Foolproof Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

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Mexican hot chocolate cookies are a must-have Christmas cookie tray staple. These sweet and spicy cookies will clear your sinuses and satisfy your sweet tooth. Surprise your guests with these tasty cookies on your dessert buffet.

A platter of chocolate crinkle cookies show the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie recipe finished.

Tonight I'm heading to the second annual cookie exchange the ladies from my playgroup host. We had so much fun last year, people scrambled to rsvp to this year's event. I've been looking at cookie recipes for ages trying to decide what to bring and just couldn't make up my mind.

It seems like everyone brings the same kind of cookies to a cookie exchange -- sugar cookies, lots of chocolate, and usually something with pretzels. I wanted to find something a little more unique but still easy enough to bake for busy moms.

Jump to:

What are Mexican hot chocolate cookies?

Mexican hot chocolate cookies look a lot like traditional crackle cookies. The chocolate dough balls are rolled in a mix of sugar, cinnamon, and spicy cayenne pepper before baking.

As they spread and bake, the sugar crust leaves large crackles in the surface. The sweet dough goes so well with the spicy seasonings.

Since crinkle cookies are such an easy drop cookie to bake, I knew these would be simply perfect for the Christmas cookie exchange.


The ingredients for the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies on the kitchen counter.

The ingredient list is pretty easy peasy. Most of the items you likely already have on hand in your pantry but these are the more unique things you'll definitely want to double check you have:

  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: We love using Hershey's Cocoa 100% Cocoa powder because I've always been able to find it at our regular grocery store.
  • Cream of Tartar: This is not always part of a regular pantry, so double check you have some!
  • Cayenne Pepper: Even if your family doesn't like spicy food, this is an essential ingredient for these cookies. It is the defining flavor for the Mexican Hot Chocolate. You could always reduce the amount, but even my non-spicy food family adores these cookies.

The cookie dough is really quite basic and easy to make in a stand mixer.

If you don't have a mixer, just know the dough is really thick and will give your arm a workout to combine with a spoon but you can still do it.

Once the dough is prepared, finishing the cookies is easy:

Step by Step instructions for coating the Mexican hot chocolate cookies in the cinnamon, cayenne sugar mix.

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First, combine the cinnamon, sugar, and cayenne in a small bowl.

Then, use spoons to gather portions of dough. Roll them into 1.5-inch balls.

Roll the cookie dough balls in the cinnamon-cayenne mixture until completely coated.

Line them up on a cookie sheet for baking. Be sure to leave 3 inches of space between cookies.

The photo below has them too close together, we had a few bake into one another. I recommend only putting 10 cookies on each sheet.

A cookie sheet is lined with a Silpat silicone mat and balls of cookie dough are lined up for baking.

Baking Instructions

Bake the cookies at 400°F for 10 minutes, rotating the pans in the oven halfway through.

A platter of Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies is ready for serving.


Can you freeze crinkle cookies?

Actually, that's our favorite way to enjoy them! These cookies freeze incredibly well and are perfect for baking in advance of the holidays.

How do you freeze Mexican Hot Chocolate cookies?

First, be sure to let the cookies cool completely. If they are warm at all, they will steam inside the freezer bag and cause problems.
Once they are completely cool, store them in an airtight container or freezer ziptop bag. Be sure to squeeze as much air out as possible.
When you want to thaw the cookies, leave them on your kitchen counter overnight with the bag or container opened to let any moisture escape as they thaw.

Serving Suggestions

These Mexican hot chocolate cookies actually make a perfect simple Cinco de Mayo dessert or even a Taco Tuesday treat since you can bake them ahead and even freeze them if you need. They are a deliciously sweet and spicy way to end the meal.

They are also one of our favorite Christmas cookies, the spicy kick is such a delicious complement to the other cookie platter sweets.

If you love baking easy cookies for special occasions, you won't want to miss these other family favorites:

📖 Recipe

A platter of chocolate crinkle cookies show the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie recipe finished.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

4.95 from 40 votes
These sweet and spicy cookies are an awesome addition to your holiday cookie tray. The kicked-up cayenne powder adds a spicy touch to your sweets.
TOTAL TIME 30 minutes
PREP TIME 20 minutes
COOK TIME 10 minutes
YIELD 3 dozen


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar + additional 1/4 cup for sugar topping
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne


  • Preheat oven to 400°F, with racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
  • Add the eggs and beat them in to combine with the butter mixture. With mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until the dough is just combined.
  • In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne powder. Using large tablespoons, form 1.5-inch balls of dough and roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  • Place each dough ball about 3 inches apart on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in the center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.
  • Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

The cayenne in this recipe is what makes this cookie special. Neither of my kids are huge fans of spicy food but they LOVE these cookies. If you're worried your family won't like the kick, you can reduce the cayenne, but we highly recommend trying at least a pinch!

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Two chocolate cookies with crinkles over the surface sit on a china plate. A knitted stocking sits under the plate.
Sweet and spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies are a fun surprise for your Christmas cookie tray


  1. I made these over Christmas and sent them into my son's work. Because of the spice I was a bit hesitant. Turns out everyone loved them. I used the cayenne and don't think that they were too spicy. When you bite into it the chocolate sweetness is followed by a subtle spice. Keeper recipe.

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  5. I can't imagine them being spicier than the chipotle I used, I'll definitely have to be careful to not use the cayenne then!
    Yes, you can definitely feel/taste the hot pepper part but it is countered by the sweet. Addicting!

  6. A couple of things. First, these are FANTASTIC! Maybe trouble as I might consume the entire batch solo. Second, I used Cayenne and WOW they pack some heat, but Chipotle and Ancho are more mild, Ancho significantly so I think I would try that next time.
    Keep the great posts coming, I refer back to your recipes time and time again. The photography just keeps getting better!

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