Slowcooker
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The Strangest Things You Can Make With Your Slow Cooker

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Slowcooker
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Slow But Sure

It’s no secret slow cookers are ideal for making soups, stews, and pot roasts. After all, slow cookers are sealed at the top, which allows moisture to baste ingredients and tenderize meat, making them a perfect tool for set-it-and-forget-it recipes. But slow cookers are surprisingly versatile, able to make everything from bread to potpourri. Whether you’re looking for great hands-off recipes, or trying to free up stove space during the holidays, here are some of the strangest things (most of them edible and some not) that you can make with your slow cooker.

Related: 52 Recipes to Keep Your Slow Cooker Bubbling While You're Busy

Homemade Soap
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Soap

Soapmaking boils down to a simple formula: combine liquid, lye, and fat. With this recipe and an old slow cooker, you can make your own “hot process” soap in about an hour (though many soapmakers cure the soap for a week or two). Just be sure to wear protective gloves and eyewear, as working with lye can be dangerous.

Recipe: Wellness Mama 

Slow cooker pizza
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Pizza

If you want to make pizza at home without dealing with screaming hot ovens, pizza stones, or complicated doughs, then slow-cooker pizza is your best bet. This no-fuss recipe calls for layering three ingredients in your slow cooker — dough (made from a simple biscuit mix), cheese, and a jar of pizza sauce — and letting it cook for two hours. Add toppings as desired. (Need more inspiration? Here are 25 Yummy Pizza Recipes: From Plain Cheese to Peking Duck.)

Recipe: Food.com

Potpourri
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Potpourri

A good slow-cooked meal fills your home with delightful and irresistible scents. The same goes for slow-cooked potpourri. Making it in your slow cooker is as simple as combining water with your favorite aromatics, such as cinnamon, vanilla, apple, chamomile, and almond extract, which are the five ingredients in this autumny potpourri recipe. Just remember to add more warm water as the mixture evaporates. (You might want to use the potpourri as part of some Thoughtful and Easy DIY Holiday Gifts That Will Save You Money.)

Recipe: Food.com

Slow cooker bread
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Bread

Do you prefer bread with a softer crust? If so, baking bread in a slow cooker is the way to go, considering the dough isn’t going to brown as much as it would in the oven. This recipe may take a bit more preparation and attention than others on our list, but it’s a great option for when your oven’s already in use, or when it’s too hot to turn it on.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Related: Top Bread Makers and Other Bread-Making Supplies for Baking at Home

Homemade Crayons
Homemade Crayons by John Fladd (CC BY-SA)

Recycled Crayons

Instead of letting your kids’ half-used crayons go to waste, recycle them with this crafty method, which calls for lining your slow cooker with disposable muffin tins, placing similarly colored crayons into each, and cooking on high until melted. Then pour the mixture into molds and let cool until hardened.

Recipe: Real Simple

Cheesecake
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Cheesecake

Using a slow cooker to bake cheesecake is a great option when using the oven to cook other dishes. This recipe simplifies the typical water-bath step of the cheesemaking process by adding to your slow cooker a shallow layer of water, atop which the cheesecake bakes on a wire rack for about two hours.

Recipe: Cookistry

Spicy Peanuts
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Spicy Peanuts

This set-it-and-forget-it recipe is great for when you want to whip up an easy snack while you’re cooking dinner. Just combine peanuts with butter and chili powder, set your slow cooker to high, stir occasionally, and remove to cool after about two hours. Tip: Add a bit of sugar to hit the salty-sweet-spicy trifecta (as other slow-cooker peanut recipes do).

Recipe: Simple Nourished Living

Gooey Brownies
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Brownies

This recipe makes something like a “brownie-lava cake hybrid,” with lightly crisped edges and a gooey center. The trick is to first line your slow cooker with aluminum foil and parchment paper to prevent overcooking. Then cook low and slow for about 2½ hours.

Recipe: Oprah

Related: 25 Simple Depression-Era Desserts That Actually Are Indulgent

Greek Yogurt
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Foolproof Homemade Yogurt

No need to spend $30 to $200 on a yogurt maker if you have a slow cooker and thermometer at home. Using this simple three-ingredient recipe, you can make several jars of homemade yogurt for less than $10. Just note that you’ll need a small amount of organic yogurt (which contains active cultures) to get your homemade yogurt started. Fortunately, you’ll be able to use a half-cup of your finished product to start your next batch.

Recipe: One Good Thing

Apple Butter
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Apple Butter

This recipe will not only make a delicious dessert spread, but the combination of apples, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves will also fill your home with the cozily familiar scents of autumn. Sure, slow cooking apple butter is an all-day project that requires the occasional stir. But the upsides are that apple butter makes for a great homemade gift, and you can freeze it in jars for up to a year. (Check out these 20 Things You Didn't Know About Apples.)

Recipe: My Baking Addiction

Bacon Jam
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Bacon Jam

Sweet, smoky, and salty, bacon jam is a decadent condiment that’s commonly applied to burgers. But it pairs well with many dishes, such as omelettes, oysters, potatoes, salads, and pancakes. A slow cooker is a great option for this recipe because bacon jam is a reduction, meaning low and slow heat is the way to go. (Love bacon? Check out these 26 Amazing Bacon Dishes Across America.)

Recipe: A Wicked Whisk

The Original Chex Party Mix
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Chex Mix

This recipe is slightly different from the original Chex “Party Mix” popularized in the 1950s, but it’s arguably better, thanks to the addition of Cheerios, pretzels, and a bit of spice. Making Chex mix in a slow cooker is mostly hands off, but you do need to occasionally stir the mixture to prevent burning. Also, consider adding a touch of sugar to balance out the salty flavors. (These 33 Holiday Slow Cooker Recipes to Feed a Crowd will come in handy, too.)

Recipe: Gimme Some Oven

Indulge With a Chocolate Fondue Party
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Chocolate Fondue

Few desserts are as simple and versatile as chocolate fondue, which is essentially just chocolate chips, cream, and a touch of salt. Once the mixture melts, simply dip your favorite hand-held (or skewered) treats into the chocolate, like fruits, marshmallows, and pretzels. Some less common (but still delicious) options: popcorn, potato chips, and croissants.

Recipe: Tasty

Steel-Cut Oatmeal
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Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Want to wake up to a warm breakfast that requires just a couple minutes of work? At night, coat your slow cooker with butter, and add water, milk, salt, sugar, and steel-cut oats. (Steel-cut oats are perfect for slow cooking because they take longer to cook than old-fashioned oats.) Cook on low heat overnight, and stir in a touch of vanilla in the morning. (If oatmeal sounds boring, you'll want to see these 20 Oatmeal Recipes That Will Make You Miss Going to Brunch a Little Less.)

Recipe: Chowhound