Chase Away The Chill Of Winter With A DIY Hot Chocolate Bar

Grab some friends and let each one create a hot cocoa masterpiece with assorted yummy toppings! Try these fun ideas...

There’s nothing quite like a warm mug of hot chocolate to chase away the winter blues. After an afternoon of shoveling, why not treat your family to a yummy hot cocoa bar? They can assemble their own mugs of cocoa and add their favorite toppings. It’s a great way “chill” together. Try these fun ideas:

Organizing A DIY Hot Chocolate Bar

What You’ll Need:

  • The perfect spot. The hot chocolate bar can easily be arranged on any large surface—the dining room, sideboard, kitchen breakfast bar, etc. Add a decorative tablecloth or placemats.
  • Drinkware. Clear glass mugs and punch cups best showcase the gourmet beverage inside, but you can use whatever you have handy for hot beverages.
  • Utensils. You’ll need spoons for serving, spoons for stirring, paper straws (optional), and festive napkins.
  • Small, wide-mouth canning jars or shallow dishes are ideal for the toppings. Tie a decorative ribbon or yarn around the rim of each jar for an attractive display. Fill jars with toppings and arrange.
Arrange your toppings in clear jars or shallow dishes.

Another option is to create a “charcuterie” board of your toppings, the hottest trend.

Hot Chocolate Bar Toppings

Include an assortment of topping choices, so guests can create a yummy drink with a WOW factor. Here’s our list of suggested toppings for your hot chocolate bar. Use any or all!

  • Cans of whipped cream (flavors or plain)
  • Mini chocolate chips or shavings
  • Sprinkles or “Jimmies
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Shaker bottles of spices: ground cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper (for Mexican Hot Chocolate)
  • Candy canes or crushed peppermint candies
  • Gingerbread cookies, crushed, or graham cracker crumbs
  • Coconut flakes, lightly toasted
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Chocolate syrup, hot fudge, or caramel sauce—or all three!
  • Any other fun toppings, fancy stir spoons, or whatever yummy treat you can think of… the sky’s the limit!

The Star of the Show

Your hot chocolate can be any recipe you choose. You can put out individual instant packets and a thermos of hot water, or prepare the hot chocolate in advance (recipes below) and keep it warm in a thermos, carafe, or crockpot.

If you don’t want to go the instant packet route, you can try some of these made-from-scratch hot cocoa recipes:

Peppermint Mocha - Candy cane

Farmers’ Almanac Everyday Hot Cocoa Mix

Course Drinks
Cuisine American


  • 2 cups instant nonfat dry milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Combine all ingredients.
  • To use, put 2-3 heaping tablespoons of the mix into a mug and add either boiling water or hot milk.
Keyword Farmers’ Almanac Everyday Hot Cocoa Mix, hot chocolate recipe

The Best Hot Chocolate Ever (Non-Dairy Recipe)

Excerpted from Naturally Sweet Blender Treats by Deborah Tukua. Yield: 2 cups

Cup of hot cacao on cotton serviette against silver service.

The Best Hot Chocolate Ever (Non-Dairy Recipe)

Course Drinks
Cuisine American


  • 2 cups almond or coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon stevia powder or preferred sweetener, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder


  • Heat milk in a saucepan until hot but not boiling.
  • Add hot milk and remaining ingredients to a blender.
  • Affix lid and mix until smooth.
  • Pour into mugs and let cool slightly before sipping.
  • You can also whisk the ingredients into the heated milk, instead of using a blender, if you prefer.
Keyword The Best Hot Chocolate Ever (Non-Dairy Recipe), vegan hot chocolate
hot chocolate

Adult Beverage Options

Turn basic hot chocolate into a warm winter cocktail by adding peppermint schnapps, chocolate-flavored liqueur, orange liqueur, or Irish cream to your hot chocolate bar.

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Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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D. Smith

Don’t use powdered milk – yuk. Use REAL raw cow milk if you can find it (legal or not) and/or at least use a decent whipping cream that you can water down and use like milk (from organically raised dairy cows if you can find them anymore). I can usually find milk of at least decent quality at one of the local health food stores. We have a couple of vegan “health food stores” which are not healthy at all. Dairy products are good for you. I have no idea why people keep pretending it’s not. Now the stores seem to be pushing almond “milk” which isn’t really almond milk at all – it’s just cheap 1% milk (ewwww) with almond flavoring – read labels folks).

You have to be so careful when shopping these days. Even if it takes longer, learn to look at labels for contents and serving sizes.

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