Texas Living

Recipe: Mexican Hot Cocoa

By Susan Wiles 12.5.23

Mexican hot cocoa is an enigmatic drink that can be made in various ways, all of which are less sweet and more complex in flavor than the traditional American hot cocoa many of us grew up drinking. Here, we will explore two ways to make this wintertime drink, whose roots trace back to the Aztecs and Mayans.

According to Muertolandia, Mexican hot chocolate — or champurrado — is a thick, chocolate-based drink made with corn flour, or maza. The Aztecs and Mayans blended cocoa beans and vanilla to create an early version of the comforting drink we know and love today. The traditional main ingredient — ground, unsweetened cacao nibs — is less intense than dark chocolate, and many modifications range from sweet to spicy.

Buying Mexican Hot Chocolate

Today, Mexican hot chocolate can be made as easily as buying dissolvable tablets. The two most common brands are Ibarra (made by a company in Jalisco, Mexico) and Abuelita (a Nestlé product). These tablets contain cacao paste, sugar, and cinnamon that, when mixed into hot milk, create a delicious and simple treat for any time of day. A recipe using Mexican hot chocolate tablets follows:

  • Remove tablet from wrapper.
  • Heat 1 tablet and 4 cups of milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Whisk constantly until mixture is frothy and starts to boil.
  • Serve with sweet bread or cookies for dunking!
Photo by Natalie Goff

Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe

For those who want to be a bit more adventurous, many recipes also include chili powder, cayenne, and other spices. Try this recipe from Isabel Eats:


  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate

Method: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix together the milk, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, chili powder, and cayenne. Whisk in the bittersweet chocolate until it melts. Enjoy!

Hosting a holiday party? Preparing for a Christmas movie marathon? Step up your hot cocoa game with a DIY hot chocolate bar.

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