You can make a warming cup of peppermint hot chocolate at home with just a few pantry staples and a candy cane. No special extracts or syrups needed.
Is it really the holiday season if you don’t have at least one cup of peppermint hot chocolate? I think not.
This is one of my favorite drinks as soon as the weather begins to turn cold, and while it’s perfectly lovely to order one while I’m out and about, I love that it’s almost as easy and just as delicious to throw one together for myself at home.
I have a couple other peppermint drinks on the site (my peppermint mocha and white chocolate peppermint mocha), and as with those recipes, this recipe doesn’t use peppermint extract, just a single candy cane instead.
Using a candy cane gives you the that spicy-sweet peppermint flavor you’re looking for without you having to stock another extract that you probably won’t use 10 months out of the year.
- Milk: Use any milk you’d like, but I typically like to use whole milk for hot chocolate since the higher fat the milk, the richer your hot chocolate will be. For an extra rich and creamy drink, try substituting half and half or heavy cream for some of the milk.
- Cocoa powder: This recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder, but both natural and Dutch-process cocoa powder will work just fine here.
- Candy cane: This recipe calls for one large candy cane, but if you only have small ones, one large candy cane is equal to about 3 or 4 minis. For a less intense peppermint flavor, you can use just half of one.
How to Make Peppermint Hot Chocolate
1. Place candy cane in a zip-top bag and use a rolling pin or meat mallet to crush the candy into small crumbs. The crumbs don’t need to be ground into a fine dust, just small pieces so they dissolve more quickly in the hot chocolate.
2. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine candy cane pieces, sugar, cocoa powder, and water. Stir until sugar and cocoa powder are smooth and candy cane has mostly dissolved.
3. Add milk and salt and stir. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches your desired temperature and any remaining candy cane pieces have completely dissolved.
4. Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream or marshmallows!
- Richer hot chocolate: Replace ⅓ cup of the milk with heavy cream or half and half.
- Extra chocolatey hot chocolate: Add 1 ounce (2 slightly heaping tablespoons) of chopped chocolate or good quality chips along with the cocoa powder and sugar at the beginning of the recipe.
- Hot chocolate float: Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the hot chocolate just before serving. (It’s so good!!)
Can I make this with peppermint extract instead?
Yes. If you’d like to use extract, skip the candy cane, and make the rest of the hot chocolate recipe as written. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and then add extract to taste. Peppermint extract is extremely concentrated, so you’ll need only a drop or two!
Can I add coffee?
Absolutely. If you want to turn your peppermint hot chocolate into a peppermint mocha, simply replace ½ cup of the milk with ½ cup of strongly brewed coffee.
Can this be made in the microwave?
Sure can. Make sure to crush your candy cane extra finely if you’re going to make this in the microwave. Combine cocoa powder, sugar, crushed candy cane and water in a mug. Stir until well-mixed and microwave for 15 seconds.
Stir until candy cane pieces are mostly dissolved before adding the milk. Microwave 1 minute to 1 ½ minutes, until steaming, and enjoy!
More Hot Chocolate Recipes
- Classic Hot Chocolate
- Crockpot Hot Chocolate
- Rich and Thick Hot Chocolate
- White Hot Chocolate
- Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
- This recipe makes 1 cup of hot chocolate, enough to fill an 8-ounce mug. To fill an oversized mug, 1 ½ or double the recipe.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
- Zip top bag
- Rolling pin or meat mallet
- 1 full-size candy cane *
- 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (5g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup milk any percentage
- Pinch of salt
- Whipped cream optional for topping
- Mini marshmallows optional for topping
- Place candy cane in a zip top bag and use a rolling pin or meat mallet to crush the candy into small crumbs.
- In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine candy cane pieces, sugar, cocoa powder, and water. Stir until sugar and cocoa powder are smooth and candy cane has mostly dissolved.
- Add milk and salt and stir. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches your desired temperature and candy cane has completely dissolved.
- Pour into an 8-ounce mug and top with optional whipped cream or marshmallows if desired.
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