Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate

BY : PUBLISHED : November 3rd, 2021 UPDATED: February 2nd, 2022

This lightly spiced Mexican hot chocolate combines semisweet vegan chocolate with dairy-free milk – then lightly spiced with cinnamon and a hint of chili for a delicious winter warming drink! Prepare this spiced vegan hot chocolate using regular vegan chocolate or Ibarra Mexican chocolate tablets either on the stovetop or in a crockpot!

finished mexican hot chocolate in a white mug

Creamy Spiced Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate: Two Ways!

With the weather cooling down as we inch closer and closer to winter, it’s the perfect time to grab the ingredients to make a big batch of golden milk and homemade Mexican chocolate. With a combination of chocolate, cinnamon, and warming chili powder, this creamy vegan hot chocolate will warm your bones in no time – while also appealing to your sweet tooth!

Whether you're looking for a versatile party drink (perfect for potlucks and dinner parties), entertaining, or simply want to enjoy a warming vegan hot chocolate while getting cozy with a blanket and a book (or tv), this warming vegan Mexican hot chocolate recipe fits the bill. It's easily scalable, not overly sweet but easily adapted based on how sweet, spicy, and 'spiced' you prefer.

What is Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate?

Mexican hot chocolate refers to a drink popular in Mexico that is the ‘Mexican style’ of preparing hot chocolate (usually just called Mexican chocolate). It is generally prepared with Mexican chocolate 'tablets' (made with unrefined ground cocoa/ cocoa liquor) that are melted in water or milk and combined with sugar and spices – usually cinnamon and Chile powders. The result is a thicker and slightly grainy warming chocolate drink with a heat that lingers on your tongue without overwhelming your palate in comparison to 'regular hot chocolate'.

Within this post, we’ll take you through two versions of preparing this vegan hot chocolate drink: one from scratch with cocoa powder (not as authentic, but delicious) and one using Ibarra’s ‘accidentally vegan’ Mexican chocolate tablets.

Once you try this Mexican chocolate drink, you’ll never want to have to rely on lackluster hot chocolate mixes again. It’s not overly sweet, creamy but not too rich, and lightly spiced with ‘just enough’ heat. The result is a vegan hot chocolate you never knew you needed – but will never want to go without again!

The Ingredients

  • Dairy-free Milk: Use your favorite dairy-free milk as they should all work fine. You can even omit the milk and use plain water or fruit juice (apple or orange work best).
  • Semisweet chocolate: Use your favorite vegan semisweet chocolate in chunks or chocolate chips OR use the Ibarra Mexican chocolate tablets (and reduce the amount of additional cinnamon used, to taste). You’ll need around 3-4 triangles (½ disk) from one Ibarra disk per serving.
  • Spices: cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne pepper (alternatively, ancho or chipotle powder would also work) are needed for this Mexican hot chocolate.
  • Vanilla extract: Helps to enhance the chocolate flavor in this Mexican chocolate drink.

ingredients for vegan hot chocolate on a white surface

The Toppings/Add-ins:

One of our favorite things about homemade hot chocolate from scratch is being able to load our mugs up with plenty of toppings/garnishes like:

  • Cinnamon sticks – even better if you plan on refilling your mug as the flavor will carry over to each new serving. Plus, they double up as stirrers, too.
  • Dairy-free whipped cream – like whipped coconut cream.
  • Extra shaved chocolate
  • Marshmallows – mini vegan marshmallows are available in several grocery stores now.
  • Pinch of spice – either cinnamon, cayenne, or chili powder
  • Vegan caramel sauce  - to drizzle over the top
  • Vegan churros – okay, not really a 'topping,' but dipping churros into the creamy vegan hot chocolate makes for a delicious dessert!

Other simple add-ins & Variations

  • Salt: A pinch of salt can help to enhance the chocolate flavor and add depth to the Mexican hot chocolate.
  • Nutmeg: A pinch of nutmeg pairs well with cinnamon and chili.
  • Sweetener: If you have a sweet tooth, you might find that the sugar from the chocolate alone isn’t enough. Feel free to add a little brown sugar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup. Piloncillo is the traditional choice, if you have access to it.
  • Almond extract: Use almond extract instead of vanilla for even more depth to the Mexican hot chocolate.
  • Using cocoa powder: Add depth to the Mexican hot chocolate with a combination of cocoa powder AND semisweet (Around 60%) or bittersweet (70%) chocolate. We recommend reducing the chocolate to ½ cup and using 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (or slightly more).
  • Espresso powder: adding around ½ teaspoon of espresso powder to hot chocolate will help to enhance the chocolate flavor without making it taste like coffee.
  • Champurrado: Champurrado is a type of Mexican atole (Masa-based drink), combining Mexican hot chocolate with masa harina (corn flour) for a thickened drink. We recommend adding around ¼ cup. To do so, combine ¼ cup masa harina with ¾ cup warm water. Then whisk until smooth, and add to the saucepan with the hot chocolate mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, constantly whisking, until velvety and smooth. If you cook it for longer, it will become even thicker (enough to coat the back of a spoon).

How to Make Mexican Hot Chocolate

Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions. 

From scratch with cocoa powder:

  1. In a small/ medium saucepan, combine all ingredients, whisking slowly (and constantly) until the vegan chocolate melts and the drink becomes a smooth mixture.
  2. Taste and adjust the spices to personal preference and then serve warm with your toppings of choice!

