Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate (5 Minutes, Low Sugar)

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Picking up a mug of our low sugar Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate recipe

Lately I’ve been reducing my caffeine intake and reaching for this dreamy, creamy, adaptogenic hot chocolate. Why? Caffeine tends to exacerbate anxiety — which so many of us experience — and it can also increase cortisol, which I’m always trying to monitor and soothe.

Admittedly, this drink isn’t for everyone. It requires a handful of adaptogens, which can be a bit of an investment. However, I figured I’d go ahead and share as I’ve been drinking and enjoying it daily. I especially love how it’s replaced my morning dose of caffeine with delicious chocolate flavor and good, chill vibes.

Let’s do this!

Spoonfuls and bowls of cacao powder, Ashwagandha, reishi mushroom powder, maca, coconut butter, and cinnamon sticks for making our hot chocolate recipe with adaptogens

What is an Adaptogen?

Good question, and something I wondered about myself up until a few years ago.

An adaptogen is a plant (usually an herb, root, or mushroom) that helps your body adapt to stress (whether physical, chemical, or biological).

This is the prime reason I began reaching for adaptogens years ago after enduring a few serious bouts of stress and anxiety.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting adaptogens replace stress reduction practices like yoga, walking, deep breathing, being outdoors, therapy, etc. But what they can do is help your body take the edge off when you’re experiencing stress. In this way, I see them as a bit of a stress sidekick.

I’ve personally found adaptogens to be most helpful when I’ve paired them with other daily rituals like reducing caffeine, eating balanced meals, yoga, walking, meditation, and journaling.

Pouring a mug of our dairy-free Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate recipe beside ingredients used to make it

What Do Adaptogens Taste Like?

All adaptogens taste different (and they can taste different to different people depending on their palettes). But in my experience, adaptogens in general tend to not be the most enjoyable in terms of flavor, which is why mixing them with other things like sweeteners or nut butters or cacao powder makes them more palatable.

Which Adaptogens To Try First?

While I’m not an adaptogen expert, I have been taking them for years with good results. And if I had to choose, these are the three adaptogens I’d suggest getting started with as they’re more widely available and relatively easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

  • Ashwagandha – An herb widely used in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) that’s become most well known for its ability to help our bodies adapt to stress and potentially lower cortisol. It has a slightly bitter taste. Best for adding to smoothies or hot chocolate in small doses (we don’t usually exceed 1/2 – 1 tsp per serving).
  • Maca – A root vegetable grown in the Andes with serious health benefits for everything from boosting libido to balancing hormones to increasing energy levels. It has a malty, almost caramel-like flavor, making it easier to enjoy. We love it in smoothies, hot chocolate, energy bites, and shakes (we don’t usually exceed 1 – 2 tsp per serving).
  • Reishi Mushroom – Also known as the Queen of Mushrooms, reishi is especially good for helping our bodies relax and chill out during times of stress. It’s also relatively neutral in flavor and pairs especially well with things like Mushroom Coffee and this hot chocolate (we don’t usually exceed 1 tsp per serving).

In this recipe, I also use an adaptogen called He Shou Wu (a.k.a. Fo-Ti), which has been claimed to improve the health of hair, skin, and nails — something I’m always trying to support. It’s a less common adaptogen with a pretty bitter taste, so I use it sparingly and in lesser quantities (usually 1/4 – 1/2 tsp per serving).

Mug and glass of vegan hot chocolate with adaptogens and cinnamon

We hope you LOVE this adaptogenic hot chocolate! It’s:

  • Creamy
  • Chocolatey
  • Comforting
  • Low caffeine
  • Customizable
  • & Super delicious

We’ve been enjoying this hot chocolate in the morning in place of coffee or matcha for a low caffeine alternative that’s still comforting, delicious, and satisfying.

If you don’t have all of the adaptogens listed, feel free to play around with what you have. It’s fairly forgiving and versatile as long as you start with small quantities of the adaptogens and work your way up. Plus, additional sweetener and/or cacao can usually remedy a too-bitter drink.

