Few winter libations feel quite as ceremonial as a piping hot, decadent cup of cocoa. The only issue? Making hot chocolate never feels as dreamy as drinking it. Most of the time, you’re merely pouring a cup of powder into a glass of water, and popping that concoction into your microwave. The ritual is entirely lacking in romance. And winter—a season characterized by frigid temperatures, dry air, and horrifyingly covert patches of ice—is in dire need of romance.
But how can we possibly whip up hot cocoa in a way that feels idyllic— without spending hours in the kitchen? The secret to achieving this seemingly impossible balance between low-maintenance and romantic lies in our slow cookers. Slow-cooker hot chocolate is incredibly low-effort, but it still feels more exciting than a powdered microwave drink. Not only does it call for fresher ingredients, but it also gives you the chance to explore less conventional flavor combinations.
And since it takes a few hours (rather than a few seconds), it forces you to let some real anticipation build as you wait for your drink to come together. It invites you to count down the minutes, to imagine the decadent flavor that awaits you, to dream about—and drool about—how great that drink is going to taste the moment you finally get your hands on it. Undoubtedly more romantic than hitting a couple buttons on your microwave, no?
Read on for our 10 favorite slow-cooker hot chocolate recipes—including one spiked with Baileys.
Thick and Creamy Slow-Cooker Hot Chocolate
The Hero Ingredient: Chopped dark chocolate will lend your slow-cooker hot chocolate a decadence you haven’t experienced if you’ve thus far relied on the powdered stuff. Diethood’s Katerina recommends using 71% cocoa, but you can go darker or lighter as you see fit.
Pro Tip: This recipe recommends shaving a little dark chocolate over the top of your drink once you’re finished. While it may be tempting to omit this step, remember: You’ve already whipped up genuinely homemade hot chocolate, and you already have the dark chocolate on-hand. Why not take an extra minute to shave a little over your whipped cream? You’ll thank yourself once you see the final result.
Why We Love It: This slow-cooker hot chocolate recipe feels gourmet without asking you to do much. It invites you to indulge in a truly decadent drink without expending a ton of extra effort—and that is a beautiful thing.
Baileys Irish Cream Hot Chocolate
The Hero Ingredient: Baileys Irish Cream takes this delightful drink to new levels of rich decadence—and it definitely lends a little wintry romance.
Pro Tip: If you’re not a Baileys fan, you can easily swap in another liquor. Your swap doesn’t even have to be as sugary-sweet as Baileys, as long as you don’t mind a little bite.
Why We Love It: What’s delicious, easy to make, and tons of fun? This boozy recipe. It's sure to become a favorite in your rotation, whether you’re whipping it up for parties or simply for yourself.
Slow-Cooker Hot Chocolate
The Recipe: Slow-Cooker Hot Chocolate by Hello Glow
The Hero Ingredient: Cayenne pepper adds a surprising dose of spice to this recipe. The result is a drink that’s dynamic, enticing, and indulgent all at once.
Pro Tip: If you prefer your sweet with a side of salty, up the “pinch of sea salt” this recipe calls for to taste.
Why We Love It: Spice is a thing that all too rarely makes its way into chocolate treats, and every time it does, it’s delightful. This recipe makes the most of that no-fail combination—and tops it off with sea salt and cinnamon.
Crockpot Hot Chocolate
The Recipe: Crockpot Hot Chocolate by The Recipe Rebel
The Hero Ingredient: Half-and-half thickens this hot chocolate so it’s even richer than it would be if you just used milk.
Pro Tip: This recipe tells you to top your hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, but we recommend throwing them in a little earlier. So long as you don’t mind a bit of a gooey-delicious mess, they’ll add texture and flavor to your slow cooker hot chocolate in equal measure.
Why We Love It: This slow-cooker hot chocolate recipe is an absolute classic. Chocolate, whole milk, cream, marshmallows—really, what more could you ask for?
Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate
The Hero Ingredient: Pumpkin pie spice adds a little complexity to the drink, without moving it too thoroughly in the pumpkin direction. Paired only with traditional hot chocolate ingredients, your pumpkin spice won’t change the texture of your drink the same way it would if you combined it with canned pumpkin.
Pro Tip: Though pumpkin spice may feel a little fall-exclusive, this drink is too delicious to confine to a couple months each year. Whip it up whenever you want to, and call it cinnamon-nutmeg hot chocolate if you can’t bear to do the pumpkin thing after November.
Why We Love It: We love an out-of-the-box twist on a classic hot chocolate recipe—especially when that twist enhances rather than overwhelms. This drink combines tried-and-true hot cocoa flavors with trendy pumpkin spice to create a masterpiece that will prove irresistible, even to those who quietly resent the “PSL” movement.
Slow-Cooker Hot Chocolate
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate by Cafe Delites
The Hero Ingredient: Vanilla extract rounds out the sweetness of this classic drink, making sure sugar isn’t the only thing offering its sweet flavor.
Pro Tip: For a lighter hot chocolate, opt for the recipe’s recommended evaporated milk. For a thicker, more indulgent hot chocolate, try swapping it for heavy cream instead.
Why We Love It: If you’re looking for a tried-and-true slow-cooker hot chocolate recipe in its most classic iteration, you’ve found it. This drink combines milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla with two kinds of chocolate to create a hot chocolate perfect for sipping on a snow day.
Slow-Cooker Strawberry Hot Chocolate
The Hero Ingredient: Strawberries (fresh or frozen) amplify the berry flavor (and pink hue) in this creamy-sweet drink.
Pro Tip: Keep this recipe in mind for any occasion that could use a splash of pink (think Valentine's Day and anniversaries).
Why We Love It: On those days when you're craving something sweet and warm (but perhaps a little lighter than hot cocoa), this recipe fits the bill. Just add strawberry milk, heavy cream, sugar, and white chocolate chips to a slow cooker, then allow to simmer for six hours. Before serving, blend fresh strawberries with some of the warmed hot chocolate mixture, then add it back into the pot, stir to combine, and ladle into mugs.
Periodically give your hot chocolate a stir as it simmers in the slow cooker. This will help prevent any ingredients from settling and burning at the bottom of the pot.
Slow-Cooker Coconut Hot Chocolate
The Hero Ingredient: Sweetened condensed milk brings a velvety-smooth texture and depth of flavor to this hot chocolate recipe.
Pro Tip: Toast the shredded coconut in a small saucepan to give it a toasty flavor and appetizing golden-brown color.
Why We Love It: This recipe is gloriously decadent and over the top (think of it as a sippable candy bar). The drinking chocolate relies on condensed milk, full-fat coconut milk, and high-quality dark chocolate for its richness, while shredded coconut, whipped cream, and marshmallows are a treat for the eyes and the taste buds.
Slow-Cooker Vanilla Mocha Hot Cocoa
The Hero Ingredient: Instant coffee deepens the flavor of the drink while simultaneously making the chocolate notes more pronounced.
Pro Tip: For a sweeter drink, use milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet or dark chocolate.
Why We Love It: Because this recipe calls for maple syrup in lieu of sugar, it's less sweet than some other recipes. That's not to suggest that it's not indulgent, however: Whole milk, cocoa powder, semi-sweet or dark chocolate, vanilla extract, instant coffee powder, and a pinch of salt combine to create a sip that's as rich as it is warming.
Slow-Cooker Andes Mint Hot Chocolate
The Hero Ingredient: Andes crème de menthe baking chips work overtime to infuse this recipe with the flavors of chocolate and mint.
Pro Tip: Top every mugful with a mountain of whipped cream and a sprinkle of baking chips.
Why We Love It: This hot chocolate is everything we love about Andes candies (that is, the smooth texture and the irresistible combo of mint and chocolate) in drinkable form. Bonus: The recipe only takes five minutes to prep.