Our Best Slow Cooker Dinners Of All Time
There's nothing more satisfying than coming home after a long day to a house that already smells like dinner. A good slow cooker supper is the ultimate set it and forget it meal. Put away your pots and pans, because we've compiled our absolute best slow cooker dinners of all time.
Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
Slow-Cooker Brisket with Smoked Paprika
Save time and oven space and use a slow-cooker for brisket that's tender when pierced, with a rich, velvety sauce. Start in the morning and you'll have brisket by dinnertime.
Slow-Cooker Four-Cheese Spaghetti with Italian Sausage
Switch up your go-to slow-cooker meals and go for a cheesy pasta dish that's loaded with hearty sausage. It's a great option for the entire family, and you can take the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Using a slow-cooker to braise pork means you can start this recipe in the morning, go about your day, and just sizzle the meat right before dinner. Store any leftover carnitas in the cooking liquid and use for sandwiches, or serve over polenta.
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
While the chicken becomes fall-apart tender, briny capers, crushed red pepper, and garlic infuse the tomatoes for a robust marinara sauce.
Slow Cooker Chicken Congee
The slow cooker does all the work in this comforting rice porridge, breaking down the rice with fragrant ginger and star anise and poaching the chicken until silky. A bit of chili oil is the vibrant kick this dish needs. You can also use Sriracha or a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Cilantro or baby spinach leaves can work in place of the watercress.
Slow Cooker Chicken Posole
Think of posole as chili's brothier, lighter cousin, a Mexican version of chicken soup. Posole is also a name for the hominy, or rehydrated dried corn, that goes in the dish.
Slow Cooker Chicken, Bacon, and Potato Soup
This chicken potato soup is perfect for ushering in fall: It's hearty enough for the beginning of soup season, yet brothy and veggie-packed so it doesn't feel too heavy. This recipe is ideal for a weekend, when you can check on the slow cooker after just a few hours. Although you can’t leave it unattended all day, this chicken potato soup still offers the benefit of hands-free, fuss-free cooking. Baby red, Yukon Gold, or fingerling potatoes will all work well here, as they'll maintain their shape nicely during cooking. Pair this easy chicken and potato soup with a slaw or kale side salad and crusty whole-grain bread for a healthy, satisfying dinner.
Slow-Cooker Ginger, Sweet Tea, and Whiskey Short Ribs
Short ribs are often considered a cold weather dish, but we gave them a makeover for summer with a bright, tangy sauce (inspired by spiked sweet tea) and a fresh, herbal topping of parsley, scallions, and lemon zest. Serve these easy-to-prepare slow cooker ribs atop grits, mashed potatoes, or egg noodles or alongside potato salad with a tangy, vinegar-based (not mayonnaise-based) dressing.
Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder
This creamy soup makes an indulgent but not too heavy meal on a hot summer day. Pick the freshest sweet corn you can find.
Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa
Slow Cooker Rosemary Beef Chuck Roast
Set your slow cooker on low and go on about your day knowing that dinner is gonna be delicious. In this simple set-it-and-forget-it dish, beef chuck roast cooks in a flavor-packed rosemary marinade, full of fresh rosemary leaves and onions for a succulent, highly comforting entree. The habanero pepper delivers a detectable heat, but the spice factor is not overwhelming. However, if you’re sensitive to heat, use a quarter of the pepper instead of half (or omit it altogether). The remaining liquid in the slow cooker can be cooked down on the stovetop into a rich, flavorful gravy to top the beef, along with your favorite starchy side—rice, mashed potatoes, or roasted sweet potatoes would all make great options.
Slow Cooker Santa Fe Meatloaf
Oven-baked meatloaf can turn dry, but the moisture-sealing magic of the slow cooker makes this one melt in your mouth.
Slow Cooker Korean Pork Lettuce Wraps
This dish is great for a casual get-together or a weeknight meal (with leftovers). The seasoning paste is modeled after Korean ssamjang--a concentrated, salty, slightly spicy concoction. Unlike traditional versions, though, ours is made with grocery store ingredients for ease and convenience.
Simple Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash
As easy as it gets, this is a great, hands-off, and foolproof method for making slow cooker spaghetti squash. Use the slow-cooked squash for salads, as a veggie swap for pasta noodles, or as a simple fall side dish.
One-Ingredient Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions
Don’t feel like standing over a pan of gently sautéing onions? Simply toss them in the slow cooker, let them go (8 hours or overnight), and come back to beautifully tender-sweet caramelized onions—perfect for folding into dips, stirring into sides and salads, layering onto sandwiches, and more.
Simple Slow Cooker Whole Chicken
This simple whole chicken recipe is great served as is with crusty bread or over rice, but it’s also a great way to cook chicken ahead of time to use in a variety of dishes, such as chicken salad, soups, and casseroles.
Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Corn Slow-Cooker Chowder
Great for a game-day get-together, this hearty and creamy soup feeds a crowd with little hands-on time required.
