How Many Scoops Of Hot Chocolate Mix Are Needed For The Perfect Cup?

There are few things more perfect than a mug of hot chocolate, warm and comforting and full of that craveable cocoa flavor. You can even make iced or frozen hot chocolate versions for hot weather days. But there's a universal question we all must address when measuring our mix: How many scoops will yield the ideal cup?

Most brands come with instructions on the package — sometimes for a range of volumes. Swiss Miss is fairly specific, suggesting 2 tablespoons for 6 ounces and 3 tablespoons for 8 ounces of water (or milk, for a "more indulgent" version). Then there are professionals like renowned pastry chef Jacque Torres who have their own opinions, too. In a YouTube video, Torres makes a go-to ratio suggestion: "The recipe is simple: double the milk than chocolate powder." He proceeds to craft his iteration with 1 cup of 2% milk and ½ cup of hot chocolate mix. Other sources provide more vague instructions, like to use 3 tablespoons and top off with water, but that begs the questions how big is your mug, and how much water?

The reality is that there is an abundance of hot chocolate brands (we sipped on and ranked 13 of them), many of which feature different ingredients and give varying directions. Add to that the element of person preference, and in short, the honest answer is that there may be no exactly perfect recipe. Instead, there are some things to consider that will help you dial in your favorite formula.

Considerations for your cocoa

If you're using a pre-packaged mix, there are a few major decisions to make out of the gate: What liquid you'd like to use, and what size cup you're looking to yield. The former will have an impact on flavor and viscosity, while the latter makes a difference to the concentration of chocolate in the final product.

The question of milk versus water is a hot debate, and may impact how many scoops you want for your mug. If you prefer the creaminess of milk, you may be losing some of the deeper cocoa flavors. Think about a bar of milk versus dark chocolate — the former is sweeter and less bitter, while the latter is arguably a more powerful chocolate punch. In fact, there is even a case to be made that non-dairy chocolate sorbets are more satisfying than chocolate ice cream for this same reason. Some brands do make dark chocolate options, but if you want the creaminess of milk but still crave super strong cocoa, you may want to increase your scoop ratio.

The preparation method also matters. Jacques Torres demonstrates a double boiling process, first heating the milk so that it can easily dissolve the mix when it's added, and then heating the hot chocolate again in order to further concentrate the finished product by evaporating more of the liquid. If you're simply stirring in your powder and skipping this extra step, you may want a little more of the mix.

Making your own perfect mug

While instant mixes are super convenient, you can also make your own instant cocoa mix. There are many recipes out there that prioritize ease and batch-ability (and make great gifts) — and might even produce the world's best hot chocolate. But one of the biggest benefits with this approach is that you can customize your instant mix for your preferences. You have the ability to adjust how much sugar to cocoa powder, the type of cocoa, whether you add elements like confectioners' sugar or nonfat dry milk (which both promote sweetness and creaminess), or any additional flavorings (like cinnamon or cayenne pepper for a little extra oomph).

In any case, the answer to the big hot chocolate question of how many scoops may be a bit vague, but there's exciting possibility in the openness of it. You can adjust based on your mood. Perhaps you're in a milky mood one day, and in need of a more concentrated cocoa kick the next. The beauty of these convenient powders is that you can easily adjust based on craving. Start with scoops on the smaller side and increase as you go until it's just right. The perfect cup will be the one you create for yourself.