Winter has arrived and that means it’s time to break out your fuzziest slippers, coziest sweater, and snuggle up to a piping hot mug of hot chocolate for a few guilt-free hours of Netflix and chill. But no matter whether you use a homemade recipe or open a packet of the powdery stuff, basic hot chocolate can be pretty boring—especially as the winter wears on. Upgrade your old, uninspired recipe with one of these exciting, delicious hot chocolate additions.

Also try this Winter White Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon.

What to add to hot cocoa

Add-in any of these ingredients for a brand new hot chocolate experience:

Cinnamon brown sugar 

Sprinkle in a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar for a decadent hot chocolate you only thought possible in your winter dreams.

Freshly-brewed espresso or coffee

The coffee/hot chocolate classic combo never disappoints. Go for freshly made espresso or coffee if you have it, but a teaspoon or two of espresso powder works wonders, too.

Cayenne pepper

A dash of heat can only help on a hot day. Just sprinkle a little, unless of course you like things really spicy. Then knock yourself out!


Whether it’s a few fresh mint leaves, a peppermint stir stick, or a crushed up candy cane, peppermint and chocolate is the ultimate winter combo.

Nut butters

Swirl a tablespoon of just about any nut butter—peanut, almond, hazelnut, sesame. Whatever you like! Even try adding in some Nutella for an ultra rich cup of cocoa.

Orange zest

Orange and chocolate is a duo often overlooked. Add some fresh orange zest directly into your cup for a bright citrus essence.

A scoop of ice cream

You add whipped cream, so why not ice cream! Your hot chocolate will taste milky and delicious. As a bonus, the ice cream cools off the hot chocolate, so you can drink it right away.


Caramel is no stranger to chocolate. Drizzle in some caramel and a coffeehouse style cup of cocoa.

Vanilla extract

It might be vanilla, but it’s anything BUT vanilla! A few drops of a quality vanilla extract could be just what your cups needs for a winter wake-me-up.


Of course! When you want to turn that hot cocoa into a night cap, add a bit of liquor—how much is up to you! Cognac creates an earthy tone, while Irish cream or Kahlua make it creamy. Try anything from Peppermint Schnapps to raspberry liqueur, to whiskey or even red wine.

Try these 10 Naughty Hot Chocolate Recipes for Adults.

Also see, Apricot pinwheel cookies.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.