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18 of Your Favorite Hot Cocoa Mixes—Ranked!

With the right tin of hot cocoa in your cupboard, you'll stay warm this season without extra body fat!
Hot chocolate

In theory, the idea of drinking hot, creamy, melted chocolate seems almost too good to be true. And sadly, it often is. Most of the mixes in the grocery store are far too sweet to be healthy,and many of the healthier ones taste like someone dropped an old Hershey's bar in a bucket of swamp water.

That's why we decided we'd embark on a quest to find the perfect cup of hot chocolate. We're defining perfect as one that's both tasty and not totally horrible for you. To find out which cocoa mixes are the best of the bunch, we studied the nutrition and ingredient information of some of the nation's top-selling cocoas, deducting points for sketchy ingredients and poor fiber-to-sugar ratios. (Fiber helps us feel full and slows the absorption of the drink's sugar.) Calories also played a role, as did the flavor. There are few varieties we didn't have the opportunity to sample, but we otherwise conducted a blind taste test of the majority of the cocoa mixes you'll find below. Read on to discover where your favorite falls in the ranking and learn which tasty varieties will be the kindest to your waistline and health.

RELATED: How to make healthier comfort foods at home.

18

Great Value Milk Chocolate Flavor Hot Cocoa Mix

 

container of great value hot cocoa mix

Per 1/4 cup: 140 calories, 1 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (1 g fiber, 28 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Corn syrup solids, cocoa processed with alkali, dipotassium phosphate, mono and diglycerides

Not only does this Walmart brand of sipping chocolate contain an entire day's worth of sugar, but it also has far more chemicals than any one product should ever contain. Like many other hot chocolates on the market, this mix is made with alkalized cocoa, which means the chocolate bean has been treated with an alkalizing agent to balance the cacao's natural acidity. This reduces the flavonoid and polyphenol content substantially, transforming the potent superfood into something that's basically void of any notable nutrition.

17

Land O'Lakes Cocoa Classics Chocolate Supreme Hot Cocoa Mix

 

Land o lakes cocoa classics supreme chocolate hot cocoa mix

Per envelope: 140 calories, 3.5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 24 g sugar), 3 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Partially hydrogenated soybean oil, mono and diglycerides

Land O'Lakes is known for making butter, and we think they should stick to their specialty. Any drink made with dangerous partially hydrogenated soybean oil (one of these worst food additives in America) and nearly an entire day's worth of sugar doesn't deserve a place in your favorite mug, especially when there are far better options on supermarket shelves.

16

Stephen's Gourmet Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa

 

stephens gourmet hot cocoa

Per 3 Tbsp: 150 calories, 2.5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (0 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 1 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Cocoa processed with alkali, corn syrup solids, mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, carrageenan

Carrageenan is sourced from seaweed, and it's relatively harmless—aside from the fact that it's known to cause bloat and stomach trouble. There's no reason to risk a bad reaction when there are options at the market free of the freaky stuff added to Stephen's not-so-gourmet mix.

15

Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation Hot Cocoa Mix

 

swiss miss dark chocolate hot cocoa mix

Per envelope: 150 calories, 3.5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (2 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Corn syrup, cocoa processed with alkali, hydrogenated coconut oil, dipotassium phosphate, mono and diglycerides

Though most taste-testers gave a thumbs up to this drink's thick, smooth, and foamy consistency, the flavor wasn't as on point. "Drinking this was like sipping the milk leftover in a bowl of chocolate cereal—and not in a good way," said one tester. Maybe it has something to do with all the chemicals that were floating around in their cup? Although this mix has more calories than Stephen's, we ranked it higher because it has a better fiber-to-sugar ratio. Either way, it shouldn't be your go-to.

14

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa

 

ghiradelli double chocolate hot cocoa

Per envelope: 80 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 1 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Cocoa processed with alkali

Creamy hot cocoa packed for less than 100 calories? Definitely not horrible. However, the sugar content is still high in this hot cocoa mix.

