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Updated: 30 Mar 2022

Best instant hot chocolate

We tested brands including Galaxy, Cadbury and Options alongside supermarket own labels to find out which makes the ultimate indulgent treat
Rebecca Marcus
Mug of instant hot chocolate

Instant hot chocolate powder is a quick and easy way to make a comforting mug of hot chocolate - simply add hot water and stir. But is it worth paying more for a branded version?

In December 2021, we tested Galaxy, Cadbury, Options, Aero and Clipper instant hot chocolates alongside seven supermarket own-labels in a blind taste test.

Two branded hot chocolates came top, followed closely by a cheap supermarket own label. Some brands fared less well though, showing that paying more doesn’t guarantee a tastier cup of hot chocolate.

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Best instant hot chocolate

Galaxy and Cadbury topped our test, earning our coveted Best Buy award, with tasters loving their chocolatey flavours and creamy texture.

Several supermarket hot chocolates also impressed though, and Aldi's tasty yet cheap 'Choceur' instant hot chocolate was our best value pick, at less than half the price per serving of the top options.

See the full results below, all prices correct as of December 2021.

Best Buy: Galaxy Instant Hot Chocolate - 73%          

£2.60 for 370g (18p per 25g serving)

Galaxy Instant Hot Chocolate

Galaxy was the overall favourite in our taste test, scoring top marks for its satisfying chocolate flavour and creamy mouthfeel.

It works out at 18p per serving which is a little pricier than most other hot chocolates we tested. If you don’t mind spending a bit more on a branded option, it’s an excellent choice.

Available from Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

Best Buy: Cadbury Instant Hot Chocolate - 71%

£2.50 for 400g (18p per 28g serving)

Cadbury Instant Hot Chocolate

Cadbury’s instant hot chocolate hit the spot for our tasters, receiving high ratings across the board for its lovely chocolatey flavour. Like Galaxy, it’s another widely available brand that you can rely on for a great-tasting hot chocolate.

Cadbury sources its cocoa through Cocoa Life, which is Mondelez’s in-house sustainability scheme. It’s aims include: training farmers to adopt good farming practices to protect forests, empowering workers and combatting child labour. Find out more about Cocoa Life and other sustainability schemes in our guide to decoding food labels.

Available from Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

Aldi Choceur Instant Hot Chocolate and Co-op Fairtrade Instant Hot Chocolate - 69%  

99p for 400g (7p per 28g serving) and £2.30 for 400g (16p per 28g serving)

Aldi Choceur Instant Hot Chocolate and Co-op Fairtrade Instant Hot Chocolate

Aldi and Co-op’s own-label hot chocolates tied in joint third place, just behind Cadbury.

Aldi is our top  value option at just 7p per serving – less than half the price of our Best Buys. Our panel didn’t think its flavour quite matched up to the winning brands, but it’s still a tasty choice and ideal if you’re after a cheaper way to get your chocolate fix.

Co-op's doesn’t offer as much of a saving, but it’s made with Fairtrade sugar and cocoa, so it's a good option if buying Fairtrade is important for you.

Available from Aldi and Co-op.

Clipper Fairtrade Instant Hot Chocolate and Tesco Instant Hot Chocolate - 68%

£3.10 for 350g (25p per 28g serving) and £1.60 for 400g (11p per 28g serving)

Clipper Fairtrade Instant Hot Chocolate and Tesco Instant Hot Chocolate

Tesco and Clipper both got good ratings all round, tying with a score of 68%.

At 25p per serving, Clipper’s Fairtrade offering is one of the most expensive we tested, costing more than rival brands such as Cadbury and Galaxy. 

If you’re watching out for sugar, it’s worth knowing that Clipper has the highest sugar content of all the hot chocolates we tested, with 19.7g of sugar in each serving.

Clipper Fairtrade Instant Hot Chocolate is available from Ocado, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

Tesco Instant Hot Chocolate is available from Tesco.

Morrisons Instant Hot Chocolate - 67%           

£2 for 400g (14p per 28g serving)

Morrisons Instant Hot Chocolate

Morrisons is another good own label option if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to a branded hot chocolate.

It scored well in most areas, although half of tasters thought it lacked creaminess. If you like your hot chocolates luxuriously thick and creamy, it might not be the one for you.

Available from Morrisons.

Lidl Bellarom Instant Hot Chocolate - 66%

99p for 400g (8p per 30g serving)

Lidl Bellarom Instant Hot Chocolate

Lidl’s budget-friendly Bellarom hot chocolate is made with UTZ certified cocoa, which is a sustainable farming program covering social, economic and environmental issues.

While our panel weren’t big fans of the appearance, its flavour ratings were on par with most of the other own labels we tested, so it's worth trying if you shop at Lidl.

Available from Lidl.

