How to make Nespresso hot chocolate with your machine—without the pods

making a nespresso hot chocolate
(Image credit: Future)
Tools & ingredients

- Cup/mug of your choice (extra points for a cool design)

- Spoon

- High-quality cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder

- Kettle for hot water

- Milk

- Any tasty extras you want as toppings, like cream and marshmallows (optional)

- Nespresso machine: I used the the Nespresso Vertuo Lattissima machine, however you could use any Nespresso machine that has milk frothing capabilities.

- Milk frother: If your Nespresso machine has a built-in milk frother, then perfect; alternatively, you can buy standalone milk frothers, like the Aeroccino 3, which is available from Nespresso and Amazon for $99.  

Do you love hot chocolate, but hate the flat, boring results you get from just using instant powdered hot chocolate? Or the extra effort needed to heat milk in the microwave or on the stove?

Well, it could be much easier, with much nicer results, if you use a Nespresso machine that has milk-frothing capabilities. I recently reviewed one of the best Nespresso machines that fit the bill: the Nespresso Vertuo Lattissima, which uses a milk frother and coffee capsules to create lattes, cappuccinos, or just hot milk foam.

It was this hot milk foam function that inspired me to elevate the way I make hot chocolates — and mochas. Before, I was just using regular store-bought powdered chocolate, adding hot boiled water from my kettle and topping it up with cold milk. While it tasted nice, the texture was nothing like those delicious creamy hot chocolates you get in fancy cafes.

I know that you know how to make hot chocolate; after all, it's hardly rocket science however, using a proper milk frother — or the Nespresso machine that you already use for a caffeine fix — is definitely the key to making the best hot chocolates that will seriously impress your friends and family with your sweet treat-making skills.

Keep scrolling for the step-by-step process of how I made a Nespresso hot chocolate, then check out the quick FAQs at the end.  

How to make a Nespresso hot chocolate

How to make a hot chocolate with your Nespresso machine: Quick steps

  1. Boil the kettle (alternatively, you could boil a small amount of water on the stove in a pan)
  2. Add 2-3 spoonful's of cocoa powder to your mug (plus any sugar to taste if desired)
  3. Pour in a small amount of the hot water whilst stirring, enough to reduce the powder to a smooth paste with no lumps.
  4. Add your milk of choice to your milk frothing device
  5. Steam and froth the milk 
  6. Pour/add the frothed milk to the hot chocolate paste
  7. Stir until combined
  8. Add chocolate flakes, cream and marshmallows (optional)

How to make a Nespresso hot chocolate: Step by step guide

1. Make a chocolate powder paste

(Image: © Future)

Grab your mug of choice and a spoon and use it to scoop out 3 to 4 healthy spoonfuls of cocoa powder into your mug. Any brand of cocoa/hot chocolate powder will do, although high-quality ones have a better, less obviously powdery taste than some cheaper ones have. This is also the point where you can add any sugar or sweetener if you prefer, especially if you are using a very dark or bitter cocoa powder. 

Boil a little water either in a kettle or, if you don't have one, on the stove in a small saucepan. Once it has boiled, let it cool a little; you want to use water that is hot but not boiling, as this can scorch the cocoa powder and scald your tongue. 

By the way, it's worth noting that there's no hot water function on most Vertuo machines for making tea, etc., that could provide hot water for this step. (An oversight on Nespresso's part if you ask me, as this would be helpful.) You can run it with a used pod inside to get just water or on a cleaning rinse, but you risk the water tasting of stale coffee or being dirty, so it's not ideal nor as hot as using a kettle.

Add the hot water slowly to the powder, stirring all the while, to create a smooth, thick paste, stirring until any lumps are gone. I recommend making the chocolate powder paste as thick as possible, and stirring it really well to get it as smooth as possible too. That way, when you add the milk, you'll get a rich, thick, and creamy hot chocolate. I find that adding too much water just waters down the flavor of the hot chocolate.

Tip: If you don't like to use instant chocolate powder or cocoa powder, you could also try adding some chocolate syrup to the bottom of your cup before adding the milk. This adds a really nice, deep chocolate flavor that reminds me of a chocolate milkshake. 

2. Froth your milk till creamy

(Image: © Future)

Then, move on to the milk. Add a little milk of choice, whether dairy or non-dairy alternative milk, into your milk frothing device. I tend to just eyeball how much I'll need, as my milk frothing carafe on my coffee machine is see-through; you may need to measure out one cup's worth of milk beforehand, about 3/4 full to accommodate the chocolate paste.

Then, according to your milk frother's settings, heat and froth the milk till light and creamy. For me, I just hit the hot milk foam button that looks like a cloud on my Nespresso Vertuo Lattissima machine; this froths the milk perfectly for me every time. 

Tip: If you own a Nespresso Aeroccino or another similar standalone milk frothing device, you could experiment with adding real chocolate, in tiny pieces, directly into the milk frothing jug so that when heated, it'll melt to create a rich chocolate velvety milk. Or you could skip this step entirely and add store-bought chocolate milk directly into the milk frother, although I personally found that some chocolate milk tastes too artificial. 

3. Add the warm milk to the hot chocolate paste base

(Image: © Future)

Then, when your milk is heated, frothed, and ready, either add it to your mug the way you would when using your coffee machine, by placing the mug under the milk spout.

