Crockpot Hot Chocolate Recipe

Crockpot Hot Chocolate Recipe

Hot chocolate is a treat, especially in the winter after skiing, skating, or playing in the snow. This crockpot hot chocolate recipe checks all the boxes: it’s easy, delicious, rich, and makes enough for a crowd. Milk, cream, sugar, and a combination of chocolate chips—dark or semisweet—and cocoa powder give this hot chocolate its rich, chocolatey flavor. It certainly beats store-bought hot cocoa packets!

If you decide to make old-fashioned hot chocolate on the stovetop, you’ll find the slow cooker is a great way to keep it warm for serving.

There are several additional ways you can flavor this basic recipe. Turn this hot chocolate into a more intense drink with a bit of espresso powder, or you might add a dash of ground cinnamon for Mexican hot chocolate. You might even spike it with brandy or coffee flavored brandy for adults!

If you're planning a party, it's easy to scale the recipe up for a larger crowd, and many foods pair well with hot chocolate. Sweet desserts and fruits are naturally good with hot chocolate, but salty or spicy foods can add a delicious flavor contrast. Salted nuts, pretzels, and crackers are just a few of the many possibilities.

“The slow cooker makes it easy to whip up a big batch of hot cocoa for a crowd. I used the slow cook function on my Instant Pot; it worked great! The combination of cream and milk made for an extra-decadent drink. It never formed a skin on top, as sometimes happens with stovetop cocoa.”—Danielle Centoni

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 6 cups whole milk

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups dark or semisweet chocolate chips

  • 3 tablespoons regular or Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 cups mini marshmallows, for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Crockpot Hot Chocolate ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. In a 3-quart (or larger) slow cooker, or Instant Pot (using the slow cook function), combine the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips, and cocoa. Stir to combine.

    hot chocolate ingredients in crock pot with wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  3. Cook on low for 2 hours, stirring after 15 minutes and then every 30 minutes to keep the chocolate chips from scorching as they melt.

    crock pot hot chocolate

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  4. Ladle the hot chocolate into cups or mugs and garnish it with mini marshmallows or other toppings of your choice.

Hot Chocolate Board

Create a serve-yourself hot chocolate bar for friends and family. Arrange mugs and spoons around the crockpot with various toppings. Here are a few fun and creative ideas:

  • Mini marshmallows or homemade marshmallows.
  • Peppermint candy canes or crushed peppermint candies.
  • Mini bottles of liqueur or liquor, such as Bailey’s, schnapps, bourbon, or brandy.
  • A bowl of fresh sweetened whipped cream or thawed frozen whipped topping.
  • Sprinkles or chocolate shavings.
  • Cinnamon sticks for stirring.
  • Graham cracker chunks or cinnamon-graham type of cereal.
  • Extra chocolate chips or chunks.
  • Toasted coconut flakes or shavings.

Recipe Variations

  • Add a few drops of peppermint extract, to taste.
  • For sweeter hot chocolate, add an extra tablespoon or two of granulated sugar.
  • Replace 1 cup of the cream or milk with Bailey's creamy flavored liqueur.
  • Spike the hot chocolate with about 3/4 cup of liquor or liqueur.
  • Add 1 stick of cinnamon to the pot and, optionally, about 3/4 teaspoon of chili powder.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk Version: Omit the sugar and add one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk to the pot and increase the unsweetened cocoa powder to 5 tablespoons.

How to Store

  • Refrigerate leftover hot chocolate in airtight containers or canning jars with screw-top lids for up to 4 days.
  • Reheat cold hot chocolate in a saucepan on the stovetop until hot.

What is the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa?

Many people use the terms interchangeably, but hot cocoa is usually a sweeter, thinner drink made with cocoa, sugar, and water or milk. Hot chocolate is a richer, thicker beverage typically made with melted chocolate and, depending on the sweetness of the chocolate, little or no added sugar.


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