Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

So if last week’s Lavender Hot Chocolate was all about treating yo’self –well actually, myself—then this Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate is all about treating the entire freakin’ world. Because I’m pretty sure that what the world needs isn’t love, sweet love, but chocolate, sweet chocolate.

And if that chocolate is mixed with a based of homemade salted caramel sauce? All the better.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate |

Apologies in advance if you’re a Starbucks groupie and are hoping for a copycat recipe. I’ve actually never had their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate before, so I can’t tell you how this one compares. However, I’m betting theirs doesn’t start with a pan of caramelized sugar and end with 10 ounces of finely chopped chocolate, so at the risk of tooting my own horn: TOOOOOOOT mine is better TOOOOOOOOOOT!

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate |

I used my Salted Caramel Milk recipe as the base for this hot chocolate—I already knew it was the perfect balance of dark caramelized sugar with a hint of salt, so why not try adding handfuls of chopped chocolate and see what happens? Turns out, magic happens. This drink is thick and rich, with the background flavor of smoky caramelized sugar and a savory finish from the salt.

I usually add whipped cream for photos but often skip it in my own personal mugs of hot chocolate, but for this recipe, I think the whipped cream topping is practically a necessity—otherwise the chocolate is almost too intense and rich. (Did you ever think you would see me write those words?!)

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate |

Speaking of intense and rich, don’t be fooled by the ginormous mugs you see in the pictures—those are food styling shenanigans! This is a classic sipping chocolate, and you’ll want to serve it in small cups so it’s not overwhelming. It’s true that Jason was able to pound back a full mug, but I’ve also seen him eat big slices of layer cake after having thirds at dinner, so he’s obviously smuggling a second stomach around or something. For the rest of us mere mortals, we’re better off enjoying this drink in more reasonable portions. Besides, the smaller the cups, the more we can justify the whipped cream and caramel on top, right?

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate |

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
Prep time
Total time
Make your own salted caramel hot chocolate at home! Salted caramel is the base for this thick homemade hot chocolate. It's incredibly rich and indulgent!
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 8
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4½ cups room temperature milk (I used 1%—any fat percentage you enjoy drinking should work)
  • 8 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • Big pinch salt
  • Whipped cream and caramel sauce, to garnish (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, rub together the sugar and the lemon juice, until the sugar is damp and fragrant.
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and let it preheat for several minutes until the pan is hot. Once the saucepan is hot, add the sugar. Begin stirring immediately and continuously. Because the pan was preheated, the sugar will start cooking very quickly. Soon after it liquefies it will start to take on color. Cook, stirring constantly, until it is a medium amber color.
  3. Continue to stir while you stream in the milk. The caramel may seize and form small chunks of sugar, but continue to stir and heat the mixture, and by the time the milk is piping hot, the caramel will have melted and you will have a smooth liquid.
  4. Once the milk is at a simmer (small bubbles forming along the sides of the pan) remove the pan from the heat. Don’t let the milk come to a boil! Add the chopped chocolates to the pan and whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is melted. Add a pinch of salt, taste the milk, and add more salt if desired.
  5. Serve Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate with whipped cream and caramel sauce. It can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stove top.


50 Responses to Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
  1. This hot chocolate is calling my name! Not to mention that fluffy pile of whip cream.

  2. Kelly says:

    Oh my freaking goodness, do you know I was just thinking about doing this??! Except that I ate the rest of the salted caramel sauce I’d made. Yup, right off the spoon. So now I’ll just have to make this!

    • Elizabeth says:

      No shame in that game! I think that’s how caramel sauce is meant to be consumed. :) And obviously we are psychic twins, awesome!

  3. Johlene says:

    Oh wow, now this is the one I really need shipped.. I´m a sucker for caramel anything!!
    These photos are beautiful.. and those big mugs certainly are perfect…

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Johlene! I’ve been on a mug-buying spree lately (blame all the hot chocolate) and my cupboards aren’t thanking me! All in the name, of art, right? :)

  4. Danguole says:

    Moderation schmoderation… I’ll take one of the giant mugs. And then probably wake up two days later. #worthit #yolo

  5. I probably sound like I work for the Tequila Board (if there is such a thing) but want to up the ante a bit and make an adult cocktail? Try this with a bit of tequila. Poor tequila, always associated with citrus but it’s just fabulous in warm drinks; it adds a bit more heat and it’s scrumptious!

