Looking for an alternative to hot chocolate? This homemade Ovaltine is made with 1/2 cocoa and 1/2 malt, then sweetened to taste. It can also be made vegan or gluten-free. The choice is yours!
We’re not big sweet tooths at our house, so when we went shopping for hot chocolate for a camping party, my son talked me into getting Ovaltine instead. (It has 1/3 the sugar!)
Surprisingly, it was a huge hit! No one even wondered where the hot chocolate was. Everyone loved it. Well… everyone except me… traditional Ovaltine is not gluten-free.
Then when we finished the jar, I realized the only way to get more Ovaltine was to buy another glass jar. Not my favorite option, as we try to avoid excess packaging and anything in non-refillable glass jars. We’re not fully zero-waste, but we definitely tend to make choices in that direction.
So what’s a gluten-free camper to do?
Make your own of course!
Make your own signature blend
The best thing about making your own drink mix is that you get to create a signature blend!
- Vegan: Replace the powdered milk with powdered coconut milk.
- Gluten-free: While malt powder is trad, feel free to use chicory, dandelion, or mushroom powder. (See below for details).
- Sugar-free: Make this as sweet as you want! Also, feel free to use your favorite alternative sweetener.
- Chocolate to taste: My family liked 50/50 cocoa powder, which is a bit more chocolatey than traditional Ovaltine. Feel free to reduce the chocolate and add more malt for a slightly less chocolatey beverage.
Alternatives to malt powder
Most homemade Ovaltine recipes start with malt powder… which is usually made from barley. However, I couldn’t find malt powder at any of my local grocery stores. I also wanted to create a beverage that I would be able to enjoy as well.
So I went for a powdered coffee alternative instead. There are a number of options, so feel free to use whatever you prefer:
- A grain and chicory-based coffee substitute (like Bambu and Cafix)
- Toasted and ground chicory root (it doesn’t stir into the drink in quite the same way, so simply strain before serving).
- Dandelion root extract
- Mushroom powder
A big advantage of using one of these options instead of malt powder is that they are all high in fiber and prebiotic! Chicory, dandelion, and mushrooms all offer other health benefits as well.
A Single Cup
- 2 tsp powdered milk or coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp malt powder (see section above for alternatives)
- 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp sweetener, to taste (we used raw sugar)
48 Cup Batch
- 2 cups powdered milk or coconut milk
- 1/2 cup malt powder (see section above for alternatives)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup sweetener, to taste (we used raw sugar)
- I recommend mixing up a single cup before making a large batch. That way you can adjust the sugar, cocoa powder, and malt to taste.
- Mix a single batch in a mug. Add 1 cup (250 mL) of boiling water. Stir until everything is dissolved, then add milk, to taste.
- If you enjoy your glass of homemade Ovaltine, then mix up a large batch by combining the ingredients in a jar, then shake to fully mix.
- Store in a cool dry location. This homemade drink mix should last for at least 6 months.