Sometimes low and slow is the way to go. Spending all day at the stove isn’t always realistic, or even necessary, especially when you have a slow-cooker to do the heavy lifting.
The beloved kitchen appliance takes the tedium out of so many recipes, requiring minimal prep as the electronic device leisurely heats, cooks and warms your food.
Often synonymous with potlucks and easy weeknight dinners, slow-cooker recipes have soared to new heights. Alongside traditional favorites such as mac and cheese and pulled pork, you’ll find plenty of dinner-party worthy recipes transformed for the slow-cooker such as cioppino and beef bourguignon. What’s better than waking up to a fresh bowl of creamy overnight oatmeal or ensuring that your game day queso stays warm throughout the fourth quarter? The slow-cooker is there to ensure success every time.
Meal preppers can also take advantage of the slow cooker to braise a big portion of meat for the week, such as brisket or pork. Then, you can transform it into tacos, casseroles, salad toppings and more. Curries, soups, stews and pasta dishes all thrive in the slow cooker, too, creating a meal that’s large enough to feed a family or several meals that can be portioned out and enjoyed throughout the week.
If you’re new to slow-cooking, choosing the right appliance for your lifestyle is key. That is, opt for a smaller slow cooker if you’re cooking for one to two people. A high-quality slow-cooker should be sturdy and reliable enough to cook all of these recipes with ease.
Slow-cookers can be left unattended — no stirring is typically necessary while the food simmers — and they’re designed to cook food at a safe temperature for hours. No babysitting the appliance is required.
From creamy sides like scalloped potatoes and mashed potatoes to all-star mains like glazed ham, here are the best recipes to make in your slow-cooker.
There’s few things that are easier and quicker to cook than a box of mac and cheese, but for the real deal, the slow cooker is ready to help. This mac and cheese is creamy, gooey and completely homemade. Mozzarella and cheddar blend for a bit of sharp flavor and plenty of gooey pull action.
This curry comes together all in one pot over a few hours. Just add all the curry ingredients — veggies, chickpeas, chicken thighs and tons of seasonings — to the slow cooker and let the flavors meld. On the side, a quick raita (yogurt sauce) brings an element of cool creaminess to the finished dish.
The best part of this slow cooked, tender Mexican chicken is that it can be enjoyed in so many ways. Roasted tomatoes and adobo unite to create a tangy, spice sauce that coats the shredded meat. Stuff it in tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more, or serve on a plate with rice and beans.
This may be the only way you make mashed potatoes from now on. For even more flavor, we recommend cooking the potatoes in chicken broth rather than water and doctoring them up with a trio of butter, sour cream and cream cheese for an ultra-luxe side. The slow cooker keeps these potatoes warm while you prep the rest of the meal and the result is soft and creamy spuds.
Even Martha Stewart turns to the slow cooker sometimes — and this recipe can pass for a stew that spent all day simmering on the stove. Similar to a chicken chili, you’ll braises chicken thighs in salsa with pinto beans and bell pepper. Serve in a bowl with your choice of toppings: Sour cream, shredded cheese or pickled jalapeños.
40 clove chicken is a classic dinner party dish, but the labor can easily be cut down with this 20 clove slow-cooker rendition. Broiling the chicken before adding it to the slow cooker helps get the skin become crispy and golden brown. After hanging out in the slow cooker, the chicken becomes tender inside and a wonderful, garlicky gravy is born.
Inspired by the game day appetizer, chicken thighs braise in a homemade buffalo sauce in this slow cooker recipe. After 4 hours of cooking on high (or 8 hours on low), the meat is ready to shred and put on a potato roll. Add some crumbled blue cheese or a drizzle of ranch for a wing-inspired sandwich.
This meat sauce is a meal prep workhorse that takes just minutes to prepare. It’s a true set and forget recipe with endless uses and variations. Use a combo of ground beef with ground chicken, turkey, or pork to change up the protein, add some chili flakes for spice or extra garlic for a garlicky flavor. Use this sauce on pasta, in baked dishes (like lasagna), serve it on a toasted bun for a quick sloppy joe or stuff it in peppers.
These potatoes are creamy, crispy and indulgent. They even look fancy, despite being made in a slow-cooker. Peeled potatoes are thinly sliced, then layered with milk, cream and cheese. The top will be bubbling and crisp after a few hours and the center will be rich and creamy.
This is one make-ahead meal that delights on a weeknight or for a special occasion meal. Start by browning the meat to ensure some crisp edges, and then let it slow cook for hours in beef broth with beer and herbs. Carrots and celery add a bit of veg to the mix, and everything is best enjoyed served over a heap of mashed potatoes.
