I don’t know who decided that coffee was an “adult drink” and hot chocolate wasn’t, but I petition to change that now.

Hot chocolate from Starbucks is one of my favorite things, with a creamy, luxurious sweetness that I never get sick of.

Why stop at regular hot chocolate when there are so many variations to try? 

I’m here to share my secret arsenal of my top Starbucks hot chocolate drinks right here, so don’t go anywhere!

1. Hot Chocolate (Classic Tasty Drink)

Starbucks Hot Chocolate

The classic Hot Chocolate is simply timeless.

This beautiful cocktail of steamed milk, mocha sauce, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle, Starbucks’ classic hot chocolate is super popular. [1]

This drink is often the base for a lot of more elaborate flavors or editions, thanks to its velvety, smooth, and comforting profile.

It has between 190-450 calories in each cup, depending on the size and customizations chosen [2].

It contains 37 grams of sugar and 25 mg of caffeine in a grande, so I still get a little energy boost!

Barista HQ Tip
  • Try adding 1 pump of vanilla or Irish cream (or half a pump in a tall/grande).
  • Take a packet of salt and a packet of sugar, shake them together, and sprinkle on top of whip. 
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2. Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Starbucks Peppermint Hot Chocolate

It’s crazy what a big difference just adding peppermint syrup makes!

This is literally the regular Hot Chocolate peppermint syrup added. It’s topped with whipped cream, mocha drizzle, and dark chocolate curls.

That dark chocolate and peppermint combo is amazing and reminds me of a Peppermint Patty.

In terms of nutrition, the grande size of these Starbucks Christmas drinks tends to have around 530 calories, 69 grams of sugar, and 35 milligrams of caffeine.

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3. White Hot Chocolate

Starbucks White Hot Chocolate

White Mocha lovers, get in here!

The White Hot Chocolate is a smooth combination of steamed milk, white chocolate mocha sauce, whipped cream, and vanilla.[3]

It’s sweet and creamy - sweeter than the hot chocolate is as it doesn’t have that slightly-bitter richness that cocoa has. 

In terms of calories, the grande cup version has around 440 calories depending on your customizations, alongside around 55 grams of sugar. [4].

I always recommend this to my friends who love White Mochas but don’t like the bitterness or caffeine in the espresso. 
Barista HQ Tip
  • Ask for a pump of Cinnamon Dolce Syrup (this is also known as a Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate)
  • Ask for a pump of Brown Sugar Syrup for ultimate holiday vibes

4. Peppermint White Hot Chocolate

Starbucks Peppermint White Hot Chocolate

Another sweet treat for the holiday season is the warm Peppermint White Hot Chocolate.

With white chocolate and peppermint syrups topped with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls, it’s cozy and instantly gets me in the celebrating spirit. 

I know it’s white chocolate, but it tastes more like a sweet, rich vanilla and peppermint drink to me.

A Grande has 530 calories or so and 69 grams of sugar, along with 35 milligrams of caffeine.

5. Toasted White Hot Chocolate

Starbucks Toasted White Hot Chocolate with Holiday Sugar Sparkles

I wasn’t expecting to love the Toasted White Hot Chocolate more than the regular version, that I’m also a fan of!

It’s similar, sure, but tastes like the white mocha sauce was caramelized and even a little bit nutty - kind of how a marshmallow turns brown and toasted over a flame.

This sweet beverage uses the white hot chocolate as a base, adding toasted white chocolate mocha sauce and topping with whipped cream.

In terms of nutrition, a Grande comes in at around 430 calories, 57 grams of sugar, and no caffeine.

6. S’mores Hot Chocolate (Secret Menu)

Starbucks Iced S'mores Hot Chocolate Shaken Espresso

Speaking of roasted marshmallows, the next drinks comes in the form of the S’mores Hot Chocolate.

As my favorite campfire food growing up (and to this day), I had high standards going into it. 

It actually does taste pretty similar to the graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow combo, without the mess!

How To Order
  • Ask for a regular Hot Chocolate, with 2-4 pumps of Praline or Toffee Nut syrup and 1 pump of Vanilla syrup. Top with whipped cream and mocha drizzle to complete one of these comforting Starbucks hot drinks.

7. Pumpkin Hot Chocolate (Secret Menu)

Starbucks Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

Two of my favorite drinks, together?!

I’m surprised (and a little ashamed) I’d never thought of the Pumpkin Hot Chocolate before!

Try subbing Hot Chocolate for White Hot Chocolate. If possible, I think it goes even better with pumpkin.

How To Order
  • Using the standard Hot Chocolate to start, add 2 or 3 pumps of pumpkin spice sauce. Then, add whipped cream and cinnamon powder on top for a perfect combination of Pumpkin Spice Latte + Hot Chocolate.

8. Mexican Hot Chocolate (Secret Menu)

Starbucks Iced Mexican Hot Chocolate

I’m an Abuelita Hot Chocolate aficionado, but I am truly impressed at how spot-on this drink was.

It’s a regular Hot Chocolate made with Chile mocha powder, however, not every location has it now.

It’s spicy, sweet, bold, and absolutely delicious.

How To Order
  • Ask the barista for a Starbucks hot chocolate, add a pump of cinnamon dolce syrup, mocha, white mocha, and sprinkle cinnamon on top of a dollop of whip.

9. Swirl Pow Hot Chocolate (Secret Menu)

Starbucks Swirl Pow Hot Chocolate

For some reason I thought this had something to do with snowboarding, which made me want to try it even more.

