How to Keep Hot Chocolate Warm Outside

Hot chocolate drink with marshmallows in Christmas mugs. Christmas, New Year’s decoration.

Hot chocolate may be one of the greatest drinks ever created. There is a great feeling of being nestled up with all your friends and family to enjoy a nice hot cup of chocolate. But what if you want to go outside and enjoy it in the beauty of the snow? Pretty soon, your hot chocolate will not be so hot.

Hot chocolate can be kept warm outside by putting it in a Crockpot, using a stainless steel double-walled thermos, an igloo cooler, a thermos coffee carafe, a coffee dispenser with a pump, or even just a plain styrofoam cup. These items will help keep hot chocolate hot when in the cold outdoors.

Whether you are keeping your hot chocolate warm for a neighborhood activity, or you just do not want your fingers to freeze off while you are playing in the snow, these methods will help you keep your hot chocolate warm for as long as necessary.

Make your decision easy. Check out our YouTube video where we put several containers to the test. We let hot chocolate sit out overnight and tested all of them to see how hot they stayed!


Hot chocolate has been a staple ever since it was invented in Mexico. The roots of hot chocolate can be traced all the way back to 500 BC. The Mayans started the hot chocolate craze by mixing together ground-up cocoa seeds with cornmeal, chili peppers, and hot water. This may not sound like the tastiest thing in the world, but this recipe is the foundation of all the hot chocolate recipes that we know and love today.

When the conquistador Hernan Cortez brought cocoa beans to Europe in the 1500s, he set off a revolution that would change hot chocolate for the better. The drink became popular with the upper class in Spain. The drink was served hot, sweetened, and the chili peppers were removed.

Eventually, it made its way to Holland, where they turned the cocoa beans into cocoa powder, which enabled it to mix better with water or milk. From there it was a smooth transition to add sugar and make milk chocolate. This enabled it to become the tasty treat that is a part of many outdoor activities like ice skating or sitting around a winter bonfire.


A great way to keep your hot chocolate warm while outside is by storing it in a Crockpot like this one from Amazon. This versatile cookware is capable of so many things. You can use it to keep your hot chocolate warm or even prepare the drink right in the Crockpot itself. One of the only downsides to a Crockpot is that you will need an electrical outlet. Without an electrical outlet, your Crockpot will be pretty useless. Another thing to consider when using a Crockpot is the mess. You can not just pour out the hot chocolate into the cup that you are using. You will have to use a ladle of some sort to dish it out. These can be a bit messy if you are inexperienced.

This is probably one of the better options if you are trying to serve hot chocolate to a lot of people. A large Crockpot like this one will hold about 10 quartz (320 oz) of any liquid. A packet of instant hot chocolate mix will make about 8 ounces of hot chocolate. This means that a large Crockpot will hold about 40 servings, give or take. It also has a steady source of heat, while other methods just try to contain the already present heat. There are better methods of serving hot chocolate if you are looking for more personalized options.

A Crockpot will keep your hot chocolate warm. The low setting on most Crockpots is set at around 190°F (87° Celsius) and most hot drinks are served around 180°F (82° Celsius). Try to keep your Crockpot on this setting. The high setting on most Crockpots is around 300°F (148° Celsius). This is way too hot for someone to drink and will likely burn their mouth. Not to mention that the high heat will make the chocolate denature and you will not be able to enjoy a great-tasting drink once that happens.

Stainless Steel Double-Walled Thermos

The stainless steel double-walled thermos is one of the greatest inventions for the working person. It has enabled people to get their cup of joe while it is still piping hot. A stainless steel double-walled thermos will work perfectly to keep your hot chocolate warm while it faces cold outside temperatures.

This method of keeping your hot chocolate warm is probably best for you and another friend. This is not going to be too useful if you want to serve it to a bunch of people. A standard-sized thermos is 24 oz. A packet of hot chocolate mix will create 8 ounces of hot chocolate, meaning you will be able to get 3 servings in a regular double-walled thermos.

These double-walled thermoses may be a bit of a mystery. They keep your drink warm, but how exactly does it happen? With a small lesson in thermodynamics, you will understand it a lot better. Conduction is the way that heat spreads throughout things, but it only happens when two things touch. An example of this would be with ice cubes. When you hold an ice cube, your hand gets cold and the ice cube starts to melt. This is because the heat from your hand transferred to the ice cube and made it start melting. This is the process of induction working.

Stainless steel double-walled thermoses like this one gallon jug work by countering the effects of conduction. That is what the vacuum-sealed part of the double-walled thermos does. It is sealed in the thermos in such a way that it does not touch anything else, making the heat stay in the hot chocolate. This will keep your hot chocolate warm for up to 6 hours all by itself. No heat should escape by induction, and you will have great quality hot chocolate that goes down smoothly.

