Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe for a Crowd

My homemade hot chocolate recipe for a party is rich and creamy, and tastes like pudding! Make this decadent drink from scratch with chocolate, cream, and sweetened condensed milk, for holidays or a hot cocoa bar. Use the stovetop or slow cooker.

white mug filled with hot chocolate topped with big and small marshmallows, on wood table.

Easy Large Batch Hot Chocolate Recipe

Want to know how to make REAL hot chocolate? I’m here to tell you it will change your whole view of the classic comfort beverage, and it’s SO EASY to make!

  • This homemade hot chocolate recipe is rich, creamy and delicious. Just add your ingredients together and let the stove or slow cooker do the work for you.
  • This is a big batch perfect for a party or casual celebrations. But, you could cut the recipe in half for a smaller group.
  • It’s a great hot beverage for the holidays and seasonal gatherings. Share it with friends and enjoy the accolades when they tell you how good it is!
big batch of hot chocolate in white tureen with ladle, surrounded by filled mugs and marshmallows and cookies.

PARTY TIP: If you cook this on the stove, you can transfer it to a crockpot to keep it warm.

How to Serve Hot Chocolate At a Party

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There are a few different ways to serve hot chocolate for a party crowd. The length of time it will stay hot will vary according to the method.

  • Keep a large pot on the stove.
  • Use a slow cooker on low or warm setting, depending on how hot your model runs.
  • I have a couple of these white thermos carafes that look pretty on a hot chocolate bar. Easy to pour and the white goes with all types of décor. These are also pretty and a little more modern and stylized.
  • Pour it into a ceramic soup tureen and use a ladle to scoop it into cups.
  • Serve in batches using a china coffee pot or vintage hot chocolate pot. You’ll need to refill the pot as necessary, but the “pretty” factor is worth it.
  • Use a large chafing dish with sterno canned heat, on a buffet table. Use a ladle to serve.
  • Use a stainless steel thermal server for convenience and to keep the hot chocolate hot!
wood table with white mugs and tureen filled with hot chocolate.

EXPERT TIP: Is your hot chocolate getting cold? No problem; add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for decadent milkshake style drink.

Keep it Warm Outside

There’s something so nostalgic about enjoying a cup of hot chocolate outside. Whether you’re sitting on the patio around a fire pit, going to an outdoor ice skating rink, skiing, playing in the snow, sledding, or having an old fashioned sleigh ride or hay ride, here’s how to keep it warm in hand.

  • This traditional thermos keeps it hot and adds the vintage look of plaid that we love.
  • Use disposable cups with corrugated hand grips and lids.
  • Bring along a travel mug to keep spills at bay.

EXPERT TIP: Warm up the inside of the serving container by pouring hot water into it and letting it sit for a few minutes. This will insure you’re not pouring the hot beverage into a cold vessel, so it stays hot longer.

How to Make Hot Chocolate

This recipe is as simple as adding ingredients into a pot or crockpot. Whichever method you use, it needs to be kept at a low temperature to insure you don’t scald the dairy products, or burn the chocolate.

baking chocolate bar on wood board, chopped up with big knife.

Ingredient Tips

  • Chocolate. Dark chocolate, bittersweet and semisweet are virtually the same. Just make sure you DON’T use sweetened candy bars or chips, or milk chocolate. Use a bag of baking chips or a baking bar and give it a rough chop so it melts easier.
  • Sweet condensed milk. This is a super concentrated sweet product. You don’t want to add anything to the recipe that will elevate the sugar level or it can be overkill.
  • Vanilla Extract. Add the vanilla at the end so it doesn’t dissolve and lose its flavor.
  • Salt. A little salt helps bring out the sweet chocolatey goodness.  

Substitutions & Variations

  • Use peppermint extract instead of vanilla.
  • Try almond extract as a substitute for the vanilla.
  • Add ¼ cup instant coffee or espresso powder along with the other ingredients.
  • Add some spicy heat with a little cayenne pepper, about 1 to 1¼ teaspoons.
  • Use whole milk instead of heavy cream. Note that any substitution here, or non-dairy substitute will alter the creaminess and taste of the finished drink.
overhead view of hot chocolate in white mug topped with big and small marshmallows.

Set up a Hot Cocoa Bar

Set up a hot chocolate bar with any of these add-ins and toppers.

  • Peppermint Schnapps
  • Kahlua
  • Baileys Irish Cream
  • Marshmallows – have a variety of sizes including miniature marshmallows, jumbo size, regular size. You can also get different shapes and flavors. Make them homemade or buy them.
  • Whipped Cream or Cool Whip topping is a delicious topper.
  • Chopped chocolate or shavings, or chocolate sprinkles.
  • Crushed Candy Canes.
  • Peppermint Sticks as a stir stick.
  • Cinnamon Sticks as a stir stick.
  • Crushed Cookie Crumbs – Oreos, Nutter Butters, or Biscoff cookies would be fantastic.
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Caramel drizzle
  • Flaked Finishing Salt
tall glass with frozen hot chocolate inside, topped with marshmallows and cool whip.

What to do With Leftover Hot Chocolate

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Reheat on the stove over low heat, or heat a cup at a time in the microwave for about a minute or until warm.

  • The best thing about storing leftovers in the fridge is that it will thicken slightly, and you can eat it with a spoon. It’s like pudding!
  • When the recipe is chilled completely you can make this frozen hot chocolate shake. It’s so good!

When to Serve It

This is a terrific drink for entertaining kids and adults alike. My family couldn’t stop raving about it.

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Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe

Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe

Yield: 18-20 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Make this large batch hot chocolate when you're entertaining a crowd. This homemade recipe is rich and indulgent and oh so chocolaty. Save some leftovers to make frozen hot chocolate desserts too!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound good quality dark chocolate pieces (or semi-sweet or bitter sweet)
  • 1/2 gallon half & half
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except Vanilla in a large stock pot and heat on low heat for about 45 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Heat for up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Do NOT put the lid on the pot or it will over heat and boil over.
  3. Stir in the vanilla after hot chocolate is melted and warm and you're ready to serve.

Notes

You can also make in a slow cooker. Add ingredients and heat over low for 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

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