9 No-Work Slow-Cooker Meals
Forget browning meat or sautéing vegetables—just put the ingredients in and walk away until you smell something delicious.
The Dinner Version of a Beloved Mediterranean Salad
If you're a fan of the famous Italian salad known as caprese—a.k.a. tomato, mozzarella and basil—you're probably familiar with balsamic dressing. Its sweet, tangy taste adds interest to the ingredients' straightforward flavors. This (almost) zero-effort dinner from Erin Clarke, who writes the blog The Law Student's Wife
, combines all of those elements with chicken for a hearty supper. The slow cooker helps turn the vinegar, along with juices from a can of diced tomatoes, garlic, a red onion and some spices, into a delicious reduction.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese
The 6-Ingredient Classic Sunday Supper
blogger and The Grain-Free Family Table
author Carrie Vitt has such a simple version of pot roast that you'll follow her recipe once, put it into the regular rotation and never look at it again. It's that easy—you place sliced onions in the Crock-Pot, lay the roast on top and season with salt and pepper; then scatter chunks of potatoes over and around everything and cook on low for six hours. Crack open the lid, toss in thick slices of carrots and continue cooking for two more hours. The tender beef, melting carrots and hearty potatoes are one of the best low-effort, all-in-one meals you can make.
Get the recipe: 6-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Pot Roast
Photo: Rick Grant/iStock/Thinkstock
Proof That Pork and Applesauce Are Still a Perfect Match
Pork and apples are a classic pairing; the mild-tasting meat nicely complements the sweet-tart fruit. This smart recipe from Hope Comeford of A Busy Mom's Slow Cooker Adventures
has you combine a pork loin with sliced apples. As the fruit stews in the slow cooker, it softens into a slumpy, chunky sauce that would be great on its own, but is even better with juicy pork tenderloin.
Get the recipe: Apple and Onion Pork-Loin
A Shamefully Easy Beef Sandwich
, author of the Make It Fast, Cook It Slow series of cookbooks
and Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life
, says tangy, spicy shredded beef is as easy as putting two simple ingredients—beef chuck roast and a jar of pepperoncini peppers—in a slow cooker for eight hours. Pick up two more items—hamburger buns and sliced mozzarella or Swiss cheese—and you've got a rich, mellow-tasting dinner sandwich.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Peperoncini Beef Sandwiches
The Perfect Pantry Chili
When Karen Petersen, who writes the blog 365 Days of Slow Cooking
, accepted a challenge from a friend to make a slow-cooker recipe using only products from the dollar store, she came up with this spicy chili. It's a budget-friendly ($4 for six servings) dish anyone can make anytime. Stock the ingredients in your pantry for days when a trip to the grocery store just isn't in the cards.
Get the recipe: Kickin' Dollar Store Chili
Photo: Katerina Petrovska
A Classic Soup with a Healthy Boost
Leeks and potatoes have a natural affinity, whether braised, scalloped or softened in soup. Katerina Petrovska, the blogger behind Diethood
, combines these two winter vegetables with carrots, celery and garlic to make a deeply flavored soup that makes a fine meal with a nice crusty loaf of bread.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Leek and Potato Soup
A Pig Roast Without Digging a Hole in Your Backyard
Planning ahead is the only complicated part of this smoky shredded pork from Rachael Hutchings of La Fuji Mama
. It takes 16 to 20 hours to become perfectly soft and juicy. Otherwise, the process involves piercing the meat all over with the tip of a sharp knife, laying it in the slow cooker, rubbing salt all over and drizzling on a few spoonfuls of liquid smoke flavoring.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Kalua Pork
Chicken with Options
We love any recipe that boils down to one simple sentence: Place chicken and all ingredients into a slow cooker and cover with water. And while subsequent steps in this preparation from Tyler Florence suggest making dumplings and vegetables to serve on the side, this chicken is so good, so falling-apart tender, that it's perfect on its own.
Get the recipe: Chicken and Dumplings
Everyday Staples That Wow
A supremely comforting beef stew served over buttery egg noodles seems like the sort of thing that would require quite a lot of work, but Deb Thompson, who blogs at Just Short of Crazy
, has perfected a no-brainer recipe you can start before work with just a few basic ingredients and eat by 6 that evening.
Get the recipe: Crock-Pot Beef Stroganoff