Fight the Temptation to Eat Out
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52 Recipes to Keep Your Slow Cooker Bubbling While You're Busy

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Fight the Temptation to Eat Out
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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 soups and chilis. Get the most out of this wonder device by using it to save time and effort while you're schooling the kids or working from home. 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. (And don't forget, the Instant Pot can also be used as a slow cooker.)

Mashed Potatoes
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Mashed Potatoes

This slow-cooker recipe makes mashed potatoes a convenient dish to prepare, and it 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.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Vegetable Soup
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Vegetable Soup

This warming soup takes just a few minutes of active preparation; a slow cooker does the rest. The recipe 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.

Recipe: Add a Pinch

Cornbread
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Cornbread

Making cornbread in a slow cooker takes the guesswork out of the baking process. This 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 jalapenos, sweet corn, or bacon.

Recipe: Tablespoon

mushroom stew
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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: It takes less than 10 minutes to combine the ingredients in a slow cooker before letting them simmer into a rich, one-pot meal.

Recipe: Hummusapien

Potato and Corn Chowder
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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, 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.

Recipe: Damn Delicious

Orange-Glazed Carrots
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Orange-Glazed Carrots

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

Recipe: Campbell's

Green Bean Casserole
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Green Bean Casserole

This traditional comfort food is a holiday classic. 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.

Recipe: Family Fresh Meals

Vegetarian Chili
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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 this hearty vegetarian recipe. To substitute dry beans for canned to save money, soak overnight then boil until tender.

Recipe: Gimme Some Oven

Queso Dip
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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.

Recipe: Today

Cuban Beans and Rice
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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 to the weekly routine helps free up time for other activities without sacrificing home-cooked food.

Recipe: Oxmoor House

Braised Cabbage
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Braised Cabbage

A recipe for this savory side dish results in tender cabbage for a ton of flavor and fiber alongside meat entrees. Broth is the braising liquid, and pearl onions offer sweetness while bacon bits give it a savory twist.

Recipe: Recipes that Crock

Chana Masala
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Chana Masala

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

Recipe: The Kitchn

Moroccan Lentil Soup
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Moroccan Lentil Soup

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

Recipe: EatingWell

Scalloped Potatoes
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Scalloped Potatoes

Making this classic side dish in a slow cooker with this recipe 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.

Recipe: Food Network Kitchen

Eggplant Parmesan
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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 can be started in the morning for a ready-made meal by evening.

Recipe: MyRecipes

Baked Chicken Wings
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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. This recipe takes the extra step of broiling them once cooked through, to add a crisp texture and caramelize the sauce.

Recipe: Good Dinner Mom

Jerk Chicken
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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.

Recipe: Immaculate Bites

Chicken Alfredo
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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 that cooks everything, even the pasta, in the same pot for easy clean up.

Recipe: No. 2 Pencil

Whole Chicken
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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 the right recipe, 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.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Chicken Tortilla Soup
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Chicken Tortilla Soup

This Southwestern soup 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.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Enchilada Stack
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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. This recipe takes the mess out of the process while retaining all the flavors of classic enchiladas.

Recipe: Damn Delicious

Chicken Curry
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Chicken Curry

A bowl of warmly spiced chicken curry 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.

Recipe: Food & Wine

Chicken Tikka Masala
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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. Garam masala, a spice blend, is the only ingredient that may not be a pantry staple already.

Recipe: Real Simple

Baby Back Ribs
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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. This recipe uses liquid smoke to add a subtle barbecue flavor that evokes a summertime grill.

Recipe: Betty Crocker

Pulled Pork
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Pulled Pork

This is one of the easiest dishes to pull off in a slow cooker. Following this recipe 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.

Recipe: Chowhound

Bacon Mac and Cheese
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Bacon Mac and Cheese

With this super-simple macaroni and cheese recipe, you don't even have to pre-cook the pasta. Vegetarians can substitute sautéed mushrooms for the bacon.

Recipe: The Kitchen Is My Playground

bacon-wrapped pork loin
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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. This recipe uses the juices that collect during cooking to make a tasty sauce.

Recipe: Damn Delicious

Pork Carnitas
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Pork Carnitas

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

Recipe: RecipeTin Eats

Honey-Glazed Pork Meatballs
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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. This slow-cooked pork version stays juicy and tender and comes with its own reduced sauce.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Gourmet

beef stew
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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.

Recipe: Epicurious

Beer Brisket
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Brisket

This straightforward brisket recipe 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.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Korean Beef
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Korean Beef

This Korean beef recipe 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.

Recipe: The Recipe Critic

beef taco casserole
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Beef and Broccoli
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Beef and Broccoli

This classic Chinese takeout dish is easy to create at home for less money. Making it from scratch also allows customized amounts of salt and spices. Cornstarch thickens the sauce.

Recipe: Tasty

Easy Meatloaf
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Meatloaf

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. This version is pretty standard, combining meat with onions, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, and condiments like mustard and ketchup.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Beef Stroganoff Meatballs
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Beef Stroganoff Meatballs

This play on beef stroganoff has all the flavor of the original dish in an easy-to-make recipe 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.

Recipe: The Seasoned Mom

Corned Beef and Cabbage
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Corned Beef and Cabbage

For St. Patrick's Day, or whenever you crave a hearty old-country meal, this slow-cooked corned beef and cabbage recipe strikes a balance between tender and zesty. Cooking the cabbage at the end helps it retain some bite, rather than turning into mush.

Recipe: Food Network Kitchen

Lamb Vindaloo
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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. This spice-laden recipe from a registered dietitian simmers the lamb in a thick sauce with ingredients like chili powder, cumin, clove, and coriander.

Recipe: Ali Miller RD

Irish Lamb Stew
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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 this recipe calls for leg of lamb, even a tough, inexpensive cut like the shoulder will turn tender in a slow cooker.

Recipe: EatingWell

Braised Lamb Shank
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Braised Lamb Shanks

This braised lamb dish gets its rich flavorful sauce from red wine. 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.

Recipe: Williams Sonoma

Lamb Biryani
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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. This recipe takes the guesswork out of the process by finishing the rice in the pot with the other ingredients.

Recipe: A Marmie Life

Lobster Bisque
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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. This version can cook all day.

Recipe: Moms With Crockpots

Thai Coconut Fish Curry
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Thai Coconut Fish Curry

This creamy and spicy curry recipe 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.

Recipe: Serendipity and Spice

Poached Salmon
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Poached Salmon

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

Recipe: The Kitchn

Fudge
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Apple Cinnamon Cobbler
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Apple Cinnamon Cobbler

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

Recipe: Betty Crocker

Rice Pudding
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Rice Pudding

This recipe for this vegan rice pudding 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.

Recipe: The Roasted Root

Chocolate Fondue
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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. This basic recipe can be adapted to include flavorings like spicy chilies or cinnamon for an extra kick.

Recipe: Rachel Cooks

Poached Pears
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Poached Pears

The best part of this recipe for poached pears 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.

Recipe: Oxmoor House

Jan. 31: National Hot Chocolate Day
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Hot Cocoa

Ditch the premixed packets of hot cocoa mix and indulge in a 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.

Recipe: Delish

Mulled Cider
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Mulled Cider

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

Recipe: Food.com

Spiced Coffee
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Spiced Coffee

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

Recipe: Taste of Home