How to make thick Italian hot chocolate (5 minutes, 4 ingredients)


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Have you ever had a delicious European-style hot chocolate on your travels and thought: ‘I just have to find out how to make this’? Me too! Luckily, this thick Italian hot chocolate is super easy. Grab 4 store cupboard ingredients and in just 5 minutes you’ll have the best hot chocolate ever.

Someone pouring thick hot chocolate into a brown coffee cup with ingredients in the background.

Naughty but nice chocolate recipes!

I used to have a little tradition here on the blog of posting naughty recipes in January when everyone is trying to diet after the holidays.

Some of my naughty New Year chocolate posts include these 5 minute chocolate pots (there’s a reason they’re one of the most popular recipes on the blog).

These strawberry and angel cake skewers with chocolate dipping sauce are slightly naughty too, but feature fruit too to fool people into thinking they’re healthy.

Then there’s this 30-minute healthy chocolate cake. You might like to head on over and check out this post instead if you’re trying to be good.

What’s Italian hot chocolate?

This thick Italian hot chocolate recipe is one of those recipes I’ve been wanting to master for YEARS, ever since I first dunked a churro in a cup of thick Spanish hot chocolate when I was studying in Spain.

Wait a minute – Spanish or Italian? [imagine big shoulder shrug]

Someone lifting up a spoon of thick hot chocolate from a brown coffee cup of chocolate on baking paper.
Dunk donuts or churros in your thick hot chocolate. Or just eat it with a spoon.

You may find this going by several names: Italian hot chocolate (cioccolata calda), Spanish hot chocolate, or just simple thick hot chocolate, which is what I like to call it.

Actually, you can find it in several European countries.

Best of all, this hot chocolate is good for you

Most importantly, I understand that some Italians (and Spaniards no doubt) see cradling one of these thick hot chocolates in your hands with a group of friends or family an important ritual that’s good for your health [imagine big thumbs up].

Millions of Europeans can’t be wrong. So this easy chocolate treat is officially good for you.

Someone cradling a brown cup of thick hot chocolate in their hands.

Ingredients in cioccolata calda

Whatever you want to call it, one thing is clear. This hot chocolate is rich and decadent and yet quick and easy to make with just 4 simple store cupboard ingredients:

  • chocolate
  • milk
  • sugar
  • corn starch / corn flour

You can use any kind of chocolate you like but I like to make it with a high cocoa content dark chocolate – around 70%. That makes it ‘healthy’ hot chocolate too, right?

So it’s fine to make it in January after all – or any time!

How to make Italian hot chocolate

You’re just 5 minutes, 4 ingredients and 3 steps away from the most delicious hot chocolate of your life.

Step 1: Heat the milk and sugar together in a saucepan, then break the chocolate into it and whisk until it melts in.

Step 2: Add the cornstarch/cornflour and cook for a few minutes until the hot chocolate starts to get thick.

Step 3: Pour into small cups, grab a churro, donut or spoon (!) and… enjoy!

How to serve thick hot chocolate

This thick hot chocolate is a delicious treat as it is or of course you can put some cream and marshmallows on the top.

I’m not a big cream and marshmallows fan (crazy, right?) so I like to have a donut or some churros handy for dipping instead.

I’ve received a complaint or two about this recipe – too much chocolate. But of course, we all know this is impossible.

If truth be told, this is more of a dessert than a ‘hot chocolate’ that you curl up next to the fire with. I can live with that if you can.

Delicious as this Italian hot chocolate may be, I can never finish a whole regular cup of it. I need to remember that my eyes are bigger than my tummy when it comes to this recipe and serve it in an espresso cup.

Someone dipping a churro in a brown cup of thick hot chocolate.
Grab a churro, donut or spoon and dunk!

What to do with the leftovers

If there are any leftovers, you can pop them in the fridge.

They thicken up even more when refrigerated and make the most delicious chocolate pudding you can imagine.

Hot chocolate, pudding, or sauce?

In fact let’s be honest here. This makes a delicious thick hot chocolate and chocolate pudding, but it could also make a fine chocolate sauce for cake or ice cream.

Entertaining and not much time to make dessert? I’m sure no one would complain if you served them a little cup of this thick hot chocolate with a pile of fresh donuts on the side.

A cup of thick hot chocolate from above with kitchen equipment and ingredients all around.

P.S. I love these cute cups for serving this thick Italian hot chocolate in! (affiliate link)

More really easy desserts

If you’d like 11 really easy dessert recipes (6 ingredients or less) all in one place, check out the list! They include some of the easy desserts listed above and more.



