Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dairy-Free Hot Cocoa Recipe

The wintery blast that hit us last night brought snow and hot cocoa too. I had some vegetable side dish recipes to post for Thanksgiving....but hot cocoa calls when the wind is whipping and the snow is falling! We woke up this morning to a couple of inches of snow on the ground and the kids decided to go out early to play. After a few hours of sledding and a couple of snow ball fights, they came inside with frozen hands and hungry bellies. I made them some snacks and a batch of this rich and creamy dairy-free hot cocoa.

This recipe uses maple syrup as the sweetener and a combination of coconut milk and cashew milk to create a rich, warming drink. Make sure to add the salt as it balances all of the flavors. If you have a finely ground sea salt then you can add the lesser amount below, but if you use a coarser ground salt then use the full 1/4 teaspoon.

Dairy-Free Hot Cocoa

If you don't own a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix or BlendTec, then soak your cashews in the water for at least 3 hours before blending. After blending, it will look very thin, but don't worry, as the hot cocoa heats on the stove it will thicken considerably. If it is not sweet enough then you could add a few drops of liquid stevia or more maple syrup to taste. I like to use Dagoba cocoa powder as it is gluten-free and organic.

1 cup raw cashews
5 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
6 tablespoons maple syrup
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend until smooth and frothy. You will want to check it to make sure the cashews are completely ground, and if not, blend again on high.

Pour into a 3-quart pot and gently heat over medium heat, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn't burn. Add more water for a thinner drink if desired. Once it is heated to your liking, serve and enjoy!

Note: If you don't think you will drink this entire recipe immediately then only heat desired portion and store the remaining, unheated portion in a glass mason jar to heat and serve on another wintery day! Source:

Stay tuned for more Thanksgiving Recipes this week. And, if you have more ideas for making dairy-free hot cocoa, please share in the comments section below, thanks! Happy Holidays!

More Winter Beverages:
Soothing Tummy Tea
Sugar-Free Cranberry Orange Punch
Turmeric Broth

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. This looks sooo good - especially after all the cold weather we have been getting! Is it possible to substitute boxed almond milk or cashew milk (does that come in a box?) if you don't have a good mixer? Also, I like the maple syrup sweetner instead of sugar! Have you tried a dash of cinnamon on top? I like just a pinch to make hot cocoa a little special! Thanks for another winner of a recipe!!!

  2. Can't wait to make this but I wanted to ask for clarification on the coconut milk. Do you mean the kind in the can or the kind in the carton sold as a milk substitute? I'm confused. Unfortunately there is no easy way of distinguishing the two.

  3. My boys are envious of your snow! Just yesterday snow pants were delivered for my youngest son so he is ready to try them out. Unfortunately, the temps here in NC have been unseasonably warm so far. I have contacted Dagoba to find out about our allergies. I hope we will be buying some soon! This recipe looks luscious! Thanks Ali!

  4. Ali! This looks so, so yummy. My boyfriend and I have been dreaming of hot cocoa a LOT lately, and considering our recently-discovered addiction to cashew milk, we cannot wait to make this!!!!! Thanks so much! And hope you and your family have a lovely Thanksgiving!

  5. So yummy looking and rich! Those photos are really cute too.

    I love using homemade cashew milk, a total addicition for so many recipes!

  6. Dot - I will have to try a dash a cinnamon on top next time, thanks for that tip! :)

    Vanessa - I think you could use either one, but I use organic coconut milk from a can.

    Debbie - Hope you get some snow is a rarity for us to have snow here! Enjoy the recipe! :)

    Desi - thanks, cashew milk is my addiction too. I keep a small jar of it in the fridge, slightly sweetened with maple syrup, to add to my spice tea everyday! :)

    Alisa - Yes, I know you love cashew milk too! :)

  7. Ali,
    This sounds very yummy. I'll have to try it soon! Enjoy the snow.. ;-)

  8. Ali, I just bought some raw cacao powder and this looks like the perfect way to use it! Interestingly, I couldn't find Dagoba at my natural food store. Apparently, they were purchased by Hersheys, so my store stopped carrying it, and opted for a local brand, Holykakow. I picked some up, even though it cost an arm and a leg. I will try it in this recipe and see if it's good. Thanks!

  9. Lisl - Thanks, hope your kiddos are enjoying the snow too! :)

    Megan - I had no idea Dagoba was purchased by Hershey's! Wow! We like to use raw cacao too, but some brands can be processed in facilities that also process wheat. Thanks for the update! :)

  10. What a treat to have early snow! I love hot cocoa and have made it with coconut milk (which was very good) and have also had it using almond milk. However, I've never tried either a cashew milk or coconut milk/cashew milk combo before. Sounds wonderful, Ali. I like the idea of keeping cashew milk in the fridge for hot tea, too. :-)


  11. YUM!! This looks delicious. We are expecting snow for Thanksgiving and with getting a Christmas tree next weekend - we will be ready to drink some hot cocoa and warm up! Of course I may need to add a few marshmallows on top for old times sake! Thanks for another GREAT recipe!

