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Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Homemade Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate is so decadent! Homemade hot chocolate is infused with vanilla salted caramel sauce, topped with vanilla whipped cream, and drizzled with extra caramel sauce.

photo of salted caramel hot chocolate in a clear mug with caramel being drizzled on the top

This caramel hot cocoa is a fun twist on the classic hot chocolate recipe and absolutely perfect during the holiday season and cold months.

Creating this Homemade Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

I love vanilla! I don’t think there are many baking recipes that I make that don’t include it in some form. Vanilla extract and vanilla beans are such essential items in your Holiday Baking Spice Cabinet.

I’m so excited for to kick off this Holiday Recipe Exchange with this week’s sponsor: Beanilla. I’ve created a delicious Vanilla Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate recipe using their Vanilla Fleur de Sel and their Tahitian Vanilla Beans.

I love a good mug of hot chocolate to warm up on a chilly day or when I need something a little sweet. Instead of using vanilla extract, I infused the milk with vanilla bean for the hot chocolate recipe.

I also combined vanilla fleur de sel with melted caramel to drizzle in the hot chocolate. MMMMM GOOD!

photo of ingredients to make the hot chocolate base for this salted caramel hot chocolate recipe

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Ingredients

Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need to make this recipe. For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions to make this caramel hot cocoa, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

For the Hot Chocolate Base

  • Cornstarch
  • Whole Milk
  • Heavy Cream
  • Vanilla Bean
  • Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
  • Granulated Sugar
photo of the ingredients to make salted caramel sauce and vanilla whipped cream for salted caramel hot chocolate

For the Salted Caramel

  • Granulated Sugar
  • Vanilla Bean Paste
  • Salted Butter
  • Heavy Cream
  • Vanilla Fleur de Sel

For the Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Cream
  • Vanilla Bean Paste
  • Powdered Sugar

How to Make Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

The below is simply a quick summary and step by step photos of this salted caramel hot cocoa recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

step by step photos showing how to make salted caramel hot chocolate

Making the Hot Chocolate Base

Combine the cornstarch, milk, and vanilla bean in a saucepan. Simmer and let the vanilla bean steep in the milk.

After the vanilla has infused the milk, add chocolate and sugar. Cook until melted and warmed through. Stir in part of the caramel sauce

step by step photos showing how to make caramel sauce for hot chocolate salted caramel

Making the Salted Caramel Sauce

First, you’ll cook the sugar in a medium saucepan until fully melted and golden brown. Then, stir in the vanilla bean paste and butter.

The mixture will bubble up, so be careful!. Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream and sea salt.

Safety Tip: Do NOT lick the spoon immediately as the caramel sauce will be very hot and can burn your mouth quite badly.

photo showing how to make vanilla whipped cream for hot chocolate with salted caramel

Making the Vanilla Whipped Cream

After that, prepare the whipped cream using the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste.

Once the homemade hot chocolate is warmed through, pour into glasses. Top with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Tips for Making The Best Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

For the richest homemade caramel hot chocolate, whole milk and heavy cream are a must.

Don’t substitute fat-free milk when preparing this recipe; that will give your hot chocolate a thin, watered down taste.

Serving Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

After making the salted caramel hot chocolate, pour it into a mug. Then, top with vanilla whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce.

woman pouring salted caramel hot chocolate in a clear mug and then topping it with vanilla whipped cream

Can I Make this Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa in Advance?

While I personally think this salted caramel hot cocoa is best served right away, you can definitely prepare it ahead of time. Here are my recommendations:

Let it cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use (no more than 2 days, most likely).

I recommend reheating it on the stove or in a slow cooker rather than the microwave.

Can I Make this Caramel Hot Chocolate using Non-Dairy Milk?

I’ve only made this recipe using whole milk, but here are my ideas if you’d like to experiment:

  • Oat Milk is probably be my first choice substitute for dairy milk in this hot chocolate due to its neutral flavor.
  • Almond milk would be ok as long as it is unflavored and unsweetened.
  • Make sure your dark chocolate is dairy-free.
  • Since the salted caramel flavor is a key ingredient in this recipe, you’ll need to find a recipe for or purchase a dairy-free salted caramel sauce.
  • Also look for a recipe for or a dairy-free alternative to whipped cream in your grocery store.

If you give it a try, let me know in the comments!

photo of a woman holding a mug of salted caramel hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top

Ideas for a Hot Chocolate Bar

If you want to make a large batch of this creamy hot chocolate to serve for get together this holiday season, a hot chocolate bar is a fun idea for guests to customize their drinks.

Here are some suggestions to include:

  • Whipped Cream – I like to make homemade whipped cream and put it in a piping bag with a pretty piping tip to make nice designs.
  • Homemade Marshmallows – marshmallows and homemade hot chocolate are classic together!
  • Extra Salted Caramel Sauce – to drizzle on top of your whipped cream or marshmallows!
  • Dark Chocolate Shavings or Chocolate Curls – for those who want to sprinkle extra dark chocolate on top.
  • Sea Salt – for those who want an extra hint of salt with their homemade hot chocolate.

