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Vanilla Cardamom Hot Cocoa

5.0 from 1 vote

This Vanilla Cardamom Hot Cocoa is my favorite cozy winter drink. We’re just a few days away from Christmas, and at this time of year I don’t think anything says cold winter day better than this savory cup.

vanilla cardamom hot cocoa in a glass mug with a dollop of coconut whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and cinnamon stick

You’ll also be happy to know that I created this recipe with not only flavor in mind, but with ingredients that are especially good for our bodies this time of year. Delicious and nourishing? Sign me up!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

The flavor of cardamom is slightly sweet, and the perfect compliment to the chocolate. Also, cardamom is particularly good for us to have in the Winter time. Do you know why?

Cardamom has several health benefits: it’s an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, helps with digestion, and is antibacterial. I add just a bit of ginger as well, for flavor, and also because ginger is also loaded with health benefits, too. In Chinese medicine, both cardamom and ginger are considered detoxifying and great for kidney health.

But I think overall, you’re going to love this recipe because it’s the perfect way to slow down and enjoy the season.

Why kidney health?

In Chinese Medicine different seasons are associated with different parts of the body, and winter is the time to care for and nurture your kidneys. And it makes sense! Our adrenals sit right on top of our kidneys, and this area gets zapped by stress, overwhelm, and all that other fun stuff that comes with the holiday season.

overhead shot of vanilla cardamom hot cocoa with a jar of cardamom seeds spilled out next to it

The idea is, in winter, it’s time to replenish our energy, slow down, and rest. There are certain foods and ingredients that can help us do just that – including cardamom and ginger. I made this hot cocoa recipe with that in mind. (I used this same approach when I created my Creamy Golden Milk recipe, so you can give that a try, too.)


Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this Vanilla Cardamom Hot Cocoa:

  • liquids: non-dairy milk (I used cashew, but any will do), vanilla extract, honey
  • powders/spices: cacao powder, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon
  • optional ingredients: vanilla tea bag (or chai flavor), coconut whipped cream + chocolate shavings

How to Make this Vanilla Cardamom Hot Cocoa

To make this hot cocoa you’ll start by pouring the milk in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Then, you add in the ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cacao powder, and vanilla extract, and whisk until combined.

Once the milk mixture has simmered for 5 minutes, turn off the heat, and if using, add in the teabag. Allow it to steep for 5 minutes, then remove it toss it out. If you aren’t using a tea bag, you can add in a shot of espresso, or just leave this step out.

a tea bag steeping inside a small sauce pot of hot cocoa

Next, add the honey, and whisk until combined. I add in the honey at the very end once the heat is off because you never want to cook honey; doing so takes away it’s healthful properties.

Now, pour it in your favorite mug! You can add a nice helping of coconut whip cream (recipe below), then add some chocolate shavings and a cinnamon stick. Or just go ahead and dive in without the fancy garnishes – it’s great either way. Savor this one!

vanilla cardamom hot cocoa with a dollop of coconut whipped cream being added to the top

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use other milks in place of cashew milk?

Yes, absolutely. Coconut milk, almond milk, or regular milk will work just as well. We like to make our own cashew milk in the almond cow, it’s so good!

Do I need to add the coconut whip cream?

No, but I recommend doing it 😉

Can I use different spices if I don’t like ginger or cardamom?

Yes. You can substitute the spices here with about 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, if you like.


If you enjoy a nice warm mug of something delicious, try my Pumpkin Spice Latte (also dairy-free) or my Creamy Golden Milk. And if you like healthy winter drinks but prefer something cold, try my Soothing Winter Green Smoothie. Finally, if you made this recipe, please rate it and let me know how you liked it in the comments!

Vanilla Cardamom Hot Cocoa

Recipe by Alessandra Macaluso
5.0 from 1 vote


Prep time


Cooking time


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  • 1 1/2 cup cashew milk (or other non-dairy milk, such as almond or coconut)

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (see note)

  • 1 cinnamon stick (can use 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon instead)

  • 1/2 tablespoon cacao powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 Rooibos or chai tea bag* (optional, see note)

  • 1 teaspoon raw honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon chocolate shavings (optional, for serving)

  • coconut whipped cream (optional, for serving – see below)

  • cinnamon stick (optional, for serving)

  • Coconut Whipped Cream
  • 1 15 oz. 1 15 oz. can full fat coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon honey


  • Add the milk to a medium saucepan and place over low-medium heat. Add in the ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cacao powder, cinnamon stick, and vanilla, and whisk to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and add the teabag. Steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag and add the honey to the pot, whisking again until incorporated.
  • Pour the hot chocolate into a mug. You can top with a hefty dollop of coconut whipped cream, some chocolate shavings, and a cinnamon stick, if you like. Enjoy!
  • For the Coconut Whipped Cream
  • Ideally you’d like to chill your coconut milk, so if you have the time, place the can in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 2 hours. Then, using a spoon, scoop out only the cream into a large mixing bowl (you can save the liquid for a later recipe). Add your vanilla extract and honey, and beat with a hand mixer for about a minute, or until light and fluffy. Use it to top your latte, and you can store the rest in your refrigerator for about 5 days.


  • You don’t need to add the tea bag, but I like the flavor with the cardamom and cocoa. You can substitute with a shot of espresso, chai tea bag, or leave it out completely.
  • You can purchase ground cardamom, or you can purchase cardamom pods and grind them yourself. It’s incredibly easy to do and takes just a few seconds, but it will take the flavor up ten notches!

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Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

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