This cardamom hot chocolate is inspired by the starring role of cardamom in some of the world's most consumed beverages like chai and Middle Eastern kehwa.
First you steep cardamom pods in boiling water to extract that authentic flavor. Then make a rich chocolatey base and mix the two. Simple yet so special!
Why you'll love this recipe
This cardamom hot cocoa isn't your run-of-the-mill cup of cocoa. It's a nod to spice-infused beverages like masala chai. Comforting but with a hint of unexpected.
The tiny amount of cinnamon adds a layer of complexity and warmth.
Whether you're unwinding at home or aiming to impress guests – this one's a must-try!
Here are some helpful notes on ingredients you'll need. See the recipe card below for exact quantities.
- Cardamom pods – you'll need to pinch-open the pods to release the aromatic seeds. Cardamom is commonly sold in Middle Eastern, Pakistani and Indian grocery stores. And the international aisle of some supermarkets. Not to be confused with black cardamom – that's a completely different spice.
- Water – to steep the cardamom when making cardamom-infused water.
- Milk – I prefer full-fat/whole milk. You can use low-fat options but the resulting drink won't be as creamy. If in the mood for a truly decadent treat, use half-and-half.
- Chocolate – use good quality semi sweet chocolate chips. A chocolate baking bar will also work. Just break it up into pieces and measure by weight.
- Vanilla extract – real extract is the best, but artificial one (aka essence) will also be fine.
- Ground cinnamon – to complement the cardamom and chocolate flavors.
- Sugar (optional) – you likely won't need it unless using unsweetened chocolate. Taste your drink before you add any.
- Whipped cream (optional) – for that luxurious finishing touch.
How to make cardamom hot chocolate
Follow these simple, photo-assisted instructions to prepare this cardamom-spiced hot cocoa. Check out recipe card below for a printable version that has quantities, instructions and notes in one place.
Step 1: Add opened cardamom pods (seeds plus skin) to boiling water and allow to simmer 5 to 10 minutes until the water reduces to half. Then strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove skin and seeds. Set aside.
Step 2: In the same (but now empty) saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat. Stir continuously until it becomes hot, not boiling. Then reduce the heat to low, add chocolate chips, cinnamon, vanilla extract. Whisk until the chocolate is fully melted.
Step 3: Gradually add the cardamom-infused water to the chocolate mixture – keep stirring. Allow to simmer a little. Do a taste test (careful – it'll be hot) and add sugar if you feel the need.
Step 4: Then pour into a cup, top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and enjoy!
- Burnt taste: Heating milk at high temperature can cause it to burn. Maintain a medium-low heat when warming up and stir continuously. If the milk sticks to the bottom of the saucepan you won't be able to salvage the taste.
- Chocolate clumps: When adding chocolate, stir constantly until it completely dissolves. Using a heat-resistant whisk will be helpful.
- More or less sweet: The overall sweetness will depend on how sweet your chocolate chips are. Taste your drink before serving. If too sweet, add some milk, if less, put sugar.
- Too thick consistency: Add some milk, but gradually, so you don't accidentally make it too runny. Remember that your drink will thicken as it cools, so adjust accordingly.
Substitutions and variations
- Ground cardamom: This is the best substitute for pods. Start with ¼ teaspoon per cup, then adjust as needed. And put it straight in the milk – no need to make the infused water.
- Milk alternatives: You can use dairy free options like almond milk, cashew milk, oat milk or soy milk. But know that these will change the taste and texture.
- Chocolate choices: Feel free to experiment with different types of chocolates. Dark chocolate will add a more intense cocoa taste, milk chocolate will bring more sweetness. I don't recommend using cocoa powder – the final texture of the drink doesn't turn out the same.
- Sweeteners: Sugar is optional, but if there's a need to sweeten up, you can also use honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Again – each of these will impart a unique flavor.
- Spice variations: Try using ground nutmeg or a pinch of cayenne pepper instead of cinnamon for a different flavor profile.
- Alcoholic variations: Adults can add a splash of liqueur such as amaretto, Irish cream or hazelnut liqueur. Remember to enjoy responsibly.
What to serve it with
- Churros – dip 'em in and enjoy.
- Scones – perfect for a classic tea time feel.
- Pound cake – pairs so well with the rich chocolate.
- Apple pie – because why not make it a double treat?
- Shortbread cookies – classic, buttery. A no-brainer pairing.
- Almond biscotti – crunchy and nutty. Great for dipping.
Storage and reheating
- Storage: Once it cools down, transfer to an airtight container. Or just cover your mug/cup with cling wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 2 days. If you see any separation, don't worry. It will smooth out when reheated.
- Reheating: Pour into a saucepan and reheat over low heat. Stir constantly. Or use a microwave-safe cup and microwave in 30-second intervals. Mix after each spurt. Add a splash of milk (in both methods) to get back the right consistency.
Just so you know
- Wondering why not just throw whole pods into the milk? Well boiling water is better for pulling out both aroma and flavor from cardamoms, resulting in a fragrant drink.
- This is a single-cup recipe. When scaling up, use the "+" sign on the recipe card below to increase the servings. The ingredient quantities will adjust automatically.
- 4 cardamom pods - opened – pinch to open (Note A)
- ½ cup (118 ml) water
- 1 cup (237 ml) whole milk
- ¼ cup (45 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips - or chocolate baking bar
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- sugar to taste - optional (Note B)
- whipped cream - optional, for topping
- Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add opened cardamom pods (seeds included) and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the water reduces to half. Then strain this infused water through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the skin and seeds and set aside.
- Using the same (but now empty) saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat. Stir continuously until it becomes hot, not boiling. Then reduce the heat to low, add chocolate chips, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Continue to stir until the chocolate is fully melted and well combined.
- Gradually add the cardamom-infused water to the chocolate mixture – keep stirring. Allow to simmer and adjust the heat (if necessary) to prevent any boiling or scorching. Taste the drink (careful, it'll be hot) and add sugar if you feel the need.
- Also adjust the consistency to your liking. If it's too thin, simmer a bit longer. If too thick, add some milk and stir.
- Then remove from heat, pour into a cup and top with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!
- Step-by-step photo instructions
- Recipe troubleshooting
- Substitutions and variations (full list)
- Serving ideas
The nutritional information provided here is calculated using a third-party nutrition calculator. These values are estimates, and we cannot guarantee the correctness of the displayed numbers. Please see our disclaimer page.