Herb-Infused Hot Cocoa: How to Make This Blissful Treat

Homemade hot chocolate is delicious, but it’s even more incredible with herbs! Try this herb-infused hot cocoa for an extra boost of flavor and health in your mug.

The first time I threw a few pinches of rose petals into my steaming pan of hot-chocolate-in-the-works, I knew I was on to something beautiful.

It looked like Valentine’s Day in a mug with those ruby-hued petals floating in their cocoa pool. And the taste? It was so perfect. Deeply chocolatey with a rosy sweetness.

I was in love.

Ever since that day, I’ve known herb-infused hot cocoa takes hot chocolate to a whole new level. Herbs, like rose petals, mint, and ginger, add additional flavors to this comforting drink. They also add some mild health benefits, too!

Mug of herb-infused hot cocoa with ginger, peppermint, rose petals, and chamomile

The next time you’re in the mood for a warm cup of cocoa, try making an herbal hot chocolate. It’s actually quite simple and the results are worth the extra steps! I’ve got all the details for you here, including a printable recipe card at the end of the article.

How Hot Cocoa Can Be a Superfood

You might think that hot chocolate is a treat you should only enjoy now and then when you want to splurge a little with your calories.

I disagree.

Even without adding any extra herbs or special ingredients to a cup of homemade hot chocolate, you’ve got the makings of a superfood.

You can easily make a guilt-free mug of hot cocoa with just three ingredients: milk, cocoa powder, and honey. All of these offer health benefits.

Milk: A Delicious Base for Warm, Soothing Drinks

I love the whole raw milk my family gets weekly from a local farmer. It’s full of nutrients like protein, vitamins, and healthy fats. This milk really is a superfood that makes for a delicious, creamy base for warm drinks like this cocoa and my Chamomile Cardamom Latte.

Pasteurized and homogenized conventional milk from the store is an entirely different product, though. This milk is more likely to cause digestive upsets, skin issues, and other discomforts.

If you can’t easily get raw milk in your area or don’t digest it well, you can also make great hot cocoa with goat’s milk, almond milk, or coconut milk without additives. Oat and hemp milk are other options, but I personally don’t recommend soy milk because of GMO contamination and the potential for it to interfere with healthy thyroid function and estrogen levels.

Warming up a pan of herbal hot chocolate with rose petals and ginger pieces

Cocoa/Cacao Powder: Delicious and Healthful

The cacao bean (Theobroma cacao) is a plant-based powerhouse, chock full of important phytochemicals like flavanoids and minerals like magnesium.

In fact, the botanical name Theobroma demonstrates how special cocoa is. It comes from two Greek words demonstrating just how powerful cocoa is: “theo” means god and “broma” means food!

You can find the beans in two forms: cacao and cocoa. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. It is. The two terms are used inconsistently and so it’s sometimes hard to know what each one is referring to in a given recipe or product.

But here’s the quick breakdown that holds true most of the time:

  • Cacao usually refers to the fermented and dehydrated beans from the Theobroma tree pod. You can get cacao beans, nibs (broken up beans), and powder. This raw, unroasted form may contain more phytochemicals but has a subtler flavor than cocoa.
  • Cocoa usually refers to the fermented, dehydrated, and roasted beans from the Theobroma tree pod. Like cacao, you can get cocoa beans, nibs, and powder. While cocoa may lose some phytochemicals during the roasting process, it has a richer, deeper flavor than cacao.

Both cacao and cocoa are linked to many improved health outcomes, so you can choose either one for your herb-infused hot cocoa. I most often use cocoa powder because I enjoy the taste best.

Chocolate has a naughty reputation because most people eat it in highly-processed, sugary forms like cakes, candy bars, and syrupy drinks. Dark chocolate products with at least 70% cocoa/cacao allow you to enjoy your chocolate and get some great health benefits, too. I’m a 95% kinda gal, myself.

Along with choosing organic cocoa or cacao powder, I also encourage you to choose fair trade cocoa/cacao products. Chocolate products are often produced with unfair or slave labor practices so they can be sold cheaply. Choosing fair trade is a simple way to love our overseas neighbors who work so hard so we can enjoy this amazing food.

Herbal Hot Cocoa with herbs for flavor and health: ginger, chamomile, peppermint, rose petals

Raw Honey: The Sweetest Gift from Bees

Honey is an incredible sweetener, especially when you can get it in raw and from a local beekeeper!