More Cozy Drinks

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Side view of two glasses and a mug of low sugar Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate beside ingredients used to make it

Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate (5 Minutes, Low Sugar)

Low caffeine, low sugar hot chocolate with raw cacao and adaptogens including reishi mushroom, maca, ashwagandha, and he shou wu. The perfect cozy beverage to replace coffee or matcha in the morning, or to wind down with in the evening.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Holding the handle of a mug of vegan Hot Chocolate made with adaptogens
5 from 17 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 (Serving)
Course Beverage
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 3-4 Days

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces very hot water (or sub favorite dairy-free milk)
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 tsp Ashwagandha
  • 1 tsp Reishi mushroom powder
  • 1 tsp Maca
  • 1 tsp coconut butter (or sub store-bought)
  • 1 Tbsp Tocos (a.k.a. rice bran solubles* // if using dairy-free milk, omit)
  • Sweetener of choice (we love stevia, maple syrup, raw honey to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp He shou wu (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 scoop collagen* (optional // see notes for vegan option)

Instructions

  • To a high-speed blender (or small blender), add hot water (or dairy-free milk), cacao powder, ashwagandha, reishi, maca, coconut butter, tocos, and sweetener of choice (we prefer stevia to taste). Add he shou wu, cinnamon, and collagen at this time as well (all optional). Note: If using dairy-free milk in place of water, you can opt to skip the tocos and coconut butter as they're largely there to provide creaminess.
  • Blend on high until creamy and frothy — about 1 minute. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more sweetener to taste, cacao for rich chocolate flavor, maca for malty flavor, or coconut butter for coconut flavor / butteriness. The adaptogens / mushrooms can be a bit on the bitter side; adding more coconut butter, cacao, and sweetener will offset this.
  • Serve and enjoy immediately. You can also make this in a big batch for the week and reheat throughout the week as needed either on the stovetop in a saucepan, or in our go-to milk frother. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days (though best when fresh). Not freezer friendly.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.
*In this recipe, tocos (rice bran solubles) largely replace dairy-free milk as it acts like a milk powder when blended with water. However, if using dairy-free milk in place of water, it (along with the coconut butter) can be omitted. Also, some readers have commented about potential arsenic risk with tocos, so use your own judgement and exercise caution if consuming daily (I’d say leave it out if you’re concerned).
*If you don’t have all of the adaptogens listed, feel free to play around with what you have. This recipe’s fairly forgiving and versatile as long as you start with small quantities of the adaptogens and work your way up. Plus, additional sweetener and/or cacao can usually remedy a too-bitter drink.
*Collagen is something we add for a little protein. If vegan, we love this vegan collagen from Moon Juice.

Nutrition (1 of 1 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 183 Carbohydrates: 22.7 g Protein: 4 g Fat: 8.8 g Saturated Fat: 3.3 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 0 mg Potassium: 466 mg Fiber: 4 g Sugar: 3.3 g Vitamin A: 0 IU Vitamin C: 0 mg Calcium: 0 mg Iron: 1.26 mg

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My Rating:




  1. Victoria says

    Holy cow. I’ve been meaning to make this for the last couple of months. Why did I wait so long?? It is better than I could have imagined. This needs to be the new daily jam. Omitted tocos (same as others commenters, the cautions are too serious to use these), collagen and he shou wu. Used Oatly. Thank you thank you thank you for this recipe. Love.

  2. Camille R says

    Hi Dana,
    I’ve been seeing this recipe in your instagram quite frequently and would love to try it. I’m wondering where you get all these adaptogenic ingredients? I’ve seen maca powder at bulk barn in Montreal but I can’t seem to find reishi mushroom, ashwagandha, and he shou wu. I’d never heard of adaptogenics before so i’m not sure where to look!
    Thanks ! :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Camille, It depends on where you live. I’d recommend getting them shipped. We included links for each ingredient when possible. Otherwise, local herb / health stores can have bulk bins and great prices / sales!

  3. Hanna says

    Love the taste of this recipe and the fact that it’s packed with adaptogens!
    I omitted the tocos and just use plant based milk and also omitted the he shou wu and collagen powder. I made the mix that would make ten servings and added 3 Tbsp of coconut sugar and it’s perfect for me.

    I am wondering which ingredient has caffeine?

    Thanks for the recipe! Your website is one of my go to’s!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Hanna, we’re so glad to hear it! Cacao powder has a small amount of caffeine. Hope that helps!

  4. Genevieve says

    I love this recipe. I’ve made one now do I can use it in the morning. I added honey for a hint of sweetness.

  5. Yvonne says

    This has quickly become part of my routine! Sometimes, I mix in coffee instead of hot water and make a mocha. I would look a little more into tocos if you are drinking daily because of the high levels of arsenic. I’m keep hoping to find some research to show otherwise because tocos is so delicious!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Love that tip! I did some more research on tocos and agree it’s at least worth considering and using some caution. I may include a note about that in the recipe!

  6. Celeste says

    I am super excited to try this- I bought some Ashwagandha tea to test it out and I’m so ready for this next step. I have a question, though. Is it safe to use a Nutribullet for this hot of a liquid? There are warning stickers and I’ve heard horror stories. Would those little electric whisks or an immersion blender work?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Celeste, We use the Nutribullet Rx for hot liquid and haven’t had a problem- but that can be more of an issue with the smaller blenders. We think the whisk might have trouble blending the coconut butter, but it might be worth a try! You could also blending it cold and then reheat on the stovetop or in a milk frother. Hope that helps!

