5 Healthier Alternatives to Your Favorite Cozy Holiday Drink Recipes

Cozy holiday drinks don't have to be loaded with sugar.

When it's cold outside, a warm cup of something cozy is delightful. The added sugar in your favorite holiday drinks, however, is less so.

The daily recommended max on added sugar, according to the American Heart Association, is 6 teaspoons for women (25 grams, 100 calories) and 9 for men (36 grams, 150 calories). Find out how much sugar, fat and calories your favorite holiday drinks are packing, along with LIVESTRONG.com-created healthier holiday drink recipe alternatives that will leave you feeling warm and snuggly this winter.


1. Hot Cocoa

Warm up this winter with fewer calories and less sugar with this healthier version of hot cocoa.

Hot chocolate on a cold day is one of life's greatest pleasures. But if you happen to indulge in a hot cocoa from the Cheesecake Factory, just know that this "treat" contains 65 grams of sugar, more than double the day's recommended limit for for women, not to mention a full meal's worth of calories at 820.


Getting your cocoa fix at Starbucks is only slightly less offensive, considering a grande Starbucks Hot Chocolate contains 43 grams of sugar and 400 calories. McDonald's packs 52 grams of sugar into its 430-calorie hot cocoa.

For a healthier version of hot cocoa, try this lightened-up recipe from nutrition expert Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH. It's made with almond milk, sweetened with a bit of honey and has 16 grams of sugar per serving.

Get the Hot Coca recipe and nutrition info here.


2. Eggnog

Delicious with or without the alcohol, it’s rich and creamy, but still light, thanks to the addition of egg whites.

A grande Eggnog Creme at Starbucks comes with a whopping 59 grams of sugar and 500 calories, which probably doesn't fit into your daily energy needs. Because Starbucks drinks are customizable, you can choose to have fewer pumps of sweetener, a lighter milk or forego the whip cream.


Save yourself 300 calories and 51 grams of sugar by making a batch of this eggnog recipe, which doesn't skimp on the indulgent ingredients like whole milk and whiskey, it just asks you to savor a smaller portion. If you want to make it a mocktail (which will cut down the calories even more), sub in an ounce of pure vanilla extract plus 3 ounces of water for the whiskey.

Get the Eggnog from The Fir Tree recipe and nutrition info here.

Read more: All 5 Starbucks Holiday Drinks — Ranked According to Nutrition

3. Pumpkin Spice Latte

You can make this delicious and natural homemade pumpkin spice latte dairy-free and vegan (if you so desire).

The holiday season just isn't complete without a PSL. In theory, enjoying antioxidant-rich seasonal spices in a warm beverage is a good thing. But the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte also contains 50 grams of sugar and 380 calories in a grande, according to the chain. Save 200 calories and 35 grams of sugar by trying this vegan version of the drink recipe that somehow still manages to be frothy and rich.

Get the Easy, Healthy Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe and nutrition info here.

4. Matcha Tea Latte

This creamy matcha drink is packed with antioxidants and a hint of caffeine.

Matcha green tea can be a smart choice for your health, but the grande Matcha Green Tea Latte from Starbucks has 32 grams of sugar and 240 calories.

Our version of a matcha tea latte calls for almond milk and makes for a healthier sip with fewer than 100 calories and 13 grams of sugar.

Get the Matcha Latte With Almond Milk and Honey recipe and nutrition info here.

Read more: 5 Unexpected Benefits of Drinking Matcha Tea

5. Hot Toddy

After a late afternoon of raking leaves or shoveling snow, cradle this fall favorite to warm up.

Hot toddies are a classic warm and boozy cold-weather drink that folklore insists helps cure the common cold. While there's some evidence that honey can help relieve symptoms naturally, that's as far as the research goes (sorry).

There are many variations, but the classic hot toddy recipe revolves around some type of whiskey, honey, lemon juice and hot water — certainly a lighter choice than a hot chocolate or eggnog. However, it's still important to beware of portion sizes and how much sugar is added. A similar drink to the hot toddy from Cheesecake Factory contains close to 300 calories and 29 grams of sugar.

The hot toddy is a simple drink that you can make at home, no mixology credentials required. Try this recipe that includes black tea for added flavor.

Get the Festive Hot Toddy recipe and nutrition info here.