Learn how to make the BEST Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate! This easy Hot Cocoa recipe is super simple to prepare and has a lovely Caramel Sea Salt flavor that's irresistible ... perfect for the holidays or anytime you're craving a sweet treat!
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You know what makes almost anything better? Caramel, and lots of it ... am I right, or am I right?
And when it comes to caramel treats, it doesn't get any tastier than this Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate! This delightful drink tastes just like your favorite coffee shop version, but even better, because you can make it at home.
You are going to love this recipe! It's ready in minutes, super easy to make, and the flavor is out of this world delicious. Make a batch and impress your friends, or keep it all to yourself (I wouldn't blame you). This is truly the best sweet treat for caramel + cocoa lovers!
Ready to start sipping on this decadent drink for yourself? Keep reading for all the details!
This easy Carmel Hot Cocoa uses basic, easy to find ingredients! Here's what you'll need:
- Caramel - Of course, you'll need some caramel sauce! I used Torani, but Ghirardelli is another great choice. You could also use my homemade Caramel Sauce, or substitute a store bought caramel syrup.
- Milk - While you can use any type of milk, Whole milk really does work best. Plant based milks may also be used, just make sure to choose one that's thick and creamy, like oat, coconut, or soy milk (my fave).
- Cocoa Powder - Unsweetened cocoa powder give this drink it's rich, chocolatey flavor (both natural and dutch process varieties will work fine). Use easy-to-find Hershey's, or for the most decadent results, select a premium cocoa, like Guittard, Scharffen Berger, or Valrhona.
- Salt - Another essential element in this recipe is salt! I like to add a generous pinch of kosher salt or sea salt as the cocoa heats up. Then I'll finish the drink off with a pinch of sea salt flakes over my topping.
- Sugar - You'll use granulated sugar to sweeten the drink. This recipe is a little sweeter than most of my cocoa recipes (due to the caramel), but if you have truly sweet tooth, you can easily add more sugar to taste! Other sweeteners, like brown sugar or sugar-free alternatives, may also be used, but you'll need to experiment with the quantity to find the perfect amount.
- Toppings - I like serving this recipe topped with a dollop of whipped cream, a generous drizzle of caramel, and some flakey Maldon sea salt, but you can also get creative! I'm sharing lots of fun ideas below.
This recipe is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free.
You'll Also Need
You will need a medium saucepan (one with a heavy bottom will work best), along with some measuring cups and a whisk to prepare the recipe. You'll need some mugs too, of course! I served mine in these rustic white mugs, which are a favorite of mine! They have a cute handmade look, and they're oversized ... perfect for a large serving of cocoa with all the toppings!
How to Make Hot Chocolate Coffee
This delicious drink couldn't be easier to make! You'll find a detailed recipe card below, but here's an overview of the steps:
- Combine ingredients. Combine the milk, cocoa powder, and sugar in a medium pot, then whisk until mostly smooth. Don't worry if the cocoa doesn't completely blend in at first ... just keep whisking. As the drink heats up, it will smooth out.
- Heat until hot. Cook the drink over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it's hot. Do not boil.
- Add caramel. Stir in the caramel sauce and a big pinch of salt, then mix constantly until the caramel is dissolved.
- Serve. Add your favorite toppings. My favorite combo is whipped cream, caramel sauce, and a pinch of Maldon sea salt. So delish!
And that's all there is to it ... time to enjoy your decadent, homemade Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate!
Tip: This recipe makes three small servings or two larger servings. When serving a crowd, simply double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe, as needed.
Once you've made the basic recipe, try one of these easy variations:
- Extra Rich - Make this drink extra decadent by stirring in some dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate! A little vanilla extract would also make a great addition. You could also swap out some of the milk for heavy cream. Choosing a premium cocoa—like Guittard, Scharffen Berger, or Valrhona—will also make it taste extra luscious.
- Caramel Syrup - I used caramel sauce to make this recipe, but you could definitely use caramel syrup instead if you prefer. This will also save a few calories, if you're counting! I'd recommend using one to two tablespoons per serving (or to taste).
- Spiked - Turn this recipe into a grownup treat by adding a shot of liqueur, such as Baileys.
- Vegan - To make this recipe vegan, use a creamy plant-based milk, such as oat, coconut, or soy (I prefer my favorite soy milk). You'll also need a vegan caramel sauce. This non-dairy whipped cream would make a great topping, too!
Choosing the perfect toppings for this Hot Chocolate with Salted Caramel is part of the fun! Here are some tasty ideas to try:
- Whipped Cream - A generous, pillowy cloud of freshly whipped cream makes this cocoa even tastier.
- Caramel - Save some of your caramel to drizzle over the top before serving.
- Sea Salt - Maldon sea salt is one of my favorite ingredients in so many dishes, but it truly shines here! Crush a pinch a two over the top for a tasty treat.
- Chocolate - A drizzle of chocolate sauce or a sprinkle of shaved chocolate or mini chocolate chips would also be delish.
- Marshmallows - A handful of marshmallows is always a classic topping! Try these vegan marshmallows if you follow a vegetarian / vegan diet.
- Sprinkles - Add some cuteness by toppings things off with a dash of chocolate sprinkles. Yum!
If you have any leftover Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate. It will stay fresh for two to three days. Then gently rewarm in your microwave or in a small saucepan (making sure to stir well as it heats) before serving.
- Hot Cocoa - My favorite basic hot choc recipe that's super delish + super easy to customize!
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate
- Hot Chocolate Coffee Drink
- Mexican Hot Chocolate
- Spiked Hot Chocolate
- Salted Caramel Affogatto
- Dirty Chai
P.S. You can find more caramel recipes here!
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
- 3 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾ cup caramel sauce
- pinch kosher salt (or sea salt)
- Pour milk into a medium saucepan. Whisk in cocoa powder and sugar until well combined and most lumps have disappeared.
- Heat over medium heat until hot, continuing to whisk. Do not boil.
- When hot, add caramel sauce and a generous pinch of salt. Stir constantly until caramel is dissolved.
- Divide cocoa between 2 to 3 mugs. Serve plain or with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!