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Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake {from scratch!}

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This Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake is made entirely from scratch in the crockpot! Warm chocolate cake with a gooey center, filled with dark chocolate chips and then topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream making a rich dessert that the entire family will love!

spoon scooping lava cake from a crockpot.

This post and my trip to Iowa was sponsored by Best Food Facts and the United Soybean Board, but as always, all of my opinions are my own.

Crockpot Chocolate Lava Cake

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know I was recently given the opportunity to travel to Iowa, thanks to Best Food Facts and the United Soybean Board, to learn about soybean sustainability and nutrition (how cool is my job?!).

I will be honest. I went in knowing very little about soy and most of it wasn’t favorable, but my eyes have been opened to all of its benefits. 

Soybean oil may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and is a rich source of omega-3s which affect cardiovascular health and may reduce blood pressure [learn more at Soy Connection].

During the trip, I learned so much about soy production and have a newfound respect for farmers and all that goes into bringing food to our tables.

collage of photos showing bloggers in front of world prize food hall & dishes made with tofu.
On the left are the bloggers I traveled with. Top right is sweet corn ice cream topped with pistachios (so good!). Bottom right is a crispy baked tofu salad we made.

I toured Struthers Farm in Collins, Iowa and heard from Dave Struthers who has an incredible family history with farming.

I visited the World Prize Food Hall of Laureates and learned about the work of Dr. Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the founder of the World Food Prize.

I met with Charlotte Rommereim, a registered dietitian, who was raised on a farm in South Dakota and truly knows the farm to fork lifestyle.

I had dinner with a group of local farmers that opened my eyes to so many things. I learned firsthand how passionate farmers are about what they do.

They spoke about organic farming versus conventional farming and all that goes into both (a great, non-biased resource for more information is Safe Fruits and Veggies) and how at the end of the day, we all want things to be safe and right for our loved ones.

Sustainability in Farming

Sustainability is a buzzword but to farmers, it is their way of life. It’s just considered good farming practice.

To farmers, sustainability is being more efficient in what they do. Making more with less. They strive to steward natural resources and improve water quality.

Dave Struthers, of Struthers Farm, spoke about his 1,100 acres that produces corn, soybeans, and raises hogs and cattle. I learned about cover crops (crops planted to cover the soil to prevent erosion, not to be harvested), no-till farming (less soil disturbance) and more. Every year farmers adjust to do things better.

collage showing dave struthers of struthers farm and on the right a soybean plant.
Dave Struthers of Struthers Farm holding a soybean plant.

What is vegetable oil made of?

Did you know that vegetable oil is extracted from seeds? Largely soybeans? Go check the vegetable oil ingredient list in your pantry. I’ll wait.

I don’t know why I never looked before, or thought about it, but vegetable oil is soybean oil, which is found in MANY of the food products you enjoy.

Today, I’m using it to help make a molten chocolate lava cake.

If you know me, you know how much I love chocolate cake…and my slow cooker. I combined the two to make my first ever slow cooker cake.

This easy cake recipe is made from scratch, makes its own fudge sauce, and is really the perfect dessert.

white bowl filled with gooey crockpot lava cake and vanilla ice cream.

Why you’ll love this Lava Cake Recipe

  • Easy Recipe – Even though it’s made from scratch, this decadent chocolate cake is made with pantry staples (no boxed cake mix needed!) that you likely have on hand.
  • Chocolate Lover’s Dream – There is so much chocolate goodness in this simple recipe – cocoa powder and chocolate chips make this gooey chocolate cake a favorite.
  • Simple Slow Cooker Dessert Recipe – The great thing about slow cooker desserts is that they’re very hands off. Pour everything into the slow cooker and let it do its thing.