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A cup of thick hot chocolate in a brown cup with a spoon and ingredients and kitchen equipment in the foreground and background.
4.70 from 30 votes

Thick Italian hot chocolate

This thick Italian hot chocolate is the best hot chocolate you’ll ever have, and you only need 4 ingredients and 5 minutes to make it!
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 2


  • 7 ounces chocolate, good quality (I like 70% dark), plus a little extra for sprinkling (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch, cornflour (UK), mixed with a little milk


  • Heat the milk and sugar together in a small saucepan and whisk, then break the chocolate into it.
  • Continue to heat while you whisk until all the chocolate has melted into the milk.
  • Add the constarch / cornflour and cook for 2 to 4 minutes until the mixture has thickened a little (it should coat the whisk).
  • Pour into cups and sprinkle with a little grated chocolate (if you like).



I don’t like cream, but go ahead and top your thick hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows if you’re in the mood for a bigger treat than usual!
The hot chocolate might still seem quite thin when you pour it into your cups, but bear in mind it will thicken up more as it cools.
Pop the leftovers in the fridge to make a delicious thick chocolate pudding – just for you!
This would also make a delicious chocolate sauce for ice cream or cake.


Calories: 604kcal, Carbohydrates: 72g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 37g, Saturated Fat: 22g, Cholesterol: 12mg, Sodium: 68mg, Potassium: 448mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 63g, Vitamin A: 200IU, Calcium: 162mg, Iron: 2.7mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Helen Schofield

Don't expect to find anything fussy or complicated here. Just QUICK, EASY & (mostly!) HEALTHY recipes from the Mediterranean and beyond. ENJOY!

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    1. Ooh yes, I love using this as a sauce. So glad it warmed you all up, Susan! Thanks so much for leaving a review!

  1. 2 stars
    I’ve been desparate for a decent Italian style hot choclate ever since returning from a recent trip to Europe. I wanted to like this recipe but it contains way too much chocolate… I’ve made it twice now, once with almond milk and milk chocolate, and once with regular milk and dark chocolate. It wouldn’t thicken with the almond milk and it was too sweet with milk chocolate, so I tried it again with regular milk and bittersweet chocolate. Both times, I had to throw it out because it was too rich, wasting a lot of good quality chocolate in the process. If I were to make it again, I would make it with half the quantity of chocolate, and maybe a bit more cornstarch.

    1. Hi Dee! Thanks so much for your honest review, even though you weren’t a fan of this particular recipe. I really hope you find a recipe you like better! This definitely is a rich very chocolaty hot chocolate, but I was trying to emulate the hot chocolates I’ve had in Europe that usually come served with churros or similar. The ones I’ve had have been equally as rich – like a dessert (for 2!). Although I have also tried hot chocolates that are slightly less rich – almost like a thin custard. Is this what you were hoping for?
      I’d definitely be interested in hearing how you get on if you try making it again with half chocolate and more cornstarch, as you suggest 🙂

      1. 5 stars
        Mine came out exactly as you described, rich but not overpowering with some substitutions; I used 100g (3.5 oz?) of 70% chocolate (a whole bar of Lindt), about 2.5 or 3 heaping tbsp of Fry’s cocoa, 1 tbsp of brown sugar, a dash of salt, some high-proof bourbon (mmm), and 2% milk along with the starch (1 tsp). Followed your instructions and it came out just right, I could only manage 1/2 a teacup but that’s all I would have wanted anyway. Going to attempt with some maple syrup and vanilla next, or possibly orange flavours 🙂

      2. Hi Raj, I’m so happy the recipe turned out well for you 🙂 I bet Lindt chocolate worked perfectly as it has a very ‘melty and smooth’ texture. Wow, I love that you added Bourbon, and I like your idea of adding some orange flavouring too! Giving me ideas for Christmas!

  2. 5 stars
    Thank god for this recipe! I love thick hot chocolate and this recipe is one of the best out there. I sometimes also like adding flavours to this recipe (Peppermint flavoured hot chocolate is my favorite!)

  3. 5 stars
    Wow Look how thick this hot chocolate is! We still have cooler rainy day for hot chocolate 😀

    1. Hi Oli! It does sound like a lot, doesn’t it? It’s the total sugar including the sugar in the chocolate i.e. yes, quite a lot! Personally I’d skip the extra tablespoon of sugar that’s marked as optional in the recipe. Really doesn’t need it.

  4. 5 stars
    Thick indeed, just looking at those photos I’m impressed! I like my chocolate a bit more liquidy, but this seems really good, I’ll give it a try!

    1. Hi Kelly! So glad you’re going to try this out! You can always add slightly less corn starch if you’d like it to be a bit thinner. Good luck!

  5. 5 stars
    My mouth is watering – I LOVE thick hot chocolate. I’ve ordered it in restaurants, but have never made it at home. That needs to change!

  6. Whenever I make a recipe with melted chocolate, I always want to drink it and this is what this recipe reminds me of. I only eat dark chocolate so this is right up my alley, can’t wait to try it.