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How To Thicken Hot Chocolate – I Test 7 Methods [Pics]

If you’re staring at a watery, lifeless cup of hot chocolate, you need a fix – and fast!

In this article, I share the results of my experiment thickening hot chocolate with 7 different ingredients (and using a milk frother).

You’ll never drink a boring, thin hot chocolate again.

Here’s the quick answer.

The best way to thicken hot chocolate is with cornstarch. Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of milk to form a slurry, then mix it into your hot chocolate and continue to heat and stir as the mixture thickens. You can also add some marshmallows or melted chocolate to get a richer flavor.

A note on my experiment

I used a basic unsweetened cocoa powder and mixed it with the recommended amount of milk and sugar for one cup.

Next, I added my thickening agent and noted how well it thickened. 

Then I tasted the hot chocolate and noted any changes in the mouthfeel and the flavor.

Here’s what I tested.

Ways to thicken a hot chocolate:

  • Cream (for cream, I used less milk)
  • Melted chocolate
  • Corn scratch (flour and other starches are similar)
  • Xanthan gum (guar gum is similar)
  • Ground flaxseed (chia seeds or psyllium husk are similar)
  • Using a milk frother
  • Chocolate spread (peanut butter is similar)
  • Melted marshmallows

Results summary

ThickenerThickening powerTaste and textureOverall rating
CreamWeakCreamier taste and coats your mouth more7/10
Melted chocolateMediumRicher taste and heavier texture9/10
CornstarchStrongNo flavor changes, just thicker liquid9/10
MarshmallowsMediumSweetens the drink and adds some froth10/10 (my fav)
Xanthan gumVery strongNo change unless you add too much, then slimy7/10
Milk frotherWeakKeeps the drink light but adds some foam7/10
Chocolate spreadMediumRicher taste and heavier texture7/10
Flax seedsMedium-strongNutty taste and gel-like texture3/10

But as a quick summary: melted chocolate, marshmallows, cream, and chocolate spread are good for thickening and increasing the richness of the drink.

Cornstarch, xanthan gum, and a milk frother are good if you’re happy with the flavor and just want a thicker liquid.

I wasn’t a fan of flaxseed.

Remember, you don’t just need to use one thickener. For the thickest, most indulgent hot chocolate, use a mixture. Melted chocolate and cornstarch are a common combination.

Thickening hot chocolate with cream

A simple thickening method is to use cream (or half and half) as the liquid instead of milk.

You could replace all the milk with cream, but this would be too rich for most, so I kept half the milk and swapped the rest of the volume for cream.

Experiment with different proportions and see what works for you.

Note: if you’re not already using full-fat milk, switch that up IMMEDIATELY (and never use water).

Psst… did you know that heavy cream makes a great egg substitute for breading.


The cream didn’t thicken the drink substantially (it can only ever be as thick as the cream itself), but it definitely gave the drink a fuller-body-feel and creamier taste.

Using melted chocolate (instead of cocoa powder)

You might already be doing this, but if you’re not – get the chocolate out.

Actual melted chocolate gives a much thicker, more luxurious result. 

Using just melted chocolate will give a very rich drink, so most people end up using a mix of cocoa powder and real chocolate. 

For one cup of hot chocolate, 50g (1.75 ounces) of chocolate and a tablespoon of cocoa powder will give a nice thick drink.

Heat the milk and whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar. Then add the chocolate and stir 

What’s the best chocolate for hot chocolate?

Jacques Torres is a French chocolatier who owns a chocolate factory in Brooklyn. He knows a thing or two about hot chocolate.

According to Torres, you want to use 60-70% dark chocolate (bittersweet or semisweet). 

You can use chocolate chips, chunks, or shavings. 

You’re going to want to buy good quality chocolate since it will be the main thing you can taste in the drink. 

Cheaping out will leave you with inferior hot chocolate.

Brands I recommend include Guittard, Callebaut, Scharffen Berger, Valrhona, and Ghirardelli


I really enjoyed the result of adding melted chocolate to my drink, but I recommend having a smaller portion size because it gets pretty sickly towards the end. 