Ingredients for this slow cooker lava cake

Below is a list of the simple ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

  • FLOUR – All purpose white flour is what I tested with.
  • BROWN SUGAR – You’ll need brown sugar for the cake mixture and the topping. I used light brown.
  • COCOA POWDER – Unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • BAKING POWDER – Baking powder is a leavening agent for rise.
  • SALT – Salt helps to enhance the flavor in chocolate cake.
  • MILK – I used 2% milk because that’s what we usually have on hand but whole milk will work as well.
  • OIL – Vegetable oil adds richness, moisture, and tenderness to baked goods like cakes and quick breads. It ensures a moist chocolate cake here.
  • VANILLA – Pure vanilla extract for the best flavor, not imitation.
  • CHOCOLATE CHUNKS – I used dark chocolate chunks but your favorite semi-sweet chocolate chips will work just the same.
  • CINNAMON – Cinnamon goes really well with chocolate.
  • HOT WATER – You will pour hot water over the chocolate cake batter before baking/cooking. The hot water enhances the chocolate flavor by hydrating the cocoa powder and reacts with the baking powder to release carbon dioxide bubbles for fluffy cake.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients ready to make a crockpot lava cake recipe.

Equipment you’ll need

  • SLOW COOKER – I used a 6 quart oval slow cooker. If you want to halve the recipe, I recommend using a smaller slow cooker.
  • MIXING BOWLS – You’ll need a separate bowl for the wet ingredients and dry ingredients.
  • WHISK – You don’t need a hand mixer for this recipe but I do recommend using a whisk to fully incorporate the ingredients.
  • SPATULAS – I have and use a wide variety of silicone spatulas.

How to make this crock pot chocolate lava cake

  1. STEP ONE: Prepare the cake. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In another medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just moistened. Spray the bowl of a 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray and then pour the batter in.
  2. STEP TWO: Prepare the topping. In a small bowl, mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and then pour on the hot water (don’t stir!).
  3. STEP THREE: Bake. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours or LOW for 4 hours. Slow cooker temperatures can vary greatly so keep a close eye on your cake. It is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
  4. STEP FOUR: Serve. Serve warm, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
collage of 4 photos showing the process of making a lava cake in the crockpot.

How to serve it

This delicious dessert is best served warm. If you know you’ll be serving it right away, switch your slow cooker to WARM for serving.

Some toppings ideas: vanilla ice cream, additional hot fudge, whipped cream, cherries, salted caramel sauce, or fresh berries.

How to store it

Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat, warm in the microwave in 30-second intervals. 

Tips & Suggestions

  • Each slow cooker cook time varies so keep an eye on yours. I found mine done in 2 hours on HIGH. You don’t want to overbake or you’ll lose the “lava” (chocolate sauce) component.
  • For variety, instead of chocolate chunks, you could use peanut butter chips, marshmallows, or white chocolate chips.
  • Because this cake is made in the slow cooker, it will not come out like a traditional cake. Expect to scoop out portions, you won’t be serving slices.
spoon full of chocolate lava cake & vanilla ice cream.

Need more slow cooker dessert recipes? Try these:

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp
Slow Cooker Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread
Crockpot Peanut Clusters

Click here for my entire collection of dessert recipes.

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spoon scooping lava cake from a crockpot.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake

Melissa Williams
This Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake is made entirely from scratch in the crockpot! Warm chocolate cake with a gooey center, filled with dark chocolate chips and then topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream making a rich dessert that the entire family will love!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
Calories 341 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

For the cake

For the topping

Instructions
 

To make the cake

  • Spray a 6 quart slow cooker with non-stick spray and set aside.
  • To a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    2 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup light brown sugar, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 4 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, and vanilla.
    1 cup milk, ¼ cup vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared slow cooker.

To make the topping

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the mixture in the slow cooker.
    1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Sprinkle the chocolate chunks evenly over the top.
    ½ cup chocolate chunks
  • Pour the hot water evenly over the top.
    2 ½ cups hot water
  • Cover and cook on HIGH for 2-4 hours or LOW for 3-5 hours. The cake is done once a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake portion comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Let set 15 minutes before serving. Turn the slow cooker to WARM for serving.

To serve

  • Scoop a portion of the warm cake and "lava" into a bowl and top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Notes

Slow cookers all cook differently so suggested times may need to be adjusted. 
Optional toppings: hot fudge, caramel sauce, berries, peanuts, sprinkles, etc.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
Reheat in the microwave.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 341kcalCarbohydrates: 72gProtein: 5gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 145mgPotassium: 431mgFiber: 4gSugar: 47gVitamin A: 44IUVitamin C: 0.002mgCalcium: 156mgIron: 3mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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