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Can you keep hot chocolate warm in a slow cooker?

Hot chocolate is a delicious winter drink that can quickly go from piping hot to lukewarm if left out too long. A slow cooker provides a great way to keep a large batch of hot chocolate warm for an extended period of time, making it the perfect choice for gatherings and parties. Here’s what you need to know about keeping hot chocolate warm in a slow cooker.

Benefits of Using a Slow Cooker for Hot Chocolate

There are several key advantages to using a slow cooker to keep hot chocolate warm:

  • Consistent temperature – Slow cookers distribute heat evenly from the bottom up and maintain a steady temperature. This prevents hot chocolate from cooling down too quickly.
  • Large capacity – Most slow cookers can hold anywhere from 1.5 to 7 quarts, allowing you to make a large batch of hot chocolate for a crowd.
  • Portability – Many slow cookers are relatively compact and have handles, making them easy to transport to parties or events.
  • Low maintenance – Once hot chocolate is in the slow cooker, no additional work is required to keep it at the perfect drinking temperature.
  • Energy efficient – Slow cookers use less energy than constantly reheating hot chocolate on the stove or in the microwave.

Choosing a Slow Cooker for Hot Chocolate

Not all slow cookers are created equal when it comes to keeping hot chocolate pleasantly warm. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting a slow cooker for hot chocolate:

  • Size – Choose a size that can comfortably hold the amount of hot chocolate you want to keep warm. Aim for a cooker that is at least half full for even heating.
  • Shape – Oval or rectangular slow cookers heat more evenly than round ones, preventing hot spots.
  • Removable Insert – This makes it easy to stir and serve the hot chocolate right from the slow cooker.
  • Temperature Settings – Multiple heat settings allow flexibility. The low setting is ideal for keeping hot chocolate at the perfect temperature.
  • Stay Warm Function – Some models automatically switch to a keep warm setting after the timer ends.

Tips for Keeping Hot Chocolate Warm in a Slow Cooker

Follow these tips to get the most out of using a slow cooker for hot chocolate:

  • Preheat the empty slow cooker on low for 15-20 minutes before adding the hot chocolate. This prevents a temperature drop when the hot liquid is added.
  • Only fill the slow cooker 1/2 to 2/3 full to allow for even heating. Overfilling can cause hot and cold spots.
  • Keep the lid on! Lifting the lid frequently lets heat escape.
  • Give it an occasional gentle stir to distribute the heat.
  • Use cooking spray or oil to coat the inside of the stoneware insert. This prevents scorching on the bottom.
  • Check the temperature periodically with an instant read thermometer. Aim to keep the hot chocolate between 160-180°F.

How to Make Hot Chocolate for a Slow Cooker

The key is to use a rich, creamy hot chocolate recipe that will hold up well over time in a slow cooker. Here is a delicious recipe to try:


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Mini marshmallows or whipped cream (for serving)


  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until steaming and cocoa has dissolved. Do not boil.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour hot chocolate into a preheated slow cooker set to low.
  3. Cover slow cooker and cook for 2-3 hours, until hot throughout.
  4. Ladle hot chocolate into mugs and top with marshmallows or whipped cream.

For a richer treat, substitute 2 cups half and half for 2 cups of the milk. You can also add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or chili powder. Avoid adding alcohol like peppermint schnapps, as the alcohol will evaporate over the extended cooking time.

How Long Can Hot Chocolate Stay Warm in a Slow Cooker?

Hot chocolate can safely remain warm in a slow cooker for 4-6 hours on the low setting. After this point, the quality will start to deteriorate.

Here is a helpful timeframe guide:

Time in Slow Cooker Quality
0-2 hours Ideal, freshly made taste
2-4 hours Still great quality
4-6 hours Good but starting to thicken and skin
6-8 hours Drinkable but separating, thick, and starting to scorch

For optimal results, plan to drink the hot chocolate within 4 hours. Keep the slow cooker on the low setting and stir occasionally. Avoid adding more liquid over time as this will dilute the chocolate.

Serving Hot Chocolate from a Slow Cooker

A slow cooker full of steaming hot chocolate makes for a fun, interactive serving experience at parties. Here are some tips:

  • Set up a hot chocolate bar with mugs, spoons, toppings, whipped cream, etc. so guests can customize their own.
  • Keep the lid on the slow cooker except when ladling out servings. The lid maintains heat and sanitation.
  • Consider pouring the hot chocolate into a warming tray or fondue pot for a festive look.
  • Use a ladle to fill mugs 2/3 full and top with toppings so hot chocolate doesn’t spill.
  • Offer festive stir sticks so guests can give their hot chocolate a final mix.
  • Make a sign with serving suggestions, ingredients, and your hot chocolate recipe name.

Storing Leftover Hot Chocolate

Any leftover hot chocolate should be discarded after 8 hours in the slow cooker for food safety reasons. However, if you have unused homemade hot chocolate base, here are some storage tips:

  • Fridge – Let hot chocolate cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container. Store in refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Freezer – Hot chocolate base can be frozen for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before reheating.
  • Reheating – Heat leftover hot chocolate gently on the stove or microwave, stirring constantly. Do not boil.

Cleaning Your Slow Cooker After Hot Chocolate

It’s important to clean your slow cooker thoroughly after using it for hot chocolate. Follow these steps:

  1. Unplug and allow slow cooker to cool completely before cleaning.
  2. Remove stoneware insert. Discard any remaining hot chocolate.
  3. Wash stoneware with hot soapy water. Use a soft scrub brush if needed to remove residue.
  4. Rinse and dry stoneware thoroughly.
  5. Wipe down the heating base with a damp cloth. Avoid immersing in water.
  6. Avoid using abrasive scouring pads or cleaners which can damage the stoneware over time.

Be extra diligent cleaning in crevices, under the rim, and around handles where drips can collect. A thorough cleaning prevents sticking and buildup next time.

Troubleshooting Problems

Here are some common troubleshooting tips if you run into any problems while keeping hot chocolate warm in the slow cooker:

Issue Solution
Hot chocolate is not hot enough
  • Double check slow cooker is on low setting
  • Don’t overfill stoneware insert
  • Preheat empty slow cooker before adding hot chocolate
Chocolate is scorched on bottom
  • Coat stoneware with cooking spray or oil next time
  • Stir occasionally during cooking
Skin forming on surface
  • Keep lid on and avoid lifting unnecessarily
  • Stir periodically to redistribute heat
Curdling or separating
  • Don’t let sit on warm for longer than 6 hours
  • Gently stir in circles to re-emulsify

Safety Tips

Take these precautions when using a slow cooker for hot chocolate:

  • Don’t leave unattended for prolonged periods.
  • Never add ingredients like alcohol or cream after cooking begins.
  • Discard hot chocolate left out longer than 8 hours.
  • Keep slow cooker unplugged when not in use and follow all manufacturer instructions.
  • Don’t move or transport a hot slow cooker.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets to avoid burns.


A slow cooker provides a great hands-off way to keep hot chocolate warm and delicious for hours. With a quality recipe, the right cooker settings, and periodic stirring, you can serve crowd-pleasing hot chocolate that maintains an ideal sipping temperature. Take care to follow food safety guidelines and clean your slow cooker thoroughly after each use. Whip up a slow cooker full of hot chocolate for your next winter gathering and enjoy its sweet, creamy warmth all season long!