The drink coated my tongue nicely and felt thick.

Thickening hot chocolate with cornstarch (or flour)

Cornstarch is a common ingredient in thick hot chocolates because it thickens the drink without affecting the texture or flavor.


  1. Mix one teaspoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of milk and stir it until it forms a smooth paste. This is your cornstarch slurry.
  2. Heat your hot chocolate until it’s just below boiling.
  3. Mix the cornstarch slurry into your hot chocolate and stir until it thickens (it should take 1-2 minutes).
  4. Taste the hot chocolate to make sure there’s no starchy taste. If there is, heat it for another minute.

Cornstarch will only work at high temperatures.

It reaches its full thickening power just below the boiling point of water (in the ballpark of 203°F/95°C), so make sure your hot chocolate is hot enough.

One teaspoon of cornstarch will lightly thicken one cup of liquid.

You can adjust the quantities based on how much thickening you want and how many servings you have.

You always need to make a slurry with cornstarch before adding it to a liquid. If you add the dry powder in, it will clump, and you’ll have a lumpy drink.

Cornstarch alternatives

Flour is a common cornstarch substitution. 

You can follow the instructions above, but you need to double the amount of flour because flour is a less potent thickener.

Also, heat the hot chocolate for at least 5 minutes after adding the flour to cook off any raw flour taste.

Other substitutions include tapioca starch (use double the amount) or potato starch (a straight 1:1 sub).

Avoid arrowroot powder because it doesn’t work well with dairy. 


The cornstarch was one of my favorite methods because it didn’t alter the flavor or the texture of the hot chocolate at all (apart from making it thicker).

It was easy to use and was very effective. The hot chocolate looked and felt thicker.

The one thing to note is to make sure the hot chocolate gets hot enough to activate the cornstarch.

It can seem like it’s not working at first, but then the mixture will suddenly thicken.

Thickening hot chocolate with melted marshmallows

Marshmallows are traditionally put on top of hot chocolate for decoration, but you can also melt them and stir them into the hot chocolate (it’s a great way of using hard marshmallows up).

The sticky liquid helps to thicken the drink and make it feel more indulgent. 

Add 2-3 marshmallows to your hot chocolate and stir until they’re completely dissolved (then add a few on top for good measure).

Hold off on adding any sugar until you’ve added the marshmallows since they sweeten the drink quite a lot. 


This was my favorite method. It thickened the hot chocolate while keeping it light and airy. 

The marshmallows gave the drink an incredible flavor, and they foamed as they melted, so the drink had a frothy top.

Thickening hot chocolate with xanthan gum (or guar gum)

Xanthan gum is an extremely powerful thickener that you can get good results with, but it can also go very wrong (which is why it only gets a 7). 

I don’t suggest using xanthan gum unless you have a blender.

How to use xanthan gum to thicken hot chocolate:

  1. Measure out 0.1% to 0.5% of the hot chocolate’s weight in xanthan gum (or start with 1/8th of a teaspoon per cup of liquid).
  2. Mix the xanthan gum with some sugar.
  3. Create a vortex in the hot chocolate with a stick blender.
  4. Slowly sprinkle in the xanthan gum/sugar mixture while continuing to blend.
  5. Blend the mixture for 20-30 seconds.

You only need a tiny amount of xanthan gum to get a significant effect. If you add too much, the hot chocolate will develop an unpleasant, mucus-like texture. 

It’s best to start slowly and add more if you need.

Xanthan gum works instantly. 

If you just sprinkle it over your hot chocolate, it will clump on the surface and create little gel-like balls. 

The blender prevents this from happening by dispersing the xanthan gum as soon as it hits the liquid. 

Also, mixing the xanthan gum with sugar reduces the risk of it clumping because the sugar separates the particles.

If you mix the xanthan gum with a good amount of powdered sugar and sieve it over your hot chocolate, you might (and I mean might) be okay using a whisk.

Guar gum is a common substitute for xanthan gum and works in the same way. You can sub it in a 1:1 ratio.


