The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

December 16, 2008

Homemade Chocolate Syrup: Delicious & Plastic-Free

Hershey’s. Nestle. Santa Cruz Organic. Ah!Laska. Dagoba. What do these syrups have in common? (Besides some form of chocolate?) Some are conventional. Some are organic. Fair trade. But all of them are packaged in plastic squeeze bottles. How can products can be labeled organic when they are packaged in plastic? Shouldn’t chemicals from plastic packaging be considered in organic certification?

Well anyway, Michael and I need our chocolate syrup in order to be happy. So I found a very simple recipe and have tweaked it to perfection.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup Recipe

1 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened) (Purchased from bulk bin in my own container.)

2 cups sugar (From bulk bins — I use 1/2 dark brown sugar and 1/2 granulated sugar.)

1/4 teaspoon salt (Bulk bin.)

1 cup cold water (Tap, of course!)

1 tablespoon vanilla (Glass bottle with small plastic cap.)

Combine cocoa and sugar and blend until all lumps of cocoa are gone. Add water and salt and mix well. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil slowly, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring on the stove for just a couple more minutes, being careful not to let the sauce burn on the bottom of the pan.  The sauce should still be fairly runny. Remove from heat and let cool. The sauce will thicken up as it cools.  When cool, add vanilla.

Nowadays, we keep our chocolate syrup in a glass syrup pitcher in the refrigerator.  The syrup should not be too thick to pour.

Note: This is NOT fudge sauce. It is syrup and will not be as thick as fudge, which necessarily contains fat, and lots of it!  This syrup is great for chocolate milk, hot cocoa, ice cream topping, or putting on cereal.  Never heard of that?  Ask Michael.


Note: This post last updated on 05/29/2012.

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10 years ago

Hi Beth,

Your site is one of my favorites! Thanks so much for having it!

I’ve been making my own for a long time, also (it even tastes better!) though I think I use a bit less sugar than you, usually. You commented that this is not fudge sauce. For those who do want fudge sauce (not me) all you have to do to get it thick like fudge is to simmer it for a little longer, like 5 to 10 minutes instead of 3 or 4. I found out accidentally by cooking my chocolate sauce too long.

Also, my daughter liked Ovaltine, and was very disappointed when I stopped buying it because of the plastic container. I have finally found Barley Malt Syrup packaged in a glass jar to add to the chocolate sauce to come close to that flavor, in case anyone likes the Chocolate Malted taste. Do you know of any powder form of malt for this purpose? I’d like to find an alternative because of the plastic lining on the cap of the jar.

Another thing is the sugar issue. I want to use organic sugar but have yet to find it without plastic packaging. I can only find the non-organic in paper. Not seen it in bulk so far. So I’m thinking of switching to using honey or maple syrup. Or possibly has anyone here found organic sugar in paper?

Beth Terry
10 years ago
Reply to  cheryljoy

I haven’t found organic sugar in paper, but I do get it from bulk bins at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores.

12 years ago

You’re both right.

Here’s a nutritional breakdown of unsweetened cocoa powder (dutch proc.) with 11% sat. fat. You can look up other ones on here too.

Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened, processed with alkali [Dutch cocoa]

As with Hershey’s my bet is that they use very little real powder and a lot of cheap artificial flavoring. Even though it’s last on ingredients list, you don’t need much volume when you’re using industrial strength flavorings.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the saturated fat though. At least it’s natural. The HFCS and other franken-food ingredients in the mass marketed ones have to be a lot worse for you.
Remember fake-fat margarine was supposed to be healthier for us. We now know that butter is in fact the healthier one.

12 years ago

Just a note – this syrup cannot be fat-free as cocoa powder contains fat, sometimes up to 24%!

10 years ago
Reply to  Katie

I’m pretty sure that when they make cocoa powder, they remove the cocoa butter. Then when they make chocolate, they put it back in. I just went to Hershey Park and took the Hershey Chocolate Factory tour a few weeks ago. You can also see it on their website. No fat in the powder, just in the end result chocolate bars.
Although, when we were kids, my Mom sometimes made this sauce with a couple tablespoons of butter added, and let me tell you, that was GOOD!

12 years ago

Has anyone tried this using raw cacao powder instead? If so how did it work? Any changes to the recipe?