If you only use your slow-cooker for one thing, pulled pork is a great use. Pork shoulder takes on a fantastically tender texture in this recipe, and can be used in so many ways, with so many flavors. Stir in barbecue sauce for pulled pork sliders, or add cayenne to spice up this pork for a burrito.
This dish offers the comfort of homemade chicken soup and a warm bowl of chili all in one. Cubed butternut squash is a lovely addition to the mix, which also combines kidney beans and cannellini beans. Fresh herbs add some brightness on top, and greek yogurt, cheese or peppers can add another dimension of flavor before serving.
One thing about brisket is that the leftovers always taste good. Get ahead of the game and make this slow-cooker brisket while you do whatever else you want to be doing, chill it in the fridge, and reheat it the next day so the meat re-absorbs all its juices. It’s way too easy to be this delicious, and yet it is.
This dish is so rich and flavorful that your family and friends may not even believe it was prepped in a slow-cooker. In this recipe, ground cumin, chili powder, oregano and thyme all meld for a full-flavored chili that’s lush with dark meat chicken and white beans. Frozen corn adds an extra pop.
At the end of a brisk day, digging into a comforting meal always hits. This slow-cooker meal is a hearty take on corned beef and cabbage, thanks to spicy andouille, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Searing the sausage pieces before they go into the cooker ensures the meat is crispy and delicious.
This creamy Italian-American pasta isn’t exactly traditional but wholly satisfying. The best part: This recipe inspires many healthy variations, so you can repeat it weekly and always enjoy something new. Stir in baby spinach, frozen broccoli florets, chicken or shrimp to the basic cheesy pasta for a better-for-you version.
Wild rice is great for the slow-cooker because it holds its texture and shape, even after slow-cooking all day. This Midwestern-style casserole can also be vegetarian if you omit the chicken and stick with vegetable stock. It’s so homey and satisfying, even if you didn’t grow up with rice casserole, The classic dish will easily make its way into your regular dinner rotation.
This Irish-American dish is popular around St. Patrick’s Day, but can be a thrifty and easy meal to prepare all year round. Cooking the corned beef on top of the vegetables helps infuse the carrots with spices and beefy flavor. Cabbage goes in the pot last, to retain its texture as the beef continues to slow cook with the potatoes.
Breakfast in the slow-cooker is like a gift from yesterday’s self to your morning self. This casserole cooks all night, so you’re lured out of bed by the aroma of this savory breakfast. This dish impresses guests or can just be a nice ritual to start the week with.
A slow-cooker makes cooking beans easier than ever, thanks to the fact that you don’t need to pre-soaking them. These beans are full of Brazilian flavor, thanks to bell pepper, onion, garlic and more. Cumin, oregano, vinegar, cayenne bring on heat and acid, for a full-flavored bean dish that goes well with rice and so much more.
Bookmark this to be your stress-free stroganoff. Boneless short ribs are recommended for this recipe, but beef chuck works just as well, and is often lower in price. The meat is slowly cooked with wine, cream and mushrooms, and just 15 minutes before serving, stir in the egg noodles to complete the dish.
This Southern-style comfort food is straight out of Louisiana and into your slow cooker. Smoked sausage, chicken thighs and shrimp all add plenty of protein and texture, while Cajun seasoning and Tabasco sauce add some heat. Serve over white rice.
Keep this recipe in your back pocket for entertaining, particularly on game day. This queso comes together in a slow-cooker and stays warm and melty for as long as you’re enjoying it. Have plenty of tortilla chips on hand for dipping, or drizzle this queso into (or even onto!) a burrito for a cheesy twist.
This creamy soup cooks low and slow, and thanks to the seal of the slow-cooker lid, most of the steam and moisture stays in the soup to avoid any reduction. Once all potatoes and leeks simmer in broth for hours, the contents of the slow cooker is blended to create the thick, rich soup. A fresh green garnish on top adds some gourmet flare.
This pork shoulder is well seasoned and simple to make. Braising the meat in beer ensures it’s tender and soaks up even more flavor, giving the leftover liquid a bold, meaty flavor. Keep the liquid after you pull apart the meat to add when reheating and ensure every bite of leftover pulled pork is as juicy as the first serving.
Holiday ham straight out of the slow-cooker? It’s not too good to be true! This glazed ham is beautiful enough to be a centerpiece and stays warm right until you plate and serve it, thanks to this simple recipe.
Breakfast for a crowd? No problem! This slow-cooker oatmeal is sweet and delicious, and only takes a few stirs and the setting of a timer to get right. If you’re entertaining, set it out with some toppings such as fresh berries, nuts, raisins or shredded coconut. Your slow-cooker “keep warm” setting is perfect for late sleepers.
Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken
Skip shredding apart a rotisserie chicken and just start from scratch with your own flavors, no bones or skin pulling necessary. Two pounds of chicken breast easily transform into tender, shredded chicken to use however you’d like.
Liquid smoke, available in most supermarkets, is the secret ingredient here. Serve this pork with pineapple on tacos, on sweet Hawaiian rolls as a sandwich and so much more.
Skip the ground beef and taco seasoning taco night and upgrade with this just as easy to make carnitas recipe. Boneless pork shoulder braises in orange juice (bottled or pre-squeezed both work) along with onion, garlic and seasonings for that full carnitas flavor. Pulling the pork into pieces is so easy, thanks to its tenderness.
This dish is a great way to bring new life to leftover grains, with only a few minutes of hands on time. Hollowed-out peppers are stuffed with cooked rice, ground poultry or beef, diced tomatoes, and spices . Then, each stuffed pepper slow cooks to absorb flavor and get tender just in time for dinner.
There’s a quick trick to making this minestrone so robust in flavor. The aromatics — onion, celery, garlic, oregano and sage — are all browned in olive oil before the rest of the ingredients are added to the slow cooker. This extra 10 minutes of prep insures a soup with depth you’ll be craving for days to come — that is, if the leftovers last that long.
Turn your kitchen into a cozy tavern with this slow-cooked apple cider that infuses the room with autumnal scents. Cider seeps in cinnamon flavors and stays warm for guests to ladle into mugs. Booze is optional and the quantity of alcohol is adjustable with your preferences.
A can of soda is the not-so-secret ingredient for this sweet and tender pulled pork. Tomato paste and Sriracha pair up to create a red sauce for the tangy meat, which gets a hint of sweetness from ginger ale.
These ground beef tacos cook slowly so they can soak up all the spices in the homemade taco seasoning blend. To make it, it’s as simple as combining cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano and a bay leaf. This recipe is a nice way to have a warm main course ready to go with fresh ingredients ready for assembly.
Lasagna doesn’t have to be the prettiest dish on the table — especially because it’s guaranteed to be delicious. Get Carrie Underwood’s recipe for a better-for-you version of the Italian-American classic featuring whole-wheat noodles, vegan cheese and a bevy of fresh vegetables. It’s oh so satisfying and not too tricky to make.
This recipe has so many flavorful homemade elements: taco seasoning, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños and pulled chicken thighs. Of course, you can swap in store bought for any or all of these items if you’re in a pinch. And when taco night comes together, you’ll find that the effort was worth it.
Skip the oven and make homemade pizza in the slow-cooker.The deep dish-style thick crust cooks at the bottom of the slow cooker, while the toppings such as mozzarella, pepperoni and pickled jalapeños bake on top. The hardest part of this recipe is removing the hot pizza from the pot, so be sure to have a large spatula and serving tray at the ready.
Transform your kitchen into a New York City-style deli with this simple recipe. A four-pound piece of corned beef is coated in pastrami seasoning and cooked and low for 10 hours. Before slicing, let the meat rest for at least 30 minutes so that it retains its juices before slicing and stacking on rye with mustard and pickles.
This slow cooker recipe also requires some stovetop prep, but it’s worth it. Pork is slow cooked with chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, chicken broth and beer for hours and when it’s almost time to serve, tortillas hit an oiled skillet until warm. To assemble, layer refried beans, cooked pork, avocado, queso fresco and salsa before serving.
This hands-off homemade slow-cooker mac and cheese recipe will become your family’s new favorite dish. The whole recipe takes about two hours, so it’s relatively quick for a slow-cooker and mess-free. To make it, combine pre-shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses with half and half for the ultimate creaminess.
There may be nothing better on a brisk day than cooking a big batch of beefy chili. This recipe combines bacon and ground beef with tons of seasonings, chile peppers, molasses and beef broth. Serving it directly from the pot keeps it steamy and allows everyone to help themselves to toppings, like cheese, sour cream, sliced peppers and more.
Homemade sticky buns aren’t often synonymous with a quick and easy breakfast recipe, but this recipe makes it possible. And yes, the dough is made completely from scratch. Almond milk subs is a delicious dairy-free substitute, while the sticky nut filling and coconut caramel sauce ensures this treat is sweet as can be.
This slow-cooked hot chocolate is the ultimate winter treat. Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream all unite for a rich base to the warm beverage, which is cooked with plenty of good-quality chocolate. Serve with marshmallows and chocolate shavings.
Cioppino is an Italian seafood stew that can be served on holidays or just a cozy weeknight. Shrimp and white fish take center stage in this tomato-based dish alongside clams and mussels. It’s a dish best served with a loaf of crusty bread for dipping.