How to make Ibarra Mexican hot chocolate:

When using the Ibarra Mexican chocolate tablets, it should say the directions on the box. However, there's a couple of tips we like to use. Plus, since the tablet is already spiced, you’ll need to adjust how much additional spice (if any) that you add to this vegan Mexican hot chocolate version!

  1. First, use a knife to slice the tablet/s into smaller wedges. While it’s possible to leave them whole, they’ll take a LOT longer to melt. We recommend between 6-8 triangles for this 2-serving recipe.
  2. Then, heat the plant-based milk in your saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Then add in the Ibarra tablet pieces and whisk (with a molinillo or regular whisk) constantly until melted. Turn the heat down slightly so that it only simmers and never boils.
  3. Once fully melted, taste the mixture. At this point, add any extra cinnamon and spices or sweetener – to taste.

finished mexican hot chocolate in a white mug

How to Make Ahead and Store?

While Mexican hot chocolate tastes best when fresh, you can allow any leftovers to cool. Then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

FAQs

  • Can I make Mexican hot chocolate in a slow cooker (crockpot)? Yes, simply add the ingredients to a slow cooker. Then cook on LOW for 2-3 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes. If you’re adding cocoa powder, make sure to dissolve it in some hot water first, then add to the crockpot.
  • How can I keep the hot chocolate warm for parties? If you serve the Mexican hot chocolate from your slow cooker, there is usually a ‘low’ or ‘keep warm’ setting. That should keep it warm through your event.
  • Which chili powder is best for Mexican hot chocolate? This is down to personal preference. Regular chili powder is probably already in your pantry. So it makes for an excellent option for anyone on a low budget. However, ancho chili powder is smokier with a deeper flavor that tastes amazing in Mexican hot chocolate. Cayenne powder is mainly used for heat and can be adjusted to taste.
  • Why is it called Mexican hot chocolate? Because this is the way the drink is commonly prepared in Mexico.
  • What does Mexican hot chocolate taste like? Like regular hot cocoa but with the addition of cinnamon and chili powder. The result is a warming, lightly spiced flavor explosion in the mouth.
  • Is Mexican chocolate healthy? The Ibarra tablets are made with unrefined ground cacao powder and a subtle amount of sugar, making them healthier than most US hot chocolate mixes.

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • For a more decadent vegan hot chocolate: Use a combination of dairy-free milk with a few tablespoons of vegan cream (or the thick part from a can of coconut milk) or vegan condensed milk and slightly increase the amount of chocolate used.
  • For frothy hot chocolate: Mexican hot chocolate is naturally very frothy, thanks to the use of a molinillo (a special hot chocolate wooden whisk that you spin between two hands to froth the hot chocolate). If you don't have one, you can use a regular whisk, handheld milk frother, or immersion blender/ blender (blend for 2 minutes).
  • Ibarra vs. chocolate: Ibarra Mexican chocolate tablets already contain sugar and cinnamon, so you’ll need to adjust those elements, to taste. The Ibarra tablets will also yield a grainier hot chocolate due to the texture of ground cacao vs. refined cocoa powder.
  • Serve with stirrers: No matter how well you stir this Mexican hot chocolate, it's naturally grainy (especially when using the Ibarra tablets – but that's the way it's supposed to be), and solids tend to settle at the bottom of the cup. So, serve with stirrers (either teaspoons or even cinnamon sticks) to use while drinking.
  • Using water instead of plant-based milk: This will make the chocolate flavor more pronounced but obviously won’t be as creamy.
  • For a milder Mexican hot chocolate: You can omit the cayenne entirely (which is hotter than the chili powder) and reduce the amount of chili powder.

More Vegan Mexican Recipes

You might also enjoy browsing through our entire collection of vegan Mexican recipes!

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

finished mexican hot chocolate in a white mug

Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate

Toni Okamoto
Slightly more work than buying the powder in a can, this Mexican hot chocoalte will warm you up and make the time spent worthwhile.
4.95 from 34 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Drink
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2 cups
Calories 246 kcal
METHOD Stovetop
DIET Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • 3 ¼ cups of almond milk
  • cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Instructions
 

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, add all ingredients and slowly whisk until all the chocolate melts and it becomes a smooth drink.

Notes

  • Salt: A pinch of salt can help to enhance the chocolate flavor and add depth to the Mexican hot chocolate.
  • Nutmeg: A pinch of nutmeg pairs well with cinnamon and chili.
  • Sweetener: If you have a sweet tooth, you might find that the sugar from the chocolate alone isn’t enough. Feel free to add a little brown sugar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup. Piloncillo is the traditional choice, if you have access to it.
  • Almond extract: Use almond extract instead of vanilla for even more depth to the Mexican hot chocolate.
  • Using cocoa powder: Add depth to the Mexican hot chocolate with a combination of cocoa powder AND semisweet (Around 60%) or bittersweet (70%) chocolate. We recommend reducing the chocolate to ½ cup and using 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (or slightly more).

Nutrition

Calories: 246kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 4gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 354mgPotassium: 8mgFiber: 4gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 28IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 387mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

About Toni Okamoto

"They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
'Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways...
we got to start taking better care of ourselves " - Dead Prez

View all posts by Toni Okamoto

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