Xanthan gum is by far the most effective thickener on this list and won’t affect the flavor of your hot chocolate. 

It worked really well for me this time and resulted in a thick, tasty drink.

But, it can hit and miss as to whether it works perfectly or goes wrong. 

If you’ve never used xanthan gum before, I suggest practicing with some water first so you get an idea of how it works.

Thickening hot chocolate with a milk frother

If you have a milk frother handy, this is a quick way to get a more luxurious mouthfeel out of your hot chocolate without adding any extra ingredients.

The milk frother doesn’t thicken the consistency of the liquid, but it creates a head of fluffy foam that gives the illusion of a thicker drink.


I actually really enjoyed my milk-frothed hot chocolate.

It felt decadent and expensive but light and fluffy all at the same time.

Thickening hot chocolate with chocolate spread

While I was searching my cupboards for all my thickeners, I came across a jar of chocolate spread and thought, ‘this would work perfectly to thicken a hot chocolate’, so out it came.

All you need to do is take a spoonful of the chocolate spread and mix it into the hot chocolate until it’s melted.

The more spread you use, the thicker the drink will be.

Peanut butter would also work, but this will alter the flavor of the drink quite a bit.

Most spreads tend to be pre-sweetened, so it’s a good idea not to add any sugar until after you’ve added the spread.

Otherwise, you can end up with an overly sweet drink.


My chocolate spread hot chocolate was pretty similar to the melted chocolate result.

The drink was thicker and much more decadent.

ou pick up a lot of the flavor of the chocolate spread, so make sure it’s one you like!

Thickening hot chocolate with ground flaxseed/chia seeds

Flax and chia seeds expand when they’re mixed with water, so you can use them as thickeners.

You simply need to add a teaspoon (or more) to your hot chocolate, stir and wait 5-10 minutes for it to thicken. 

They’ll give the drink a gel-like texture, which some people won’t like. But, they have a ton of health benefits and also give the drink a protein hit.

Flax seeds have a distinct flavor that you’ll notice in the drink if you add enough. Chia seeds have a more neutral taste. 

For both flax and chia, it’s better to use the ground versions because they create a nicer texture. The whole seeds will be more noticeable in the drink. 

Also, you can only benefit from the nutritional benefits of flax seeds when they’re ground as the body can’t digest the whole seed (this doesn’t apply to chia seeds).


I used ground flax seeds and didn’t enjoy the end result, mainly because of the drink’s texture. It was too gel-like, and you could feel the grains of the flaxseed on your tongue. 

In terms of flavor, the hot chocolate didn’t taste horrible, but it definitely tasted ‘healthier’ (if that’s even a thing!). 

Also, the flax seeds took too long to work for me. When I want a hot chocolate, I want it now.

Masa harina – an honorable mention

Masa harina is a flour made from nixtamalized corn. It works as a thickener because it rehydrates instantly in a liquid. 

It’s a popular ingredient in Mexican hot chocolate, otherwise known as champurrado  (where its purpose is to thicken the drink). 

The flour has a very mild corn taste, but the sweet notes complement the chocolate nicely. Mexican hot chocolate typically also contains cinnamon. 

I didn’t test masa harina, but I’m pretty sure it works (or it wouldn’t be so popular)!

I Test 7 Ways To Thicken Hot Chocolate

I share the results of my experiment thickening hot chocolate with 7 different ingredients (and using a milk frother).
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: hot chocolate, thicken hot chocolate
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 77kcal


  • 1 portion hot chocolate
  • 1 tsp cornstarch


  • Mix one teaspoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of milk and stir it until it forms a smooth paste. This is your cornstarch slurry.
  • Heat your hot chocolate until it’s just below boiling.
  • Mix the cornstarch slurry into your hot chocolate and stir until it thickens (it should take 1-2 minutes).
  • Taste the hot chocolate to make sure there’s no starchy taste. If there is, heat it for another minute.
  • One thing to note is to make sure the hot chocolate gets hot enough to activate the cornstarch. It can seem like it’s not working at first, but then the mixture will suddenly thicken.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 77kcal

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