Cocoa Mix Showdown!: store-bought v. homemade

When it comes to having a showdown of something homemade versus something store-bought, my immediate inclination is to assume that the homemade version will not only taste better but also be less expensive. Often this is true, particularly because you pay for the convenience of not having to make it yourself. (And sometimes that “convenience” feels rather necessary!)

Regardless, those same rules do not apply with this showdown. Katie and I decided to pit homemade hot cocoa mix against a store-bought version. We had the stipulation that both should be shelf-stable powder mixes, because we wanted to look at comparable versions of the same product. While I was fairly confident that I personally would like the homemade version better, I knew one thing right away: it would not be cheaper!

You can get a 10-pack of powdered hot cocoa mix on sale for about $1.50. The bittersweet chocolate alone in this recipe costs twice that much. But we went for it. We mixed both versions with warm milk and offered marshmallows (of course!). What would our tasters prefer?

Pretty much all of the children present preferred the store-bought powder mix. It was sweeter and familiar. For the adults it was split. Some preferred the homemade version, whereas others wanted something in between the two options. The store-bought powder was almost sickeningly sweet, whereas the homemade version was very dark (entirely bittersweet and dark unsweetened cocoa). In reviewing the results, I did confess that when I make that mix for my family, I usually add extra Hershey’s syrup to my kids’ cups to make it a sweeter drink for them. Me? The darkest chocolate you can give me!

So here’s the beauty of a homemade cocoa mix: it’s homemade! You can tailor it to your specific chocolate preferences. Like dark chocolate? Use dark. Like milk chocolate? Use milk. Want it sweeter? Add sugar. The downside to the homemade is the price. We don’t go through very much hot chocolate in our house. For me, I can make this mix once and it will last us until the next year. If you are hosting a party, this one mix could be gone in one night. Worth it? That’s for you to decide. I will personally continue to make my family a batch every year, but if we are going to have 10 children over for snowmen and hot cocoa, I’ll probably grab a 10-pack for $1.50. For them, it’s still hot cocoa!

~ Theresa

What you need:



  • 3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate (bar or chips)
  • 2/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. malted milk powder (or regular dry milk powder)
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • mini marshmallows (optional)


  • food processor (if using bittersweet bar)
  • spatula
  • jar

Time: 10 minutes

Freezeable: I’ve never frozen it because it’s shelf stable for a long time and haven’t needed to. I assume that you can.

Serves: 10-12

Multiplying the recipe: Yes! I’ve made 10 of these at once to give out as Christmas gifts.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix:

If you are using a bittersweet chocolate bar, break it into large pieces. Blend in a food processor until broken into small pieces. Add the rest of the ingredients (either in the food processor or by hand) until well combined. If you are using bittersweet chocolate chips, simply combine all ingredients until well blended.

Pour mixture into an air-tight jar.

To serve: Heat 1 cup milk to desired temperature and add 3-4 heaping tablespoons of the hot cocoa mix. Serve with marshmallows!


About Cooking for the Fam

Katie and Theresa are sisters-in-law who are passionate about food, passionate about family, and passionate about making and sharing food with their families. The Fam needs to eat. Make it good!
This entry was posted in DIY, party food, Showdown, Sides. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cocoa Mix Showdown!: store-bought v. homemade

  1. Pingback: Weekly Menu Plan #7 | Cooking for the Fam

  2. Pingback: Portable Foods (for Picnics, Kids’ Sports Nights…) | Cooking for the Fam

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