13

Swiss Miss Reduced Calorie Hot Cocoa Mix

 

swiss miss reduced calorie hot cocoa mix

Per envelope: 35 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 3 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Cocoa processed with alkali, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, disodium phosphate

Don't let the low-calorie content of this product fool you. In no way, shape, or form can this cocoa help keep you trim. A study in the journal PLoS One found that acesulfame potassium, aka acesulfame K, can cause glucose intolerance, which ultimately results in confused hormones and weight gain. Not to mention, if you're going to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, you should really just go for the real deal and truly savor it.

12

Nestle Rich Milk Chocolate Flavor Hot Cocoa Mix

 

nestle rich milk chocolate hot cocoa mix

Per 2 Tbsp: 80 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 1 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Partially hydrogenated coconut or palm kernel oil, hydrogenated soybean, cocoa processed with alkali, mono and diglycerides, sucralose

Thanks to the addition of sucralose (the generic name for Splenda), Nestle is able to keep their chocolaty drink to a (relatively) impressive 12 grams of sugar per serving. While scientists have found a connection between sucralose and cancer in mice, the risk posed by overconsumption of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup far outweighs the cancer risk posed by sucralose and most other artificial sweeteners, according to Michael F. Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. What you need to know is that sucralose is the best of the "bad" sweeteners. There are far worse options on the market—and in hot cocoa mixes. As for the flavor, our tasters were fans of the "just sweet enough," "real dark chocolate" flavor and the "thick and velvety" texture of this supermarket buy. Even so, we couldn't ignore the addition of partially hydrogenated oils, which is why it falls toward the bottom of the barrel.

11

Sarabeth's Hot Chocolate

 

sarabeths hot chocolate mix container

Per 1/4 cup: 260 calories, 13 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 25 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (6 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 5 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Dutch cocoa (code for alkalized)

Three words: So. Many. Calories! It's actually pretty horrifying that one cup of cocoa could have as many calories as four donut holes, but in the case of Sarabeth's hot cocoa, it's 100 percent true! We're also not loving the high sugar count—and our taste testers agreed. However, a number of sippers did appreciate this mix's "woody chocolate" and "hot-fudge-esque" aroma. If you're curious and want to indulge, do yourself—and your gut—a favor and cut your portion size in half.

10

Christopher Elbow Cocoa Noir Drinking Chocolate

 

christopher elbow drinking chocolate

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

Sure, the ingredient panel is free of any red flags, but our taste-testers weren't fans of this chocolatey concoction. "This is nothing great. It tastes like milk mixed with chocolate sauce," one person said. "Smells like stale milk," said another. There are far better-tasting options—our advice is to skip it.

9

365 Everyday Value Organic Hot Cocoa Rich Chocolate Flavor Mix

 

365 hot cocoa mix

Per 2 Tbsp: 110 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Cocoa processed with alkali

Organic and low in calories it may be, but several tasters found this Whole Foods cocoa "bland" and were turned off by its "thin" and "chalky" consistency. One person even went so far as to describe this mix as "atrocious," while another found the taste to be reminiscent of dirt. It doesn't get much worse than that.

8

Godiva Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa

 

Godiva hot cocoa

Per serving: 130 calories, 1.5 g saturated fat, 5 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 1 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Cocoa processed with alkali

A huge hit with tasters, this famous chocolatier's hot cocoa mix was described by some as having a "rich and slightly bitter taste," while others found the flavor "extremely chocolatey—like drinking a chocolate bar." Though some tasters didn't enjoy this variety's thick and syrupy consistency, most of our volunteers said that they'd "definitely buy it." We just hope they enjoy it in moderation, because it's fairly high in sugar and doesn't bring much to the table in terms of fiber. If you decide to indulge in this rich, comforting drink, we suggest enjoying it along with one of these tasty high-fiber foods so it doesn't give you a sugar rush.