Creamy Potato-and-Ham Hock Slow-Cooker Soup
The potatoes absorb the rich, smoky flavor of the ham hocks in this one-pot soup. Serve with crusty bread, a salad, and hot sauce on the side for an easy meal both kids and adults will love.
Slow Cooker Thai Beef Curry
Slow-Cooker Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey
If your Thanksgiving tradition includes a smoked turkey, save one of the legs for this easy, soul-satisfying soup. Otherwise, look for smoked turkey legs near the bacon at your grocery store (or use a ham hock).
Slow Cooker Bourbon-Peach Baked Beans
Skip the canned baked beans in favor of our fuss-free version, which saves up to 300mg sodium per serving. Adobo sauce and bacon build a smoky backbone, while peak-season peaches offer sweet contrast. Bonus: The beans will stay warm in a covered slow cooker for up to 2 hours after being unplugged.
How to Make Slow-Cooker French Toast
You may think you don’t need another French toast recipe, but actually, I think you do. More like a creamy bread pudding, this slow-cooker French toast is filling and packed with flavor, yet completely low-maintenance. It’s also perfect for mornings with a chill in the air, when you’re craving something a bit more cozy than cold yogurt or a piece of fruit dipped in nut butter.
Slow-cooker French toast layers thick slices of egg and milk-soaked French bread or challah with thinly sliced bananas and raisins for sweetness (try other dried fruits for different kinds of sugary fun). With the slow-cooker set to low, this French toast takes 2-3 hours to finish, but it’s completely hands-off. In the meantime, text back your friend, take a shower, have first breakfast—the time is yours to do what you wish. When the toast is done, cover it with jam, maple syrup, or a drizzle of smooth tahini.
Slow-Cooker French Toast
Mix together eggs, milk, vanilla extract, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk in a glug of heavy cream if you have some in the fridge. Slice bananas thinly. Cut each slice in of bread in half diagonally. Grease a slow cooker with cooking spray, and lay the half sliced bread in a single layer in the pot. Layer half the sliced bananas over the bread. Throw in a handful of raisins over the bananas if using. Cover the first layer of the French toast casserole with 1 tablespoon of the butter, shredded to make for easy scattering.
Make another bread-and-banana layer, then drizzle the egg mixture over the whole thing. The liquid shouldn’t cover the bread completely, but it should reach more than halfway up the side of the slow cooker. Add more milk if the liquid doesn’t reach the halfway mark. Top the mixture with another tablespoon of grated butter, then sprinkle with another tablespoon or two of brown sugar.
Turn on the slow cooker set to low and cook for two and three hours.
Serve slow-cooker French toast with fruit, maple syrup, chopped nuts, melted nut butter, or tahini.
Slow Cooker Strata Lets You Feel Like Martha Stewart, But Way Lazier
Strata always seemed to me like a super-fancy brunch dish for elegant people. Like the kind of thing you make when you are a really well-organized person of the world, who remembers to assemble this breakfast bread pudding while wearing an organic linen apron you sewed yourself, in between pruning your rosebushes and sending out this week's birthday cards to loved ones and business acquaintances. In the mail. With pretty stamps.
I used to only make strata when we had houseguests for the weekend, and then only because you put it together the day before and let it hang around in the fridge and toss it in a hot oven in the morning, thus eliminating the stress-inducing conversations about how everyone likes their eggs and praying no one wants theirs sunny-side-up or over-easy. Only a skilled short order cook can make those with any competency. I am not a short order cook of any skill. Strata was just not a weekday breakfast—until it hit me. If usually I let my strata sit overnight in the fridge before cooking for a short time, what would happen if I didn’t let it sit at all and just cooked it low and slow all night while I slept?
Magic, that’s what happens people, magic. Layer the ingredients in a slow cooker pot, mix a custard and pour it over. Then cook it on low overnight and wake up to delicious brunch-worthy breakfast without going full Martha.
Strata means layers, and those layers can be anything you want. Any breadstuff you have lying around, part of an artisanal loaf slightly past its prime? Glorious. Even slices of crappy white bread, English muffins, bagels, or frozen waffles are fair game, just use what you’ve got. Tear them into pieces, toss with a bit of melted butter and divide that mess in half. Put the first half in the bottom of your well-greased slow cooker pot. (If you want to swap out bread for a different carb like leftover pasta, tater tots, or cooked rice, go right ahead.)
Now it's time for some fun. You need fillings. Yes, you can layer in last night's kung pao or shred up those last two pieces of chicken from dinner. Any vegetables floating around in your crisper drawer—chop 'em up and layer them in. You just want to avoid packing anything tightly, because you want holes and nooks and crannies for the custard to flow into.
Any cheese you like is great in this, whatever you have, shredded or crumbled over the first layer of filling, then the second layer of bread and repeat. Season with salt and pepper as you go, and feel free to layer in your favorite herbs or spices, fresh or dried. Top with more cheese.