  12. Hey Ali- The hot chocolate was a hit with my kids. Thanks for sharing with us! My son who does not like hot chocolate all that much said he enjoyed it after shoveling your walk way. I was wondering about Dot's question if you could use almond milk? Mom would like to have some too, and I can't eat cashews.

  13. Hi Ali - this sounds FABULOUS and much better than using rice milk for warm cocoa. I don't have cashews, but am going to give it a try with almonds this week. Thanks for all of your great recipes!

  14. Great timimg Ali! I can not wait to try the coconut milk and cashew milk together. Yum :)

  15. Shirley - Thanks, yes the combo is quite nice. And for the jar of cashew milk i keep in the fridge...well, it is actually more like cashew cream - a thick milk for tea that is slightly sweetened with maple syrup with a pinch of salt for balance.

    Deb - enjoy this cozy drink and have fun with the x-mas tree! :)

    Anon - You could of course use almond milk in place of the cashews and water but it won't be as thick...still delicious though! :)

    talkinglikerain - If you use almonds you will probably need to soak them for 8 to 10 hours first, then drain off the soaking water and blend as directed in the recipe. Let me know how it turns out! :)

    Jenna - thanks! ;-)

  16. Can't wait to try it. It looks and sounds lovely. I especially like seeing the young lady testing it and enjoying it!


  17. I here we might get snow on Thanksgiving here in WI. This would be the perfect warm-up treat to serve to guests! :) Thanks!

  18. It's a chilly morning here right now and I could use a cup of that NOW! Have a fab Thanksgiving!

  19. That looks delicious Ali! What a great idea to use cashews for added creamyness. I will be trying that for sure.

    I just posted my dairy-free hot chocolate recipe on my blog (Eagle Loft Kitchen). I like to season it with cinnamon, vanilla and cardamom for a special flair.

  20. Thank you for this recipe. I have been craving a smooth, think, creamy hot coco in this cold weather. I have been dairy free for a year.

    I have been following your blog for about a year and my coworker just bought me your cookbook for Christmas. You are your husband are great. Keep up the yummy recipes.

    I really like the coconut lime chicken, chocolate truffles and raw caramel dip. I will be trying new recipes soon!

    Thank you!

  21. This recipe looks amazing, going to make it tomorrow. How long would an unused portion last in a mason jar? I just happen to have some lying around and, as i am only 1 person, I doubt I'll drink it all at once! I also don't drink hot cocoa a lot but do crave it every now and then... so I may have to store for a couple of weeks!

  22. Ali,

    I've been using your cookbook for years and receiving your blog posts for several months now. I have to tell you I'm blown away by the hot chocolate recipe! I am SO happy to have a hot chocolate recipe without refined sugar!! We have made it multiple times now and am so comfortable giving this to my kids. I have told ALL of my friends.

    Thank you so much!!!

  23. This. Looks. Amazing. I can't wait to make this!!!! You=Brilliant

  24. Just made the got cocoa and LOVED IT! I used raw cacao instead of cocoa powder and it was perfect. So delicious!! Thanks for putting together a great combo. That will be a new staple for us:)

  25. This is exactly what I have been looking for! However, my son is allergic to cashews. Is there anything I can use to substitute to get that creamy, thicker consistency? Thanks. Kelly

  26. I look forward to trying this, but have a few questions. We have unsweetened almond milk, as well as finely ground almond flour. Can we skip the cashews? As much as we like them, I recently read they are off the anti-cancer diet list as even organic cashews contain aflatoxins as do peanuts. If cashews are for creaminess - what else might I use? Thanks for a great site of healthy recipe alteratives!

  27. I have made this recipe w/o cashews by making a thick almond milk from almond flour and water (strained) and adding a tiny bit of coconut milk or none at all......very tasty! :)

  28. Warm Blessings to you ALL! My recipe for Golden Cashew Chai is nourishing and delicious. Check it out here:

  29. Sounds delicious - I often make cocoa with coconut milk and water, but cashews are really creamy too. x x x

  30. Since going dairy-free recently, I came up with a cocoa recipe I like even better than the dairy version! Since I cannot use a whole can, I freeze coconut milk in ice cube trays. When I want to make hot cocoa for my daughter and me, I thaw 2 cubes, heat 2 C of almond milk, mix about 2t/mug of cocoa with the coconut milk and sweetener of choice (experimenting with coconut palm sugar and date sugar versus maple syrup) to make a paste, then pour in the hot almond milk. YUM!

  31. I have fallen in love with this blog. Thank you so much! Quick question. I've noticed you use cashew milk or almond milk a lot in your recipes but my husband is allergic to nuts. I'm still trying to avoid dairy, so would soy milk be alright? Or is it best to avoid Soy products as well?

  32. This was posted on my birthday (nearly 7 years ago!) and it's one of my all time favorite recipes. I just don't think to make anything else when the kids ask for hot cocoa. This is it! We make it 2-3 times a year for special holiday events or stormy evenings (we live in HI now, so cold weather is kind of rare, but we get some cool rainy now and again!). If others are reading comments to see if this is yummy, it is!

    1. Yes! The coconut milk, cashew milk, and cocoa really work well rich and creamy. The coconut flavor is not overly strong here with all the other ingredients. Thanks so much for your feedback! 😊


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