Fast Food Hot Chocolate Ranked From Worst To Best

When it's cold outside, there's nothing like cozying up with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Sure, you could always grab some coffee or tea, but they don't wrap you in warmth quite the same way. While you could always make some at home, every once in a while, a hot chocolate on the go is just what you need to get through the day. So, where exactly should you go to get this delicous, warming treat?

You may be surprised to learn that you can get a warm cup of hot chocolate at a ton of fast food restaurants. In fact, there are probably a few of these spots in your local area. However, not all fast food restaurants are reliable when it comes to hot chocolate. Some varieties of the drink are delicious, while others just fall flat. Wondering which fast food joint could become your hot chocolate destination? Take a look at how we ranked these popular spots, from worst to best.

7. McDonald's

This probably won't surprise you, but McDonald's might not be the ideal place for your next cup of hot chocolate. After all, most people wouldn't think of pairing a Big Mac with the drink. But if you find yourself going through the McDonald's drive-thru anyway, you should know that hot chocolate is on the menu.

But if you're a fan of hot chocolate, what you'll get might not thrill you. When writer Erin McDowell of Business Insider was tasked with trying popular fast food hot chocolate, she didn't have anything great to say about the McDonald's version: "In my opinion, it didn't taste strongly of chocolate at all, but rather warm milk and water. Even for the low price of $2.89 for a medium hot chocolate, I was let down by the drink."

Warm milk and water with our chicken nuggets and fries? We think we'll have to pass. If you're looking for a hot drink, stick to the coffee. If you're looking for something sweet, try a McFlurry instead (if the machine isn't down, anyway).

6. Dunkin'

While Dunkin's hot chocolate might be better than McDonald's, it's still pretty close to bottom of the barrel for fast food hot chocolate. It's not bad per se, but there's just better hot chocolate options out there. And this is evident as soon as you take a look at it. Taste of Home had this to say about the somewhat sad appearance of Dunkin' hot chocolate: "Of all the hot chocolates I tested, I have to admit that Dunkin's looked pretty plain Jane to me. It was the only drink to come without whipped cream or an extra drizzle of chocolate."

Considering that Dunkin' has all kinds of snazzy drinks, donuts, and other menu items available, the state of their hot chocolate is a bit of a surprise.  If you really want hot chocolate, and you're already at Dunkin', go ahead and put in your order. But should you go out of your way to get some? In our opinion, no. There are much more impressive options out there.

5. Tim Hortons

Ever gone to Tim Hortons for some grub? If you live in Canada, you've surely been to this tried-and-tested fast food destination. If you've focused only on Tim Hortons donuts up to this point, you might not know that you can also grab some warm hot chocolate while at the eatery. But there's more: you can even enjoy Tim Hortons' hot chocolate from the comfort of your own home. That's because the chain sells take-home tins of their hot chocolate mix, so you can drink a cup of the good stuff any time you want.

Now, just because you can have some Tim Hortons hot chocolate at home doesn't necessarily mean you'll want to. If we're being totally honest, it's not that there's something wrong with the hot chocolate here. It's just fine. When you think of a packet of hot cocoa mix, the stuff here is probably what comes to mind. So, while it's not bad, it's just very basic, according to Nearof!

Hint: If you're making the mix on your own and instead of getting hot chocolate from a fast food restaurant, you should probably use milk instead of water as your liquid. The taste comes out much better than if you were to just use water. You could also add some secret ingredients to take your steaming cup of hot chocolate over the top.

4. Corner Bakery Cafe

The Corner Bakery Cafe may not be on your radar when it comes to fast food, but if you're looking for a good cup of hot chocolate, you may want to check it out. That's because when you order the truffle hot chocolate from Corner Bakery Cafe, chances are you're going to get something that's worthy of buying at a restaurant instead of making the drink at home yourself.

Corner Bakery Cafe's truffle hot chocolate is a step above a cup of your basic at-home mixes. With its hearty whipped cream and cocoa powder topping, it invites you to escape from the cold outside. And the thing we love about the taste of this hot chocolate? The flavor isn't too rich, meaning you can actually finish the whole cup without getting a headache from the sugar. 

Our only complaint about Corner Bakery Cafe's truffle hot chocolate is that it's a bit too light for our taste, with a predominantly milky flavor instead of a majority of the flavor coming from the chocolate itself.  But if you're on the go and it's cold outside, it could hit the spot for a bit of warmth.

3. Panera

If you're searching for something above and beyond your average cup of hot chocolate, Panera might be the place for you. That makes sense, since there's no shortage of delicious drinks at the popular eatery. What you'll love about this hot chocolate is that it comes with an extra special something you won't find anywhere else. That would be their chocolate chip marshmallows. Yes, you read that right, and yes, they are delicious. But wait – it doesn't end there. The hot chocolate is then finished off with a caramel-creme syrup that is totally out of this world.

You may be wondering why Panera's hot chocolate isn't already in first place on this list. While the flavors are amazing and the drink is certainly more unique than we expected, we just couldn't handle how sweet it is. If you don't have a super-strong sweet tooth, you may not be able to finish your cup of the stuff. On the other hand, if you love your hot chocolate on the sweeter side, this Panera creation is will be right up your alley.

2. Caribou Coffee

Now we're entering the big leagues. If you love coffee, you've probably tried a cup of joe from Caribou Coffee. And whether or not you enjoyed that coffee, you have to try Caribou's hot chocolate, which comes in a variety of flavors to suit your taste. When it comes to their rendition of the this classic winter drink, Caribou Coffee's concoctions really take fast food hot chocolate to another level.

Caribou Coffee was the only fast food restaurant we could find that allows you to choose which kind of chocolate you like. Do you like deeper, richer flavors? Go for the dark hot chocolate. Want your drink to taste like a Hershey's bar? Try the milk version. And if you prefer white chocolate (we're trying not to judge you), then yes, you can get white hot chocolate too.

You'll also find little chocolate chips at the bottom of your drink that melt there and make everything taste even sweeter and more delicious. How can you resist that? According to one reviewer from TripAdvisor, "The Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate is the very best in town!" That's probably true, if you don't have our top hot chocolate destination nearby.

1. Starbucks

Don't act like you're surprised to see Starbucks nab the top spot on this list. Isn't that just what you would expect from a coffee and fast food destination like Starbucks? Their focus is warm drinks, after all, so one would hope Starbucks would offer a tasty hot chocolate creation — especially for all those kids watching mom order coffee at the drive-thru while wanting to sip on something for themselves.

Luckily, you have plenty of options when ordering a hot chocolate at Starbucks. Of course, these options can change according to local availability and the season, but some of the hot chocolate products you can expect to find at the chain include the Toasted White Hot Chocolate, the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, and the Peppermint Hot Chocolate. There's also a plain version if you're looking for something lighter. While the plain-Jain version of Starbucks' hot chocolate doesn't seem too exciting, it actually isn't short on taste. 

But the real treat is in Starbucks' specialty hot chocolate options. Our opinion? Go with the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate to get the perfect amount of salty and sweet flavors all wrapped up into one steaming and hearty drink. In fact, you may never order a plain coffee from the chain again.