    Not that I couldn’t stand one of these RIGHT NOW on it’s own; it looks absolutely divine.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Barbara, if you don’t already work for the tequila board (and I believe you when you claim you don’t :) ) then they should definitely hire you–you make a very compelling case! That sounds like it would be the perfect pick-me-up for cold winter nights!

  6. It’s sleeting outside right now, so this hot chocolate would be the perfect pick-me-up! I can’t wait to give it a try!

  7. TOOT that horn. No really, because then I would know when to run out and beg for hot chocolate.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Ha! I’m picturing an ice cream truck contraption, only instead of ice cream it dispenses hot chocolate. Not going to lie, I would patronize the heck out of that truck.

  8. Does Jason feel like sharing his extra stomach? Because this looks so good, I feel like discarding my mere mortal status and enjoying two … or five … of these. Yep, this looks better than Starbucks. I’ll come toot a horn, too!

    • Elizabeth says:

      I know, I’m always so jealous of the way he can casually put back quantities of food that no sane person should be able to handle. It’s a gift, I guess!

  9. Yes! My favorite kind of hot chocolate. I’m sure your version is a million times better than Starbucks.

    • Elizabeth says:

      You know my motto: Starbucks, Shmarbucks! (Actually my motto is more like, “I’m too poor for that nonsense” but you know what I mean!)

  10. This is pretty much all I want in my life right now!

  11. I am all about salted caramel lately! Love this!

  12. I also am too poor for the Starbucks nonsense. I’m in love with salted caramel though, and honestly? I’m tempted to skip the hot chocolate part, stop midway through step 3 and serve me up some whipped cream and salted caramel sauce in a dainty little espresso cup.
    Let’s start our own company called Shmarbucks. . . do you think there would be copywrite issues??

  13. I just found your site through A Sweet Baker. I was going through a fudge crisis and she recommended I contact you. Psht, who needs Starbucks when you can have this delicious beverage. Love it. Pinned.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Jennie! Got your facebook message, will get back to you soon. So glad you stopped by, and am looking forward to checking out your blog as well! xo

  14. I do love Starbucks and Dunkin but I don’t love their prices. So I’m always making fancy coffees at home. This looks deeeeelicious! :)

  15. OLGA LOPEZ says:

    I love chocolate.
    Congratulations on your awesome blog.
    My mouth is melting.
    My cooking blog is in Spanish and has google translation to English and other languages.

  16. Haha, I don’t know how a homemade version wouldn’t be better than Starbucks, right? Mmmm, love the salty sweet combo. Haha, my husband would be able to drink the whole mug too…boys!

  17. Zoe says:

    Only made this for two people so the measurements were way off but maybe if we made it using the proper measurements given it would have tasted a lot less lemony!! I was actually wondering why was the lemon necessary? That might be a really stupid question but I don’t know the answer so if anyone could tell me I would appreciate that! I’m sure it would have tasted lovely with less lemon! Thanks:)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Zoe! Sorry to hear that it was too lemony for you. Since the full recipe only calls for 1/4 tsp of fresh lemon juice, cutting it in half or in quarter means that you’d be using a seriously tiny amount of juice, like 1/8 tsp or less, which shouldn’t make your chocolate too lemony, unless you had a mutant super-strength lemon. :) So I wonder if there was a mis-measurement issue? The lemon juice helps prevent the sugar from crystallizing. This method of making caramel, called the dry method, is a little trickier because the sugar is more prone to crystallizing, so a teeny bit of an acid like lemon juice helps prevent that. There are other ways to make caramel with water (called the wet method) that can avoid the lemon issue in the future, if you’d like to try a different way next time!

  18. […] Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Sugar Hero. […]

  19. Brandi says:

    can this be made in the crockpot?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Brandi, This particular one can’t be made in a crockpot, because you need to be able to caramelize the sugar over fairly high heat. If you wanted to try a crockpot version you could try using jarred salted caramel sauce in place of caramelizing the sugar yourself, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t recommend exact quantities.

  20. Sophie says:

    So glad I found you! This is incredible! Love the blog, love the recipes and love everything! This is the the blog I needed to find!!!

  21. Ashley Black says:

    Just tried this and it was amazing! This recipe has made my winter, hot chocolate will never be the same again!

  22. […] Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate by Sugar Hero […]

  23. […] caramel are (in my honest opinion) the best things to come together since Will and Kate. Sipping on this will turn that cold weather frown upside […]

  24. […] caramel hot chocolate, but you can save yourself a trip—and some cash—by making your own. This recipe, which takes just 20 minutes to put together, features milk and dark chocolate, lemon juice, salt […]

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