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As much as we like to cook from scratch, there’s something so satisfying about being able to tear open a packet of hot cocoa, add warmed milk and indulge (especially when you’re one remote-control button press away from finally watching Mulan or Wonder Woman 1984). But all that convenience is for naught if your drink tastes like gritty, sawdust-spiked chocolate water. Not all packets are created equal, which is why we took it upon ourselves to taste test some of the most popular brands, uncovering the best hot chocolate mix around.

RELATED: How to Make Hot Chocolate Bombs

best hot chocolate mix overhead
CANDACE DAVISON

How We Tested Hot Chocolate Mixes

We averaged the scores of two taste-testers, offering half portions of each flavor (all prepared with milk, according to the package’s instructions), with coffee and water on hand as palate cleansers. The brands were chosen based on reviews and availability (both in stores and online), with our scores targeting five areas: value, quality of ingredients, texture, aroma and flavor.

Our Favorite Hot Chocolate Mixes, Ranked from “Passable” to “Pass Me Another One, Stat!”

CANDACE DAVISON

8. Good & Gather Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix

  • Value: 14/20
  • Quality: 15/20
  • Texture: 15/20
  • Aroma: 12/20
  • Flavor: 15/20
Total: 71/100

Target’s in-house label is known for its high-quality foods at generic-brand prices (seriously, its mac and cheese is beyond), but we can’t say that holds true for its hot cocoa. At $5, it’s more than twice the cost of Swiss Miss, and it was just…all right. There was no minty aroma when you picked up a cup, but that first sip has a strong, almost mouthwash-like jolt of mint, which soon takes a backseat to a smooth cocoa finish. It’s fine for half a cup, but we found we didn’t want any more than that.

BUY IT ($5)

CANDACE DAVISON

7. Jacques Torres Classic Hot Chocolate

  • Value: 14/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Texture: 12/20
  • Aroma: 16/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
Total: 78/100

We wanted to like this so much more than we did! Torres’s chocolates are divine, and so was the flavor here—the kind of rich, dark chocolate you’d expect from the Nailed It judge—but we couldn’t get past the texture. With piping hot milk and a lot of stirring, you can break down the chocolate to a smooth consistency, but it quickly turned gloppy.

$22.50 AT AMAZON

CANDACE DAVISON

6. Swiss Miss Marshmallow Hot Chocolate

  • Value: 20/20
  • Quality: 15/20
  • Texture: 15/20
  • Aroma: 14/20
  • Flavor: 16/20
Total: 81/100

After sampling several types of Swiss Miss over the years, we decided to focus on what’s arguably the brand’s most iconic offering: hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. This sweet drink tastes like childhood, and while we’ll always wish it came loaded with more marshmallows (even the Marshmallow Lovers pack doesn’t quite cut it for us), you really can’t beat the milky, chocolatey flavor at such a low price point (less than 20 cents a cup!).

BUY IT ($5)

CANDACE DAVISON

5. Starbucks Classic Hot Cocoa

  • Value: 19/20
  • Quality: 16/20
  • Texture: 16/20
  • Aroma: 15/20
  • Flavor: 16/20
Total: 82/100

Starbucks gets to claim two spots in our roundup, simply because the two flavors wound up being so different. Sure, you can buy Peppermint and Salted Caramel varieties, but the Classic is named so for a reason—it’s a velvety, smooth chocolate that’s not too bitter that kids won’t enjoy it, and not so sugary that adults will complain of a toothache three sips in.

BUY IT ($6)

CANDACE DAVISON

4. Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix

  • Value: 17/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Texture: 17/20
  • Aroma: 15/20
  • Flavor: 17/20
Total: 83/100

This one is for the milk chocolate lovers out there: Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa tastes like a molten candy bar. It’s milkier and sweeter than the rest, but not cloyingly so. There’s a light hint of vanilla that balances out the richness of that double dose of chocolate.

BUY IT (99 CENTS)

CANDACE DAVISON

3. Starbucks Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa

  • Value: 19/20
  • Quality: 17/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Aroma: 16/20
  • Flavor: 17/20
Total: 87/100

It’s no wonder the back of each packet includes a recipe for an easy Caffé Mocha—the mocha flavor in this drink is undeniable. Rather than being extra sweet, Starbucks’s take on Double Chocolate is sophisticated, with a richer, more semisweet taste overall. (The rich, smooth texture is what really sold us though.)

BUY IT ($6)

CANDACE DAVISON

2. Godiva Dark Chocolate

  • Value: 18/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Texture: 17/20
  • Aroma: 16/20
  • Flavor: 19/20
Total: 88/100

Godiva’s Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa is fine and all—until you try the Dark Chocolate version. It’s so rich, velvety and decadent that you’d swear you’re sipping a bougie, $6 hot cocoa from a boutique café. Only each serving will set you back less than $2, when you buy it by the canister.

BUY IT ($16)

CANDACE DAVISON

1. Kerber’s Farm Hot Cocoa Mix

  • Value: 17/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Aroma: 17/20
  • Flavor: 20/20
Total: 90/100

We’ll be honest: We didn’t see this one coming. The homespun mason jar packaging is sweet, but we feared this Long Island-made mix would taste like cocoa powder with a hint of sugar sprinkled in. We’ll never judge a cocoa by its container again. This ultra-thick (yet ultra-smooth) drink had a luscious dark chocolate flavor with the faintest hint of smokiness to it. It immediately made us dream of cozying up by the fire—and enjoying a second cup ASAP.

BUY IT ($15)

RELATED: This Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate Is What Dreams Are Made Of

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.

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