Paleo Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa made with cocoa powder and maple syrup. Mix with coconut milk, almond milk, or any other milk of your choice. Paleo, dairy-free, and vegan.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: About 1 cup chocolate syrup, enough for 6 to 8 cups of cocoa


For the chocolate syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 tablespoon espresso powder (optional)

To serve:

  • 1 cup milk per person (like coconut milk, almond milk, dairy milk, or other favorite milk)
  • Sweetener of your choice, like maple syrup or honey (optional)
  • Coconut whipped cream (optional)
  • Dark chocolate shavings (optional)


1 Bring the water to a boil in the microwave or on the stovetop.

2 Make the cocoa syrup: Place the cocoa powder and salt in a heat-proof bowl and pour the boiling water over top. Whisk until combined. Let sit five minutes. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and espresso powder. Stir to combine.

The syrup is ready to use immediately, or let it cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. This chocolate syrup will last in the fridge for several weeks.

Paleo Hot Cocoa Paleo Hot Cocoa Paleo Hot Cocoa Paleo Hot Cocoa

3 Make the cocoa: Warm the milk (1 cup or so per person) in the microwave or on the stovetop. Transfer to a mug and stir in 2 tablespoons of syrup per cup. Taste and add additional syrup or sweetener if desired.

Paleo Hot Cocoa

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.


  • Phyllis

    I used coconut milk and this just may be the best hot chocolate Ive ever made from scratch!! Thank you


  • Beth

    Yummy :-) changed the ratio a bit to my taste buds, but, the outcome was fab! Thanks!


  • LaWanda

    I am low carb, and, as, such, cannot use maple syrup. At least not the real stuff. Bummer, I know, but I am a diabetic and have no choice. Do you think I could use sugar-free maple syrup? Thanks, and please don’t hate me!

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, LaWanda! My fear is that sugar-free maple syrup would taste really artificial in this recipe. I’d suggest replacing the maple syrup with another low-carb or sugar-free sweetener that you know you like. It will take some tinkering to figure out the right proportions — I think you could probably make the syrup leaving out the sweetener, and add sweetener to each cup as you serve it instead. Good luck and let us know how it works out!

  • Cats45844

    Is the finished product syrupy? After adding the maple syrup (I used Grade A , amber) it became watery. I added 2 T to 1 cup of whole milk and the color of the drink is nowhere near what you have in the picture. I added an extra 4 T and still not close. Any tips?

    • Sabrina Modelle

      Hi Cats, I’m so sorry that happened. I’m not sure what could cause the syrup to become watery. My only thought is a difference in the cocoa powder. I used a very dark cocoa that thickens into a paste when it combines with the hot water. Was your cocoa/water mixture thick like a paste?

      • Cats45844

        Hi Sabrina
        I used ghiraldelli 100% unsweetened cocoa. The cocoa/water mixture was thick like a paste however after adding the maple syrup and vanilla it thinned it out. I also tried it again with Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder. Same results.

        • Emma Christensen

          Cats, it does look like Sabrina’s syrup was pourable, so my guess is that you’re doing everything just fine, but for whatever reason, the color is just a little different. How’s the flavor?! I’d definitely say to go ahead and as much chocolate syrup as needed to get the flavor that you’d like! You might prefer a little more than Sabrina in your cocoa.

          • Cats45844

            After additional cocoa syrup, the final hot cocoa is more like a very light chocolate milk. Would using dark cocoa help? What was used for the recipe?

          • Sabrina Modelle

            Hi Cats, I use Guittard Cocoa Rouge or Cocoa Noir. I’m almost certain I used the Rouge for this one. It is a very dark cocoa with a rich flavor. I also used coconut milk and not whole milk for this recipe which may make a difference as well. Was the flavor pretty chocolatey for you? It may just be a difference in color rather than flavor. Also, the photos may make the colors look more vibrant and intense.
            I love cocoa rouge, and I highly recommend trying it, but if the taste is good with your current cocoa powder, you can stick with that.

          • Sabrina Modelle

            Oh, and one more thing, I started with two tablespoons of syrup (one ounce) per eight ounces of milk because many people will find the not-so-sweet chocolate milk to taste quite strong. I love dark chocolate, so I add extra syrup to make it super chocolatey, If you are used to, and love, dark chocolate, you will likely add quite a bit more syrup. I like to start light because it’s easier to add chocolate syrup than to warm more milk and add milk to lighten. Make sense?

  • LeAnn Srite

    Thanks for this recipe! I have been looking for a low sugar alternative with lots of flavor!!

  • Lola Bellouere

    SO this looks divine!

  • Michael Stone

    I think I’m a step ahead of you, a friend brought me cacao, about the size of billiard balls, from the Central Market in Puebla MX. They have to be grated first!

  • Sara @ Last Night's Feast

    Looks delicious!