11 years ago
Reply to  Trish

That’s what I planned to do anyway because Raw Cacao Powder is plant based & I rather use that over regular Cocoa powder. Plus I have around 2 pounds of Organic Raw Cacao Powder with nothing to do with it, so I figured this is a good option because then I can use it on ice cream, in coffee, on donuts, cookies etc & all organic & natural. I am going to try it this weekend & I will post back how it goes. For the sugar I will use date sugar & I will also make another version using organic sugar cane sugar & another using NOW Foods Erythritol Pure Sweetener

12 years ago

This worked great!
In fact I’m drinking some milk made with it as I write this. Yum!
I made a make a couple of changes though:
1) With no brown sugar on hand, I added 2 tbsp of molasses (the actual conversion rate is to add 2 tbsp for each cup but I wasn’t sure how it’d work).
2) On my 2nd round I wanted a less sweet, dark chocolate taste, so I increased the choc powder to 1 & 1/2 cup and kept the sane sugar amount.
Both changes worked well, though I may try to add more molasses on the next batch.

I bottled them in recycled glass maple syrup bottles. (Thanks Freecycle!)
Since I live in New England and it is winter, I stashed them in a cool, dark kitchen cabinet, instead of the fridge,

I doubt I’ll get to it this year but I’m hatching a plan for next year’s holidays gifts.
I’m going to try and add small amounts of orange and (very small amounts) of peppermint extract to make Chocolate L’Orange and ChocoPeppermint syrups!

13 years ago

I’ve made this a few times now – my kids love me all the more for it!

It is really important that when it comes to a boil you keep stirring for no more than two minutes to keep it runny enough to pour. I keep ours in a cleaned out glass bottle that used to have store-bought salad dressing in it. Pours out easily and is less messy than spooning it out of a jar. However, the one time I wasn’t paying attention and boiled it too long, the sauce was too thick. It still made good chocolate milk, it was just too thick to pour. No one complained about licking the extra thick sauce off the spoon though ;)

13 years ago

This sounds good and there are a lot of good suggestions on here. Little by little we are changing for the better.

13 years ago

Thanks for the great recipe. I followed it just as written (with your updated directions) and I even used a timer to be sure I stirred it for just 2 minutes after it came to a boil. It turned out perfect. The recipe filled a 2 cup canning jar. The only trouble I have is convincing my two boys that just 1/2 a spoonful of syrup is enough for a glass of chocolate milk; they like to take a big spoonful because it’s just so yummy!

13 years ago

Thank you so much for posting this. Last week my husband was wondering why it took me so long in the grocery store. It was because I was trying to find a chocolate syrup that didn’t contain HFCS and could not find ANY options. Thanks to you, next time I’ll know where to go to find a recipe to make my own!

13 years ago

Not sure what I did wrong with this recipe, but man, did it set up THICK! I mean like frosting-thick! Useless for chocolate milk, that’s for sure! LOL and it got a crunchy skin like frosting that gets left out for a bit…

It was phenomenal straight out of the pot, though! LOL


Taco Seasoning
13 years ago

that’s awesome i make and bottle in reused containers a lot of the stuff i cooked with but never even considered chocolate syrup,that’s a good idea and my kids will like it too.

Beth Terry
13 years ago

Lauren, for us it stays good for months.

13 years ago

I’m really excited about this recipe! How long will it stay good in the fridge? Thank you!

14 years ago

Hi Beth —

Strange! I used 1 C. light brown sugar, and 1 C. granulated sugar, and I boiled it until it was thick, stirring the whole time, because it didn’t seem like the sugar was dissolving.

I wonder if organic vs. non-organic sugar is the problem. This calls for some experimentation!

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Hi Savvychristine. I’ve made this recipe several times now and never had this problem. And we do store it in the refrigerator. Did you bring it to a complete boil on the stove? The recipe says to cook it until it’s thick, but I just bring it to a boil (stirring the whole time) and then turn off the burner and let it sit and cool down before putting in the vanilla.

Are you stirring the whole time?

I really don’t know why the sugar wouldn’t be completely dissolving for you. Mine does. But also, I use 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar. I wonder if that’s part of it.

14 years ago

I tried to make this recipe, but found that the chocolate sauce solidified once it hit something cold. It turned into fudgy muck! My sugar didn’t completely dissolve, so I’m pretty sure I need to use less next time. Anyone else with a similar experience?