Coffee Dispenser with a Pump

Close up of happy young woman drinking hot chocolate from thermos or tumbler in autumn park
Close up of happy young woman drinking hot chocolate from thermos or tumbler in autumn park

A coffee dispenser with a pump is another great way to hold onto your hot chocolate. These dispensers can often be found in hotels and other venues that have a lot of people coming in and out. They are insulated to keep your drinks hot. However, they will not keep your hot chocolate drink warm forever, unfortunately. The maximum time that these guys will keep your beverage warm is about 8 hours. This should be enough for most events and places, but if you need the drink to stay hot for longer than that, you can just switch out the leftover hot chocolate for fresh prepared hot chocolate.

A regular-sized coffee dispenser with a pump will hold about 102 ounces of liquid. This means that a dispenser like this will hold 12.5 servings of hot chocolate. If you are using it for an event that has lots of people, this may not be the right container for you. The downside to these dispensers is that you’ll have to refill the container for about every 12 people. If you are at a more low-key event with sparse numbers, this may be the best way that you keep your hot chocolate warm outside.

Igloo Cooler

Giant, round coolers have been around for a long time. They are usually found near sporting events, construction sites, or anywhere else where there are lots of thirsty people. They are traditionally used to keep liquids cool, rather than hot, however, these coolers work just as well to keep things warm. Be wary if you need to keep this hot chocolate warm for a long time, however. These coolers are not specifically designed to keep things warm, so some heat will escape over time.

The downside to these round igloos coolers is that the maximum time you can expect to keep liquids hot is about 4 hours. After that, you will notice a steep decline in the temperature of your beverage.

A large, round igloo cooler will hold about 5 gallons. This is 640 ounces. A single packet of hot chocolate mix will make about 8 oz of hot chocolate drinks. This means that a 5-gallon Igloo cooler will hold about 80 servings. This is an ideal way to keep lots of hot chocolate warm for a small period of time. Youth groups and other types of events that will serve lots of people over a short period of time will most successfully utilize this container.

Thermos Coffee Carafe

A thermos coffee carafe is a great way to hold hot chocolate. Check out this one on Amazon. These were designed with keeping things hot in mind. They are just like a regular coffee pot that you would find at any diner but insulated to keep your hot chocolate warm. The downside to one of these is that they are not clear. You’ll only know when to restock the hot chocolate within by shaking the pot. There’s just no other way to tell! However, if you need to keep something hot for a long time, these guys should keep your hot chocolate warm for up to 12 hours.

Thermos coffee carafes are relatively small in size. The average that you will be able to find is about 64oz. This means that a thermos coffee carafe will hold about 8.5 servings of hot chocolate. This is not an ideal amount of hot chocolate for a large group. If you have a small get-together with some of your friends, then this carafe will work just fine. Consider using a different container if you are trying to serve lots of hot chocolate to a big group.

Styrofoam Cups

This is the classic way to keep any liquid hot. Styrofoam cups are a great way of keeping your hot chocolate hot when you’re outside. These cups have been around for a long time and will probably still be around for much longer. If you are looking for something that will only keep your beverage hot then you have got the right container.

Styrofoam cups are great at keeping things insulated and warm for about half an hour. They are good at what they do, but they are just not as good as keeping things warm as an actual heated container or even a thermos. If you are outside in the shivering cold, they will also keep your hands relatively warm. The heat of the liquid in the cup will seep out into your hands if they are clasped around the cup.

All of these options above are great choices for keeping your hot chocolate warm before being served. The styrofoam cup will keep the hot chocolate warm just long enough for you to have it served and drink it.

Most styrofoam cups are made to be just large enough to hold a single serving of hot chocolate from a packet. The downside to this is if that is all you have, you may have to refill it several times before you can drink your fill.

ItemDuration of WarmthAmount Held
CrockpotAs long as you have electricity40 servings

Stainless steel double-walled thermos
up to 6 hours3 servings
Coffee dispenser with a pumpup to 8 hours12.5 servings
Igloo coolerup to 4 hours80 servings
Thermos coffee carafeup to 12 hours8.5 servings
Styrofoam cupup to half an hour1 serving

The Mayans were certainly on to something when they started mixing their cocoa beans with various ingredients and serving it cold. They never could have imagined the impact on the world that they would have with their hot chocolate. Perhaps their most beloved invention of all was their chocolate drink. If they were to look at what we have made with their simple invention, they might be horrified, but perhaps they might think that we had made their simple drink into something extraordinary.

It does not matter what you serve your hot chocolate in, it just matters how you serve it. People will gather around and happily partake of your hot chocolate as long as it is warm, sweet, and suited to a cold day. A thermos, an igloo cooler, a styrofoam cup, a Crockpot, or a thermal coffee carafe can all work just fine. All of these things will help you serve hot, hot chocolate and have a smile while doing it.

Anna Silver

Anna Silver is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to new go-to original recipes. Inspired by her grandmother’s love of cooking, Anna has a passion for treating the people in her life to delicious homemade food and loves to share her family recipes with the rest of the world.

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