Master the art of this classic French dish with a modern-day twist: the slow-cooker! Cubes of beef stew meat slowly cook with mushrooms, potatoes, pearl onions and carrots, creating a comforting dish to serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley for a finishing touch.
It’s healthy, a little spicy and perfect for a midweek reset. Cans of chopped green chiles add a nice kick to this chili, which is packed with fiber and nutrients from white beans, sweet potato and kale. Sliced avocado and cheese on top add even more texture to each bowl.
This recipe is a homey one-pot meal. Both the marinara and meatballs are made from scratch. Spaghetti goes in during the last stage of simmering to cook and absorb some sauce before it’s with cheese and served.
Kid-approved, this simple chicken recipe is a crowd-pleaser. And thankfully for parents, it’s simple enough to execute on a busy weeknight. Ranch dressing and gravy mix packets combine with a jar of banana peppers (brine and all) for moist, saucy chicken.
Chef Curtis Stone knows how to host a dinner party. His recipe for slow-cooker pork roast comes together in a synch, for a low key entrée that will feed and please a group. The pork can even be made in advance and reheated in time for the event. Serve with warm tortillas.
This all-ages warm punch is like a hug in a mug, and it’s delicious on any crisp night of the year. Cinnamon sticks, allspice and cloves cook with lemonade and cranberry cocktail for a fruit-forward mocktail. Feel free to add a splash of liquor for an adults-only spiked drink.
Artichokes are generally laborious to make, but this slow-cooker recipe makes the process a bit easier. After washing and trimming the artichokes, place as many as fit side-by-side in a slow cooker with water, garlic and lemon juice. There, they’ll steam for hours until they’re ready to dip into melted butter.
“To me, this is the ultimate tailgate food,” says recipe developer Derrell Smith. Cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts with a bottle of Korean-style barbecue sauce until tender, then pile high on sesame seed buns with homemade Bahn Mi slaw.
This slow-cooker version of ropa vieja is a set-and-step-away recipe. Just place the flank steak, bell peppers, beef broth, beer and dried spices in the slow-cooker and cook overnight until the notoriously tough meat becomes tender and delicious
Light, lean and lazy, Joy Bauer recommends this chicken enchiladas for those nights when you want a meal that’s big on flavor but low on effort. The chicken filling braises in the slow-cooker all day, and then is rolled in tortillas and slathered in sauce before going into the oven to bake. Enchiladas can then be topped with Greek yogurt and fresh herbs.
Sweet potatoes belong at breakfast. They’re nutritious, colorful like the morning sun and go well with both sweet and savory toppings. These potatoes slow cook overnight, so they’re ready to be topped with fruit, yogurt or whatever you like come breakfast time.
This game day-ready dip is cheesy, gooey and a bit spicy. To speed up the process, start with shredded rotisserie chicken and move onto adding the cheeses and sauces to the slow cooker to simmer and stay warm until it’s time to enjoy. Dip in carrots, celery or pita chips once kickoff happens.
Sunny loves these ribs for tailgating, particularly because they can be made a day early and then reheated just in time to make sandwiches. A special sauce made with dried spices, ketchup and molasses adds so much flavor and stickiness. Ribs can be popped in the oven before serving so that they get a crisp, succulent sear on top.
This is two-in-one part food, thanks to the slow-cooker. You’ll start by caramelizing the onions for about eight hours in a slow cooker. Then, scatter them over a pizza crust along with homemade creamy spinach sauce, cheese and frozen pierogi to bake until melty.
This layered lasagna recipe uses traditional lasagna noodles, so they can slowly absorb some liquid and sauce without getting too mushy. Jarred sauce is totally fine for this meal, and frozen spinach adds color and nutrients up. Serve directly out of the slow-cooker for epic cheese pulls and a satisfying meal.
Nearly a dozen seasonings come together to enhance the flavor of this slow-cooked pork shoulder. It braises in a combination of chicken stock, barbecue sauce and vinegar for hours, and is then shredded and rolled in flour tortillas with cheddar cheese, refried beans and more. These can also be pre-made and frozen for future enjoyment.
Old-fashioned fudge gets a contemporary upgrade, thanks to this appliance. Chocolate, cream and honey all unite and meld into chewy fudge. Flaky salt on top makes it a bit fancy and cuts through the sweetness. Slice the fudge into smaller pieces for gifting.
These char siu-style ribs riff of the Chinese-American takeout classic. They’re sweet and sticky, thanks to a long braise in the slow-cooker. Reducing the pan juices into a sticky sauce adds more flavor to the slow-roasted meat. Serve with white rice to soak up all the marinade.