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Hi Scott and Greeen Sheeep. I went to Rainbow Grocery here in SF over the weekend and found organic, fair trade sugar in the bulk bin. I just updated my blog post. So it does exist. I guess it’s a matter of asking your bulk foods store to carry it.

And Anonymous, while I was at Rainbow, I checked out the bulk vanilla beans. Unfortunately, each one was individually wrapped in plastic. Will check at Whole Foods and see if it’s the same story. Maybe the plastic is to keep them from drying out? And don’t know. Ended up buying a large glass bottle of Frontier fairtrade, organic vanilla extract instead. Hopefully it will last a while.

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Karen — I could be wrong but I believe you can grind your own peanut butter at Whole Foods. Bring your own container. And I think you can set the grinder for smooth or crunchy. Maybe not all the stores have the capability, but I think ours does.

Greeen Sheeep — the next time I buy bulk sugar, I need to check and see if it’s organic. I thought it was, but I could be wrong. I’m pretty sure the cocoa was organic, but I bought it a long time ago. That’s one of the drawbacks of bulk bins — no labels to check later.

Hayley — be thankful your mom is doing something green, and she might not even realize it!

Crunch — Are you kidding? I pour kahlua directly on my ice cream from the bottle. (Oh, except I don’t really buy it anymore because of the plastic cap. I do have some principles.)

JessTrev — I’ve been meaning to try making homemade ketchup, except we eat so little of it, we still have a partial plastic bottle in the frig from over 18 months ago. Mustard too. Is it time to ditch them???

14 years ago

You know, I have been wondering this about ketchup lately. Not only are most of them in plastic, a couple are in #7 plastic which is even more patently bad news. The only glass one I can find is not organic. I *love* your idea to include potential packaging toxins in organic certification. Would get a lot of companies right back to glass and wax paper, I bet. Why, btw, did yogurt switch from wax-coated cardboard, and why did cereal switch from wax paper bags inside a cardboard box? Cause plastic’s so cheap?

Crunchy Chicken
14 years ago

Beth, Beth, Beth. Have I taught you nothing? You forgot the liqueur elements of your chocolate syrup.

Try replacing 1/8 cup of the water with Kahlua, Franjelico or Bailey’s. Hell, try all three.

If you want the alcohol to remain in the solution, add it after cooling (with the vanilla). If you just want the flavor but no alcohol, boil it with the rest.

You’ll probably need to reduce the amount of sugar a tad. Or not. I usually just wing it.

14 years ago

Ahh, late comment, but I did just have to comment.
I didn’t even realize syrups all come in plastic bottles! Why? Well, my mom has lots of lots of time on her hands (just kidding…kinda), and likes ot whip up her own batches of chocolate and caramel syrup whenever the oppurtunity arises. So if anyone needs a recipe for either, I can make her type it up and send it in!

Condo Blues
14 years ago

Chai tea is my favorite,especially on soggy wet days. I found organic chai tea at Meijer no less(!) My husband beat me to the first tea bag, which he pulled out of the box and said,”what’s wrong with this picture?” Our organic tea bag was wrapped in plastic. All of the other nonorganic tea bags in the house – have paper wrappers.

Situations like this make me believe that greener eating is coin toss. Often it’s a desision between organic/local food packaged in plastic vs. non organic/local food packaged loose (veg, etc.), or in compostable/at least recyclable packaging. *sigh*

14 years ago

FPF, here are directions with more detail than you ever wanted!

Since I had to buy beans by number and not by weight, I guessed and have 4 beans in slightly less than 500 ml of vodka.

14 years ago

Beth, fantastic, thanks for the sour cream recipe! I’ll try it. I love the idea of a previous poster about a plastic-free recipe book.

Satria Sudeki
14 years ago

It is happy to see your posting. Yes really informative article. I will tell this information again to my friend, oh yes I suggest you to check my blog on Chocolate Fountain, I hope the article on my blog will be usefull for you and we can share each other. thank you ;-)

14 years ago

Sounds yummy! I love that alternatives like this are probably economically better too…not only are you saving the plastic, you’re probably saving some money too!

Green Bean
14 years ago

Now you’re talking!!

