All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission.

Sure, the weather outside may be frightful, but if there’s one thing that’ll keep you chugging along through the winter months, it’s the always idyllic mug of hot chocolate. There’s certainly a reason why everyone loves to snuggle up under a blanket in front of a crackling fireplace (or Netflix), cup of piping hot chocolate in tow, but nonetheless, after a couple of identical mugs, it’s easy to get tired of having the same thing over and over. Instead of curling up with your regular instant hot chocolate, here’s a myriad of ways to upgrade the classic winter drink.

1. Mint

Simon McGill/Moment/Getty Images

Chocolate and mint aren’t a newfound romance, but the duo blends the winter months with the holiday season. Crush up a candy cane and sprinkle the shards into the drink, or use a full length candy cane as a stirrer, which will give the chocolate a hint of mint. You can even throw a handful of mint candies—like Junior Mints—into the mug.

2. Cayenne Pepper

A dash of cayenne pepper is guaranteed to boost both the chocolate flavor and the overall spicy level. You don’t need a ton (although if you’re a spice aficionado, sprinkle away).

3. Cookie Butter

For a caramel and gingery flavor, swirl in a tablespoon of cookie butter while you heat the milk and cocoa powder. It’ll melt right in, creating a much thicker result. For an added bonus, top it off with crumbled speculoos cookies.

Miroco Milk Frother, $49.99 on Amazon

Buy Now

4. Espresso

Manuel Sulzer/Cultura/Getty Images

Coffee purists might scoff at the idea of adding a shot of espresso to hot chocolate, but the chocolate/coffee combo is a bona fide classic. If you don’t have an espresso maker on hand, you can just add a dash of espresso powder.

5. Alcohol

For a sweet take on a nightcap, shake up what you’re used to by adding in a couple spoonfuls of your preferred liquor. Cognac creates a subtle, earthy note, and Irish creme will give the hot chocolate an added creaminess, but you can use just about any liqueur—even wine!

6. Nuts

For a hint of nuttiness, swirl in a tablespoon or so of nut butter—anything from peanut to almond to hazelnut to sesame (or even Nutella, for an extra dose of chocolate), which will make the hot chocolate much richer.

7. Cinnamon

Matthew O’Shea/Photolibrary/Getty Images Plus

Never had Mexican hot chocolate? The simplest version boasts just cinnamon and the regular ingredients for hot chocolate, but you can also add other spices like nutmeg, cayenne, and vanilla extract.

More Uncommon Alternatives

The Niche Warm Drinks That Will Get You Through Chilly Nights

Header image courtesy of Kamile Kaveckaite / 500px / Getty Images

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
See more articles