Q: Kris – Thanks so much for providing such a great cookbook/guide book. I have been severely lactose intolerant for the last 2 years, and have had a mild case before that for about 8 years. Do you have any ideas for dairy-free hot chocolate? It is something I just love.
A: Alisa – Ah yes, winter is in full swing and the holidays are upon us – it is about time for those hot beverage cravings. For an easy homemade version of hot chocolate, I recommend that you use the recipe for Hot Double Chocolate on p167 in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. That recipe includes Spiced, Mocha, and Peppermint options, and there is a Carob Cocoa recipe on the same page for a little variety. For an extra-rich beverage, you can even use light cashew cream (Nutty Light Cream on p129) or half coconut milk / half water in place of the milk alternative.
But the options for dairy-free hot chocolate and hot cocoa don’t stop there. I’ve got more recipes and several convenient brands to recommend…
Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate / Cocoa Brands
Remember to consult ingredient statements (they can change!) and speak with the manufacturer directly where severe allergies are a concern. May contain warning labels for potential cross-contamination are completely voluntary for the manufacturer and do not tell the full story. The following options were at least dairy-free by ingredients at our last check.
AH!laska – They make a non-dairy cocoa mix (careful as they do have one with dairy!) that has been a mainstay in many dairy-free households for years.
Cacoco – Touted as “superfood” drinking chocolate, you can bet that this brand makes a rich and relatively nutritious mug of hot cocoa. They are a vegan company, and at last check, they had three dairy-free hot chocolate varieties: Original, Global Warrior, and Essential Midnight. We have taste-tested this brand; see our full review here: CaCoCo Superfood Drinking Chocolate.
Cocoa Canard – Far more decadent than a mix, this chocolatier produces 64% cacao spooning chocolate that melts right in for a creamy dairy-free hot chocolate. We have taste-tested this brand; see our full review here: Cocoa Canard Spooning Chocolate.
Cocoa Cravings – I just recently discovered this brand of certified organic, gourmet hot cocoa drinks and drinking chocolates. From Cool Peppermint to Spicy Curry, all varieties appear to be both non-dairy and vegan!
Cocoa Felice – Boasted as more traditional, this vegan mix uses real European Dutch process cocoa.
Dear Coco – More of a gift-worthy delight, their hot chocolate spoons are an amazing melted chocolate experience complete with marshmallow inside. Three varieties (including Gingersnap!) and we reviewed them all: Dear Coco Hot Chocolate Spoons.
Eli’s Earth – This line of organic hot chocolate mixes even comes in a milk-style variety!
Ghirardelli – This brand keeps waffling back and forth. They started with an amazing line of canister hot chocolates that were all dairy-free. Those were available for years, until one day they decided to add milk to most of their formulas. But then, as we clamored for dairy-free options to return, they emerged with some sweet ground chocolate options that are made without dairy. At last check, the following were dairy-free by ingredients (in at least one product size; ingredients may vary in product sizes!): Chocolate Caramel Premium Hot Cocoa, Double Chocolate Premium Hot Cocoa, and Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa Beverage Mix.
Nibmor – Their drinking chocolate is a great option for those who want a lower-glycemic dairy-free hot chocolate, since it is sweetened with coconut sugar. It’s also organic, fair trade, and comes in a few flavors.
Rawcholatl – My latest favorite find, this is one of the most nutritious, low sugar hot chocolate brands I’ve discovered, yet it is so full-bodied, spicy and fulfilling. See my full review here: Rawcholatl Ancient Aztec Cacao Spice Drink.
St. Claire’s – It is available in several nourishing flavors (from Vanilla to Ginger), but the Traditional has just organic molasses granules, organic cocoa powder and organic cocao nib extract. yes, it’s soy-free, and free of top allergens, too!
Whittard – Several varieties from this UK company appear to be dairy-free by ingredients, including the Caramel and Rocky Road. But avoid the white chocolate selections and read carefully as several do contain milky substances.
Windy City Cocoa – This unique blend is made with oats! They come in single-serve packs and are dairy-free, plant-based, and made without top allergens. The company is working on making them in a dedicated kitchen. See my full review here: Windy City Cocoa.
Please note that I’ve not yet sampled all of the above dairy-free hot chocolate mixes. Visit our dairy-free product reviews for tasting notes of products that we have sampled.
Did we miss any? Leave a comment and share!
Homemade Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate / Cocoa
Aside from the easy recipes in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, here are some more rich, chocolaty dairy-free sipping formulas:
- Healthy Hot Chocolate – uses brown rice milk powder and includes three flavor variations (pictured below).
- Nourishing Spiced Hot Chocolate – with prunes, no joke!
- Hot Chocolate Cubes – just too much fun.
- Crockpot Hot Chocolate – low and slow – keep it warm for party hot chocolate on demand.
In a pinch, when you don’t have a dairy-free hot chocolate recipe or canister in hand, keep the basic ratio in mind of roughly 1 tablespoon cocoa powder per 1 cup of liquid, and sweetener to taste. For a light hot cocoa, some prefer to use just water. For something a little richer, use anything from rice milk on up to cashew milk or coconut milk (the fatty kind!), or consider melting in some dairy-free chocolate chips for a little cocoa buttery luxury.
For topping, most marshmallows are typically dairy-free, but there are also tasty vegan brands like Dandies (the big ones pictured below) if you prefer a gelatin-free treat.