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Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate (Lower in Sugar, too)

December 3, 2023

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We’re big hot chocolate fans here. My kids want it every morning, and it’s one of my favorites as well. Unfortunately, it’s basically just dairy and sugar and a great way to start the day if your ideal day starts with a stomachache.

Dairy-Free and Lower Sugar Hot Chocolate

Mugs | Crockpot | Ladle

With the dairy allergies in our home, I’ve been trying to find a recipe that we can all sit down and drink together, and not slip into a sugar coma right after. My old recipe (the one I’ve made for years) is basically made with chocolate bars, but a dairy-free equivalent would cost like $100 (good dairy-free chocolate is $$$) so I decided to try a different approach. Cocoa nibs.

Dairy-Free and Lower Sugar Hot Chocolate

All Kitchen Sources

Cocoa nibs are crushed up cocoa beans that have been roasted, but not processed into what we recognize as chocolate. They have no sweetness, and are all bitter. But that allows us to control where our sweetness comes from and make a better swap. Steeping the cocoa nibs with peppermint tea packets creates a great base for our drink, that can then be built upon.

I use a mix of sugar and Stevia. The ratio depends on how low you want to be on the glycemic index, and how high your tolerance is for natural sweeteners like Stevia. They can be a bit metallic, so I prefer a mix of the two. With this recipe each 8oz cup ends with about 1 tbsp of sugar instead of the average 1.5tbsp from popular store bought varieties, but that can be dropped further if desired by adding less sugar and adding a few more drops of Stevia.

Dairy-Free and Lower Sugar Hot Chocolate
Dairy-Free and Lower Sugar Hot Chocolate
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate (Lower in Sugar, too)

A dairy-free alternative to classic hot chocolate. Cocoa nibs and peppermint tea steeped in hot water, then added to a variety of creamy, dairy-free products. This recipe makes 1 gallon – about 16 servings.
Course: Drinks
Servings: 16 cups


  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 10-15 oz cocoa nibs depending on how strong you want it
  • 4 tea bags peppermint tea
  • 25.4 oz nut pods creamer I used toasted marshmallow flavor and it was bussin'
  • 20 oz vanilla flax milk
  • 2 14oz cans coconut cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 15 drops Stevia vanilla flavor


  • In a large pot on the stove, bring the water to a boil.
  • If desired, separate the cocoa nibs into 5-7 equal parts and wrap in cheesecloth, then tie up tightly. Otherwise you'll need a fine-mesh strainer on hand.
  • To the hot water add your cocoa nibs and peppermint tea packets. Turn off the heat and let steep for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove the tea bags and cocoa nibs (strain if needed). Rinse out the pot and add the liquid back. Add the remaining ingredients and heat over medium low until steaming, but don't let it boil.
  • Add to a crockpot on the "warm" setting to keep warm. Enjoy!

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What do you think?

  1. Aggie Breski says:

    Best hot chocolate I have ever tasted !

  2. Devon says:

    5 stars
    Just made this this morning and not only is it tasty but the house smells amazing. Thank you!

  3. Bfunkydiva says:

    5 stars
    I’m lactose intolerant and my SIL is allergic to milk. We tried it and ate super grateful to have hot chocolate again! We were only making it for a few people so I cut the recipe in 1/4. I didn’t have coconut cream but had sweetened condensed coconut milk and omitted the sugar and stevia. It was still probably more sugar but it was so good! Cant wait to have my sil try it tomorrow at our tea party!! Thanks for sharing this recipe 🩷

  4. JULIE says:

    What a neat idea to seep cocoa nibs and peppermint. I’ve never thought of that before but am going to try just as a tea base.

  5. Amy Powers says:

    I want to try a smaller amount before I make a full batch. Any tips on how to make this for 2 or 4 people to try?

  6. Maryn says:

    This sounds so good!! I am totally going to try this season. Is the coconut cream the same as coconut milk? The link isn’t working for me when I click it.

    PS so grateful for your guys’ account bc I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and seeing Julia’s journey gives me hope!! ❤️

  7. Sally serrano says:

    Hi Chris, love your recipes. I’m wondering if you’ve ever used a product called Lokanto as a sweetener? It’s basically monkfruit from what I’ve read. I’d love to know what you think of it.

    • Chris says:

      I’ve used some of their baking mixes and they’ve been pretty good! We don’t do no sugar, but try to use more natural sweeteners in conjunction with sugar to reduce our sugar intake. I’ve used monkfruit in tandem with sugar and I think it’s a good option for some things.

  8. Vicki says:

    It sounds good but some of us on IG wanted to know why you can’t just use cocoa powder? Isn’t that just ground cocoa beans? Would it take more sugar to sweeten it since it is probably stronger than just making a tea of the nibs?

    • Chris says:

      You totally can, I just don’t prefer the mouthfeel from cocoa powder. I feel like it often makes my mouth feel cakey after drinking it so I made this recipe to drink a little more cleanly.

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