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Best Hot Chocolate From Fast Food Restaurants

Kristin loves sharing places to find yummy treats that your family might like.

The Best Hot Chocolate: Stacking up the Competition

The Best Hot Chocolate: Stacking up the Competition

Finding the Best Hot Chocolate

There's nothing like a cup of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream on a cool winter day. Like many other hot beverages, this classic winter drink has stepped up its game in recent years and gone a bit gourmet.

Enthusiasts can be thankful that being served a cup of dried cocoa powder and boiling water is fast-becoming a thing of the past. Steamed milk combined with chocolate syrups, or even melted chocolate, topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream is now becoming more the norm, even at fast-food restaurants.

I recently set out to find the best available for a few dollars or less. Below, you can see each cup I was served from Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, McDonald's, and Dunkin' Donuts.

Number of Locations Worldwide

  • Starbucks: 17,651
  • Caribou Coffee: 500 (16 states/several countries)
  • McDonald's: 34,000
  • Dunkin' Donuts: 10,083
Starbucks Classic Hot Chocolate

Starbucks Classic Hot Chocolate

Steamed milk with vanilla- and mocha-flavored syrups. Topped with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate-flavored drizzle.

— Description from starbucks.com

Curious to see if Starbucks could do for hot chocolate what they did for coffee, I was eager to give theirs a try.

I ordered a tall classic hot chocolate and within moments was served a very delicious and satisfying drink. With the whipped cream already melting on top, this Starbucks rendition was both creamy and flavorful.

The vanilla and mocha syrups added to the steamed milk hit the perfect chocolate flavor note—not too rich, not too weak. My only disappointment was that the chocolate drizzle was left off, which for me was merely an aesthetic miss.

All-in-all, this was a great cup, especially for the price, and I will definitely be going back for more this winter!

Starbucks Hot Chocolate Nutrition Information

Purchased at Chicago suburb Starbucks location. Nutrition information from starbucks.com.

12 oz. Classic Hot Chocolate (2% milk)$2.65

Calories

290

Total Fat

13g

Cholesterol

45g

Total Carbs

40g

Protein

11g

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Caribou Coffee Hot Chocolate

Caribou Coffee Hot Chocolate

We melt premium chocolate of your choice (dark, milk or white) with steamed milk and then top with whipped cream and chocolate chips to create our decadent hot chocolate.

— Description from cariboucoffee.com

From the moment I entered my local Caribou Coffee shop, I could hardly wait to taste their hot chocolate. With its warm and cozy lodge-like decor—crackling fireplace, leather chairs, rustic wooden floors—how could Caribou Coffee not make the best cocoa?

I ordered a small hot chocolate and was given the choice of dark, milk or white chocolate, as well as type of milk; I chose milk chocolate and 2% milk. When I opened the lid I was pleased to see a few mini chocolate chips on top of a generous serving of whipped cream.

Caribou Coffee melts chocolate and steams it with milk to create this decadent drink. Each whipped cream coated sip is heaven, but at over four-hundred calories and twenty-six grams of fat per cup, this cup is more of a treat than a regular drink.

Caribou's version as certainly one of the best I've ever had and will most certainly be going back to order another cup and soak up the heat next to the fire on a cool winter day.

Caribou Coffee Hot Chocolate Nutrition Information

Purchased at Chicago suburb Caribou Coffee location. Nutrition info. from cariboucoffee.com

12oz. Milk Chocolate Hot Chocolate (2% milk)$3.09

Calories

410

Total Fat

26g

Cholesterol

65g

Total Carbs

36g

Protein

10g

McDonald's Hot Chocolate (McCafe)

McDonald's Hot Chocolate (McCafe)

Made with steamed whole or nonfat milk, rich chocolate syrup and topped with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle.

— Description from mcdonalds.com

McCafe Nutrition Information

Purchased at Chicago suburb McDonald's location. Nutrition info. from mcdonalds.com

12oz. McCafe Hot Chocolate (whole milk)$2.40

Calories

240

Total Fat

8g

Cholesterol

Not Available

Total Carbs

37g

Protein

7g

In 2009 the fast-food giant McDonald's introduced the McCafe special line of drinks to its U.S. restaurants. Since these drinks tend to be more gourmet, similar to something served at a coffee house, I was eager to have a McCafe version.

I ordered a small hot chocolate and was anxious to taste it. When I opened the lid I was flat out disappointed. Not only was there no chocolate drizzle as advertised, but there was no whipped cream!

Made with whole milk and chocolate syrup, the drink itself was really creamy and chocolatey. One thing I really liked about it was that it was hotter than others I had tried.

Recalling McDonald's jingle, "You deserve a break today," I guess I'll give them a break and try theirs again, but next time I will be sure to ask for whipped cream.

Dunkin' Donuts Original Hot Chocolate

Dunkin' Donuts Original Hot Chocolate

Chocolate lovers from far and wide rave about our rich and delicious Hot Chocolate. It is the classic warm-you-up treat.

— Description from dunkindonuts.com

Knowing that Dunkin' Donuts gets a lot of good reviews for its coffee, I was interested to see if their hot chocolate would be the same.

I ordered a small original hot chocolate and hoped it was going to taste as good as the over-sized picture of it on the restaurant window looked.

After one sip, I had a hard time wrapping my taste buds around the Dunkin' Donuts version. It's quite frothy and slightly creamy, yet it did not seem to be made with milk. It was a bit thin but not as thin as an awful water-based cup of hot cocoa usually is.

After looking at the ingredients listed on the website it appears that theirs is made with a dry milk product and powders. It's safe to say, I will not be returning for more.

Dunkin' Donuts Hot Cocoa Nutrition Information

Purchased at Chicago suburb Dunkin' Donuts location. Nutrition info. from dunkindonuts.com

10 oz. Original Hot Chocolate (non-milk)$1.79

Calories

220

Total Fat

7g

Cholesterol

0g

Total Carbs

39g

Protein

2g

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