Hot chocolate is generally a very straightforward recipe. This homemade chai hot chocolate recipe takes it up a notch and adds a nice aromatic flavor to a classic hot drink.

A cup of homemade chai hot chocolate with a napkin around it and spices next to it.

This recipe features a homemade chai spice mix. To add as much flavor as possible the recipe uses whole spices instead of the powder version. When making a chai spice mix you want to stay as close to its original flavor as possible to get most of the taste which is why whole spices are the better choice.

What’s the difference between cocoa and hot chocolate?

If you ever visit Prague in the winter you’ll have a true chocolate experience. Every quaint little alley will have at least one café that is fully dedicated to serving hot chocolate in various forms. Personally, Prague was also the first place I tasted real hot chocolate.

So, what is exactly hot chocolate? Hot chocolate is melted chocolate and would typically not have added sugar due to the sweetness of the chocolate already. On the contrary, hot cacao is made with milk, sugar, and cacao powder. Hot chocolate has a very silky and thick consistency while hot cacao is more watery.

This recipe is a mixture of the two. It’s made with cacao powder but also includes chocolate chunks to add more chocolate flavor. If you want it to have the thick consistency of a typical hot chocolate then use only half of the milk. However, do keep in mind that this recipe is a bit thicker than usual already since it uses chocolate chunks.

Quality of the Ingredients

We often don’t really know how important good quality milk is. A good quality whole milk will add so much richness and creaminess to your hot chocolate. So, if possible, try to use whole milk from a farm local to you.

Needless to say, your chocolate is also important for this recipe. You want good semi-sweet chocolate that isn’t overly-processed. While hot chocolate tends to be sweet, you still want to taste a bit of the bitterness that characterizes chocolate.

You can opt for buying something at a chocolate shop, but one ethical brand that works well for hot chocolate is Tony’s Chocolonely. Feel free to choose whatever brand is your favorite, though.

How do you Make Hot Chocolate from Scratch?

Making hot chocolate is very easy. Just add the ingredients to a pan and mix well using a whisk. Making a homemade chai hot chocolate recipe is not much different. All you need to add is the spices to the mixture and you’re good.

What you should be careful of is to not let the milk scald or burn. This can happen rather quickly. To avoid this always cook on low-medium heat. Let the mixture simmer but do not let it boil. Also, continuously stir your mixture to avoid it sticking to the bottom or sides.

How Long and at What Temperature Should you Heat Milk for Hot Chocolate?

The ideal temperature is 140ºF/60ºF. While knowing the temperature of your milk can really help create the perfect homemade chai hot chocolate, it’s doubtful that any leisurely cook will actually take the time to do it.

Instead of taking your milk’s temperature, aim for a slow and consistent heating process. As mentioned, let the mixture simmer slowly while you whisk everything together. As soon as you notice the mixture start to boil, lower the heat even more. It’s best to use the small burner so you have more control over the heat.

A cup of homemade chai hot chocolate with a napkin around it and spices next to it.

Should you Make Hot Chocolate with Milk or Water?

Milk! Okay, technically you can make hot chocolate with water. I have done a mixture of water and milk in the past. However, there is a flavor you get from whole milk that you just don’t get from water. You can use a 1:1 milk and water ratio, but always make sure to have milk.

Milk also helps with the consistency of the hot chocolate as it’s thicker than water. So unless you’re doing a true melted hot chocolate and you want to dilute it with water, I recommend using whole milk to make hot chocolate.

More Drinks Recipe

A cup of homemade chai hot chocolate with a napkin around it and spices next to it.

Homemade Chai Hot Chocolate Recipe

A luscious homemade Chai Hot Chocolate recipe with a subtle tangy aftertaste due to the home chai spice mix. The perfect balance for a rich hot chocolate.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American, Indian
Servings 6 people


  • Sieve
  • Whisk


  • 4 cups (1 liter) whole milk
  • 1 cup (170 gr) semi-sweet chocolate chopped (see note 1)
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 inch/knob ginger
  • 6 pods cardamom crushed
  • 3 whole black pepper
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 tbsp sugar (see note 2)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder plus extra for garnish
  • Shaved chocolate for garnish


  • Add the milk and chocolate chunks to a pan over low-medium heat and whisk them together. As the chocolate starts to melts add the spices, cacao powder, and sugar. Whisk everything together and mix well. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes while whisking. Give the mixture a taste and add more sugar, if needed, according to your taste.
  • Pour through a sieve directly in a mug, in a different saucepan, or glass jar. Serve with a shaved chocolate and cocoa powder on top.


  1. Weighing chocolate is a more accurate method than using cups.
  2. Feel free to add more sugar if you like your hot chocolate sweeter.
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