Simple ways to make the simplest winter drink even better.

Hot chocolate: a staple for warming oneself in the harsh winter months. To keep things easy, most of us use instant hot chocolate mix instead of making it from scratch. But this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a bland cup of hot cocoa, free from extra ingredients. With just a couple extra ingredients or a little bit of prep, you can turn instant hot chocolate into a dream. Here are some ideas for upgrading your cup!

  • 1. Make it Minty

    Once you've made your hot chocolate, add a few drops of peppermint extract and stir it in for a simple, minty hot cocoa. For the finishing touch, add in a peppermint candy cane to swizzle around as you drink. The ultimate winter treat!
  • 2. Add a Candy Stirrer

    You've seen these before--spoons encrusted in chocolate and candy to stir into a hot drink. Make your own with a tutorial from Delicious Delicious Delicious to add into coffee, tea or, of course, hot chocolate! They also make excellent gifts.
  • 3. Add Cookies and Cream

    Here's how to easily create a distinct cookies and cream flavor: grind up a handful of Oreo cookies in a food processor or blender, then add to your hot chocolate. Put a dollop of whipped cream at the top covered in some more crushed Oreos, and voila!
  • 4. S'mores in a Cup

    Who says s'mores are only for cooking up by the fire? Or have to be dry, for that matter? S'mores hot chocolate is a little extra work, but uses your standard hot cocoa mix as a base--check out a tutorial from Minimalist Baker here.
  • 5. Jam it Up

    If you love chocolates with fruity filling inside, replicate the flavor by scooping any jelly of your choice into your next cup of cocoa. Don't be turned off by the textural difference; just stir in well for this sweet treat.
  • 6. Nutella Makes it All Better

    Do you need convincing? Stir a spoonful of everyone's favorite hazelnut spread for a great nutty, chocolaty flavor.
  • 7. Get Zesty

    A few orange rind peels steeped in hot chocolate add a tangy kick to the drink that citrus lovers will crave! 
  • 8. Make a Drinkable Reese's Cup

    Like Nutella, a spoonful of peanut butter does wonders when stirred into a cup of cocoa. You'll have a thick, scrumptious drink reminiscent of Reese's cups!
  • 9. Add Some Ice Cream

    If you really want a thick and creamy hot cocoa, add a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream. This adds as much flavor as it does texture. Make sure your cocoa is as hot as possible (but not boiling) before adding ice cream and it'll remain warm.
  • 10. Get Caffeinated

    If you want to wake up, add some coffee or espresso to your cocoa. For simplicity's sake, don't be afraid to use an instant variety.