Quick & Easy Hot Chocolate From Scratch in the Microwave Oven—All in Pictures

There’s no need to reach for instant hot cocoa powder when it’s so easy to make hot chocolate from scratch.

There’s nothing much better than waking up or coming in from the cold to a fresh cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day. By “fresh”, I’m talking about using only real ingredients: cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, maybe a dash of salt and milk. That’s it: pure, honest and clean—and far fewer and much easier to pronounce ingredients than those found in a container or packet of instant hot chocolate powder that’s intended to be mixed with hot water.

The only drawback to making fresh hot chocolate is taking the time to warm up milk on the stove without burning it to the bottom of a cooking pot. So, how ‘bout we get rid of the pot and stove and just make the hot chocolate with the same fresh ingredients right in a mug using the microwave oven to warm it exactly the way we like it? Easy!

You’ll see in the recipe below that I use 2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of sugar, which makes for a flavorful but not very sweet hot chocolate. I recommend starting with that ratio of cocoa powder to sugar and then adding sugar to suit your taste after you give the hot chocolate its first blast of warmth as mentioned in step 5. Again: all very easy!

Preparation Time: 1-2 minutes
Cooking Time: 1-2 minutes

(to make about 12 ounces)

2 Teaspoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Dash Salt (optional, but enriches chocolate flavor)
Whipped Cream (optional—but great!)
Large Microwave Safe Mug

1. Add to a large microwave safe mug 2 teaspoons cocoa powder,…

1 tablespoon sugar,…

…a dash of salt,…

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and…

…just enough milk to moisten the dry ingredients as shown in the picture on the right below.

2. Stir the ingredients until they are well mixed together as shown in the picture on the right below. You don’t have to try to get rid of every lump right now. Any cocoa powder lump in the milk will dissolve easily when the hot chocolate is warmed.

3. Add milk and stir until the mug is mostly filled.

4. Put the mug in the middle of the microwave oven and cook using your microwave oven’s HIGH heat or 100% power for 1 minute.

5. After cooking, carefully remove the mug from the microwave oven by taking hold of the mug handle and check the hot chocolate both for warmth and flavor. If the hot chocolate is not as warm as you’d like it (it probably won’t be very warm after only one minute of cooking), keep cooking at 30 second intervals until the hot chocolate is warmed to your desired temperature. At the same time, if the hot chocolate is not as sweet as you’d like it, add sugar to taste.

6. Give the cooked hot chocolate a quick stir…

…and either have it as is or with a good shot of whipped cream (Yah!)


Read more easy recipes for Good Food on The Good Life.

Images courtesy of Bruce Tretter

About Bruce Tretter

Bruce Tretter helps people feel comfortable making practical, flavorful and quick & easy meals for themselves---even if they’ve never boiled water---through Gotta’ Eat, Can’t Cook step-by-step picture book and short video directions. He’s a father of 3, Former Naval Intelligence Officer, current school board member, and avid cyclist.


  1. im a bit of a sugar-monster, so i like 3 to 5 teaspoons of sugar in my tea, coffee, or chocolate

  2. Looks delicious!

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