30+ Satisfying Slow-Cooker Dinners You Can Make With One Hand Tied Behind Your Back
The humble slow cooker is the closest appliance we have to magic. And when you lack the time, energy, or motivation for more involved methods of cooking, the slow cooker is a true blessing. We’ve rounded up our easiest slow cooker dinners of all time, because ending the day with a delicious meal shouldn’t — and doesn’t — have to drain you. These slow cooker dinner recipes require minimal prep so you can put mealtime in motion right off the bat.
Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken and Black Bean Soup
This filling and flavorful soup is ideal for a chilly evening. Freeze leftover chipotle chiles and adobe sauce in a flattened Ziploc bag for future use. Want to make it in your Instant Pot? Click here for the recipe.
Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa
This easy slow cooker recipe is the only one you need for a fiesta night. Slow cooking requires little fat, so trim the excess from meats and poultry. Preserve the flavor of fresh herbs by adding them to the dish once it comes out of the slow cooker. Removing the slow cooker lid while cooking releases valuable heat, so resist the urge to check on the dish as it cooks. There is no need to stir ingredients in a slow cooker unless your recipe calls for it. Slow cooking creates moisture, so you often don’t need as much liquid as when you are cooking in an oven.
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.
Soulful Chicken Soup
No dish is quite as soothing as a hearty bowl of chicken noodle soup. Slow cookers couldn't have made the road to comfort any easier: Simply toss in the ingredients, switch on, and then walk away. We love old-fashioned, wide egg noodles for this recipe. To make sure they aren't mushy and overcooked, don't leave them in the slow cooker any longer than 10 minutes.
Slow Cooker Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes and Carrots
There's no better way to celebrate St. Paddy than with a showstopping feast of beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. To create the traditional flavor profile of corned beef and cabbage without the traditionally massive sodium spike, we simmer brisket in a strong aromatic spice blend at low and slow heat rather than starting with brined beef.
Slow Cooker Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
White meat can dry out after a long haul in the slow cooker, so we opt for bone-in thighs to guarantee optimal flavor and succulence. Make prep easier with prepeeled garlic, and pretty-up the platter with lemon slices and thyme sprigs.
Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
A house full of guests requires a great meal that’s also easy on the cook, and our Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce is exactly that. This hearty meat sauce serves 12 people generously—or 16 people if you serve smaller portions or have lots of side dishes. Made with ground beef, spicy Italian sausage, and diced pancetta plus red wine, Italian seasoning, and lots of vegetables, it’s a robust, fully flavored topping for your favorite pasta. Best of all, this Bolognese sauce tastes incredible even when made ahead. (In fact, it may taste even better after the flavors have had a few days to come together.) The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days or frozen in an airtight container (or ziplock freezer bags) up to 3 months.
Slow Cooker Beef-and-Sweet Potato Chili
Leaving the peels on the sweet potatoes has three benefits: Prep is faster, you add more fiber, and the potatoes hold their shape better after the 7-hour simmer. Besides, the peels get so tender that you barely notice they're there. If you'd like to change things up, try parsnips in place of the sweet potatoes; they have a similar sweetness and earthier flavor. For less sweetness, you can try small red potatoes or baby Yukon Golds. You don't need to fully cook the ground beef before it goes into the slow cooker; just cook it enough to "set" the shape of the crumbles.
Slow Cooker Ramen Bowls
Any ramen lover will tell you--it's all about the broth. We build layers of rich umami flavor with the help of mushroom stems, fresh ginger, kombu (a type of edible kelp), sesame oil, and, of course, low and slow heat.
Slow Cooker Beef Fajitas
Start these easy slow cooker fajitas when you get home and they'll be ready by dinner time. There's no hassle, no rush, and most importantly, no mess!
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 Chicken Tikka Masala
We love the heat level in this slow cooker take on tikka masala to fend off winter chill. If the spice kick is too much for your family, you can cut the red pepper down by half without losing any of the dynamic flavor layers.
Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup with Bacon
Packed with veggies and flavored with a little bacon, this recipe will warm you up on a chilly day. This hearty soup is as versatile as it is delicious. Substitute collards for the kale, use another type of small dried beans, or add heat with red pepper flakes. And because it’s made in a slow cooker, you don’t have to stand over the stove stirring it for hours. Just prepare the bacon in the microwave, crumble it, then add it along with the vegetables and other ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW until the potatoes and beans are fork-tender, 5 1⁄2 to 6 hours.
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Brisket
Slow cooking tougher cuts of meat, such as beef brisket, gives you a meltingly tender texture. For tacos, serve the saucy barbacoa in tortillas with green and red onion, cilantro leaves, jalapeño slices, and fresh lime wedges.
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 Mississippi Pork Roast
Try classic Mississippi pot roast with pork for a juicier, less expensive twist. It’s comforting, super savory, rich, and delicious, and the juicy, tender meat falls apart just like a good pot roast should. It makes a great dinner, especially paired with dinner rolls, mashed potatoes or rice. This recipe will also work with a bone-in pork butt. Best of all, the opportunities to utilize the leftovers are endless—try them in tacos, barbecue sandwiches, stews, and more.
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 Lazy Lasagna Soup
Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
Barbecue season is here, but we'll let you in on a secret: All you really need for crowd-pleasing ribs is the right recipe and a slow cooker. Savory, tender, juicy, and slow-cooked to perfection, this recipe for Easy BBQ Ribs is our newest and best. And just because it's easy doesn't mean this recipe lacks character. Add our homemade Rib Rub and Fancy Barbecue Sauce for a foolproof meal that's truly special.
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.
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 Jambalaya Soup
Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti
Spend 20 minutes in the kitchen prepping this gorgeous, hearty sauce. Once the sauce simmers in the cooker, all that's left to do is cook a pound of pasta, and serve.
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.
Slow Cooker Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa Stew
Look for bags of cubed butternut squash in the produce section to save you the trouble of peeling and dicing a whole squash. Find Castelvetrano olives either jarred in the olive and pickle section or fresh at most specialty market antipasti bars. If you can’t find them, use any green olive you like. Want to make it in your Instant Pot? Get the recipe here.
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.
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.
Easy Brunswick Stew
The best part about this scrumptious dish is right in the name of the recipe–it's exceptionally easy to make. Just combine all of the ingredients, set your slow cooker for 8 hours, and serve this classic stew with a hunk crusty bread. This cook-out favorite can be made a day or so in advance of serving--the flavors grow more richly intense with time. If you refrigerate before serving, you can return the stew to your slow cooker and reheat, uncovered, over low heat--giving it an occasional stir--until warmed through.
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.
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.