      • Jackie says

        Hi there,

        I just wanted to comment so this doesn’t happen to anyone else – do not make this in a NutriBullet. I just made this recipe for the 2nd time and it exploded on me when I took the lid off and burned my writs. This is nobody’s fault but my own as a google search will immediately tell you to only add small amounts of hot water to recipes in a Nutribullet or this will happen.

        On a positive note, I love this recipe and am excited to add it to my daily routine. I just have to fine a new method lol.

        • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

          Oh no! Sorry to hear that happened, Jackie! Did you use the Nutribullet Rx or a different model?

          • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

            Ahh that could be why. We recommend the Nutribullet Rx for hot liquids. And making sure to not overfill the container as that can cause it.

  7. Stephanie says

    Wow! What a surprise! I was worried it would be bitter but this was surprisingly delightful! I switched out the Reishi with Moringa (for no other reason then I already had it) and it was really good! I’m hoping this will help me cut down the coffee intake ?

  8. Isabella Cruz says

    Hi! Do you think I could use Sun Potion’s “Yin Power” instead? I need something to balance my hormones. “Yin Power” already has Reishi, He Shou Wu, Ashwagandha and Tocos. I would be make it with dairy-free milk. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  9. Nath says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I have been making this hot chocolate on a daily basis and it really helps me deal with stress at work. I just use Maca and ashwagandha with stevia and cocoa and it tastes great.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Nath. We are so glad you enjoy it and find it helpful! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  10. Agata says

    I really liked this chocolate, super tasty and easy to modify as needed!
    I only used maca powder cuz I don’t have any other adaptogens, plant milk, coconut butter and some dates to make it sweet and wholesome.
    There is just one thing I would be careful with and that’s consuming raw maca powder – in this recipe it’s only mixed with hot liquid but that not might be enough as it should be properly cooked (that’s how it has been consumed for centuries and how to get the most benefits). I actually used it raw for some time and it caused me severe stomach pains, so just a warning for the more sensitive people out there ;)
    Overall tho, this recipe is really cozy and tasty!

  11. Kayla says

    Tonight I made this for the first time and I am beyond satisfied. I was a little reluctant using water as the base but it blended so nicely with the dry ingredients and tasted very balanced. The two ingredients I omitted were tocos and he shou wu but nonetheless it tasted fabulous! This will be a staple in my day-to-day. Thank you for sharing this unique recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Kayla. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  12. Cassidy says

    I’ve been making MB recipes for several years and they never go wrong. Recently, I started taking ashwaganda in the morning and drinking reishi tea before bed to help with managing stress and cortisol, so I was SO delighted to see this on MB’s Instagram Feed a few weeks ago. Just made it and it is delicious.

    I used coconut milk, reishi, ashwaganda, cacao powder, maple syrup, and cinnamon. I have Maca coming in the mail today, so curious if that will add a little sweetness to it too. It’s frothy, sweet yet earthy, and tastes a lot like dark chocolate and just tastes REAL. Love it, thanks Dana and team!

  13. Cynthia says

    I made this recipe and just love it. I’ve added it into my regular rotation and have had it several times now. It’s described as caffeine free though and I thought chocolate has caffeine in it? Is it different or cacao? Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Cynthia, We’re so glad you enjoy it! You’re correct- this is low caffeine, not caffeine-free.

  14. Steph says

    This was just so lovely and warm and healthful and indulgent all at the same time. I used oat milk and kept the coconut oil (no butter right now) for consistency (omitted He shou wu simply, again, because I don’t have any at home). Just wonderful. Thank you so much, Dana, for ALL of your wonderful recipes and thoughtful posting. In fact, for dinner my partner and I had 1-pot chickpea and tomato peanut stew before followed by adaptogenic hot chocolate for dessert–though I look forward to having this drink on a cozy weekend morning, too. Love, love, love.

  15. Deanna Kessler says

    I made this recipe this morning and it was so delicious and frothy! I am someone who has higher stress levels so I was excited to learn about these ingredients. Thank you for this recipe and many other delicious ones on this website!

  16. Sophie says

    Thank you, this was delicious! I used a cacao powder with reishi in it (Navitas makes it), ashwaganda, maca, cinnamon, coconut oil, maple syrup, and almond milk instead of water. The cinnamon added a really nice flavor to this, and it blended up perfectly in the vitamix. I’m looking forward to making this regularly, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would :)

  17. Jac Bishop says

    I love this recipe! I made it this morning and feel great. It was earthy and rich but doesn’t leave me feeling sluggish like actual hot chocolate. I am also not a coffee drinker so it is a great alternative. It feels like I am fueling my body rather than just trying to satisfy a sweet tooth.

