I Tried Every Store-Bought Mexican Hot Chocolate I Could Find — This Is the One I’ll Buy Again

published Dec 15, 2022
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Various Mexican hot chocolates in mugs with chocolate surrounding.
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

There might be no better season to enjoy a cup of Mexican hot chocolate than during the holidays. The rich cacao, gritty texture, and warm spices make for a delicious sip that has always reminded me of my childhood, my family, and Christmastime in Mexico.

It’s been one my favorite desserts since I was a kid, and this year I decided to try as many Mexican hot chocolate brands as I could to find the very best one. After a week of whisking and sipping, I found that one I’ll keep on hand throughout the season — and all year long.

How I Tested the Mexican Hot Chocolates

There were fewer brands available on store shelves than I expected. In the end, I found six different Mexican hot chocolates, some at my local grocery store and the rest at a Mexican specialty gift shop. Of course, I was familiar with the heritage brands I grew up with; I also stumbled upon newer-generation brands. Traditionally, Mexican hot chocolate comes in the form of a tablet or disc, but I found one brand that came in a powder form. 

To conduct my taste test, I prepared all of the chocolates in the same manner (with the exception of the one in powder form, which I made following the label’s instructions): I combined the milk (I prefer 2%, which still allows for froth but isn’t as overwhelming or thick as whole milk), chocolate tablet, and a cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan, and whisked everything together with a molinillo, a traditional wooden whisk that mixes and froths the hot chocolate, over medium heat.

Once the chocolate melted completely and the milk was hot (but not boiling), I poured the mixture into a jarrito, a Mexican clay mug. I tried every chocolate over the course of a week, so as not to overwhelm my palate on a single night of testing. I also jotted down tasting notes and qualities for each as I went. At the end of the week, I didn’t even have to compare my notes to know a single hot chocolate stood out from the rest.

Credit: L. Daniela Alvarez

Best Mexican Hot Chocolate: Ibarra Hot Chocolate Drink Tablets

Although I kept an open mind during the taste test, I had a suspicion that Ibarra might come out on top. Its simple ingredient list and the fact that it’s made in Mexico by a Mexican company contributed to its win, but the deliciously rich and slightly bitter, slightly sweet flavor are what make this the premier choice.

It also had the best froth and the lightest nata, a light creamy layer of milk that forms at the surface of the hot chocolate. To make this dessert the traditional Aztec or Mayan way, I sometimes like to add a pinch of cayenne to the foam before drinking. 

Buy: Ibarra Hot Chocolate Drink Tablets, $4.19 for 6 tablets at Instacart

Credit: L. Daniela Alvarez

Runner Up: HERNÁN Mexican Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon

With an ingredient list nearly identical to Ibarra’s, HERNÁN Mexican hot chocolate was a close runner-up in terms of flavor and consistency. I especially loved the smaller-sized tablets for smaller servings.

While it had a slightly thicker froth than Ibarra, the bitterness was about the same. The cinnamon flavor also comes through slightly more, which makes it a great choice if you like a slightly more spiced than sweet Mexican hot chocolate. Like Ibarra, all HERNÁN products are crafted in Mexico.

Buy: HERNÁN Mexican Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon, $10.00 for 6 chocolate squares at HERNÁN

Did your favorite make the list? Tell us about it in the comments.