You can even make a sweet version with cinnamon raisin bread or leftover croissants. Layer that with dollops of cottage cheese, or ricotta or farmers cheese and chopped fresh or dried fruit, a sprinkle of warm spices, and a bit of sugar and vanilla, and a healthy plop of sour cream added to the custard.
Speaking of custard, grab 8 eggs and whisk them with a couple cups of milk (or a combo of milk and half and half or cream, whatever you’ve got). I prefer whole milk or 2 percent, but it will work fine with skim. Season that with salt and pepper. Add in a tablespoon of something extra: Dijon mustard, miso paste, gochujang if you’re feeling spicy, or tahini if you’re craving Middle Eastern flavors. It's just a bit of extra punch.
Mix the custard well, pour it over the layers, and give it a press or two on the top to be sure the bread is getting soaked. Pop the lid on and let it hang out in your fridge until bedtime. Then put in in the cooker base, set it on low for 8 hours and go to bed. In the morning you only need a spoon and a bowl and the beverage of your choice.
This strata lends itself to garnishing, which you can easily do while your coffee is brewing. Maybe a bit of a crunchy topping if you’re feeling like you need some contrast, some crispy canned fried onions or crumbled potato chips, chopped nuts, or toasted buttered bread crumbs. Don’t be shy about sauces if you like them, a bit of barbecue sauce, a splash of hot sauce, a drizzle of sweet soy or maple syrup, or even a splash of ranch if you swing that way. You do you at breakfast.
It’s also great cold, like a crustless quiche, cut in wedges on morning two for an easy handheld nosh in the car en route to work.
Note: I make this in a 4-quart cooker, which makes for a nice thick circular strata. If you have a larger oval one, you will end up with a little less loft, but no less deliciousness.
Basic Slow Cooker Strata
Slow Cooker Cheesy Cottage Potatoes
Cottage potatoes can be both a side dish and a main dish—especially at breakfast. Either way, they’re always popular. The ingredients are pantry staples, and if you don’t have a bell pepper on hand then just leave it out. Serve this with a good cranberry sauce.
Note: This recipe is ideally suited to a six-quart oval slow cooker, but use what you have.
Excerpted from Stock the Crock by Phyllis Good. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
This is a great use for leftover baked potatoes.
These potatoes also make great hash browns the next morning.
Make it gluten-free
Use gluten-free bread for the bread cubes. Cornbread is also a delicious option.
Make it for picky eaters
If you have veggie-haters, omit the onions and green peppers and increase the amount of potatoes, bread cubes, and cheese. The flavor changes, but it’s still tasty with the rosemary, butter, and cheese.
Slow-Cooker Collard Greens with Ham Hocks
When cooked low and slow, the tender ham hocks completely fall apart and infuse the collard greens with a savory, smoky flavor. Carefully remove the hocks before serving to make sure no bones remain.
Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup
Simple flavors and a rustic touch will make this soup an instant home-cooked favorite, especially on chilly, wintry days. Inexpensive dried lentils make up the bulk of the soup, helping fill in your fiber gaps and keep you full longer. Chickpeas are the secret ingredient to achieve supreme creaminess, which become delightfully smooth when blended, and sneak in an extra 3g fiber per serving.
Slow Cooker Shrimp Boil
For a classic summery meal without a fuss, look no further than this slow cooker shrimp boil. With a simple ingredient list and a largely hands-off cooking method, this easy seafood boil is a perfect recipe to plan on for casual warm weather entertaining or even as a low-effort meal to make at the rental house during a beach vacation. We opted to pull the corn out after 30 minutes of cooking as we preferred it on the crisp side, but as long as your slow cooker is large enough, feel free to leave it in the pot as the shrimp and sausage cook.
Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos
This is going to become your new go-to on taco night. Pork shoulder becomes meltingly tender as it slow-cooks in the chile- and garlic-infused citrus sauce. Searing the pork in a skillet for just a minute adds a depth of flavor you don't otherwise get in a slow cooker. Mildly spicy ancho chile (dried poblano peppers) adds authentic chile flavor to the sauce. Look for dried chiles in the produce or bulk spice department in large supermarkets. To serve taco truck–style, tuck the carnitas into warm corn tortillas and keep the toppings simple with diced white onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Pair with slaw on the side.
Home-Style Slow-Cooker Pot Roast
Certain comfort foods are synonymous with Sunday supper, the meal that brings the family together. The convenience of a slow cooker makes it easy to enjoy this classic any day of the week. Be sure to cut the vegetables into large, uniform pieces so they will hold up during the long cook time.
Slow Cooker Sweet-and-Sour Chicken
This may be our easiest slow cooker recipe yet. There’s no browning in the skillet, no last-minute stovetop sauce—all the magic happens right in the slow cooker. Craving crunch? Serve it as a wrap in the cabbage of your choice.