  18. Heather says

    I happened to have all the ingredients and whipped this up last night and again this afternoon. I found the drink delicious and balanced without any sweetner; however I do recommend heeding Dana’s suggestion of making it in the morning as it did keep me up at night. ?

  19. Hang Hockley says

    I’ve been really into trying different adaptogens lately so I was so excited to see this recipe. Just made this for a cozy evening drink and loved it! SUPER customizable, easy and delicious.
    My mods:
    *I used almond milk so left out the coconut butter and tocos
    *Didn’t use the optional he shou wu but did use cinnamon
    *Added a scoop of collagen peptides and sweetened with agave nectar
    *I used a handheld frother. Just need to do it a bit longer than the one minute in the blender to get the frothiness you want. I was just too lazy to clean the blender after tbh!

  20. Elisha says

    I appreciate the adaptogen info and the creative recipe. With cacao I believe there would be caffeine. For a caffeine-free alternative, one could use carob powder as a substitute for the cacao/cocoa. I use carob powder regularly in smoothies and nut bars instead of cacao and love it. Thanks for the lovely blog!

  21. Andie says

    He shou wu is a wonderful herb for many gyn conditions. Please be careful if you tend to have loose stools, this herb can cause diarrhea in certain conditions

  22. Paige Cassandra Flamm says

    This looks amazing! I totally need to go make some of this right now, I’m craving something sweet and this will be the perfect fix!

  23. Danielle von strandtmann says

    I can’t decide if I love this more for the morning or before bed! I also love it because it’s super customizable / can throw in what you have in the house if you have the basics. It really calms me before bed. I used to be on a matcha / coffee kick too but this really makes me feel like I could survive a caffeine break.

  24. Danielle says

    Omg its delicious. I used Reishi and lions mane mushroom powders, splash of oat milk, hot water, stevia, coconut butter, and cacao powder. Wow. New go-to, will drink obsessively.

  25. kanta masters says

    I would appreciate your giving Nutritional Information on the substitutions as well (in this case dairy free milk and omission of coconut butter. ) Some of us are on plans that require specific Nutritional Information. The recipe as given is too “expensive” related to Nutritional Information to be able for me to use, except occasionally. It was very appealing…perhaps the modifications/substitutions would put it back on my table :-). Knowing specifically what a ‘serving’ was would be most helpful as well. I can surmise yet your specifying 8oz or whatever would take any guesswork out of it.
    Thanks so much for all. Have enjoyed purchasing and using your cookbooks!

  26. Hannah says

    Hello! Quick question– does applying heat to adaptogens diminish their effects or nutritional make up? I know it’s true for raw cacao (I started saving my “good stuff” for raw/cold things, and just use cocoa powder when I’m applying heat/baking!). Just wondering if the same was true; thanks so much!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      So we’re not cooking these, we’re simply adding them to hot water. So it’s my opinion that it little nutritional value is lost.

  27. Anne Yeoman says

    Is it possible to premix the dry ingredients in larger quantities–multiples of a serving–so that one has only to add the liquid/s and blend when you want a serving? If so, how should the mix be stored?

    • Julia Mueller says

      Haters got to hate. Thankfully you don’t have to participate and could exercise your free will to take your negativity elsewhere. You are the minority. No one said this was in place of medical advice. No one said it was caffeine FREE. If you’ve been on the side that I’m on….a slave to western medicine with terrible side effects you would be grateful to have this website in your arsenal! You must be fortunate and undoubtedly on the younger side. Just wait until some of life’s maladies catch up with you. Bet we’ll see you back here with praise.

  28. Cheryl S Lewman says

    I wouldn’t call this caffeine free, since it has chocolate in it. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, as I am, having this in the evening would be a bad idea.

  29. CP says

    This was delicious! I build most of my meals around MB recipes but this is the first time I’ve left a comment, mostly because I want to request more adaptogenic recipes like this! I’ve been trying to incorporate more mushrooms and healthy roots into my diet, but they taste so awful on their own. Recipes like these are game changers that make them easy and delicious to consume!

    I tweaked the recipe as follows based on what I had available at home:
    – coconut milk instead of water
    – 1 tb cacao powder
    – 1 tsp each of reishi, lions mane, and maca
    – cinnamon
    – tsp of backyard honey

    I heated it all on the stove then mixed it in a blender.

    I think a mint version of this adaptogenic drink might be yummy too!

  30. Sammie (@hullosam) says

    I made this recipe this morning and oh my gosh, probably one of my new favourite hot chocolate drinks! I used maple syrup to sweeten it! Love that it’s low sugar and packed full of beneficial adaptogens! Dana’s recipes never fail me. Big fan for many many years over here! :)