Both chuck roast and pork roast work in this recipe that’s super easy to prep. A packet of Italian dressing seasoning and pepperoncini pack briny, garlicky flavors into the meat as it slowly cooks. A quick-to-make horseradish sauce is perfect for dipping or spreading on baguettes for next-day sandwiches.
This two-ingredient appetizer can be a year-round staple for tailgates, picnics, potlucks and more. All it takes is two packages of cocktail wieners and two bottles of your favorite barbecue sauce and an hour on high in the slow cooker. Serve with toothpicks and plenty of napkins.
Pre-freezing whipped cream dollops is a genius way to both have your topping portioned and ready to go, and help cool down hot chocolate for sensitive mouths. This cocoa simmers in the slow cooker for hours before it’s ready to ladle into mugs. A pinch of kosher salt is the secret ingredient to offset the sweet chocolate flavor.
An American classic! A jar of grape jelly provides the base for a tangy, sticky sauce, alongside chili sauce and a pinch of cayenne in this slow-cooker recipe. Frozen, store-bought meatballs help speed up this appetizer, but homemade meatballs can of course be subbed in.
This lean stew combines chicken breast with a quick sauce consisting of garlic, red pepper slices, cilantro, onion and tomato. Everything simmers until the chicken is ready to shred, which is then tossed with corn and green olives before it’s served over rice.
Dark meat chicken makes a wonderfully flavorful and tender batch of chili. Chipotles in adobo add a smoky spice, and canned hominy adds a starchy base. This chili is sophisticated enough for a dinner party but cozy enough for a cold weather meal enjoyed on the couch.
This frittata-inspired dish packs in eggs, sausage, hash browns, cheese and vegetables to fuel everyone up for any big day ahead. For an impressive presentation, serve this egg bake upside down.
Bored of the usual roasted Brussels sprouts? Homemade slaw is the perfect use for this cruciferous vegetable, which offers crunch and color to a pulled pork sandwich. Built on Hawaiian rolls, these sliders are soft, sweet and easy to eat.
A filling breakfast or brunch comes together with just a few minutes of prep time. Browned chorizo or sausage is layered with black beans over crisp tostadas or tortillas chips. Just before serving, bake eggs in the slow-cooker until the whites are set but yolks are still runny.
Short ribs are best when they are fall-off-the-bone tender, and the longer they cook, the softer the meat gets. Slow cooking these short ribs in beef broth and red wine lets them braise and tenderize over a few hours, soaking up all the flavors of the pot. Serve with roasted root vegetables and the starch of your choice.
This slow-cooker recipe for melt-in-your-mouth short ribs calls for red wine and chicken broth as a braising liquid, plus mushrooms, fennel, carrots and plenty of herbs. Browning the beef and vegetables builds flavor before the long cook time.
This slow cooking method makes the most of a fatty brisket, which can easily feed a crowd. Garlic and onions infuse flavor into the red wine and beef broth braising liquid, which they can be served along with the carved meat. Prepare the brisket in advance to let it cool, scrape off the residual fat, then slice the beef before reheating in its juices.
This is an easy, family-friendly recipe that can slow cook on the counter all day. Chuck roast is first seared until charred and browned, then transferred to a slow-cooker to braise with a thick and creamy gravy made with beef broth, onions, bell peppers, garlic and cornstarch. When the roast is ready to be sliced, ladle the sauce on top and serve with potatoes of any kind.
Steel-cut oats are a great choice for slow cooking because they hold their texture, even when cooked for hours. While this hands-off method takes longer than just microwaving oats, you can prep it the night before and let the oats cook overnight for a more efficient for a creamy breakfast dish. Dates sweeten the oatmeal, which is creamy and sticky in all the best ways.
This old-fashioned comfort food recipe features a few hacks that make it even easier to make. Cans of cream of chicken soup are transformed into a new entrée with the addition of chicken breasts, potatoes, green beans, carrots and peas. The dumplings come together with the help of Bisquick mix, milk and fresh herbs for a delicious set-it-and-forget-it meal.
If the Chiefs are playing on Sunday, start cooking this Kansas City staple in the slow-cooker as soon as you wake up. This six-ingredient recipe starts with frozen corn kernels, which meshes with cream cheese, butter, steak seasoning, pimentos and pimiento cheese spread. It’s the ultimate game day appetizer.
Feijoada can be an all-day cooking project, but make it a little easier by using a slow cooker. This stew combines several types of meat — bacon, pork shoulder, chorizo and short ribs — with black beans, more a massively flavorful, hearty dish. Serving with fresh slices of orange, white rice and quick sautéed kale is essential.