Hot Chocolate Board

Set up a Hot Chocolate “Charcuterie” Board for your parties this season. They’re wonderful for kids to create their own hot cocoa creations, and adults can enjoy boozy mix-ins, too. Set up a station with all the toppings and a big batch of hot chocolate to share, and let everyone go wild for this easy party idea!

A hot cocoa charcuterie board on a blue countertop next to a slow cooker full of cocoa

Hot Chocolate Charcuterie Board

Whenever we have friends over in the wintertime, I love making hot chocolate for the kids and adults alike. My older daughter has gotten in on this, too, and now insists that she will make cocoa for friends whenever they visit.

Hot chocolate is always a party pleaser. I mean, who doesn’t love it?! Not anyone I know.

One of my favorite ways to serve it is with a big Hot Chocolate Charcuterie Board full of toppings and mix-ins for guests to customize their own mug.

What is a hot chocolate board?

A hot chocolate “charcuterie” board is a wooden board or tray topped with all the fixings for the perfect mug of hot chocolate.

You can add anything your heart desires: marshmallows, candy canes, even mini liqueur bottles are welcome here.

Now let me be clear, there’s no actual charcuterie here. You will NOT find meat like salami and prosciutto on a hot cocoa board. (But if you’d like to have that on hand, too, don’t miss this tutorial for the perfect holiday cheese board.)

This party idea gets the name “charcuterie board” because it’s similar to the grab-and-go nature of meat and cheese boards.

It’s also like a hot chocolate bar, which involves putting all the toppings and mix-ins into bowls right on the countertop (or a table.)

The great thing about the board, though, is that it doesn’t need much space at all.

Another great thing about hot chocolate boards is that they’re mobile. You can put it on a low table (like a coffee table) for the very little ones to get in on the decorating fun, then move it back up to the countertop for everyone else.

Why I love hot chocolate boards:

Hot chocolate boards are so fun for a holiday party or any party in the winter months.

Guests are going to fall in love with them because…

  • Everyone loves hot chocolate, and they will love customizing their own mug!
  • Hot chocolate boards are an easy way to set up a bevy of hot chocolate toppings for guests to choose from.
  • They work well in both large and small spaces, making them easy to set up in any home.

You can use homemade hot chocolate with this board, but you could also use hot chocolate mix if that’s easier for you.

More hot chocolate recipes to try: Vanilla Hot Chocolate | Pomegranate White Hot Chocolate | Peppermint Schnapps Hot Chocolate

Ingredients in bowls to make a hot chocolate charcuterie board on a blue countertop

What you need to make this recipe:

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  • Big board, tray or platter
  • Small serving bowl for whipped cream
  • Small bowls or jars for liquids like chocolate syrup and caramel sauce
  • Slow cooker (or large pot on the stove) to keep hot chocolate warm
  • Ladle for the hot chocolate
  • Tongs and serving spoons for guests to use to grab and scoop items off the board
  • Spoons for stirring
  • Mugs

Let’s talk ingredients!

In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A big batch of slow cooker hot cocoa (which is made with milk, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract)
  • Chocolate chips — any size of chips will do. White chocolate chips are a fun addition, too.
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Peppermint crunch baking chips
  • Chocolate rolled wafer cookies — you could also use Pocky chocolate-covered biscuit sticks or any other long cookie that doubles as a stirrer.
  • Mini stroopwafels — stroopwafels are wafer sandwich cookies with a caramel filling that get all soft and melty when dipped into a hot drink like coffee or cocoa!
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Caramel sauce
  • Pecan pieces — or another nut of your choosing!
  • Sweetened whipped cream
  • Mini marshmallows — you can get the plain white kind OR the colored kind for the kiddos.
  • Candy canes or crushed peppermints

You can make this into anything you want! My ingredients above are merely suggestions, so pick and choose what you think would work best.

Substitutions

For a dairy-free option, check out this dairy-free hot chocolate for suggestions on making hot chocolate with water or non-dairy milk.

If anyone in your party is sensitive or allergic to gluten, you may want to keep the cookies separate from the other toppings and ask guests to pick up cookies last so there is no cross-contamination.

It would be a good idea to have out some gluten-free cookies like Christmas rice krispie treats for those folks, as well.

Best hot chocolate toppings and mix-ins

You can have so much fun with hot chocolate toppings. My ideas above are what I always use for my hot cocoa boards, but the ideas are limitless.

Here are some more ideas:

  • Spreads like peanut butter, Nutella or cookie butter are great for stirring into hot cocoa.
  • Sprinkles are always fun for kids. Chocolate jimmies and hundreds-and-thousands in festive colors are both great ideas. 
  • Ice cream is a fun topper for hot chocolate. Keep a glass of water handy to rinse off the ice cream scoop* (affiliate link) between servings. Try plain vanilla or something chocolatey, like fudge brownie ice cream.
  • Mini bottles of alcohol for the 21+ will be most welcome if your crowd is into that. A few ideas to try are Kahlua, Baileys, Rumchata, Fireball, Jameson, bourbon, brandy, spiced rum or coconut rum.
  • Ground spices like ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg or even gingerbread spice* (affiliate link) are fun to sprinkle on top of whipped cream or marshmallows
  • Candy, especially the chocolate variety, is wonderful for toppings or mixing in. Try cut-up Snickers bars, peanut butter cups, and Almond Joys, as well as crushed candy canes at the holidays.

How to set up a Hot Cocoa Charcuterie Board

Setting up your own Hot Cocoa Charcuterie Board is easy.

Get out a big board, platter or tray. You can even use two if needed to keep items separate, if allergies are a concern.

Figure out what the biggest items are for the platter, and put those down first.

For the one you see in these photos, the bowl of whipped cream, stroopwafels and pinch bowls containing the drizzleable toppings of caramel and chocolate sauces were placed on the board first.

