Fight the Temptation to Eat Out

52 Recipes to Keep Your Slow Cooker Bubbling All Year Long

View Slideshow
Fight the Temptation to Eat Out

get crockin'

The slow cooker, or Crock-Pot, is too often relegated to the back of a kitchen cabinet for most of the year, making a brief appearance for a few winter stews and chilis. Get the most out of this wonder device by using it every week for recipes that suit every season. Turn tough cuts of meat tender, create inexpensive homemade versions of restaurant and takeout meals, and add flavor to favorite dishes. These 52 recipes include sides, main dishes, drinks, and desserts for all types of cooks and diets.

Mashed Potatoes
Elena Veselova/shutterstock

mashed potatoes

A slow-cooker recipe from The Kitchn makes mashed potatoes a convenient dish to prepare. This side dish can be made plain and simple or with extras like scallions or roasted garlic. The slow cooker keeps the potatoes warm without drying them out, so you can make them ahead of time.

Vegetable Soup
Ildi Papp/shutterstock

vegetable soup

This warming soup takes just a few minutes of active preparation; a slow cooker does the rest. A basic recipe from the blog Add a Pinch is ripe for customizing by adding or substituting your favorite vegetables and legumes. Vegetarians, or those trying to eat less meat, can omit the optional ground beef for a lighter vegan soup.

Marie C Fields/shutterstock


Making cornbread in a slow cooker takes the guesswork out of the baking process. A Betty Crocker recipe is well-suited for beginner cooks. It's guaranteed to come out the same time after time, with no risk of burning the bottom. The recipe works equally well with additions like green chilies, scallions, or a handful of cheese.

Mushroom Barley Soup
Charlotte Lake/shutterstock

mushroom barley soup

This hearty vegan soup is more like a stew, thickened with barley and mushrooms. It's a warming meal in cold weather and freezes well. The process couldn't be simpler with a recipe from the blog Hummusapien: It takes less than 10 minutes to combine the ingredients in a slow cooker before letting them simmer into a rich, one-pot meal.

Potato and Corn Chowder
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

potato and corn chowder

This slow-cooked chowder develops layers of flavor as the slow cooker does all the work. Vegetarians can use vegetable stock instead of chicken in a recipe from the blog Damn Delicious, and even water would work, as spices and cream add loads of flavor and richness. This elegant soup works in any season using frozen corn, though fresh corn is a nice touch in the summer.

Orange-Glazed Carrots

orange-glazed carrots

A classic and crowd-pleasing side dish, these sweet and tangy carrots make it easy to load up on vegetables. In a recipe from Campbell's, sage gives the carrots an autumnal twist that works well alongside roasted meat and poultry.

Green Bean Casserole

green bean casserole

This traditional comfort food is made easy with a recipe from the blog Family Fresh Meals. Starting with fresh green beans rather than canned or frozen yields a more toothsome final product, as the beans retain a bit of their natural snap.
Vegetarian Chili
Glenn Price/shutterstock

vegetarian chili

Chili is probably what the slow cooker is known best for. Those looking to incorporate more meatless meals into their diet can find satisfaction in a hearty vegetarian version from the blog Gimme Some Oven. To substitute dry beans for canned to save money, soak overnight then boil until tender.
Queso Dip

queso dip

Who can resist warm, gooey queso dip? While difficult to manage on the stovetop, it's almost too easy in a slow cooker. A recipe from the Today show's website will likely become a staple.
Cuban Beans and Rice

cuban beans and rice

This healthy dish uses dried beans and a variety of vegetables and spices to create a nutrition-packed meal. Adding a no-fuss version from a Cooking Light cookbook to the weekly routine helps free up time for other activities without sacrificing home-cooked food.

Braised Cabbage

braised cabbage

A recipe for this savory side dish from the blog Divine Health From the Inside Out results in tender cabbage for a ton of flavor and fiber alongside meat entrees. The braising liquid is flexible; cooks can use what's on hand. Bacon drippings are one option that cuts down on food waste for maximum savings.

