This Instant Pot Hot Chocolate is perfect for holidays and gatherings. It’s rich and chocolaty and stays warm in the Instant Pot until you’re ready to serve! Really, it’s super simple.
I love using the Instant Pot for warm big-batch drinks. There’s nothing to it!
There’s no need to hover over the stove when making hot chocolate in an Instant Pot. You only need to stir it occasionally and it’s warm and ready when your guests arrive.
If you like the hot chocolate theme and are looking for party favors, try these Vegan Hot Chocolate Bombs. They’re amazingly good and handy for favors.
If you prefer white chocolate, you might try these Halloween Hot Chocolate Bombs. Just leave the eyes off and you’ve got magical white holiday hot chocolate bombs. 😉
If you’ve got a crowd of family and friends for the holidays, this hot chocolate recipe makes it easy to put smiles on faces.
- Unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Whole milk (you can use half whipping or heavy cream for a richer version)
How to Make:
- Put the water, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla and salt in the pot of the Instant Pot.
- Select ‘Saute’ and whisk it all together until it forms a paste.
- Stir in the milk, stirring occasionally until it’s warm.
- Select ‘Keep Warm’ until ready to serve.
- Top with whipped cream.
That’s it! It’s super easy to make.
So what’s the point of mixing the first few ingredients together before adding the milk?
If you’ve ever mixed cocoa powder together with a bunch of milk, then you know that it takes a while to get the cocoa powder dissolved. You stand there and whisk away.
But when you use my method, it creates a paste and the cocoa powder is quickly dissolved. Then add your milk!
No whisking is required.
Why use an Instant Pot?
It makes it so easy and frees up my time to make these Peppermint Chocolate Puddle Cookies!
No longer do I have to stand over the stove or stress about making hot chocolate when the guests have arrived. Nope!
I can relax knowing that I can make the hot chocolate ahead of time, and the Instant Pot will keep it warm so everything just runs more smoothly.
Plus, there’s enough hot chocolate for everyone! 😁
How to store leftover hot chocolate:
If you have leftovers, no problem! Just allow it to cool, cover it and store it in the fridge for 4 days.
To reheat it, pop it in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds. Or you can reheat it on the stovetop. But don’t bring it to a boil, just heat it enough to feel warm.
Natural Cocoa Powder vs Dutch Processed
The differences between natural cocoa powder and Dutch-processed can be confusing.
Both are unsweetened cocoa powder, but they have two different chemical properties and are used in different ways.
Firstly, cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans. They are first fermented, dried, roasted then cracked into fragments. Then they are pressed and turned into chocolate paste. Then dried and ground into unsweetened cocoa powder.
Natural cocoa is the natural powder from roasted cocoa beans. It hasn’t been neutralized, so it’s more acidic and bitter. It’s got a very strong flavor, more like concentrated chocolate, and it is often in recipes that call for baking soda. These two ingredients react with each other making baked goods rise.
Dutch-process cocoa powder (invented by, you guessed it, the Dutch) starts out with cocoa beans being washed in an alkaline solution of potassium carbonate. This process neutralizes the acidity making it neural and won’t react to baking soda. It’s normally paired with baking powder in baked goods.
Neutralizing the cocoa makes it dark in color with a more mellow flavor which dissolves easily into liquids. Which is why it’s best for hot chocolate!
If you live in the US, the cocoa powder you normally see is natural – like Hershey’s or Ghirardelli. The flavors will vary depending on the brand. But these two brands also have Dutch-process cocoa. Just make sure you select the right one! 😁
So for this recipe, select the Dutch-process cocoa powder. It’s less acidic and bitter and perfect for hot chocolate. If you can’t find any at your local grocery store, you can use Hershey’s Special Dark with similar results!
How to make it ahead of time:
This stays well in the fridge for up to 4 days so it’s easy to make ahead.
You can also freeze it. I poured it into empty milk containers and then froze. Then I thawed overnight in the fridge.