Next, I filled in some of the negative space with marshmallows, various chocolate chips and nuts.


If you want to arrange cookies in a row like I did with the here wafer cookies, put those down next.

Finish the board with the candy canes.

Pro tip!

You can put your cocoa board together a few hours ahead of your party, but make sure to leave spots for anything that should be refrigerated, like whipped cream. Use a similarly sized bowl as a placeholder, then swap them out at the start of the party.

Get the hot chocolate ready and place it in a slow cooker near the board. It needs about 1-2 hours to cook, or you can prepare it another way and add it to the slow cooker to keep warm.

When the party begins, let your guests fill their mugs with cocoa and decorate them to their heart’s content.

Three mugs of hot chocolate next to a hot cocoa board

Hot Chocolate Bar vs. Hot Chocolate Board

If a board isn’t an option for you, you can still set up a successful hot chocolate bar instead.

It works similarly — just set everything out in bowls with spoons next to the hot cocoa and let guests build their dream mugs.

Hot chocolate bars might work a little better for bigger parties to prevent a bottleneck. That way the toppings can be more spread out, and people can move through them more like a buffet than a station.

How to store leftover hot chocolate

If you wind up with leftovers, no sweat. You can enjoy it again later!

Let it cool and store it in an airtight liquid container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second bursts in an individual mug. If you want to reheat a large portion of the cocoa, add it back to the slow cooker to warm up.

What to serve with hot cocoa

Hot chocolate goes with everything in the wintertime.

Set out a few kinds of cookies, such as Hot Cocoa Cookies and a non-chocolate cookie like Christmas Funfetti Cookies.

Something snacky — like a bowl of nuts, Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites or Chex Mix Puppy Chow — is great to have too.

A sweet dip like Chocolate Cheesecake Dip is always a hit.

Don’t forget to have some savory items available too for anyone to combat their sweet tooth, like a veggie tray with Garlic Hummus or a dip like Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Close up of ingredients on a hot chocolate charcuterie board

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

  • Ask guests to bring their own mug! This is a great way to cut down on dishes. Make sure to clear the sink before the party so they can rinse them out before heading home.
  • Ask guests to bring a different hot chocolate topping or mix-in to the party and build the board as guests arrive. This can help keep costs down, too.
  • For bigger parties, you might want to have extra hot chocolate cooking in slow cookers in another room. When one runs out, then you have a backup. (Ask to borrow a friend’s slow cooker — no need to buy a new one just for the occasion!)
  • Send everyone home with a jar of peppermint hot cocoa mix or festive chocolate spoons to enjoy at home and remember the occasion.
Close up of hot chocolate topped with various toppings next to a hot cocoa board

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you put on a hot cocoa board?

Hot chocolate boards are a great way to present a variety of toppings, such as marshmallows, whipped cream, sprinkles, cookies and candy. Keep the hot chocolate in a separate vessel such as a big pot or slow cooker so it doesn’t melt any of the toppings.

Does chocolate go on a charcuterie board?

Yes! Chocolate is a great sweet treat to pair with savory meat and cheese on charcuterie boards. You can even make an entirely chocolate-focused board, such as a hot cocoa board, filled with toppings for hot chocolate.

What compliments hot chocolate?

Hot chocolate goes with so many great flavors, such as peanut butter, mint, white chocolate, cinnamon, butterscotch, caramel and marshmallows.

How can I make hot chocolate more interesting?

To make hot chocolate more interesting, you can add other flavors such as peppermint or caramel. You can also have fun with toppings. Add anything from whipped cream and sprinkles to marshmallows and candy canes.

Is hot chocolate nicer with milk or water?

Whole milk is thicker than water. In hot chocolate, milk gives it a much silkier texture. However, water can be a great dairy-free option.

Quick tips and tricks to making the best hot cocoa board

  • Vary up the toppings based on what you like and what your guests like!
  • Make sure to provide a variety of toppings and mix-ins, especially some interesting and creative ingredients, to get guests excited about making their mug of hot chocolate.
  • You can serve a hot cocoa board any time! They are especially great for holiday parties, kid-centric winter gatherings or even Valentine’s Day.

More board ideas:

More hot chocolate recipes:

Close up of ingredients on a hot chocolate charcuterie board
Yield: 10 servings

Hot Chocolate Board

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Set up a Hot Chocolate “Charcuterie” Board for your parties this season. They’re wonderful for kids to create their own hot cocoa creations, and adults can enjoy boozy mix-ins, too. Set up a station with all the toppings and a big batch of hot chocolate to share, and let everyone go wild for this easy party idea!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Get out a big board, platter or tray. You can even use two if needed to keep items separate (e.g. if allergies are a concern).
  2. Figure out what the biggest items are for the platter, and put those down first. (Honestly, though, you should follow your heart with arranging your board.)
  3. For the one you see in these pictures, the bowl of whipped cream, stroopwafels and pinch bowls containing the drizzleable toppings of caramel and chocolate sauces were placed on the board first.
  4. Next, fill in some of the negative space with marshmallows, various chocolate chips and nuts.
  5. Fnish the board with the candy canes and the rolled chocolate wafer cookies.
  6. Get the hot chocolate ready and place it in a slow cooker near the board. It needs about 1-2 hours to cook, or you can prepare it another way and add it to the slow cooker to keep warm.
  7. When the party begins, let your guests fill their mugs with cocoa and decorate them to their heart’s content.

Notes

*The nutrition facts do NOT include the toppings, as those will vary per person.

You can put your cocoa board together a few hours ahead of your party, but make sure to leave spots for anything that should be refrigerated, like whipped cream. Use a similarly sized bowl as a placeholder, then swap them out at the start of the party.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 121Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 160mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 20gProtein: 2g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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