Raw, local honey contains enzymes, antioxidants, and even proteins and minerals, along with trace amounts of local pollen. Polish researchers found that these nutrients and beneficial compounds are usually missing from imported and/or processed honey.

Because honey contains additional nutrients, it can even be a safe sweetener for diabetics when used in moderation. However, it’s important to never give honey to babies under 1 year old.

In homemade herbal hot chocolate, honey adds a delicious sweetness without giving you the typical blood sugar spike and crash you can get from hot chocolate mixes or syrups.

Turning Hot Cocoa into a Wonder Drink with Herbs

So while homemade hot cocoa can be a guilt-free drink when it’s made with simple ingredients, adding herbs to your mug takes it to a whole new level!

Herb-infused hot cocoa might sound fancy, but it’s really simple to make. You just add your choices of dried herbs (or fresh, if you happen to have them) to the milk and cocoa as you warm it. Then you strain out the herbs when you pour the hot cocoa into your mug.

For an even simpler option, you can simply stir in extra spices or freshly-powdered herbs when you warm up your cocoa.

Infusing your hot chocolate with herbs gives your cocoa additional flavor while also adding subtle health benefits. You won’t get as many herbal benefits as when you drink an herbal infusion that steeped for an hour, but you’ll still enjoy some extra herbal goodness in your mug.

The best part about making herbal hot chocolate is that you have so many fun options! By combining herbs or trying out new ones, you can enjoy a totally new flavor profile.

Close up of herb-infused hot cocoa with ginger, chamomile, peppermint, and rose petals

Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this post. If you make a purchase through these links, your cost is the same while I can earn a commission. Thanks!

Herbs to Add to Hot Cocoa for Flavor and Health

The best herbs to add to your hot cocoa are the ones you also enjoy drinking in herbal teas. Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Rose (Rosa spp.) is my favorite herb to add and is perfect for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, or anytime you want to feel extra special. It adds a very subtle flavor that compliments the chocolate perfectly. Always use organic rose petals.
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is my go-to if I want to relax with hot chocolate before bed. A teaspoon of the herb is plenty to give your cocoa a calming flavor without overpowering the chocolate.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) adds a yummy warmth. If you use the fresh root, a pinky tip-sized piece will give you a sweeter, softer flavor. The dried root powder packs more of a spicy kick. Both are excellent.
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita) gives you that classic minty-chocolate taste. For a milder mint flavor, try spearmint (Mentha spicata).
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis) may not be an herb you’d initially think about adding to hot chocolate, but it’s actually quite good! Sage gives the cocoa a complex herby flavor and makes it a great metal pick-me-up.
  • Holy basil or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) happens to be one of my favorite herbs. In hot chocolate, it adds an almost fruity taste and gives you a bit of adaptogenic goodness.
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) lends a sweet, apple-like taste, similar to it’s lovely scent. This is another great herb to add if you’re sipping herbal hot cocoa before bed.
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) doesn’t have a particularly nice flavor on its own, but it adds a deep, earthy flavor and calming adaptogenic properties to hot cocoa. If you’d like to add ashwagandha, I recommend using up to 1 teaspoon of the dried powdered root.
  • Maca (Lepidium meyenii) will give your herbal cocoa a malt or caramel-like flavor, so it’s a great addition. Maca is often used to promote healthy hormone levels and fertility. My favorite maca powder comes from The Maca Team.

For quality, organic herbs and spices, I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs or Starwest Botanicals.

Mt Rose Herbs banner

Herb-Infused Hot Cocoa Recipe (with Herb Combination Options)

Adding herbs to your hot cocoa is a fun way to add more flavor and boost the health benefits. It’s a simple process that hardly takes up any extra time or effort. Have fun choosing your herbs or herb combinations! And don’t forget your printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Herb-Infused Hot Chocolate mug with herbs

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk of choice
  • 1-2 tablespoons organic, fair trade cocoa or cacao powder (from Mountain Rose Herbs or Starwest Botanicals)
  • Herbs of choice: use up to 2 tablespoons whole herbs (like rose petals or chamomile flowers), 2 teaspoons crushed herb (like peppermint leaf or sage leaf), or 1 teaspoon powdered herb (like maca or ashwagandha). A great place to start is 2 tablespoons rose petals or 2 teaspoons crushed peppermint leaf.
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon local raw honey (If you can’t find local raw honey, Healthy Traditions offers excellent honey here)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Instructions