Chana Masala
Martin Rettenberger/shutterstock

chana masala

Indian takeout can be expensive and loaded with oil. The flavors may be intimidating to create from scratch, but a foolproof slow-cooker recipe from The Kitchn makes it easy. The most exotic spice the recipe calls for is cardamom, which is easy to find in most supermarkets.
Moroccan Lentil Soup

moroccan lentil soup

This vegetable- and spice-packed soup is warming in all the right ways. Vegan when made with vegetable broth and a recipe from EatingWell, this full-flavored meal is friendly for a variety of different specialty diets.

Scalloped Potatoes
Joe Gough/shutterstock

scalloped potatoes

Making this classic side dish in a slow cooker with a recipe from Food Network Kitchens takes the guesswork out of adjusting temperatures and cook times for individual ovens. The cheesy and creamy potatoes can stay warm inside their dish until ready to serve.
Eggplant Parmesan

eggplant parmesan

Cooking eggplant parm in a slow cooker turns the dish into a one-step process, eliminating the need to pre-fry the eggplant. Healthier and easier, this version from MyRecipes can be started in the morning for a ready-made meal by evening.

Buffalo Chicken Wings
Joshua Resnick/shutterstock

barbecue chicken wings

Wings are a crowd-pleasing dish for a weeknight meal or a party. Making them in a slow cooker eliminates the need to fry or bake in extra oil. A recipe from the blog Good Dinner Mom takes the extra step of broiling them once cooked through, to add a crisp texture and caramelize the sauce.

Jerk Chicken
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

jerk chicken

Authentic jerk chicken can seem impossible to master. The secret to many Caribbean jerk chicken recipes is slow cooking, which allows time for the flavors to meld. You can skip the broiling at the end and shred for burritos, sandwiches, or salads.

Chicken Alfredo

chicken alfredo

Creamy chicken Alfredo is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal and a staple for many family celebrations. Avoid any chance of burning the delicate cream sauce by using a no-fuss slow-cooker recipe from the blog No. 2 Pencil that cooks everything, even the pasta, in the same pot for easy clean up.
Whole Chicken
julie deshaies/shutterstock

whole chicken

Anyone who has burned or undercooked a chicken will rejoice to discover they can cook a perfect whole chicken in a slow cooker. With a recipe from The Kitchn, it's as easy as placing a seasoned chicken in the pot and pressing a button. The skin can be crisped with a few minutes under the broiler at the end.
Chicken Tortilla Soup

chicken tortilla soup

A version of this Southwestern soup posted on Allrecipes works well any time of year and can be dressed up with a number of toppings. Feel free to throw in other vegetables or meat that you may have left over to add bulk and avoid waste.
Chicken Enchilada Stack

chicken enchilada stack

Traditional enchiladas are a messy, multi-step process of dipping a tortilla in salsa before rolling it up with filling and then baking. A recipe from the blog Damn Delicious takes the mess out of the process while retaining all the flavors of classic chicken enchiladas.
Chicken Curry
Ramon grosso dolarea/shutterstock

chicken curry

A bowl of warmly-spiced chicken curry from Food & Wine tastes like it has been slaved over for hours, when a slow cooker turns the preparation into a simple three-step process. The flavors continue to develop as the curry sits, which makes this a good make-ahead option.

Chicken Tikka Masala

chicken tikka masala

This popular Indian dish can be enjoyed at home for a fraction of the restaurant price and without any complicated cooking processes with a recipe from Real Simple. Garam masala, a spice blend, is the only ingredient that may not be a pantry staple already.
Baby Back Ribs

baby back ribs

Unlike an oven, which can dry out the meat, a slow cooker ensures moist, juicy ribs while infusing flavor into each bite. A Betty Crocker recipe uses liquid smoke to add a subtle barbecue flavor that evokes a summertime grill.

