are made using real chocolate, usually in flake or bar form, ready to grate into hot milk. So, as with a bar of decent quality chocolate, any hot chocolate worth its weight will say on-pack the percentage of cocoa solids it contains. The higher the percentage, the stronger the cocoa flavour. Anything over 70% will provide a dark chocolate taste, while high-quality milk chocolate drinks will hover around the 50% mark.

If you’re looking for the lighter, milkier style of hot chocolate, do pay careful attention to any added ingredients, as extra sugar or flavourings may be added to compensate for the lack of natural cocoa flavour and compromise the quality and integrity of the chocolate as a result.

What equipment do you have?

Most luxury hot chocolate producers agree that the best way to enjoy their drinks is to slowly melt the suggested amount of real chocolate flakes into warm milk. Milk can be heated in a pan, a milk steamer, microwave or even a dedicated hot chocolate maker, but sometimes this is all a bit too much faff.

Ready-to-drink styles can prove invaluable when you just want to grab and go, and while not in the same league as the genuine chocolate options, a jar of the instant powdered stuff can be surprisingly useful if you’re in the office or camping and only have access to hot water. We’ve tried to cover all bases here, so read on to find the hot chocolate to make you melt.

READ NEXT: The best milk alternatives to buy

The best hot chocolate to buy in 2023

1. Harrods Sea-Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate: Best luxury hot chocolate

Price: £12| Buy now from Harrods

A brand known for its opulence, Harrods has developed its own luxurious chocolate powder, blended with sea salt caramel, to make for a delectable sweet treat. The mix is very finely milled, meaning it’s quick to dissolve and ready to be drunk that little bit faster. When it is, you’ll find the rich chocolate taste to be a delight, especially set against an understated yet still delicious flavour of the salted caramel.

Harrods recommends you put four teaspoons of hot chocolate powder in a mug (fair warning: this could be a little strong for some taste buds) plus a little hot milk to stir until creamy. From there, the advice is to top it all up and stir again – but we reckon it’s a good idea to experiment until you find that perfect ratio.

Housing all the luxurious powder is an equally glamorous, vintage-inspired tin. So, if nothing else, you or a gift recipient have an attractive piece of air-tight kitchen storage as part of the package.

Key specs – Size: 300g; Flavour: Milk chocolate, sea-salted caramel

Buy now from Harrods

2. Aero: The best instant hot chocolate

Price: £3.40 | Buy now from Sainsburys

Yes, instant hot chocolate is vastly inferior to the real deal but sometimes needs must. This Aero option is our go-to, and proved itself vastly superior to many similar instant varieties in our testing for this list. Made from fat-reduced drinking chocolate and fat-reduced cocoa powder mixed with milk powder, sweeteners and more, this isn’t in the same league as pure melted chocolate drinks. However, it is still undeniably tasty and will give that much-needed chocolate hit. We found the flavour was authentically Aero-like and the bubbles make for a light, frothy hot chocolate in any situation where all you have is hot water to work with. It’s also a relatively low-calorie treat at just 97kcal per mug, which is a boon for any chocolate fans looking for a fix without wanting to fully indulge.

Key specs – Size: 288g; Flavour: Milk chocolate

Buy now from Sainsburys

3. Cocoa Canopy Rich Dark: The best vegan hot chocolate

Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

Using sustainably sourced chocolate that is both palm oil-free and vegan-friendly, Cocoa Canopy makes some of the tastiest hot chocolate around – and it’s ethically minded to boot. Each packet of its vegan ‘Rich Dark’ flavour contains real balls of chocolate that are so divine you could polish off a bag without even making a hot chocolate at all.

We recommend you try out a hot beverage though, as every flavour of Cocoa Canopy works exceptionally well with just water – though do try it with a dash of oat milk or other vegan-friendly options, as it provides a delightfully creamy counterbalance.

These gift sets, which are 100% plastic free, also come with some vegan marshmallows and a mini stainless steel whisk to craft your ideal Vegan drink. What’s not to love?

