ANSWER: From our research we found that there are many hot chocolate brands that aren't vegan, but there are also plenty that are!
There's a reason that hot cocoa brings up warm memories of childhood. This classic chocolatey beverage makes everyone feel good, and there's a type of hot cocoa for everyone. Veganism is no reason to leave this drink behind - you just need to find the right product for you. Just omit the marshmallows, unless of course you were going to get some vegan ones!!
Because a lot of different products can be considered hot cocoa mixes, we decided to keep it simple. We haven't included any straight cocoa or cacao powders in this list, both because they are almost always vegan and because they aren't a true hot cocoa mix. The only exception is the Ghirardelli cocoa powder, because it's massively popular as a hot cocoa mix and we felt it shouldn't be left off the list.
For healthy options, there’s Four Sigmatic. The products from this company are less indulgent hot cocoas than healthy, before-bed drinks that are made with mushrooms (yes, mushrooms) to help reduce stress, prevent headaches, and relax you. They’re labelled vegan, so if you’re looking for a way to de-stress and you love chocolate, give the Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix – either with Reishi or with Cordyceps – a go.
Lakanto is another brand that offers a healthier alternative to hot cocoa. Their Drinking Chocolate is vegan, probiotic, zero calorie, sugar free, and made with monkfruit as a sweetener instead of stevia – so if you don’t like the taste of stevia, this is a great alternative.
As mentioned, this list has one pure cocoa powder: Ghirardelli, which makes chocolate blocks and high quality cocoa powders. One of these poweders, the Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa Powder, is a popular favorite. It’s described as being rich and full of chocolate flavor, but not sweet; when making your own hot cocoa, you can add sweetener if you would like.
There are a couple of brands to look out for in stores. Most are accidentally vegan, so make sure you check the ingredients every time you buy - they can change. Use any of the store locators below to see if you can find them near you!
Ghirardelli is the obvious choice. Their numerous accidentally vegan options can be found at plenty of stores, including Walmart and Target.
If you're on the west coast, look out for Cacoco, which has an assortment of hot cocoa mixes that are often vegan. Cacoco is found in natural health stores and in Whole Foods.
NibMor does a range of hot cocoa mixes, which are almost all vegan. They can be found at various stores across the country.
There are undoubtedly plenty more accidentally vegan options - read the back of some labels and you're sure to find something you love. If all else fails, you can pick up some plain cocoa powder or chocolate bar and melt them into some plant milks!
There is only one main ingredient that you need to look out for, and that is common in many cocoa mixes: milk. This can be found under myriad of different names, including 'whey', 'milk powder', and the vague 'dairy ingredients'. Most countries require allergens to be listed at the bottom of the ingredients list, so it's quick to look here to see if there's any milk present. However, you should always look over the ingredients just to be sure.
Other additives may not be vegan. Niacin, which is listed in many hot cocoa mixes, can be sourced from non-vegan products. However, given that there's only a slim possibility that it is non-vegan, and it's such a small component of most mixes, we recommend that you don't worry too much about it. It's better to be 99.9% vegan than 0% vegan, after all - don't sweat the small stuff. To read more about trace ingredients, please refer to our article on sugar.
Hey! I’m Michelle and I write product reviews for ThriveCuisine.com. I’m always preparing healthy / plant based foods and I’ve developed a knack for helping people get the best bang for their buck.