The answers here Dissolving cocoa powder in milk tell us to manually dissolve the Cocoa powder in the liquid.

Will it not be a good idea to put the Cocoa powder in the liquid while heating it so that it gets dissolved automatically? Why?

6 Answers 6


No, it is not a good idea at all. It will be worse, not better. What you are missing here is that cocoa powder does not dissolve at all, never, it just disperses in water (or milk). So there is no reason why methods for dissolving stuff would work with cocoa powder. You will need to use a method created for colloid-producing powders like cocoa powder, which is mostly starch with fat.

This is why the answers to the other question recommend the slurry method. When you are dispersing an absorptive powder like starch, you always run a risk of clumping, and the slurry is designed to work around that problem. But starch also thickens much more under heat, so if you were to not just forego the slurry, but simply drop the cocoa powder into hot water, this would be the worst choice possible, leading to instant unbreakable clumps. The slurry method wouldn't work with hot water either, you'll get clumps before you have created the slurry.

So, the short answer is: if you try it, it won't "dissolve automatically", it will produce an ugly undrinkable mixture of clumps.

  • 1
    @TheIndependentAquarius For what it's worth, adding cocoa powder to milk before heating can still be worth it, to help get the flavors mingled, especially if you're adding other things as well. But yes, it definitely doesn't do the mixing for you.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 17:52
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    Jefromi's addition is correct. Once you have finished with the dispersion in a cold liquid, the drink will taste better if you heat it to boiling once and then let it cool to the desired temperature, even if your intention was to drink cold chocolate or a frapee.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 10:42
  • So, according to this explanation, it is actually better to make the slurry with cold ingredients? Interesting, usually the slurry is suggested hot. I knew that it also works with cold liquids, but I wondered...
    – hmijail
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 22:10
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    @hmijail I've never seen it suggested with hot, and from a theoretical point of view, it makes no sense - it will clump.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 6:53
  • @rumtscho, probably you are right, but you can check yourself the question linked by the OP: almost everyone mentions warm or even hot liquids. Only one commenter explicitly says cold - and does so as a kinda-protest against others' insistence on heat! Myself, I'm sold on the cold way :)
    – hmijail
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 20:16

Add liquid to powder and not the other way round, an ideally (not so practical in a home kitchen), mist the liquid into the powder.

@rumtscho is right in stating that there is no dissolving, only dispersion. Many fine powders clump, even some highly soluble and hydrophilic substances behave that way (polysaccharides like agar for example). The mechanisms are quite different, but surface tension of the liquid is always a factor, the finer the powder, the bigger role it plays in resisting wetting.

You are making a colloid. For effective dispersion, you need high shear. With enough shear force, liquid temperature becomes a non-issue for most combinations. So an electric hand blending will overcome the problem of clumping very quickly.

Alternatively, even with near boiling water or milk, if you add a small amount at a time and form a thick paste first with a fork or a stick, you will find that a low moisture paste (say 25-35% w/w) is not only fairly painless to make, but also painless to thin down with more liquid. Incremental wetting and incremental expansion of the liquid phase is much less energy intensive.

With a hot liquid, left with clumps standing in it, the reduced surface tension will usually allow some of the clumps to break down given time.

Add liquid to powder and not the other way round, regardless of whether you are using a blender or making a paste by hand. Hot or cold liquid should not make that much of a difference.

  • And this technique also works for gravy and bechamel to avoid lumps.
    – Joe
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 17:32

Adding to @rumtscho's answer, which is mainly about the effects of heat to the starch in cocoa powder, that cocoa fat is well known to have a melting point around body temperature. From my own experience, having clumps of cocoa powder in cold milk that is being heated - after some time i.e. at some temperature you can see the clumps breaking up, which doesn't seem to happen in cold milk. Which might be the reason for so much people to assume instinctively that hot milk or water is better than cold.

So from my point of view, the milk should be around or just above body temperature in order to ease the dispersion of the fat but not to have the negaive effects of clumping the starch as described by @rumtscho.

To answer the question: Yes it will be a good idea, but take care not to make it too hot. And do not just put everything into the pot but take the time and make the slurry.

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    I am more inclined to see the effect of temperature as surface tension reduction rather than a direct result of fats melting. Much of the fat is already taken out as cocoa butter leaving the solids as powder which has around 12-15% w/w. I am not sure how much of that is free.
    – user110084
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 17:13

You can mix it into a small amount of very hot water, then when it's well mixed add the milk. I do this very frequently. Don't add the water to the cocao, or use milk to start with. Stir with the handle of a table knife, or some sort of swizzle stick.

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    Can you explain your answer a bit? Why water, then milk? Why not milk to start with? Why handle of a knife?
    – Robert
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 22:21

We always did it this way at home: Mix the cocoa powder thoroughly with some sugar and then add warm milk stirring constantly.


You'd better not, the milk is easy to boil while heating. Just dissolve the cocoa powder in hot water or milk then stir is okay.

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