Or, if using a standalone milk frothing device, pour the frothed milk into the mug.

Use a spoon to gently stir the milk and chocolate paste together to combine them fully. At this point, your delicious, velvety hot chocolate is ready to drink, but there is one more crucial step...

Tip: This sounds obvious, but don't forget to rinse out your milk frother after use; I didn't one time, and let's just say the aftermath did not smell good...

4. Garnish with your choice of toppings (optional)

(Image: © Future)

In my opinion, no hot chocolate is ever complete without cream and marshmallows; I even use chocolate-flavored whipped cream for that ultra-indulgent chocolate hit. You can then sprinkle over chocolate flakes or cocoa powder, add toppings like mini marshmallows or even crushed nuts, or just enjoy your delicious hot drink on its own.

I find that this method creates a much creamier and enjoyable drink than just pouring hot milk from the microwave or water from a kettle over powder and mixing; the resulting texture is so much nicer and luxurious when the milk has been frothed.


Does Nespresso do a chocolate pod?

When I first searched the Nespresso website and app to buy more Vertuo pods for my machine, as I always do, I noticed that while you can find chocolate-flavored coffee pods (which would be perfect to use if you want to know how to make a mocha even easier), there weren't any pods without coffee, purely for making hot chocolate.

Upon further digging, it turns out there's a little more science involved.

Basically, ground coffee is not soluble in water, which is why it is usually only ever used in a French press/cafetière coffee pot or compacted into coffee pods, just like Nespresso Vertuo coffee pods. If you just poured hot water over the grounds in a mug, you'd end up with really grainy coffee that's unpleasant to drink.

That's why hot water from your Nespresso machine has to pass through the compacted grounds under pressure in order to extract the coffee oils that carry the flavor from the ground coffee to your cup. Depending on how much coffee is compacted in the pod and the coffee bean variety, the strength of pod coffee can vary. If you want to read up more on this, check out our piece on 'What is pod coffee?

Hot chocolate/cocoa powder, on the other hand, is water-soluble, so there would be no point in putting it in a pressurized pod to make a drink. It just needs to be mixed properly with the hot milk (or water) from your machine/milk frother and stirred enough to ensure no lumps. That's pretty key; no one likes a lumpy drink!

So, in short, Nespresso does not make any own-brand hot chocolate pods.

Can you get Nespresso pods for hot chocolate?

While you won't find any pods made by Nespresso the brand, there are many other options for hot chocolate pods made by other companies, that are compatible with Nespresso machines, just like these pods by Podista on Amazon. There's also a wide variety of Nespresso-friendly chocolate pods at Walmart

It's worth noting, though, that the vast majority of these hot chocolate pods are only compatible with Nespresso Original Line machines, often referred to as 'original' or 'classic' pods, and not with machines from the Vertuo line that use the domed, Vertuo pods. So, I wouldn't be able to use them in my Vertuo Lattissima, for example, which is why I use the powder and frothed milk method to make my hot chocolates. 

Always double check you've got the right shaped pods in your cart before checking out, otherwise they won't fit in your machine.  

What's a good hot chocolate recipe?

If you go to Nespresso's website, they actually do have a recipe for hot chocolate, despite not selling hot chocolate pods (for the reasons mentioned above.)

They do however, sell their own brand chocolate, that is made to be enjoyed alongside your coffee as a flavor-enhancing treat. But, when broken into small pieces, it can be used to make hot chocolate by melting the tiny chocolate pieces directly into the milk inside the milk frother to create a delicious chocolatey mixture.

In the recipe on their website, Nespresso recommends using their Barista recipe maker, which is an advanced Bluetooth-connected milk frother, although this device is quite expensive and doesn't appear to be available on Amazon. I think that you could achieve similar results, though, by using the Aeroccino 4 ($119 Amazon), which even comes with a nifty handle, ideal for pouring over your frothed milk foam into a mug. And it heats up, too, so it could work for melting the chocolate directly into the milk for a super indulgent drink.  

Final thoughts

Making hot chocolate at home is super easy, but by using a coffee machine that can froth milk or a standalone milk frother, you can take out the hassle of having to stand at the stove and whisk the milk in a pan by hand in order to achieve the same level of creaminess. The same goes for heating milk in the microwave; it'll come out hot but won't have that same luxurious, velvety texture. 

Not to mention that, obviously, a milk frother can up your coffee-making game too; the beauty of a milk frother is that they're versatile and can be used to make any frothy drink of your choice, whether you love a classic cappuccino or a matcha latte.

While you can find many coffee machines on the market that come with milk frothers, we love using Nespresso's machines in particular because of how well-designed they are. They also have great standalone milk frothers.

My Vertuo Lattissima, for example, is so easy to use, and the detachable milk frothing carafe is easy to separate into its components to then either hand wash or run through the dishwasher.

If hot chocolate isn't your thing and you prefer coffee, check out our guide to 8 easy barista coffees you can make with a Nespresso machine; you'll be a barista-level coffee pro in no time.

Olivia Bevan
TTR Staff Writer

Olivia Bevan, a 2020 Durham University graduate in Modern Languages & Cultures, is passionate about French and German. She lived in Heidelberg and Strasbourg during her studies, developing a love for languages. She enjoys writing reviews, watching a variety of films, and dreams of owning a Ragdoll or Maine Coon cat.