Sorry, Swiss Miss
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Credit: Photo by Rebecca Firkser

Ah, hot chocolate mix. It always reminds me of the ice skating rink where I took lessons in middle school. The hot chocolate mix was always ripped from pouches and always mixed with water that was either lukewarm or so hot you burned your tongue after one sip. As winter looms, tis the season for hot chocolate, so I set out on a mission to find the best grocery store hot chocolate mix. Sure, you can make hot chocolate from scratch, or you can buy an artisanal mix at a holiday pop-up, but sometimes, you just want to pick up a container of hot chocolate mix at the store. Spoiler alert: the pouch version from my ice skating days didn’t do so well. Also, for the purposes of this taste test I followed the directions on the package, so some of these were made with water and some with milk.

6. 365 Organic Hot Cocoa Mix, Rich Chocolate

I was actually surprised by how much I disliked the 365 hot chocolate mix. Ultimately, the mix (which I blended with hot water) was far too sweet for me. It also had a weird aftertaste, sort of like Sweet'n Low, which was confusing as the only sweetener used in the mix is organic cane syrup. A head-scratcher indeed.

5. Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix, Milk Chocolate

Swiss Miss is of course the classic hot chocolate mix in the States. I see it everywhere from office parties to childhood friends’ homes to aforementioned ice skating rinks. Though the drink (mixed with hot water) didn’t taste very good at all, its flavor was so ingrained in my psyche as “hot chocolate” that I felt it didn’t deserve last place.

4. Nestle Hot Chocolate Mix, Rich Chocolate

Albeit slightly richer and more chocolatey than 365 and Swiss Miss, Nestle’s hot chocolate (mixed with hot water) wasn’t anything to write home about. I’d certainly pick it over Swiss Miss, but if there were other things around to drink, I would not go out of my way to open another packet of this stuff.

3. Sillycow Farms Hot Chocolate Mix, Maple Chocolate

Sillycow’s chocolate maple hot chocolate (mixed with hot milk) was very, very sweet. Though it contained maple sugar and natural maple flavor, it somehow didn’t taste very maple-y at all, which was a major disappointment. It was, however, a very high jump up from the previous three cocoas.

2. Ghirardelli Premium Hot Cocoa, Double Chocolate

This one was pretty great. While I think in general I found all of these mixes too sweet and not chocolatey enough, the top two were as good as mixes get. When mixed with hot milk, the cocoa was creamy and sweet, but didn’t taste like a mix at all.

1. Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate

Guittard makes my favorite baking chocolate, and now I can say they make the best hot chocolate mix—excuse me, "drinking chocolate." But that’s not even a gimmicky phrase, as the mix is actually a blend of dutch-process cocoa powder and ground chocolate (along with cane sugar, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, and vanilla beans). When mixed with hot milk, the cocoa was clean-tasting, sweet, and more chocolatey than all the rest. There was no doubt in my mind that the gold medal goes to Guittard.