Regardless of where the name’s origin comes from, I fell in love This swirly creamy treat is a fun one if you are looking for an alternative to the usual Starbucks drinks.

How To Order
  • To order one, simply ask for a Hot Chocolate with 1.5 pumps of vanilla syrup and 1.5 pumps of mocha sauce. Top with whipped cream and the delicious caramel drizzle for the ultimate secret menu treats.

10. Cold Hot Chocolate Frappuccino (Secret Menu)

Starbucks Hot Chocolate Frappuccino

I know it sounds crazy, but after an intense morning zooming down snowy mountainsides, I get really hot and go to the lodge for one of these.

My lodge has a Starbucks, so that helps. 

How To Order
  • Order a Double Chocolate Chip Freme Frappuccino with around 3 pumps of vanilla syrup and whipped cream blended in. Top with more whipped cream and a mocha drizzle, it’s rich, creamy, and even more satisfying when it’s hot out!

What Can I Add To Starbucks Hot Chocolate Drinks?

Now that I’ve gone over what’s in Starbucks Hot Chocolate, I’m going to cover the different customization options:

Size Is Key

Each Starbucks drink from the regular menu comes in one of a few different cup sizes. The list from smallest to largest, includes:

  • Short or child - 8 ounces
  • Tall - 12 ounces
  • Grande - 16 ounces
  • Venti - 20 ounces
  • Trenta - 30 ounces

Knowing what each Starbucks cup size is can be vital to getting the recipe just right, as the syrup and sauce pumps will vary based on this. 

Dairy Alternatives

Starbucks has a wide range of milk types to aid customers with allergies or different preferences. The kinds of milk available typically include:

  • Heavy cream
  • Nonfat milk
  • 2% milk
  • Whole milk
  • Breve (half and half)
  • Almond
  • Coconut
  • Oatmilk
  • Soy milk

Adjust The Temperature Of The Drink

Not many people seem to know that the temperature of any hot drink can be adjusted.

The standard hot drink is about 160 degrees, it is possible to ask for an extra hot (180 degrees) or Starbucks kid’s drink temperature (130 degrees).

Get Creative

Drinks will usually have anywhere from 1-4 pumps of syrup by default. 

How many pumps you add will depend on the cup size and the amount of sweetness.

The way I started customizing my drinks would be to sub one pump of a default flavor with something different.

For example, if a drink called for 3 pumps of vanilla syrup, I’d replace 1 pump with Brown Sugar syrup, Cinnamon Dolce, etc.

To Top Things Off

Starbucks has really expanded on their toppings options in the past 10 years! 

Starbucks whipped cream and cold foam are the most common, but they have over 3 dozen options to choose from now! 

Chestnut Praline Crumbs, Cookie Crumble, Crunchy Caramel Sugar, Sprinkles, Sea Salt...the list goes on and on. 
Man Ordering at Starbucks Counter

How To Make Starbucks Hot Chocolate At Home

Ingredients

  • Semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  • Heavy cream
  • Milk
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Chocolate syrup (optional)
  • Other syrup flavors or caramel drizzle (optional)
  • Cinnamon powder (optional)
  • Chocolate curls (optional)

Instructions

Ganache
  • 1
    Break the semi-sweet chocolate into small pieces if in blocks
  • 2
    Add the chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl along with the heavy cream
  • 3
    Heat the mixture for 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between until a smooth, melted ganache
Steamed Milk
  • 4
    Pour milk into a microwave-safe jar with a lid
  • 5
    Microwave the milk in short bursts until it is hot but not bubbling
  • 6
    Shake the jar until foamy

Important note: be careful when unscrewing the lid as hot milk may spurt out.

Combine
  • 7
    Add chocolate ganache to the milk along with desired syrups
  • 8
    Mix until well blended
  • 9
    Pour drink into a mug if needed
  • 10
    Top with whipped cream and any drizzles, powders, chocolate curls, etc.

Starbucks Hot Chocolate Drinks FAQs

Does Starbucks hot chocolate have coffee?

Starbucks Hot Chocolate does not have coffee. 

Is there caffeine in Starbucks hot chocolate?

There is caffeine in Starbucks hot chocolate, but a very small amount: 15mg - 35mg, depending on the size.

Why can Starbucks hot chocolate taste bitter?

Starbucks Hot Chocolate can taste bitter, because they recently changed the hot chocolate base recipe to remove the vanilla syrup, which added more sweetness.

What is the difference between mocha and hot chocolate from Starbucks?

The difference between mocha and hot chocolate from Starbucks is that a mocha has espresso added while hot chocolate doesn’t. 

Conclusion - Get Your Chocolate Fix!

There are times when I pull up to the Starbucks drive-thru and just want a warm, chocolatey hug in a cup.

Hot chocolate really hits the spot, and I love that there are so many different options now!

From Mexican Hot Chocolate to S’mores, they’re all perfectly comforting and a nice alternative to coffee when temperatures start to drop!

References:

1. https://www.starbucks.com/menu/product/471/hot
2. https://globalassets.Starbucks.com/assets/94fbcc2ab1e24359850fa1870fc988bc.pdf
3. https://www.starbucks.com/menu/product/472/hot
4. https://www.starbucks.co.uk/nutrition

Chloe Page

Author

Chloe Page
A lifelong mocha fan, Chloe is an award-winning writer with over eight years’ experience weaving words. Her journey in the coffee industry is highlighted by extensive research and interviews with coffee experts. In her moments of relaxation, you'll often find her sipping on Bird and Blend tea, thoughtfully scribbling in her notebook.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Bird and Blend Co Tea

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