Pulled Pork
Olga Miltsova/shutterstock

pulled pork

This is one of the easiest dishes to pull off in a slow cooker. Following a recipe from Chowhound is as simple as placing the meat into the dish and letting it cook until it's falling apart. Dress it up in any type of sauce you like, or serve it plain with a variety of sauce options.
Bacon Mac and Cheese

bacon mac and cheese

With a super-simple macaroni and cheese recipe from the blog The Kitchen Is My Playground, you don't even have to pre-cook the pasta. Vegetarians can substitute sautéed mushrooms for the bacon.
Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin
Elena Shashkina/shutterstock

bacon-wrapped pork loin

Using a slow cooker to make a dish worthy of a special occasion takes the pressure off home cooking and skirts the need to go out for an expensive meal. A pork loin recipe from Damn Delicious uses the juices that collect during cooking to make a tasty sauce.

Pork Carnitas

pork carnitas

Taco night can be epic with a recipe for carnitas from the blog RecipeTin Eats. Subtle spices like cumin and oregano perfume the meat with a Mexican flavor that works in burritos, enchiladas, and tortas.

Honey-Glazed Pork Meatballs
Jacek Chabraszewski/shutterstock

honey-glazed pork meatballs

Meatballs are a versatile comfort food that can serve as a meal on their own, or be the star ingredient in pastas, pizzas, and sandwiches. A slow-cooked pork version from the blog Slow Cooker Gourmet stays juicy and tender and comes with its own reduced sauce.
Beef Stew
AS Food studio/shutterstock

beef stew

Beef stew is the first thing many people think of making in a slow cooker, and with good reason. The steady, low temperature and slow cooking turn inexpensive cuts -- like chuck meat in a recipe from Weelicious -- into tender, flavorful chunks.
Perfilyev Ilya/shutterstock


A straightforward brisket recipe from The Kitchn is best made ahead of time so the flavors meld and deepen as the meat rests. You could skip the initial browning process, but searing the meat adds a layer of flavor that would be noticeably missed. The extra step is worth the effort.

Korean Beef

korean beef

A Korean beef recipe from the blog The Recipe Critic is deceptively simple, and something that most people would never consider trying without the aid of a slow cooker. All the ingredients are pretty standard staples, and the process requires just three steps.
Beef Taco Casserole

beef taco casserole

Americans' love for tacos is growing, and understandably so. A Pillsbury recipe combines all the flavors of a taco into an easy one-pot dish that feeds a large crowd.
Beef and Broccoli
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

beef and broccoli

This classic Chinese takeout dish is easy to create at home for less money with a recipe from BuzzFeed. Making it from scratch also allows customized amounts of salt and spices. Cornstarch thickens the sauce.
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock


Anyone who has ever had a meatloaf turn out dry will appreciate the ability to make it in a slow cooker without having to worry. A version posted on Allrecipes is pretty standard, combining meat with onions, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, and condiments like mustard and ketchup.
Beef Stroganoff Meatballs
Southern Light Studios/shutterstock

beef stroganoff meatballs

This play on beef stroganoff has all the flavor of the original dish in an easy-to-make recipe from the blog The Seasoned Mom that people of all ages can love. The meatballs can be made ahead of time and kept warm in a slow cooker without drying out.

Corned Beef and Cabbage
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

corned beef and cabbage

For St. Patrick's Day, or whenever you crave a hearty old-country meal, a slow-cooked corned beef and cabbage recipe from Food Network Kitchens strikes a balance between tender and zesty. Cooking the cabbage at the end helps it retain some bite, rather than turning into mush.
Lamb Vindaloo
wong yu liang/shutterstock

lamb vindaloo

Lamb is often more expensive than other meats on restaurant menus, so making it at home is a budget-friendly way to enjoy it. A spice-laden recipe from the blog Rubies and Radishes simmers the lamb in a thick sauce with ingredients like chilies, cinnamon, clove, and fenugreek.
Irish Lamb Stew
Robyn Mackenzie/shutterstock

