The best chocolate milk mix—we’re talking about the powdered kind—should make a glass of chocolate milk that’s so good it can stand in for dessert. It should dissolve well, too. I grew up drinking Ovaltine like every good American who’s seen A Christmas Story approximately 800 times, and I sort of love getting a few of those little dusty-on-the-inside, wet-on-the-outside morsels in my milk (they remind me of undermixed brownie batter), but I don’t think everyone loves that.
If you’re one of those people, you may be wondering why anyone would use a powdered mix rather than a chocolate syrup to make chocolate milk. I think one difference is that some (not all) powdered mixes are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Ovaltine, for instance, is a pretty good source of things like biotin and vitamin B6. Other than that, it’s just a matter of taste.
I will say that some of the mixes I thought I would enjoy most, by virtue of either nostalgia or fun packaging, ended up letting me down, mostly because the suggested mix-to-milk ratio was way off. I strictly followed the directions and, sadly, some of these would need double (even triple) the chocolatey powder to taste great. Personally, I think these should taste good when you make them as instructed, and that bumped a bunch from the list.
At the end of the day, I was left with two chocolate milk mixes that really tasted great—and one of them I wouldn’t have picked up off of a grocery store shelf in a million years. Oh, and if this all sounds too exhausting—spoons? rigorous stirring??—we’ve also ranked the best premade chocolate milk you can buy.
- Carnation Instant Breakfast Rich Milk Chocolate
As the name suggests, this isn’t just a glass of chocolate milk, it’s a meal in a cup. I was a child who absolutely couldn’t stomach the idea of eating solid food first thing in the morning, so I lived on Instant Breakfast. And it still tastes as good as I remember. For starters, the package calls for 6 tablespoons of powder per 8 ounces of milk, which is way, way more than all the other mixes suggest. What you get is really more of a shake—it’s nice and thick, and it has that nostalgic vitamin-rich taste. As always, we were judging these mixes on taste, but it’s worth mentioning that Instant Breakfast has 13 grams of protein and 21 vitamins and minerals; of course, it also has 15 grams of sugar (before you add it to milk), so it’s plenty sweet and delicious. When it comes to intent, this is a bit of an outlier, but I think it deserves a spot on this list of the best chocolate milk mixes because it tastes so good.
Credit: Merc / Instacart
- Carnation Malted Milk Chocolate
When you look at this container of Carnation Malted Milk Chocolate, you’re likely to think, “Why would I buy this?” It’s so old-fangled! It looks like something that’s been collecting dust in your grandma’s pantry since before you were born, but it’s the best chocolate milk mix by a mile. What about Nesquik, you ask. Well, I made it according to the package instructions and I really had to search for the chocolate flavor. Same goes for both Ovaltine varieties and something called Choco Milk. Carnation Malted Milk Chocolate is bursting with chocolate flavor. It’s sweet and delicious, but a little bit complex thanks to a subtle malty flavor that harkens back to the days when Woolworth’s lunch counters still existed. This is a hidden gem in the grocery aisles and I’m glad I found it.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: Rich Chocolate Ovaltine Chocolate Malt Ovaltine, Choco Milk, Nesquik