7

Fran's Dark Chocolate 68% Cacao

 

frans dark hot chocolate mix

Per 4 Tbsp: 180 calories, 12 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (3 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 3 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

Fran's earned praise for its rich "liquid Cocoa Puff" flavor but dropped a few slots due to its thin consistency and higher calorie count. We've got to admit, though, its fiber-to-sugar ratio is among the best of the lot! Overall, it's not a bad choice in terms of nutrition or flavor.

6

Cisse Cocoa Signature Semi-Sweet Hot Cocoa

 

cisse hot cocoa mix

Per serving: 120 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (2 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

Cisse Cocoa made a good first impression on our volunteers, who commented on its "velvety and creamy texture and "rich fudgy and nutty notes." However, a few tasters complained that it tasted "artificial" and was "too sweet and syrupy." Considering it has a whopping 20 grams of the sweet stuff, we can't say we're all that surprised. The only reason this ranks higher than Fran's is that it has 70 fewer calories. In reality, though, they are somewhat tied.

5

Guittard Grand Cacao Sweet Ground Cocoa Drinking Chocolate

 

can of guittard drinking chocolate

Per serving: 40 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 5 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), <1 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Cocoa processed with alkali

No one could seem to agree on this one: Comments ranged from "a nice velvety texture," "pleasant brownie-lie aroma," and "really delicious" to "way too thin," and, oddly, "smells like a Whopper." Yes, seriously! One thing is for certain, though: The calorie and sugar content is fairly moderate for something that's essentially liquid dessert in a cup.

4

Dagoba Organic Unsweetened Chocolate

 

dagoba drinking chocolate

Per serving: 90 calories, 3.5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (4 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 3 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: none

None of our testers could get on board with this unsweetened chocolate spiced cacao powder. One sipper said the drink tasted like "a combination of sand, crayons, and cocoa." Ouch! Its brag-worthy nutrition facts and ingredient list don't mean a thing if no one can stomach the taste, which is why we dropped it a few slots on our list.

3

Starbucks Classic Hot Cocoa

 

starbucks classic hot cocoa

Per 2.5 Tbsp: 120 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (3 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Cocoa processed with alkali

Starbucks got dinged for being "chalky," "bland," "slightly salty," and "bitter." But a number of the testers were fans of the "just right combination of flavors," which spanned the sweet, bitter, and smoky spectrums. As far as the nutrition facts go, they're actually fairly good, which is why we gave it such a high-ranking spot on our list.

2

Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa

 

swiss miss simply cocoa

Per envelope: 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 20 g sugar), <1 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: Cocoa processed with alkali

Among the higher ranking hot chocolates on this list, this one is arguably the easiest one to find. This is great news because 100 calories for a cup of cocoa is an impressive stat—way to go, Swiss Miss! Testers' taste buds enjoyed this mix, too. For many, Swiss Miss' Simply Cocoa tasted "just sweet enough" and had a "very pleasant chocolaty flavor" reminding some of "warm chocolate milk." This cocoa possesses a "delightfully milky" texture that many felt would please kids and adults alike.

1

Sillycow Farms Hot Chocolate

 

sillycow farms hot chocolate mix

Per 2 Tbsp: 100 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (2 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 1 g protein

Ingredients We Don't Love: None

Phrases like "chocolate heaven," "A+" and "perfect for a cold day" were used to describe this low-calorie, rich hot cocoa. Testers noted that Sillycow's sippable chocolate was more of "an adult beverage" than its contenders, thanks to its "amazing velvety consistency." Almost all our testers agreed that it is "definitely worth a purchase."

Eat This! Tip

Strange but true: Your hot chocolate will taste and smell sweeter if you serve it in warmly toned mugs instead of plain white or stark red, according to European scientists. In what may have been the easiest volunteer experiment ever, 57 people had to drink hot chocolate served in four different types of cups. They were all plastic and the same size but were either white, cream, red, or orange with white inside. The tasters reported the chocolate tasted better in the cream-colored and orange cups. This adds to the growing set of studies that claim the vessel in which our food is served can have a dramatic effect on the way our senses perceive the food.

 

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