Melting chocolate can be intimidating—everyone’s popped a bowl in the microwave and accidentally blitzing it a bit too long, watching it go from perfect to inedible. But melting chocolate is actually really simple, and there are lots of different ways to get the job done. A quick read through this guide will arm you with all the information you need to confidently melt chips or chunks of white, dark, or milk chocolate into silky smooth, velvety ribbons for the simple joy of dunking fruits or cookies, drizzling haphazardly over granola bars, or mixing into a big batch of brownies.
4 Easy Ways to Melt Chocolate
While there are ways outside of the four listed below to melt chocolate, they aren’t really worth experimenting with, and these are the only ones you’ll really need. Each method will be explained and comes with a few pros and cons, so’ll be able to decide which one is right for you depending on how you’ll use the chocolate in the end, how much time you have, and how many tools you want to pull from the depths of your cupboard.
For each method listed below, start with chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, it will help the processes go that much faster and the pieces melt more evenly than big pieces or bars.
Make sure that any water used in the methods below does not mix with your chocolate—it will cause the chocolate to seize up.
1. How to Melt Chocolate in the Microwave
To melt chocolate in the microwave, you’ll need: a microwave-safe bowl filled with chocolate and a rubber spatula or spoon. Microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds, stir well, and repeat. When the chocolate is still a little lumpy, don’t microwave again, just stir well and allow the residual heat to finish melting the chocolate as you stir. For a super dip-able consistency, you can also mix in some vegetable or coconut oil.
Microwaving chocolate is the quickest method of melting it, but it can also be a bit annoying having to hover by the microwave and stir every 20 to 30 seconds. It’s also sometimes hard to gauge exactly when to stop microwaving, so be cautious and stir really well before microwaving again. Whatever you plan on doing with the melted chocolate, you can use this method.
2. How to Melt Chocolate on the Stove Top
To melt chocolate on the stove top, you’ll need: a heatproof bowl filled with chocolate set over a saucepan filled with some water and a rubber spatula. This set up is called a double boiler or bain-marie, and it uses the steam from the water in the saucepan to gently heat the chocolate into silky submission. Set it over medium heat with the chocolate in the bowl and stir occasionally until very smooth.
Make sure the water is not high enough to touch the bottom of the bowl; there should be plenty of room between the bowl and the water in the saucepan.
This method takes a bit longer than the microwave method, but is relatively hands-off and requires no extra clean-up in the end, as the saucepan doesn’t have to be washed. This is my preferred method, not just because I don’t have a microwave. Since the heat from the steam is so gentle, the chocolate melts much more evenly than it does in the microwave. Whatever you plan on doing with the melted chocolate, you can use this method.
3. How to Melt Chocolate in a Slow Cooker or Crock Pot
To melt chocolate in a slow cooker or crock pot, you’ll need: a slow cooker or crock pot filled about one-third of the way up with water, and a wide mouth glass jar filled with chocolate. Set the glass jar (or multiple!) in the crock pot, making sure no water gets into the glass (this is super important to keep the chocolate from seizing up). Leave the slow cooker or crock pot on the highest heat and let the chocolate-filled jars, uncovered, sit in the hot water for about 30 minutes. When you return, stir the chocolate and use.
This is not a very quick method (both the microwave and stove top methods will be much faster if you need chocolate in a hurry), but if you have a slow cooker or crock pot, some time, and want to melt multiple types of chocolate at once, this definitely your best bet. Just place as many glass jars as types of chocolate in the slow cooker, fill them, and walk away. It’s that simple. Whatever you plan on doing with the melted chocolate, you can use this method, but it’s definitely the simplest option for melting many kinds of chocolate at once.
4. How to Melt Chocolate in a Plastic Bag
To melt chocolate in a plastic bag, you’ll need: a resealable plastic sandwich bag filled with chocolate (and sealed completely) and a heatproof bowl filled with very hot water. Place the bag into the bowl of hot water until melted. Grab the bag with some tongs or lift our with a spoon, then let cool slightly before using. If you’re worried that your bag isn’t water-tight, put the bag inside of another bag for more protection.
This method works best for small amounts of chocolate that you want to use for more precise decoration. Simply snip the corner of the bag and use as a piping bag for criss-crossing over cookies, bars, cakes, or ice cream.
How to Use Melted Chocolate
There are lots of dessert recipes (think chocolate soufflés, chocolate mousses, certain brownie and cupcake recipes, truffles, and some icings or frostings) that call for melted chocolate, but there are plenty of ways outside of these recipes. Remember these three D’s—drizzling, dipping, and decorating—and let your melted chocolate imagination run wild.
Drizzling over fresh cut summer fruits? Delicious! Eating as a dip for salty crackers with a glass of milk and calling it a midnight snack? Why not? With the methods you know now, melted chocolate is well within your expertise anytime.