Crockpot Hot Chocolate is an easy twist on the classic mug of hot cocoa. Perfect on a cold, snowy day! Let the hot chocolate slow cook for 2 hours while out sleigh riding, holiday shopping, or shoveling snow! Come inside to a hot mug of rich and creamy crockpot hot chocolate, made with cocoa powder, milk, sugar, chocolate chips, and a dash of vanilla extract.
You may be wondering, why would anyone want to make hot chocolate in a crockpot? That sounds like a waste of time! Why not just open up a packet of instant hot cocoa, warm up a glass of milk, and mix the 2 together?
I'll tell you why.
First, instant hot chocolate is nothing compared to hot chocolate made from scratch.
Second, crockpot hot chocolate is completely hands off while it cooks. When you make hot cocoa from scratch on the stove, it may take 10 minutes. But there are a bunch of steps and it's all hands on for you.
You can make hot chocolate in the crockpot while doing wintery things around the house, or while you're out running last minute holiday errands. It's also the perfect treat to make while taking the kids sledding. As soon as you walk in the door, that warm-me-up hot cocoa will be ready and waiting!
I plan to make crockpot hot chocolate while decorating the house for Christmas. When I'm done and ready to relax, surrounded by beautiful winter decor watching my favorite Christmas movie, the hot chocolate will be waiting for me!
That's much better than me waiting for it!
So there are 2 things you should remember when making hot cocoa on a blustery winter day.
- Never use the instant mix
- Simmer a recipe from scratch in the crockpot so you don't have to do any of the hands on work
This hot chocolate is rich, creamy, and full of chocolate. It's a dump and go slow cooker recipe that I know you'll love as much as my family does. My recipe doesn't use condensed milk or heavy cream to make it creamy, like many do.
My secret ingredient to making crockpot hot chocolate is oat milk! I add a few cups of extra creamy Planet Oat Oatmilk in addition to dairy milk, and it helps to give it a creamy texture without changing the taste. I also use milk chocolate chips to give it added thickness and chocolate flavor.
The combination of cocoa powder, oat milk, and dairy milk give this crockpot hot chocolate a rich and creamy texture and taste. Then add a tiny but of vanilla extract at the end to elevate the flavor even more.
Is it better to make hot chocolate with milk or water?
This is a matter of preference. Hot chocolate made with water will be less creamy than that made with milk. But hot chocolate made with water also allows for more of the rich chocolate taste to shine through. The chocolate flavor in that made with milk is slightly subdued by the taste of the milk.
But in this easy crockpot hot chocolate recipe, I use 3 ingredients to keep the chocolate flavor elevated and the creaminess at the perfect level: oat milk, chocolate chips, and vanilla extract.
Do you add sugar to hot chocolate?
When making hot chocolate using instant hot chocolate mix, you should not add sugar. The sugar is already in the mix,
When making hot cocoa from scratch like in this crockpot hot chocolate recipe, you need to add sugar.
What makes hot chocolate taste better?
To make hot chocolate taste the best it can be, add chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Chocolate chips add sweetness, chocolate flavor and creaminess. Vanilla extract elevates the chocolate flavor even more.
When making hot chocolate from scratch using cocoa powder, always add enough sugar to counter the bitterness of the cocoa powder. If you find a recipe and reduce the sugar because it sounds like there is a lot, your hot cocoa will likely come out too dark and too bitter.
In my first attempt at from-scratch hot chocolate many years ago, I added half of the sugar that I eventually needed. I was trying to keep it healthier, but the sugar really is a must when using unsweetened cocoa powder like in this recipe.
And last, if you think your hot cocoa came out too thin, use milk with a higher level of fat. If you used skim milk, try reduced fat or whole milk instead. You can also use more oat milk than just the 2 cups I use in this recipe.
To make this delicious, easy crockpot hot chocolate you need:
- cocoa powder
- white sugar
- chocolate chips
For dairy milk, use whole, 2%, 1% or skim. While whole milk has the most calories and fat, skim milk has the least. So if you're looking to make a hot chocolate that's a bit on the healthier side, go with one of the reduced fat milks. However, you will lose a slight bit of creaminess with the reduced and low fat milks compared to when using whole milk.
I have not made hot chocolate with any milk alternative other than oat milk, so I cannot attest to the difference in taste choosing another non dairy milk will make. I don't suggest almond milk, though, as it will change the taste.
For help deciding, check out this article on how to choose which non-dairy milk to use in place of dairy milk.
Always make sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder with this recipe. Since sugar is added, you do not want to use sweetened cocoa powder.
As for the sugar, I use organic white sugar, but I suppose you could substitute with something like stevia or coconut sugar. Although I have never done this so I cannot comment on how it will affect the recipe.
I use milk chocolate chips in my crockpot hot chocolate to give it a nice creamy milk chocolate taste.
I also add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract to the hot chocolate when it's done slow cooking. This is optional, but it does give the overall flavor an elevated taste. A little zing at the end of the cup!
But if you forget to add the vanilla extract, no worries. Crockpot hot chocolate doesn't absolutely need it to be incredibly delicious.
🔪 Step-By-Step Directions
This easy crockpot hot chocolate is made in 2 very simple steps.
- Warm 1 cup of water in the microwave for 90 seconds. Add the cocoa powder and whisk.
- Set the crockpot to low on 2 hours Add the milk and cocoa powder to the crockpot. Add the remaining milk, sugar, salt, and chocolate chips. Stir well to blend the ingredients. Cover.
I always dissolve the cocoa powder in hot water before adding it to the slow cooker. This helps the cocoa powder to dissolve fully without leaving little chunks, as it might if you add it directly to the crockpot with the cold milk.
While crockpot hot chocolate is very easy, there are a couple of "watch outs" you should be aware of.
💭 Expert Tips
First, always use the low setting. High will burn the hot chocolate. If it's burnt and stuck to the bottom of the pot, when you stir at the end all of those little bits of burnt milk will float into your hot chocolate.
Second, stir it halfway through if possible. The chocolate chips will be just about completely melted around the 1 hour mark. Stirring them into the hot cocoa before it's done will prevent them from becoming stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Third, you might find a thin milk layer floating on top. Remove it with a strainer. Don't mix it back into the milk! You'll get bits of hard milk floating around your hot chocolate if you do.
This layer usually forms once the hot chocolate is finished, when it's left on warm in the crockpot undisturbed. When I make homemade Greek yogurt this always happens as the milk cools. But the layer is easily removed with a strainer.
And that is it! Easy tips to making the best, easy hot chocolate recipe!
Crockpot Hot Chocolate
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 8 cups milk (or 6 cups milk and 2 cups oat milk)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Heat the water in the microwave for 90 seconds. Add the cocoa powder and mix until its dissolved.
- Add water/cocoa powder, milk, sugar, salt, and chocolate chips to the crockpot. Set on low for 2 hours. Stir occasionally. If a thin layer of milk forms on the top, remove it with a strainer.
- Before serving, add the vanilla extract.
🍴Serving and Storing
Hot chocolate is always tastier served with marshmallows on top. Kids love mini marshmallows, but let's enjoy them as adults too! We also love using jumbo marshmallows and letting them melt into the hot chocolate.
Around Christmas, we love enjoying hot chocolate with peppermint stir sticks or candy canes. This makes it more of a "peppermint" hot chocolate, so if you're in a festive mood this is a great way to enjoy your mug of hot cocoa.
Hot chocolate keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you have kids, it won't last that long!
And that's all there is to it! I hope you enjoy it. ☕️
If you loved this easy crockpot hot chocolate recipe, let me know in the comments below. I'd love to hear what you thought!