For a hot cocoa bar, I would recommend adding the hot chocolate drink to a slow cooker or crock pot with the warm setting to keep this decadent treat warm for your guests.

photo of salted caramel being spooned into a mug of salted caramel hot chocolate

Try this Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Recipe!

Next time you’re looking for rich hot chocolate recipe to try during the cold winter months, give this rich hot chocolate with homemade caramel sauce a try!

Did you think it was next level? Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see what you thought of this hot cocoa recipe.

On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of this Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate!

More Hot Chocolate Recipes:

Looking for some more cozy winter drink recipes to stay warm with this winter? Check out some of these favorite winter drink recipes, or browse the recipe index archives for even more great recipe ideas:

Spiked Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate is a tasty twist on regular hot chocolate thanks to the addition of the flavors of mocha, peppermint, and some optional Irish cream. Top it all off with Peppermint Mocha Whipped Cream and Marshmallows for an unbelievable sweet treat.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa is made with a blend of chocolate, cocoa powder, peppermint tea, and crushed candy canes. This would make a wonderful Christmas hot cocoa!

This Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate is infused with real pumpkin puree and plenty of pumpkin spice for a delectable fall drink! It’s a fun twist on classic recipes for traditional hot chocolate and perfect for snow days!

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photo of salted caramel hot chocolate in a clear mug with caramel being drizzled on the top

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Homemade Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate is so decadent! Homemade hot chocolate is infused with vanilla salted caramel sauce, topped with vanilla whipped cream, and drizzled with extra caramel sauce.

Ingredients

For the Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 6 tablespoons Salted Butter
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Fleur de Sel, or to taste

For the Hot Chocolate Base

  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • 3 1/2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • 6 ounces Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cacao), chopped
  • 4 tablespoons Granulated Sugar

For the Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Powdered Sugar

Garnish

  • Dark Chocolate Shavings

Instructions

Making the Salted Caramel Sauce

  1. Add the granulated super to a medium sized saucepan (3 quart size works well).
  2. Place it over medium-high heat and cook, watching the entire time and stirring occasionally, until the sugar is golden brown and completely melted.
  3. Carefully add the butter and the vanilla bean paste. Whisk the ingredients vigorously until the butter is completely melted. The contents of the saucepan will bubble up, so caution should be used.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and very carefully and slowly pour in the heavy cream while whisking.
  5. The caramel sauce will bubble, but keep whisking until the mixture is completely incorporated. Stir in the sea salt.

Safety Tip: Do NOT lick the spoon immediately as the caramel sauce will be very hot and can burn your mouth quite badly.

Making the Hot Chocolate Base

  1. Add the cornstarch and milk to a medium saucepan. Whisk until completely combined and no lumps remain.
  2. Then, add the vanilla bean to the milk mixture. Slowly bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat, stirring periodically.
  3. Then, reduce the heat to low and and let the vanilla bean steep in the milk mixture for 15 minutes.
  4. After the vanilla has infused the milk, remove the vanilla bean and add the dark chocolate and sugar. 
  5. Stir using a wooden spoon while still using low heat, until the sugar has dissolved completely, the dark chocolate has melted, and the hot chocolate drink is completely heated through.
  6. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the caramel sauce. Reserve the remaining for garnish and/or for another use.

Making the Vanilla Whipped Cream

  1. Combine the cold heavy cream and vanilla or vanilla paste in a chilled non-reactive bowl.
  2. Whisk by hand or using an electric mixture until the cream holds a loose peak.
  3. Then, sprinkle the sugar on top of the whipped cream and continue beating until soft peaks are formed. A soft peak will hold a lazy curve when the beater or whisk is held upside down.

Serving the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

  1. Once the homemade hot chocolate is warmed through, pour into glasses. 
  2. Top with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
  3. Serve.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 568Total Fat 37gSaturated Fat 23gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 88mgSodium 128mgCarbohydrates 52gFiber 2gSugar 48gProtein 7g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

This post originally included a Holiday Recipe Exchange event that included a virtual recipe swap for a chance to win a gift basket of Beanilla products valued at over $150. This giveaway is now closed.

jacquelyn | lark+linen

Thursday 15th of December 2011

Wow! I've seen caramel salted hot chocolate all over the place, but never vanilla. This sounds delicious!

geek+nerd

Sunday 28th of November 2010

That looks so good, I could lick my laptop screen. But, I won't. OH MY!

clarice

Sunday 28th of November 2010

Yumm, thank you for this recipe. I have been meaning to figure out a recipe and now you did it for me. It looks delish. Clarice

Summer

Wednesday 24th of November 2010

Yuppppieeeeeeeeeeeeee yuppiieeee Hurray ....i wonnnnnnnnnnn ...i did!!! Cant write anything more at the moment coz am way too excited!! Had also come to link my buttery bars:-) Congrats to Ryan too!!

Deliciously Organic

Tuesday 23rd of November 2010

Wow, Katie this looks amazing! I absolutely love caramel in my hot cocoa and can't wait to try this.

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