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For the richest, creamiest, most decadent hot chocolate, turn to your slow cooker! This crockpot hot chocolate is easy to make, perfect for parties, and satisfies even the biggest chocolate cravings. 

Two glass mugs of crockpot hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and whipped cream. The slow cooker is visible in the background.

Cold weather means warm drinks for me. Sure, I still love an iced shaken espresso even in the winter, but nothing makes me feel warm and cozy quite like a warm beverage.

And they’re a must for any winter or holiday party! Whether it’s a pot of spiced apple cider or hot chocolate, I think a warm beverage station is one of the best ways to make your guests feel welcome.

This crockpot hot chocolate is one you have to try for your next party. It’s rich and creamy, perfectly chocolatey, and easy to make and keep warm for any gathering. 

Salted caramel sauce being drizzled over whipped-cream-topped hot chocolate in a glass mug.


I don’t know about you, but there are so many different ways to make hot chocolate that it’s almost overwhelming.

Some recipes are made over the stove. Some recipes are made with hot chocolate tablets. Some recipes are called hot chocolate but are actually hot cocoa and are made from a mix (more on that in a minute).

But when I was testing recipes for the perfect hot chocolate to share with you this year, I decided to turn to an old favorite: my slow cooker.

I’ve used my trusty crockpot to make my favorite apple butter and pulled pork and even beef and barley stew, but I rarely use it for dessert recipes.

But let me tell you, I need to use it more often. Because this crockpot hot chocolate is some of the best I’ve ever had and it was SO easy to make.

Plus, using the crockpot means it’s perfect for a party. It’s a hands-off process to make the hot chocolate and you can keep it warm for serving. That’s a real win to me.

Large slow cooker filled with hot chocolate on a countertop, with glasses and toppings in the background.

What’s the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa?

A lot of people use the words “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa” interchangeably, but they actually are two different things!

Hot chocolate is made from a base of melted chocolate and tends to be thicker and richer. Sometimes it is called “drinking chocolate” or “sipping chocolate.”

Hot cocoa is made from a base of cocoa powder combined with milk and sugar. It is typically much thinner than hot chocolate.

I love both drinks, but this recipe is for a true hot chocolate. It is thick and rich and incredibly decadent – a small cup will totally meet your chocolate cravings and leave you feeling cozy and warm.


This hot chocolate is so rich and decadent, your friends will think you spent hours over the stove to make it. You don’t have to tell them just how easy it actually was!

Ingredients you’ll need

To make this recipe, you will need:

  • 8 ounces of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate bars
  • 4 ounces of Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate bars
  • 7 cups whole milk 
  • 1 cup heavy cream OR half-and-half
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Crockpot hot chocolate ingredients arranged on a countertop.

I tried a bunch of different variations of this recipe with different types of chocolate. 

After some trial and error, we decided that we liked a mix of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate the best. It made for a hot chocolate that wasn’t too sweet and had just the right amount of rich chocolate flavor.

You can make this recipe with all semi-sweet chocolate, but keep in mind that it will make the final drink sweeter.

I personally prefer to use Ghirardelli brand chocolate. I think it’s the best and most reliable in recipes like this. But feel free to swap out for your own favorite brand or whatever you can find in stores.

I do NOT recommend using chocolate chips here. They do not melt as nicely as chocolate bars so your hot chocolate won’t be quite as smooth and velvety.

You can use 2% milk instead of whole milk if you prefer. Just keep in mind that the final hot chocolate won’t be as creamy and rich.

Partially melted crockpot hot chocolate in the crock of a large slow cooker.

Making my crockpot hot chocolate

Before adding all of your ingredients to the slow cooker, make sure that you coarsely chop your chocolate bars. This will help them melt more quickly and evenly.

This recipe makes about 10 cups of hot chocolate. Make sure you use a slow cooker that holds at least 3 to 3.5 quarts, but you can make this in a 6-quart slow cooker, too.

Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and turn it to low. Cook for 2 hours, whisking the mixture periodically to make sure the chocolate is melting evenly.

And that’s it! Really, it’s that simple. So now let’s talk about some ways to dress this recipe up and how to make it party ready.

Crockpot hot chocolate, fully melted, in the crock of a large slow cooker.


This crockpot hot chocolate is a simple recipe that lets all of that beautiful chocolate flavor shine through. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to change it up, though!

To make it sweeter: This hot chocolate is already on the sweeter side, but you can make it a bit sweeter by using all semi-sweet chocolate instead of the semi-sweet/bittersweet mix. 

To make it less sweet: To tamper the sweetness, start with adding just ½ of the can of sweetened condensed milk. After the chocolate has melted, give it a taste and whisk in more of the condensed milk if desired.

To make it less rich: Use 2% milk instead of whole milk and half-and-half instead of cream for a hot chocolate that is less decadent and rich. 

For a peppermint twist: In addition to the vanilla, add peppermint extract with the other ingredients. Remember that peppermint extract is strong, so start with a small amount (I’d start with 1 teaspoon for the whole batch of hot chocolate) and add more to taste if desired.

For a spicy kick: If you want a Mexican-inspired hot chocolate, add some cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper with the other ingredients. Start with a small amount of cayenne and add more to taste if you want it to be spicier.

Two glass mugs filled with crockpot hot chocolate and surrounded by various toppings, including peppermints, marshmallows, and caramel sauce.


There are so many fun ways you can serve this crockpot hot chocolate. Set out a selection of toppings and let your guests have fun making their mug just the way they like!

Some of our favorite hot chocolate toppings include:

You can also set out bottles of peppermint schnapps, Baileys, or Kahlua for guests that want to add a boozy twist.

Three glass mugs of crockpot hot chocolate on a countertop next to bowls of marshmallows and candy canes.


Crockpot hot chocolate is the perfect party drink because it is so hands off. Toss everything into the slow cooker a few hours before your guests arrive and you’re ready to go! 

If your slow cooker has a “keep warm” or “buffet” setting, I recommend using that to keep the hot chocolate warm during the party.

If you don’t have that option, keep it on low but check on it periodically to make sure it isn’t getting too hot. 

This hot chocolate also reheats well. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To reheat, add as much hot chocolate as you like to a saucepan and warm it on the stove over medium-low heat, whisk it really well. 

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Crockpot Hot Chocolate

By: Jamie
5 from 3 ratings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Servings: 10
For the richest, creamiest, most decadent hot chocolate, turn to your slow cooker! This crockpot hot chocolate is easy to make, perfect for parties, and satisfies even the biggest chocolate cravings.


Optional Toppings


  • Place all ingredients into a large slow cooker and heat at low temperature for two hours. Whisk periodically to ensure the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the milk.


I prefer using the Ghirardelli bars for this recipe, but you can substitute another brand of semi-sweet and 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate if needed.
You can use 2% milk in place of whole milk; however, the end result will be less creamy and less decadent.
This recipe is on the sweeter side. If you like your hot chocolate less sweet, I would suggest starting with ½ of the can of sweetened condensed milk and gradually increasing the amount according to your taste.
I do not recommend using chocolate chips for this recipe as they do not melt as nicely as chocolate bars.
For a boozy twist, try adding in peppermint schnapps, Kahlua, Baileys, etc.
This recipe makes about 10 cups of hot chocolate.


Serving: 1cup (no toppings), Calories: 380kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 49mg, Sodium: 86mg, Potassium: 481mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 639IU, Vitamin C: 0.2mg, Calcium: 275mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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