Cold weather calls for warm drinks, and nothing says winter like a mug of steaming hot chocolate.  Powdered hot chocolate mixes range in price from cheap to pricey. I wondered: does price correlate with the quality of a hot chocolate mix? Or are they all more or less the same product?

To determine the answer, I purchased six different mixes at local groceries for testing, tasting. As some brands recommend water and some milk, I tried each brand with both. I then recorded tasting notes and ranked them on a scale of one to five with five being the best.  


Nestlé Classic Rich Milk Chocolate Flavor Hot Cocoa Mix

Price: $1.29 / $0.29 per serving

Milk score: 3/5

Water score: 3/5

Notes: This is the most standard of the bunch; not overwhelmingly flavorful, but still pleasant. This mix has a light, simple chocolate flavor. I didn’t notice much of a difference between the water and milk version.


Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Flavor

Price: $2.79 / $0.35 per serving

Milk score: 3/5

Water score: 1/5

Notes: The water version tasted like plastic. Swiss Miss is a little smokey, quite sweet and not particularly chocolatey.


Sillycow Farms Chocolate Truffle Hot Chocolate

Price: $8.49 / $0.49 per serving

Milk score: 2/5

Water score*: 1/5

Notes: Tasteless and thin with water, this mix is not improved much with milk. It has a light sweetness, but no chocolate flavor. I’d recommend  ignoring the suggested powder measurements and mixing to taste.


Ghiradelli Chocolate Premium Hot Cocoa Double Chocolate  Flavor

Price: $6.49 / $0.54 per serving

Milk score: 4/5

Water score*:  2/5

Notes: This hot chocolate mix isn’t for kids, with a creamy, bittersweet chocolate flavor. It loses richness and becomes too bitter with water.


Equal Exchange Organic Dark Hot Chocolate

Price: $7.99 / $0.94 per serving

Milk score: 4/5

Water Score*: 3/5

Notes: This bittersweet mix is the richest option in the list and, at nearly $1 per serving, it’s also the most expensive. Better with milk, but surprisingly not awful with water.


365 Organic Hot Cocoa Milk Chocolate Flavor Mix

Price: $3.99 / $0.39 per serving

Milk Score*: 2/5

Water score: 1/5 

Notes: This thin attempt at hot chocolate was my least favorite on the list. It’s not chocolatey at all and actually tastes more like caramel than chocolate. It’s only slightly improved with milk.


* = not recommended by manufacturer.