I have a go-to hot chocolate recipe for my family.  It’s a modified version of one from the Best-Loved Slow Cooker Recipes book and it’s always a hit on snow days and special occasions.  So for our Christmas Bonfire & Carol Sing I knew I had to figure out how to make it for a crowd of 40-45 people.  I made 2 gallons (32 cups) and had a little less than a 1/2 gallon left over.  I’d rather have too much than too little, so I’m pretty happy with my calculations.

Having friends and family over on a cold winter's day? Serve up this crowd-sized hot chocolate and everyone will feel warm and toasty!


2 gallons whole milk, divided
2 cups cocoa powder
2 2/3 cups sugar
1-2 tbsp vanilla


Combine the cocoa power, sugar, and about 4 cups of the milk in a large pot.  Use an immersion blender (or just a hand mixer if you don’t have one) until you get a rich chocolatey syrup.  It won’t be as thick as the commercial brands, but it will taste about the same.  I use the same pot I plan to cook in, then tilt it a bit to get the blender fully immersed.  Actually, I forgot that the immersion was a key step in using an immersion blender and ended up with chocolate syrup all over.  Miss O thought it was hilarious.  Mr. O did not.

Pour in the rest of the milk and vanilla.  Stir to combine.

Cook on the lowest heat you can for 6 hours, stirring every half hour or so.  I was making Michigan Rock Cookies at the time, so I just stirred after each tray came out of the oven.  The lower the heat the more time you can let pass between stirs.

Serve piping hot in a 3-liter Airpot!  Refill the Airpot as needed.

This is such an easy way to provide something special for our guests, and I love the fact that it’s real food, not some processed powder in a giant plastic tub.

I recommend having lots of mix-ins available, too.  We had mini-marshmallows, candy cane pieces, caramel syrup, hazelnut syrup, Bailey’s and Kahlua.  Give it a stir every so often if you think of it so the chocolate doesn’t settle to the bottom.

I’ll also bring a carafe full of this hot cocoa to teachers at Miss O’s school as an extra thank you.  It’s always a big hit and there’s never any left.