The Best Chocolate Milk Mix at the Grocery Store Isn’t What You’re Expecting

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.

best chocolate milk mix

Honorable Mention

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




best chocolate milk mix

Best of the Best

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




Other products we tried: Rich Chocolate Ovaltine Chocolate Malt Ovaltine, Choco Milk, Nesquik 

About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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  • Good article! Thanks.
    I tried your Carnation Chocolate Malt recommendation. It indeed was very good! I heartily agree it’s better than the other pre-mixes. And way better than adding chocolate syrup to milk.
    But I wanted something even more straightforward, regarding the chocolate component. So I bought some 100% cocoa solids powder form Hershey’s. I heated about 6 ounces of milk for 80 seconds in the microwave in a glass canning jar. After heating, I added one heaping teaspoon of pure cacao powder. You can heap pretty tall if you want. (according to your taste) Don’t go insane the first time. I heaped super duper high once, and it might have been too much. I was calibrating the recipe, so I’ve tested all the limits, high and low. BTW, heating the milk is necessary because otherwise the step of merely dissolving/wetting the pure cocoa powder into cold milk is essentially impossible. Then I added two teaspoons of sugar, only slightly heaped this time. (again, you can tweak it later to your taste) You might want more. …Then two tall heaping teaspoons of plain Carnation malt. The malt step is optional. THEN I finally thoroughly mixed the hot 6 ounces of concentrated chocolate/sugar/malt slurry. Mix until it’s perfectly smooth. Only takes a minute or so, since it’s very warm. Then I allow this slurry to fully cool and get cold in the fridge (freezer for 30 mins if I’m in a hurry), since it’s cold chocolate milk I’m actually seeking. After cooling, I come back to stir the cold slurry again, this time adding milk to create the final blend. Pour in 6 ounces of plain white cold milk, and stir. Now you have 12 ounces of cold chocolate milk.
    …Best chocolate milk I ever had. You might opt to leave the spoon in and occasionally stir before a sip. The 100% real chocolate solids will tend to settle (but at a very manageable rate, no big deal), without a lot of the usual added chemicals to keep them suspended. Which is fine with me. I’ll gladly trade an occasional stir here and there, in lieu of including those other ingredients.
    I’m convinced this is what the chocolate river in the original “Willy Wonka” movie tasted like, lol.