John Costigane
14 years ago

Hi Beth,

Home-made wins every time. Think of all the foodstuffs in plastic bottles. You could do a massive recipe book.

The chocolate syrup would be a summer favourite.

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Hi Angie. You can make your own sour cream. I did it last year with cream and buttermilk. But I have to admit that unless you own your own cow, there will be some plastic involved — either the plastic coating on the cardboard cartons or the plastic cap on the glass bottle. I do think it’s worth it though — tastes better and uses less plastic overall. Here’s a recipe:

Anonymous, I think I’ll try making my own vanilla. I believe I can buy vanilla beans in bulk from Whole Foods. They have a whole spice section. I guess I should get started now, if it’s going to take 3 months.

14 years ago

Agave syrup might be worth a try for a low-glycemic version. The organic kind I had came in plastic, though!


14 years ago

You can make your own vanilla extract pretty easily: cut open a few beans lengthwise, put them in vodka for 3 months or so, and it’s done when a drop tastes more like extract than like vanilla-flavored alcohol. One major plus: the kind you buy at the store is often made with extra sugar, and you can avoid it when you make it yourself. Finding vanilla beans NOT packaged in plastic might be tough, though.

14 years ago

Beth, I love when you post stuff like this. I was at the supermarket yesterday and needed some sour cream and I thought to myself, “All the sour cream comes in plastic tubs. What would Beth do?” I am sorry to say, I bought the sour cream. But I’d love to know what I can do instead. Do people make sour cream at home?

How long do you think that chocolate syrup would keep in the fridge?

14 years ago

Looks delicious!

If you want REALLY healthy fudge (and it comes in glass, although I’m pretty sure with the ring around the top…silly), try Wax Orchards:

All of their fudge is fruit-sweetened, and so delicious!

14 years ago

Yum Yum! Sounds delicious. I think I’d make a lower sugar version, I like my stuff chocolatey and not so sweet.

Scott Wells
14 years ago

@greeen sheeep. Not only is so much organic sugar in plastic, but often comes from far away. Together, I have opted for plain white sugar in a bag. Blogged about it here:

greeen sheeep
14 years ago

I am totally with you on this one Beth. Organic food in plastic is one of my biggest pet peeves. Kind of defeats the purpose, no?

I am currently searching for organic sugar NOT in plastic. Know of any? All conventional sugar comes in paper bags, so why doesn’t the organic? What’s up with that?

Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan
14 years ago

I absolutely regularly wonder this about organics, stores like whole foods — -what’s with ALL the packaging? A peanut butter I recommend that uses sun dried peanuts ( no mold ) switched part of their line to plastic jars… fortunately they still do some in glass…we used glass before plastic – couldn’t we go back to that ??

Not sure if stevia would be an alternative sweetener, in powdered form it tends to be a tad bitter

I like the evaporated cane or turbinado as a choice too

I am still stumped as to how to avoid the plastics foods come in

14 years ago

I’m a regular reader but never comment. But not I just can’t help myself. OMG I love you!!! We go through SOOOOOO much chocolate syrup (4 kids who love chocolate milk and hot chocolate) and I can’t wait to try this!

Citizen Green
14 years ago

I agree that it does not make sense to package an organic product in plastic. It shows how plastic has crept into every aspect of our lives and consumers take it as normal. Even at “natural” grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, you can see stacks of products packaged in plastic – with Trader Joe’s brand on them.

knutty knitter
14 years ago

If I went plastic free round here we’d starve! We just don’t have any access to bulk anything much except sweets and a few dried fruits.

I agree with you on the organic plastic thing – cheating I think!

viv in nz

14 years ago

Maybe it’s because I live in Alaska, and it’s local…but I can get the AH!laska cocoa and syrups in glass! Although, they do still have that little plastic piece around the lid…

This recipe sounds quite tasty, I’ll have to try it!

14 years ago

I wonder if I can make this sugar free??? GUess I will rustle my fat butt out to the laboratory err I mean kitchen and find out. Looks good- Thanks Beth

A Slice of the Pie
14 years ago

We gave up chocolate syrup when I cut high fructose corn syrup out of our diet, so it’s good to hear there’s a good recipe out there! Thanks for sharing!


14 years ago

It looks so yummy! Better yet, I am trying to make a homemade condiment/dessert for a vegan friend. This will be great.