Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Published January 24, 2013. Updated January 3, 2019

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Hot chocolate upgraded with salted caramel! This is such a decadent comforting drink and it’s the ultimate way to warm up on a cold day!

caramel hot chocolate

Have you ever wondered, why do we call it hot cocoa half of the time and hot chocolate the other half of the time? The answer is very simple really and makes complete sense.

Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder, therefor it doesn’t have the cocoa butter in it and hot chocolate is made from chocolate (which contains both the cocoa and cocoa butter).

It seems pretty obvious and I had never really thought about why there are two names, until I went to post this recipe and was wondering what to call it.

You may have noticed my set today is dun duh duh dah – snow! Yes, lovely, lacy, glittery, perfectly bright and gorgeously white – bitter cold snow.

There is actually a story behind it. Not that you care, but I just love the memories so I have to share. When I was young my siblings and I would go out to play in the snow and I got this grand idea once to build giant chairs out of snow, as large our little legs could roll and push a giant snowball.

Yeah they’d get pretty heavy, it would probably be such a funny thing to watch us little kids trying to do. Anyways, we’d get our “thrones” as big as we could, then build a step in front so we could climb to the top of it (but it’s not like it was large enough we actually needed the step =), then we would build a backrest and arm rests on each side (snow is pretty mold-able under the proper conditions, on powdery snow days we’d never be able to do it).

After our hard work was complete, I climbed onto my chair and about then I’d realize how cold I was (because when you have work to do it’s easy to forget such things), and I decided I needed a cup of hot cocoa to drink while sitting in my throne.

So, I shaped a little cup holder into one of the arm rests, ran inside and prepared my hot cocoa then returned to my prized piece of art. I’d sit in my chair, until my butt started to go numb from being so cold from the chair – that was essentially made of ice ( which only took a few minutes ha ha) sipping my warm cup of cocoa. It was so much fun.

caramel hot cocoa2

As you see because of that I will always love hot cocoa and not just because of it’s silky smooth, warm chocolaty decadence. Now if I would have had this caramel hot chocolate back then I really would have felt like royalty in my throne =).

I had some caramel sauce waiting for a good use in my fridge and I thought seeing as it’s been negative degree weather it was the perfect time for hot cocoa. This hot chocolate is blissful to say the least. I will say, yes you could use store bought caramel sauce but it won’t be near as good as what you get with the homemade caramel sauce. It’s worth the little bit of extra effort.

If you want a salted caramel version, simply sprinkle some Maldon sea salt flakes over the top. This recipe really is very versatile and can be prepared to suite your personal taste. You can add in more chocolate, use more caramel sauce, you could use semi-sweet chocolate chips or even cocoa powder and sugar.

I think it would also be delicious with dulce de leche in place of the caramel. How ever you make it, don’t forget to drizzle the top generously with caramel, it’s the best part – when you get a sip of half hot chocolate, half caramel drizzled whipped cream or marshmallows. MMMMM. Enjoy!

caramel hot cocoa3

I don’t usually show the set (and don’t you love how I call it a “set” like I’m some pro photographer – I wish =), but this my view, peering out the window after I nearly froze my hands off getting the above pics.

I came inside and ran my hands under warm water, the sting ahhh. Then I walked back over to the porch and peered out at the gorgeous little beauty awaiting and decided it was worth going back out for =).

hot cocoa set

I know this is turning into a seriously lengthy post, but I’ve been waiting for a great fit for my snowflake photos. Around Christmas time we had the most gorgeous snowflake storm I’ve ever seen. The snowflakes were visible to the naked eye. I spent about 2 hours taking pictures of snowflakes.

They were stunning to say the least. I wish I would have had a ridiculously expensive camera along with a macro lens that captures perfect detail. Rather I own a Canon rebel,  a 50mm macro lens and I don’t even own a tripod.

For close ups like this, it would be nice so I’m not sitting their holding my breath trying not to shake my camera. The second was my favorite photo. I call it the mother snowflake.

I wanted to call it such because it was like a mother snowflake, if you look closely their is a small snowflake safely resting upon it. Snowflakes truly are a gorgeous.



16 Quick & Easy 30 Minute Recipes! (plus weekly recipe updates)

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate upgraded with salted caramel! This is such a decadent comforting drink and it's the ultimate way to warm up on a cold day!
Servings: 2 people
Prep5 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Ready in: 25 minutes


  • 2 cups milk , preferably whole
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I recommend Ghirardelli)*
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce , store-bought or homemade
  • Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla marshmallows
  • Grated chocolate for garnish , optional
  • Caramel Sauce , recipe below


  • Prepare caramel sauce according to directions listed and allow to cool slightly. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Once milk is warm, stir in chocolate chips and caramel, and cook whisking constantly until chocolate has melted.
  • Allow to cool slightly and serve warm topped, topped with sweetened whipped cream or miniature marshmallows, drizzle each serving with 1 Tbsp caramel sauce and garnish with grated chocolate if desired.
  • *For a richer hot chocolate, you can use up to 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips and mix in more caramel sauce as well if desired.


Keep in mind homemade caramel sauce generally has more calories and fat and will increase count listed.
Nutrition Facts
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
Amount Per Serving
Calories 382 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 20mg7%
Sodium 332mg14%
Potassium 520mg15%
Carbohydrates 61g20%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 20g22%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 292IU6%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 381mg38%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.


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  • Luli

    I was going to go to Starbucks for hot chocolate with a pump of caramel, but then I decided to give it a go myself because of how cold it is outside. I came across your recipe and it’s PERFECT, I’m loving my hot chocolate, thank you so much! I poured it in my favourite mug and it’s definitely making my day off work amazing.

    Here’s a picture I posted on Twitter if you’d like to see!

  • Yariene

    Hi Jaclyn! I was wondering if the name of the Ghirardelli chocolate chips was 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips. Also if I can’t find Ghirardelli, what other chocolate do you recommend?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Yes those are the right ones. If you can’t find those I’d recommend Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips or any other bittersweet chocolate chips should work fine or the bittersweet baking chocolate that comes in the flat rectangles would work great (just chop it first. Those are usually right by the chocolate chips in the grocery store). Hope that helps!

      • Yariene

        Thank you for answering so fast. I’ll let you know how it went making the Caramel Hot Chocolate. Congratulations on your blog, the food looks amazing and it is clear that you are very passionate about it.

  • Nansy

    I made this today and I already want another :) There is just something about making it at home that tastes a little better than fishing out $3-4 for one at a coffee shop. Thanks Jaclyn!

  • Michelle P.

    This looks just amazing. I’m definitely hoping to make this soon! Your pics make this look so good!

  • angela @ another bite please

    oh my gosh jaclyn what a beautiful post…. the “set” i love…the hot chocolate looks all cuddled up cozy in the snow…and you poor dear doing it in the freezing cold you ARE an amazing food blogger to which I would call you a pro. your photos are always amazing!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Angela you are so sweet, as always! Thank you so much, that really is such an amazing compliment to be given =). It would have been cool if I could have captured some steam in the pic as well but I had to let the hot chocolate cool just a bit before putting it in the snow or I would have ended up with just a pool around it haha, but it was fun to change things up. Thanks again for your kind comment, I always love reading the comments you leave!

  • Shawn @ I Wash…You Dry

    I never knew the difference either! Good to know, and hello! Gorgeous photography as always. Those snowflakes are stunning!