irish lamb stew

A mild and heartwarming blend of vegetables, herbs, and lamb, this stew is a one-pot meal best enjoyed in cold weather. While a recipe from EatingWell calls for leg of lamb, even a tough, inexpensive cut like the shoulder will turn tender in a slow cooker.
Braised Lamb Shank

braised lamb shanks

This braised lamb dish gets its rich flavorful sauce from red wine in a recipe from Williams Sonoma. Leftover wine that is past its prime for drinking works beautifully in this recipe and reduces waste. You can also throw in additional root vegetables, such as parsnips or potatoes.
Lamb Biryani
Elena Shashkina/shutterstock

lamb biryani

Cooking biryani using the stovetop and oven is a difficult game of getting the timing and liquid ratios just right to end up with fluffy rice rather than undercooked or mushy grains. A recipe from the blog A Marmie Life takes the guesswork out of the process by finishing the rice in the pot with the other ingredients.
Lobster Bisque

lobster bisque

Lobster bisque can be a tricky dish to make, because the broth can be easily scorched and the lobster can end up overcooked and rubbery. But not in a slow cooker. A version from Recipe4Living can cook all day.
Thai Coconut Fish Curry

thai coconut fish curry

A creamy and spicy curry recipe from the blog Serendipity and Spice turns inexpensive fish like tilapia and pollock into flavorful meals. As with any soup, stew, or sauce, using homemade broth will cut down on overall costs, so consider buying a whole fish and using the head, tail, and bones to make your own.
Poached Salmon

poached salmon

Salmon is a superfood that many incorporate into their diets for overall nutrition. Gently poaching salmon in wine, lemon, and herbs with a recipe from The Kitchn is a simple preparation that is light on calories. It can be served as-is or used in other dishes like salads and sandwiches.

Brent Hofacker/shutterstock


An incredibly easy homemade fudge recipe from the blog Creme de la Crumb is dangerous for those trying to keep their waistlines in check. The hands-off process makes it convenient for holiday gifts and parties. The basic recipe can be turned into many different varieties and flavors.
Apple Cinnamon Cobbler
Denise Torres/shutterstock

apple cinnamon cobbler

This easy dessert can be made with apples or any fresh fruit for a sweet and warm ending to a meal. A recipe from Betty Crocker takes about three hours, so you can start it while making dinner and have cobbler in time for a late dessert.
Rice Pudding

rice pudding

A recipe for this vegan rice pudding from the blog The Roasted Root comes out ultra-creamy and rich every time. Spiced rum adds an extra layer of flavor, and the alcohol cooks off, making this comforting dessert safe for the whole family.
Chocolate Fondue
Claudio A.Neves/shutterstock

chocolate fondue

There's no need to buy a special piece of equipment to enjoy fondue; you can easily make it and keep it melted in a slow cooker. A basic recipe from the blog Rachel Cooks can be adapted to include flavorings like spicy chilies or cinnamon for an extra kick.
Poached Pears

poached pears

The best part of a recipe for poached pears from a Cooking Light cookbook is that after prepping the poaching liquid and pears, you can just walk away from the pot as it cooks. Moscato d'Asti is an inexpensive sweet wine that works well if you don't already have an old bottle to use up.

Hot Cocoa

hot cocoa

Ditch the premixed packets of hot cocoa mix and indulge in a Delish recipe with a luxurious blend of milk and real chocolate in cold weather. A slow cooker keeps large batches at the ideal temperature indefinitely, so a cup of hot cocoa is always at the ready.
Mulled Cider

mulled cider

Cider simmering with spices on the stovetop often boils over and requires a constant watchful eye. A slow cooker recipe posted on Genius Kitchen stays ready to drink for hours at a time on the low setting. 

Spiced Coffee

spiced coffee

Making large batches of coffee for brunch or dinner parties can be a logistical challenge. A spiced coffee recipe from Taste of Home can be made ahead of time and kept warm in a slow cooker.