Sainsbury's Instant Fairtrade Hot Chocolate - 64% 

£1.40 for 350g (11p per 28g serving)

Sainsbury's Instant Fairtrade Hot Chocolate

Sainsbury’s Fairtrade instant hot chocolate didn’t blow our tasters away, but it’s not a bad choice if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful way to satisfy your hot chocolate cravings. Its appearance impressed, though some found it lacking in sweetness and creaminess.

Available from Sainsbury's.

Asda Instant Hot Chocolate - 59%

£1.04 for 400g (7p per 28g serving)

Asda Instant Hot Chocolate

Asda’s cheap hot chocolate is a tempting option at just 7p per serving, but not all our panel enjoyed the taste. 

It lost marks for its chocolate flavour, which was considered too weak by nearly two thirds of tasters and its mouthfeel, which most tasters found lacked creaminess.

If you shop at Asda and don’t mind spending a bit more, it could be worth upgrading to a branded hot chocolate instead. If you want the best budget hot chocolate, it's worth stocking up at Aldi instead.

Available from Asda.

Aero Instant Hot Chocolate - 58%         

£2.99 for 288g (25p per 24g serving)

Aero Instant Hot Chocolate

Aero is one of the most expensive hot chocolates on test. It contains more cocoa (25%) than others we tested and is one of only two hot chocolates to get a medium traffic light rating for sugar (others are rated high for sugar).

But the taste wasn’t a particularly big hit with our panel, who gave it low marks for its aroma, flavour and mouthfeel.  Most thought the flavour was too weak and not sweet enough, while 72% said it wasn’t creamy enough.

Available from Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's.

Options Instant Belgian Hot Chocolate - 56%

£3 for 220g (15p per 11g serving)

Options Instant Belgian Hot Chocolate

Options has the least sugar and calories of all the hot chocolates we tested, containing just 40 calories per serving. It’s also one of the only hot chocolates that’s made with sweetener.

It came last in our taste test, disappointing tasters with its overly sweet flavour and watery mouthfeel. Unless you’re specifically looking for something with less sugar and calories, you’re probably better off sticking with a higher scoring hot chocolate.

Available from Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

Is instant hot chocolate healthy?

Person drinking mug of hot chocolate

Most of the instant hot chocolates we tested are classed as high in sugar as they contain more than 13.5g of sugar per serving. Aero and Options are the only hot chocolates we tested that get a medium sugar rating.

The recommended serving size varies depending on the hot chocolate you buy, ranging from 11g to 30g in the ones we tested. If you’re keeping an eye on the amount of sugar you’re having, it’s worth checking the serving size to make sure you’re not exceeding the recommended amount.

The table below shows the amount of sugar per serving in the hot chocolates we tested.

Serving sizeSugar per serving
Clipper Fairtrade Instant Hot Chocolate28g19.7g
Lidl Bellarom Instant Hot Chocolate30g18.3g
Morrisons Instant Hot Chocolate28g17.4g
Aldi Choceur Instant Hot Chocolate28g17g
Cadbury Instant Hot Chocolate28g17g
Co-op Fairtrade Instant Hot Chocolate28g17g
Sainsbury's Instant Fairtrade Hot Chocolate28g16.5g

Is instant hot chocolate vegan?

Person pouring hot water into mug of instant hot chocolate

None of the instant hot chocolates we tested are vegan, as they all contain some milk. However, some brands, including Galaxy and Options, offer vegan versions of their instant hot chocolate powders.

Another option is to make it with non-instant hot chocolate powder (usually a blend of cocoa and sugar) and plant-based milk. While it’s not as quick as simply boiling your kettle and stirring in some hot water, standard hot chocolate powders can make a good vegan-friendly alternative, as they don’t tend to contain dairy (though make sure to double check the ingredients before buying).

Plant milks: what's best for your health and the environment? Find out how plant-based milks including almond, oat and soya milk compare.

How we tested

Each hot chocolate was assessed by a large panel of consumers who regularly buy and consume hot chocolate. 

The make-up of the panel broadly represents the demographic profile of adults in the UK. 

Each hot chocolate was assessed by 61 people. The panellists rated the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of each product and told us what they liked and disliked about each one. 

The taste test was blind, so the panellists didn’t know which brand they were trying. The order they sampled the hot chocolate was fully rotated to avoid any bias. 

Each panellist had a private booth so they couldn’t discuss what they were tasting or be influenced by others.

The overall score is based on:

  •  50% taste
  • 25% aroma
  • 15% mouthfeel
  • 10% appearance

How to recycle hot chocolate jars

Most of the hot chocolate powders we tested come in plastic jars, except Asda's version which comes in a non-recyclable plastic bag.

Only some councils will accept plastic jars in household recycling waste, so it’s best to check beforehand. 

The outer label usually needs to be removed before it goes in your recycling bin. Make sure to rinse the jar out to prevent contamination and put the lid back on to reduce the chance of it getting lost during the sorting process.