Life Hacks

The Hidden Element to Elevate Your Hot Chocolate to Unprecedented Decadence

Transform your homemade hot cocoa recipe into a contender for the creamiest drinking chocolate using this clever trick.

Winter has officially embraced us with its frigid chill, but there are ways to enhance the enjoyment of this icy season. One of my preferred methods for navigating through winter is by indulging in a comforting mug of rich and velvety hot chocolate. While I typically rely on regular boxed cocoa mix, I have a special technique that elevates my hot chocolate to rival even the most sophisticated café’s indulgent drinking chocolate: I incorporate cornstarch.

Cornstarch proves to be a versatile and forgiving thickening agent that can effortlessly become a staple in your culinary repertoire. A mere teaspoon or two is often sufficient to create a harmonious blend, whether suspending ingredients like melted chocolate in low-fat milk or whisked eggs in egg drop soup. The key is to be mindful of when you activate the starch’s thickening properties.

Available as a super-fine powder in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, cornstarch cannot be added directly to boiling soup or hot cocoa. It undergoes gelatinization just below boiling temperatures (starting around 145°F and reaching its full potential at about 203°F). Failure to disperse the powder can result in lumps when introduced to boiling liquid. To prevent this, either create a “slurry” by mixing the cornstarch with a cold liquid (as cold liquid won’t initiate the gelatinization process) or blend the dry cornstarch with another powder or granulated mix, such as sugar or hot chocolate mix.

While I have great respect for a homemade hot cocoa powder mix, this winter, I find myself favoring the convenience of store-bought boxed pouches. The beauty of the cornstarch trick lies in its versatility, allowing you to enhance the consistency of any hot chocolate variant, providing it with a more opulent and thick texture.

How to make thicker hot chocolate from a store-bought mix

To prepare the powdered mix, incorporate the cornstarch directly into the powdered ingredients. Whisk these dry components together thoroughly for approximately 30 seconds, ensuring there are no discernible bits or clumps of white cornstarch. Subsequently, heat your preferred liquid to boiling or near boiling. Personally, I opt for a combination of water and almond milk, but employing water alone with this technique still yields a decadent flavor.

Boil water using an electric kettle and promptly pour it into the powdered mixture infused with cornstarch. Whisk the ingredients together, resulting in a smooth and chocolatey blend boasting a cafe-worthy silken consistency. The recommended ratio is between one and two teaspoons of cornstarch for every six ounces of liquid, depending on your desired level of luxuriousness for the drink.

How to make thick hot chocolate from scratch

You can employ cornstarch not only to thicken stovetop hot cocoas but also for indulgent drinking chocolates if you seek the ultimate comfort. Instead of blending the cornstarch into the dry ingredients, especially if they’re not present, opt for creating a cornstarch slurry. Begin by pouring three-quarters of a cup of milk or water into a small pot and setting the heat to medium-low.

While the liquid in the pot warms up, use the remaining quarter cup of liquid to make a slurry. For a cup of liquid with chocolate in the recipe, use a teaspoon and a half of cornstarch; for recipes with cocoa powder, use two teaspoons of cornstarch. Add the cornstarch directly to the small amount of liquid, stirring until fully dissolved. Once the pot of liquid begins to boil, incorporate the cornstarch slurry, leading to a slight thickening of the milk within 10 to 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and blend in the other ingredients until fully incorporated.

The ensuing recipe is designed for a sumptuous cup of drinking chocolate. While any chocolate chips or chunks can be used, I prefer slightly higher quality chocolate than TollHouse for this particular recipe. Bar chocolate or Ghirardelli chips often have a lower melting point, making it easier to whisk the mixture into a thick, silken chocolate elixir. Opting for 72% chocolate will result in a velvety, bitter chocolate drink, but if a sweeter taste is desired, simply stir in a spoonful of sugar or honey directly into your mug to adjust.

Easy Drinking Chocolate Recipe


  • 1 cup of cold liquid (water, milk, or a combination), divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup (2 ounces) high-quality chocolate chips
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional, if your chocolate is very bitter)


  1. Begin by dividing the cold liquid: pour three-quarters into a small pot over medium-low heat and reserve one quarter in a small bowl with the cornstarch. While the pot warms up, stir the cornstarch and water together to ensure complete dissolution.
  2. Once the milk in the pot starts bubbling around the edges, incorporate the cornstarch mixture, stirring continuously until it thickens, typically within 10 to 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and introduce the salt and chocolate chips. Allow the mixture to sit for one minute to soften the chocolate, then whisk until a smooth consistency is achieved. Taste the drinking chocolate, add sugar if desired, and savor immediately.