Campers Cocoa

I have this memory of sitting in the back of my mom’s station wagon (before I burned a hole through the bottom of it with some toxic chemical that I somehow spilled and she had to buy a new car — long story for another day) in the parking lot of our local county park after a few efforts of tugging a sled up the hill and barreling back down on said sled. In this memory I am warming up with a piping hot thermos of the best hot cocoa I ever had.

Admittedly this was long before I had hot chocolate at coffee shops or dessert bars or made my own and likely my only comparison was packets of Swiss Miss. But still.

I don’t know where my mom got this recipe, but I distinctly remember loving it and drinking copious amounts of it as child. It’s easy to do because the recipe makes a ginormous amount. She had this large green Tupperware bowl with a lid that she stored it in. It seemed to last forever. I grew up in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin and hot chocolate and a fireplace were essential winter pick-me-ups.

Recently, I was set to be go home (where I grew up, my home is now Southern California) for several weeks (this trip became postponed due to coronavirus) and I asked my mom if she would make a batch of Campers Cocoa. She exclaimed, “How do you remember that?!” when I asked about it. I guess when you have taste memory burned in your brain you never forget it.

I don’t know if my mom still has her recipe but a quick search of the internet yielded immediately results. There were several recipes with the same ingredients in greatly varying amounts. The ingredients I was looking for was: Nestles Quick chocolate powder, powdered sugar, powdered milk and Coffee mate powdered creamer. The weirdest thing I noticed was that some recipes called for a cup of powdered sugar while others called for a pound. That’s a vastly different amount of sugar.

There are other recipes masquerading as the childhood Campers Cocoa that I loved and these involve cocoa powder. The cocoa powder recipes were similar with varying degrees of powdered milk, powdered sugar and powdered coffee creamer. Nestles Quick is the key ingredient and the one you want to go for here. It’s already sweetened which perhaps begs the question of why you would need a pound of powdered sugar added to your mix. But you do. The mixture works oddly well. I promise you it wouldn’t taste right without the powdered sugar or with only a cup of powdered sugar either.

This seems like a super easy recipe and on a scale of 1 to 10, I suppose it probably is but it takes a wee bit to sift the powdered sugar into the mixture. For some reason having to sift ingredients annoys me.

At first sip of this drink, it brought me back to my childhood. It was almost exactly what I remembered it to be, maybe slightly less chocolatey than I remembered, but a close representation. For that reason, I added a bit more Nestles Quick into my recipe below. The recipe called for 16 ounces, I put in almost 18 on accident and it still needed more. Eight extra ounces was too much, so I had to add more of the other ingredients to balance it out.

Once you have this mixed up and ready to go, it’s as simple as adding some hot water to your mug adding a scoop of the mixture. I suppose this is called “campers” cocoa because it would be easy to bring along camping. Heat water and serve for some fabulous instant hot cocoa as you lounge around your campfire.


  • 23 oz whole milk powdered milk
  • 20 oz Nestles Quick
  • 16 oz powdered sugar, sifted
  • 16 oz powdered coffee creamer, such as Coffee Mate
  • ½ T. salt


Mix all ingredients in a giant bowl or jar. Scoop ⅓ cup of cocoa mix into steaming hot water and stir until all powder has disintegrated.

Recipe rating: 

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