  1. Add the milk, cocoa/cacao powder, and your herbs of choice to a small saucepan and set over warm heat.
  2. Gently warm the milk while whisking occasionally so that the cocoa/cacao powder mixes completely into the milk. Break up any cocoa/cacao powder clumps with the back of a spoon and whisk to combine.
  3. Continue warming the milk until the mixture steams but doesn’t simmer or boil. This should take around 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and allow the herbs to infuse into the hot cocoa for 5 more minutes. Whisk again, then pour through a wire mesh strainer into two small mugs or one large mug. If you only use powdered herbs or spices, you can skip straining.
  5. Add honey to taste and vanilla extract, if using. Stir to dissolve the honey, then enjoy your herb-infused hot cocoa!
herbal hot cocoa warming in a small pan

Herb Combination Options

After you try making herbal hot chocolate with single herbs a few times, you can start combining herbs for even more fun and flavor. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Ginger Rose: Infuse 2 tablespoons rose petals and a pinkytip-sized piece of peeled ginger
  • Cinnamint: Infuse 2 teaspoons crushed mint leaf into the cocoa while whisking in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • Adaptogen Cocoa: Infuse 1 teaspoon crushed holy basil while also adding 1 teaspoon powdered ashwagandha root
  • Lavender Sage: Infuse 1 teaspoon lavender buds and 1 teaspoon crushed sage
  • Maca Spice: Whisk in 1 teaspoon maca root powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder. If you’re brave, add a pinch of cayenne powder, too!
  • Chamomile Tulsi: Infuse 1 tablespoon chamomile blossoms with 1 teaspoon crushed holy basil

Printable Recipe Card for Herbal Hot Chocolate

Herb-Infused Hot Cocoa

Herb-Infused Hot Cocoa

Yield: 2 servings
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Take homemade hot chocolate to a delicious new level with this health-boosting herb-infused hot cocoa!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk of choice
  • 1-2 tablespoons organic, fair trade cocoa/cacao powder
  • Herbs of choice (see Notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Instructions

    1. Add the milk, cocoa/cacao powder, and your herbs of choice to a small saucepan and set over warm heat.
    2. Gently warm the milk while whisking occasionally so that the cocoa/cacao powder mixes completely into the milk. Break up any cocoa/cacao powder clumps with the back of a spoon and whisk to combine.
    3. Continue warming the milk until the mixture steams but doesn’t simmer or boil. This should take around 5 minutes.
    4. Turn off the heat and allow the herbs to infuse into the hot cocoa for 5 more minutes. Whisk again, then pour through a wire mesh strainer into two small mugs or one large mug. If you use powdered herbs like ashwagandha or maca, you can skip straining.
    5. Add honey to taste and vanilla extract, if using. Stir to dissolve the honey, then enjoy your herb-infused hot cocoa!

Notes

Many herbs can be great in hot chocolate. Try one or two of these:

  • Rose (Rosa spp.) adds a very subtle flavor that compliments the chocolate perfectly. Use up to 2 tablespoons.
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) gives your cocoa a calming flavor. Use up to 1 teaspoon lavender buds.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) adds a yummy warmth. Use a pinky tip-sized fresh piece or up to 1 teaspoon powdered ginger.
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita) gives a classic minty-chocolate taste. For a milder mint flavor, try spearmint (Mentha spicata). Use up to 2 teaspoons of either crushed herb.
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis) gives the cocoa a complex herby flavor and makes it a great metal pick-me-up. Use up to 2 teaspoons crushed herb.
  • Holy basil or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) adds an almost fruity taste and is adaptogenic. Use up to 2 teaspoons crushed herb.
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) lends a sweet, apple-like taste. Use up to 2 tablespoons whole herb.
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) adds a deep, earthy flavor and is a calming adaptogen. Use up to 1 teaspoon powdered herb.
  • Maca (Lepidium meyenii) gives a malt or caramel-like flavor, so it’s a great addition. Use up to 1 teaspoons herb.

For quality, organic herbs, I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest Botanicals.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 152Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 117mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 9g

I still drink plain, homemade hot chocolate from time to time when I don’t want to take the extra time to infuse the herbs.

But I’ll be the first to admit that, tasty as my mug is, it’s always missing something special.

Herb-infused hot cocoa is just a step above the rest. Whether you use mint, sage, or my beloved rose petals, herbs and hot chocolate are an incredible pairing.

Have you ever used herbs in your hot cocoa?

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