How to Make Dairy-Free Chocolate Syrup at Home

April  1, 2014

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Once you try a glass of milk mixed with chocolate syrup by Cara Eisenpress of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, you'll never want to drink plain milk again.

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My recipe for chocolate syrup originates from my dissatisfaction as a chocoholic. As a chocolate-loving child, I was always confused by the recipe for hot chocolate on the back of the cocoa carton. One teaspoon of cocoa powder paired with an equal amount of sugar and one cup of milk never amounted to anything more than a mysteriously tan, slightly sweet beverage. From a very young age I thought, “More chocolate.” 

More: This hot chocolate recipe was made for chocoholics. 

I would triple the cocoa powder and add a small handful of chocolate chips for richness and body. Then, I would pour a bit of boiling water over the cocoa and sugar and stir this into a paste. Once I had the paste, I either made hot chocolate or chocolate milk, depending on the milk’s temperature.  

Chocolate syrup is just one step more refined. Instead of dissolving the chocolate paste in milk, I simmer it in water until the mixture reduces into a silky sauce. I like to make the syrup in batches and stir into milk whenever I please. 


Even better, the syrup itself is dairy-free, unlike hot fudge, which means that I can mix it with whole milk while my dairy-avoiding husband can mix it into almond milk. (I’ve been thinking a lot about dairy-free stuff recently: my eCookbook is all about butter-less desserts!)

In the end, chocolate syrup is incredibly simple -- it requires just one more step and one more pan than that cocoa paste -- but there are a few important tricks. First, always use at least some brown sugar -- the molasses flavor brings out the chocolate. Second, keep the chocolate-to-sugar proportion in a ration of 3:2. Third, melt in a tiny bit of chocolate (not cocoa) at the end, for richness and body. And finally, no chocolate-friendly flavor is ever unwelcome in chocolate syrup: I like to add a dash mint extract, espresso powder, or cherry liqueur.

More: Stir your chocolate syrup into a glass of homemade almond milk

Chocolate Syrup

Makes about 1/2 cup of syrup

1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons evaporated cane or granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon finely minced bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Tiniest pinch of salt
Milk (whole or or dairy-free), for serving


Combine the water, sugars, and cocoa powder in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve.

When the mixture reaches a simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. When the mixture is syrupy, turn off the heat and add the minced chocolate. Let it sit for another minute, then add the vanilla and salt and stir until even.

Let cool to room temperature, then stir into milk in your preferred proportion (I recommend a lot of syrup to a little bit of milk, but that’s just me). 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Cara Eisenpress

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • suziqcu
  • Julie Morlan Oswald
    Julie Morlan Oswald
  • Jasmine Seiler
    Jasmine Seiler
  • Panfusine
  • Tereza
I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com), a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.


suziqcu August 8, 2014
I tried this using coconut nectar and it was a definite improvement over H@#$%#&'s! Not too sure on true healthy aspect of coconut nectar, so I'm going to make as directed after this is gone. Great alternative to add to cold brew coffee!
Julie M. July 11, 2014
Love love love this recipe!!! Can't wait to try it and ENJOY chocolate syrup and chocolate milk!!!!!
Jasmine S. April 4, 2014
it looks like in the picture, the sugars are opposite of those listed in the recipe, ex. 1 table granulated, 3 brown?
HeatherHodges April 9, 2014
The granulated sugar looks like it is in 1/4 cup measuring cup, which is 3 tablespoons.
Robin January 24, 2016
The recipe is correct as written and depicted. The larger measuring cup shows a heaping 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. 1/4 cup is equal to four tablespoons, not three as mentioned by Heather. Since the 1/4 cup measure is heaped, one can assume it is equal to the six tablespoons called for in the recipe. I'm assuming the granulated sugar is in a tablespoon measure and doesn't show the full amount used.
Panfusine April 2, 2014
This is PERFECT, Thanks so much for sharing. Been on the lookout for a recipe I can make instead of using those processed corn syrup junk. How long can I store it in the refrigerator?
Sarah J. April 2, 2014
One month, at least!
Tereza April 2, 2014
This recipe has my name written all over it!

walkie74 April 1, 2014
...please tell me that this can be made, at least partially, with a sugar substitute (Splenda in this case) and maybe a touch of molasses?
Lucy April 1, 2014
Can this be made ahead and kept in the fridge or will it be better kept room temp?
Sarah J. April 1, 2014
Syrup stays good for a month in the refrigerator!
Lucy April 1, 2014
Excellent! Thank you!