With just a few ingredients and less than five minutes to prepare, Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate is a rich, creamy hot chocolate that is great for entertaining and chilly winter days. (If you are making this for guests, check out my post about How to Set Up a Hot Chocolate Bar for some festive fun.)
I love a warm mug of hot chocolate almost as much as my kids. My mom always used to make special hot chocolate around the holidays, using chocolate chips whisked into heated milk. Once you’ve had hot chocolate made with real chocolate, powdered hot cocoa mix is never quite the same. This version in the slow cooker comes together fast and can be held on the warm function in the slow cooker to enjoy whenever you’re ready.
I like to put a batch of this hot chocolate in the slow cooker when all the kids are home for a snow day. It cooks on low for 2 to 3 hours and then can be held on the warm setting for 3 hours, so it’s ready any time the kids come in from building snowmen.
Why Make Hot Chocolate in the Slow Cooker
Hot chocolate made with real chocolate and milk has a rich flavor and creamy texture. If made on the stovetop, it requires a lot of attention - the milk can easily scald if the pot gets too hot. In the slow cooker, the low temperature removes the risk of scalding, plus you can let it hold on warm to enjoy whenever you’re ready.
- Milk - Any type of milk will work here. Whole milk will make in a more rich and creamy result, but the 2% or skim work just fine. Almond milk or another alternative milk can be used as well.
- Brown Sugar - Brown sugar lends the hot chocolate a hint of caramel flavor.
- Chocolate Bars - This, of course, is the key flavor in the hot chocolate. In testing, the best, creamiest result came from bars of high quality baking chocolate. I prefer Baker’s chocolate (either 55% or 66% cocao). They come in 4-oz bars, so no measuring necessary. Just drop them in and they’ll slowly melt into the milk. (A lot of recipes out there use chocolate chips. You can absolutely use chocolate chips, but I didn't find the result to be as creamy as high quality baking chocolate.)
- Cinnamon Stick - Add a single cinnamon stick into the hot chocolate as it heats. The cinnamon flavor is subtle but goes well with the chocolate. You can skip this if you’d like.
- Pure Vanilla Extract - Whisked into the end of cooking, this adds a nice vanilla flavor to the finished hot chocolate. Like the cinnamon, this is just another layer of flavor that makes for a really special mug of hot chocolate.
For a Richer, Creamier Hot Chocolate
Want an even more rich and creamy hot chocolate? Replace 1 cup of milk with 1 (12-oz) can of Evaporated Milk or Heavy / Whipping Cream.
For a Darker Chocolate Flavor
For a darker chocolate flavor (and a slightly less sweet hot chocolate), use a dark chocolate (from 66% cacao to 75% cocao) and consider skipping the brown sugar (you can always add it in later).
Other Drinks to Make for a Crowd
- Two-Ingredient Green Smoothie - Just mangos and spinach and this batch smoothie is a crowd pleaser.
- Apple Cider Punch with Bourbon - This is a great batch cocktail for fall and holiday gatherings. It’s easy to leave the bourbon out and / or add it to individual glasses.
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat Smoothie - Creamy, rich and packed with protein, this is a favorite smoothie at our house. Tastes like dessert, but is full of good-for-you ingredients.
- Slow Cooker - This recipe will work in a 4-quart Slow Cooker (I use the Cuisinart version) or a 6-quart Slow Cooker (this is a link to the KitchenAid version I have and love).
Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate
- 4-quart or 6-quart Slow Cooker
- 8 cups Milk (see note)
- ¼ cup Brown Sugar, light or dark
- 8 oz Baking Chocolate (use high quality chocolate bars; I like Baker’s dark chocolate - 56% to 66% cacao)
- 1 Cinnamon Stick (optional)
- 2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla extract (optional)
- Marshmallows (optional)
- Combine milk and sugar in the bowl of a slow cooker. Whisk to combine. Add chocolate (just drop the whole bars in) and cinnamon stick.
- Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours until everything is melted (every slow cooker is different, but 2 ½ hours is about right in my machine).
- Whisk in vanilla extract.
- At this point the slow cooker can be left on warm for up to 3 hours.
- Top with marshmallows.
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