Key specs – Size: 500g; Flavour: Rich Dark (61%)

4. Knoops 47% Ruby Chocolate Flakes: The best ruby hot chocolate

Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon

Knoops is a specialist hot chocolate boutique in picture-perfect Rye, which has been going since 2013. The good news is that you no longer need to journey to East Sussex to get your hot choc fix, as its online shop is supremely well-stocked with choice upon choice of dreamy chocolate flakes in every colour and cocoa percentage imaginable.

We went wild for the deliciously different 47% Ruby Chocolate Flakes, which make for a subtly sweet, creamy cup of chocolate infused with notes of red berries. At 47% cocoa, this is not a serious hot chocolate but delicate and comforting: kids also love the gentle, fruity cocoa and vanilla flavour. To make it extra fun, Knoops has a wealth of online recipes from its chocolate experts to pimp your pink-hued hot choc with: try anything from fruits to pepper and whipped cream.

Key specs – Size: 330g; Flavour: Ruby chocolate

5. Hotel Chocolat The Everything Selection: The best variety pack

Price: £14 | Buy now from Hotel Chocolat

First things first: if you’re serious about hot chocolate, you really must purchase the Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser. This ingenious little machine is smaller than a kettle and produces the most indulgent, perfectly mixed and, well, velvety hot chocolate you’ve ever made. Simply pour your choice of dairy or plant milk in the top, add your choice of chocolate powder, flakes, whatever… and let it get to work. In two and a half minutes, a sumptuous, rich hot chocolate is delivered.

Hotel Chocolat’s Everything Hot Chocolate Selection is the ideal starting point for working out your favourite recipes, too: choose from Classic 70% Dark, silky Salted Caramel, tingly Mint, the bestselling 50% Milky (which is a chocoholic’s dream) and five other varieties to suit all tastes. Each sachet is pure chocolate with no additives and is handily pre-measured in 35g portions for mess-free fuss-free hot chocolate every time.

If you can’t stretch to the Velvetiser right now, all chocolates can be made on the hob or with a milk steamer in the usual way. For extra naughtiness check out Hotel Chocolat’s Velvetised boozy chocolate liqueurs to whip up an adults-only hot chocolate treat.

Key specs – Size: 10 single-serve packets (350g); Flavours: Milky (50%), Classic (70%), Salted Caramel, Hazelnut Praline, Dark (85%), Orange (65%), Chilli Elegant (70%), Vanilla White Creamy (36%), Ginger (70%), Mint Cooling peppermint (70%)

Buy now from Hotel Chocolat

6. Chococo 70% Madagascar Origin Hot Chocolate Flakes: The best dark hot chocolate

Price: £10 | Buy now from Chococo

Dorset based chocolatier Chococo has long been on our radar for its phenomenal boxes of fresh chocolates. Now, its decadent single-origin chocolate can be enjoyed in liquid format, too, with its four new varieties (45%, 70%, 80% and 100%) of pure chocolate flakes.

We’re rather taken by the 70% which is the house chocolate served in Chococo cafes. A Raisetrade chocolate hailing from Madagascar, this varietal has vibrant rich red berry notes and benefits the local cocoa bean-growing communities. It sinks seamlessly into plant milk for a naturally vegan-friendly and darkly decadent drink, and can be frothed with rich and creamy dairy for a fuller, more indulgent mouthfeel. All packaging is recyclable and plastic-free.

Key specs – Size: 200g; Flavour: Dark chocolate (70%)

Buy now from Chococo

7. Cacao Valor chocolate powder: Best thick hot chocolate

Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon

Any hot chocolate aficionados out there will know all about the distinctly thicker and incredibly delicious hot chocolate popular in mainland Europe. Particularly common in Italy (as ‘cioccolata calda’) and Spain (as ‘chocolate caliente’), these thick, almost pudding-like drinks are intense and exploding with rich flavour. Fortunately, you can still get these treats in the UK, with this Spanish chocolate powder from Cacao Valor being a great choice. At 1,000g, it should last you a while too – depending on how thick you take your drink.

Key specs – Size: 1,000g; Flavour: Milk chocolate

Read more

Best Buys