Move over hot chocolate. This silky and luscious hot vanilla drink is the perfect cozy holiday beverage. Also known as Santa Claus milk, you can whip up a batch of this slumber drink in 10 minutes with only five pantry staples. A versatile recipe that can easily be transformed into a hot or cold vanilla latte.
Why you’ll love hot vanilla milk
- Luscious, silky vanilla drink
- Versatile recipe
- 5 pantry staples only
Ingredients and substitutions
- Milk – Full-fat milk works best but you can also use skim milk for a skinny vanilla drink or plant-based milks such as oat, almond, or soy to create a vegan-friendly option.
- Vanilla – Vanilla extract with beans is the most convenient way to make hot vanilla milk. If you prefer fresh vanilla, use a knife tip of freshly scraped vanilla beans instead of the extract. You can use vanilla essence as well but extract or fresh vanilla taste far superior.
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch helps to thicken the drink slightly and provides a smooth texture. If you prefer a thinner consistency, you can omit the cornstarch.
- Cinnamon – Ground cinnamon or a stick of cinnamon adds warmth and depth of flavor to this vanilla drink.
- Honey – I love to sweeten hot drinks with raw honey but you can also use sugar or alternative natural sweeteners such as agave or maple syrup, stevia, or coconut sugar.
How to make hot vanilla 3 easy steps
- Make a milk and cornstarch slurry.
- Heat the milk and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat while constantly stirring.
- Add the slurry.
- Simmer for 2-3 minutes for the milk to thicken.
- Add vanilla extract and sweeten with honey to taste. Serve immediately.
- Rich flavor: To achieve an authentic and rich vanilla flavor, use high-quality vanilla extract made from real vanilla beans.
- Avoid lumps: When heating the milk mixture, it’s essential to do so gently over medium heat and stir continuously to prevent it from burning.
- Warm your mug: Before pouring the hot vanilla into your mug or cup, warm it up first by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for a minute. This helps keep your vanilla drink hot for longer.
Vanilla drink variations
Pumpkin spice: Add pumpkin spice mix instead of cinnamon for a fall-inspired twist.
Add alcohol: Bourbon’s rich and slightly sweet notes harmonize with the warm, sweet, and complex flavors of vanilla.
Iced vanilla drink: To create a cold vanilla drink, simply chill the mixture in the fridge for a while and serve over ice cubes.
Hot vanilla coffee: Add 1 shot of espresso to the hot mixture to create a hot vanilla latte.
Allow the leftover hot vanilla to cool down to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Store the container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, gently reheat the vanilla drink on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.
Adding vanilla extract last in this recipe helps preserve its delicate and complex flavors, as some aromatic compounds in the extract are sensitive to heat.
Hot Vanilla Drink
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp honey
- In a small cup, mix together 2 tbsp of milk and 1 tsp cornstarch to make a slurry.1 tsp cornstarch
- In a small saucepan, whisk together 1 cup milk and 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick until well combined. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring continuously to prevent the milk from burning or boiling over.1 cup milk, 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- Add the slurry while stirring and keep stirring on medium heat until the mixture thickens slightly due to the cornstarch.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick if using. Stir in 2 tsp honey and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.2 tsp honey, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pour the hot vanilla into a large mug and add a dusting of cinnamon. Serve immediately.