If you want to prepare hot chocolate powder: mix together the cocoa powder, granulated sugar and salt from this recipe. Mix it up and store it in an airtight container or bag until you feel the urge to cozy up to a warm drink.
When you’re ready to make it, add 4 teaspoons of water, 2/3 cup of milk, 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of the powdered mix. Whisk until combined and heat on the stovetop over medium-heat until warm enough.
Come to think of it, you could make a big batch of the dry mixture and put it in small glass containers with a ribbon and a recipe tag for small gifts for the holidays.
Can I use a different sweetener?
I’ve only used granulated sugar and coconut sugar. Maple sugar would work, but that would be a terrible use of such a flavorful and expensive sugar, as you wouldn’t be able to taste the maple.
If you have another sweetener that you like that works as a 1:1 sub for granulated sugar, then it’d likely work well here.
What if I don’t have an Instant Pot?
You can of course still make this! Just make the paste, and then add the milk and heat over medium-high until it’s hot enough for your liking. (But not boiling!)
Can I do a quick release?
Here’s a tip – never do a quick release with hot chocolate in the Instant Pot! I originally tried the Pressure setting for 0 minutes, then natural release for 10 minutes, then manual release.
Some Instant Pot hot chocolate recipes actually say to do that. But now there’s not a huge, disgusting brown smear on our wall.
So no – don’t do a quick release!
Measurements for a smaller batch on the stovetop:
If you don’t need a large batch of hot chocolate, here’s what you need to make 2 small servings or 1 large one.
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk (you can use half whipping or heavy cream for a richer version)
If you like a seasonal twist, you can try this Vegan Pumpkin Hot Chocolate! It’s got pumpkin spice and maple syrup and is terrific for two.
Different flavor options
I love adding ½ teaspoon of peppermint extract to the full batch. When buying the extract, make sure to get peppermint and not mint extract, which has more of a spearmint taste.
Each brand is different so you may want to use ¼ teaspoon, taste and then add another ¼ teaspoon.
The same is true if you use other extracts. I think almond or orange would also be amazing, but to be on the safe side, add ¼ teaspoon and then add more to taste.
You might need as much as 1 teaspoon, depending on the brand and how strong you want the flavor to be.
Booze it up
For the adults, a bit of added booze is quite nice in hot chocolate. My favorite is Baileys. You can just pour in ¼-½ cup of whatever you like once the hot chocolate is ready.
My other favorites are rum, amaretto and Kahlua.
Make a Hot Chocolate Bar:
I was really inspired by the Little Spice Jar’s presentation on how to have a Hot Chocolate Bar Party.
Setting out different toppings like peppermint sticks, cinnamon sticks, and of course, whipped cream makes it even more delightful.
Of course, I’d want Homemade Healthier Marshmallows and chocolate shavings. But sea salt and toffee bits also sound amazing.
And if you really want to go all out, adding Vegan Caramel Sauce or dark chocolate syrup in your mug would be divine!
So hand out those mugs, serve up some luscious hot chocolate and let the guests design their special treat.
Other holiday goodies:
- This Protein Nutella Hot Chocolate is made for two and adds a little protein to a wonderful drink. The kids will certainly like it!
- This Crispy Peppermint White Chocolate Bark is a perfect addition to your cookie tray. It’s topped with crushed peppermint candy canes and also makes wonderful gifts.
- This Candy Cane Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream is so fun! It’s vanilla ice cream with candy cane pieces and chocolate on top!
I hope you all enjoy your holiday events and this Instant Pot Hot Chocolate! If you make it leave a comment below and tell me what you think. Enjoy!
Instant Pot Hot Chocolate
- 1/2 cup (120ml) water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (58 grams) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups (946ml) whole milk (you can use half whipping or heavy cream for a richer version)
- Put the water, vanilla, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in the pot of the Instant Pot.
- Whisk it all together until it forms a paste.
- Stir in the milk/cream.
- Turn on the Sautee function.
- Stir occasionally until the hot chocolate is warm.
- Hit cancel and select Keep Warm until ready to serve.
- Top with whipped cream.