Slow cooker hot chocolate is the perfect cold weather treat. Rich, creamy, and made with a handful of pantry staples. You'll never go back to the store bought stuff after making a batch of homemade hot cocoa!
Hot chocolate is the perfect winter beverage for all ages. Rich, perfectly sweetened, and made with a few simple ingredients.
Using a slow cooker is perfect for making hot cocoa. Toss in your ingredients and stir occasionally until hot and creamy. No need to stand over a hot stove or worry about your ingredients scorching on the bottom!
Serve slow cooker hot chocolate at your next holiday party, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Or, make a hot chocolate buffet for the family, complete with everyone's favorite toppings and mugs.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Milk - I recommend whole milk for best flavor and creaminess. However, any milk will work in this recipe, like 2%, skim, cashew milk, or almond milk. Keep in mind that a thinner/lower fat milk will produce a thinner hot chocolate.
- Heavy cream - Thickens your hot chocolate slightly, making it creamy and rich. Heavy cream can be substituted with more milk if you don't have heavy cream on hand (your hot chocolate will turn out thinner when substituting with milk).
- Vanilla extract - Adds another layer of flavor to your hot chocolate.
- Salt - Enhances the flavor of your hot chocolate. You're not adding enough to make your hot chocolate 'salty', just enough to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Semi-sweet baking chocolate - I recommend using baking chocolate, or baking bars, because they're made for melting into a recipe. Semi-sweet will add just enough sweetness without making your hot chocolate too sweet. You can find baking chocolate in the baking aisle right next to the chocolate chips.
- Granulated sugar - Just enough sugar to sweeten your hot chocolate. If you're using milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet chocolate, I recommend reducing your sugar by half.
Can I use chocolate chips?
Technically, yes, chocolate chips will work in this recipe. I've made hot chocolate using baking chocolate and chocolate chips, and I prefer the smooth, consistent melting of baking chocolate.
Chocolate chips are manufactured so that they hold their shape when melted, making them more difficult to melt smoothly.
However, sometimes chocolate chips are just easier to find at your local grocer. If chocolate chips are what you can find, that's okay! Your recipe will turn out fine.
I recommend buying a good quality chocolate chip, like Ghirardelli, if possible. They have a higher quality flavor than generic brands.
Making a hot chocolate buffet
Slow cooker hot chocolate is perfect for serving at a party, family gathering, or when having a few friends over. Why not make a hot chocolate buffet? Once your hot chocolate is warm and ready to serve, set out a variety of mugs, spoons/stir sticks, toppings, and treats for dunking.
- Mini Marshmallows
- Marshmallow crème
- Candy canes
- Crushed peppermints
- Mini chocolate chips
- Chocolate shavings
- Whipped cream
- Sea salt
- Caramel sauce
- Chocolate sauce
Treats for dunking:
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Oreo cookies
- Pretzel chips
- Sugar cookies
- Chocolate chip shortbread cookie dippers
- Pirouette cookies
- Mini donuts
- Graham crackers
What size slow cooker do I need?
This recipe fits into a 3 quart slow cooker with room for stirring. If doubling this recipe, I recommend a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker.
Slow cookers work best when they're about ½ to ¾ full. Keep this in mind when choosing a slow cooker for your hot chocolate.
Here's a newer version of my slow cooker shown in the photos (with a 'low' setting that's perfect for keeping hot chocolate warm!):
Leftover hot chocolate
Leftover hot chocolate will keep in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Once you're done serving your hot chocolate, promptly transfer it to a sealed container and transfer to the refrigerator.
Any hot chocolate that has been sitting out in the 'danger zone' (between 41 degrees and 135 degrees Fahrenheit) for 2 hours or more should be discarded.
For reference, the low setting on most slow cookers is about 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and the warm setting is about 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The warm setting should not be used for more than 4 hours.
Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate
- 7 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 8 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a 3 quart slow cooker, add all of your ingredients. Give them a whisk to combine, then cover securely with a lid.
- Cook on low for 2 hours, or until your chocolate is completely melted and warmed to your desired temperature (ideally between 135 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit). Whisk every 20 to 30 minutes to incorporate melting chocolate and prevent burning on the bottom.
- Serve warm, giving your hot chocolate a quick stir before serving (chocolate will settle slightly).
- Semi-sweet baking chocolate, or baking bars, can be substituted with an equal weight of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
- Substitute 1 cup of milk with an additional cup of heavy cream for an extra-rich and indulgent hot chocolate.
- Leftover hot chocolate will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Stovetop directions: Add your ingredients to a stock pot and warm over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until chocolate is melted and hot chocolate has reached your desired temperature. Whisk frequently to incorporate melting chocolate and prevent scorching on the bottom.