Our Top Slow-Cooker Recipes for Fall
If you feel like you're too busy to enjoy apple, butternut squash and pumpkin season, you'll love these unfussy dishes.
By Lynn Andriani
Photo: © 2018 by Ghazalle Badiozamani
A New Pal for Pork Tenderloin
Pork's affinity for apples, peaches and plums is well-known, but slightly sweet autumnal butternut squash also happens to go nicely with the protein's subtle flavor. This recipe, from Melissa Hartwig's new The Whole30 Slow Cooker
, is incredibly easy, and even more so if you use the pre-cubed squash many supermarkets sell this time of year. Smoked paprika gives the dish a pleasant depth, making it feel special enough for a Sunday dinner—though we'd gladly eat it any day of the week.
Get the recipe: Pork Tenderloin with Butternut Squash
Your New Go-To Get-Together Drink
Here's a delicious, amazingly good-smelling mulled cider, or wine, recipe you'll want to make for every fall party—and it could not be easier. It's from Liana Krissoff's new Slow Cook Modern
, and can go in one of two directions: You can make it nonalcoholic by using a half-gallon of apple cider, or go the adults-only route and use a bottle of red wine. The other ingredients in this sweet and spiced hot drink are brown sugar, orange and lemon slices, fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, cardamom pods and nutmeg—which means that yes, the aroma is out of this world. You can serve the cider, or wine, straight from the slow-cooker, too, on your machine's low or keep-warm setting.
Get the recipe: Mulled Cider (or Wine)
Another Delicious Use for Pumpkin
Pumpkin isn't just fantastic with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. The buttery, earthy squash also is a natural for more sophisticated spices, such as cumin, coriander and cardamom. Toss cubes of pumpkin into the slow cooker along with onion, garlic, ginger, the spices, some chicken stock and a can of unsweetened coconut milk; and, in two or three hours, you'll have a thick, creamy soup that combines sweet and spicy flavors.
Get the recipe: Curried Pumpkin Soup
A Vibrant Veggie Dish That Highlights Fall's Bounty
Summer may get all the glory when it comes to colorful produce, but this recipe is a reminder of just how beautiful autumn vegetables can be. It stars bright-orange, sweet-tasting butternut squash and deep-green kale, plus creamy chickpeas and a supporting cast of some of our favorite flavor-boosters, such as garlic and smoky paprika.
Get the recipe: Kale, Chickpea and Butternut Squash Stew
Photo: © 2018 by Ghazalle Badiozamani
The Nutritious Noodle Bowl with a Seasonal Twist
The addition of apple cider to Hartwig's Asian noodle dish serves two happy purposes: it brings a lightly spiced, fall flavor to the broth; and it provides a fruity counterpoint to the spoonful of five-spice powder used to make the dish (the five spices are usually cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns). Bite-size strips of pork tenderloin and carrot noodles (or spiralized carrots) make up the bulk of the filling yet healthy soup, and they're kicked up with a smattering of sliced green onions, chopped cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.
Get the recipe: Asian Pork Noodle Bowls
A Beloved Game-Day Snack, Like Never Before
As if we needed another reason to love nachos, here's an insanely good twist on the classic. You cook chicken thighs, or breasts, in a mixture of Buffalo sauce, sweet chili sauce, honey, soy sauce and chili flakes until it's shreddable. Then, arrange the cooked meat over a layer of tortilla chips, top it with Monterey Jack and cheddar and bake for five minutes. Serve these sweet and spicy nachos with jalapeños, green onions and cilantro, or with sliced olives, dollops of sour cream and/or diced avocado.
Get the recipe: Firecracker Chicken Nachos
The No-Brainer Beef Supper
Busy fall weekends don't have to end with takeout on a Sunday night. This tried-and-true pot roast is perfect for days when you're running from sporting event to apple picking, since it's warm and filling yet doesn't require more than a few minutes of your time. And while the basic recipe calls for carrots, we love swapping in parsnips, which are in season from fall right through spring. Their sweet, nutty taste is a nice complement to the rich beef.
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 is perfect with the sweet-tart fruit. This smart recipe 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
The Baked Brie with 3 Can't-Miss Additions
There are dozens of ways to make festive, fondue-like baked Brie, but here is a version you may not have tried before, which draws on the dried form of a quintessential fall fruit: cranberries. You sprinkle tart, dried cranberries over the cheese, along with balsamic vinegar (which turns into a rich syrup when cooked) and finely chopped, fresh rosemary. The result is a savory and sweet complement to the melted, buttery Brie that's perfect with crackers, sliced apples or toast points.
Get the recipe: Brie with a Cranberry Balsamic Sauce
A Chicken Stew with an Asian Accent
The flavors in this hearty chicken stew are inspired by a traditional Chinese hot pot and include shiitake mushrooms, minced garlic, five-spice powder and a bit of red-pepper flakes, among other ingredients. But the surprise addition is a quarter-cup of dark maple syrup, which adds a pleasing counterpoint to the spices. And while the syrup is typically made in the spring, its sweet taste and caramel color feel just right on a cool and crisp fall day; plus, using maple syrup in a meaty dish, as Katie Webster shows us how to in her new book, Maple
, feels fresh and new.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Thigh Hot Pot
Photo: nicolebranan/iStock/Getty Images Plus
The Light Spin on a Game-Day Staple
If you've got a slow cooker, you've probably made chili in it, realizing, as we have, that it seems there's no limit to how long the meat and spices can spend simmering away, melding together in perfect harmony. It's a great dish to make for a game-watching crowd, too, since guests can help themselves and top off their chili bowls with their choice of fixings. Instead of beef, though, this recipe has you use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or thighs, cut into half-inch cubes. The poultry is surprisingly perfect with corn, green chilies, salsa, beans and cilantro; it's a milder meat than beef and lets the bright taste of all those other ingredients shine.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Cilantro-Cumin-Chicken Chili
A New Method for Making a Traditional Treat
Old-fashioned apple cake is such a nice sweet to have around; make it on a Sunday and you'll have a not-too-heavy, just-indulgent-enough dessert to eat all week (that is, if it lasts that long). We love this creative recipe from the new cook book, Slow Cooker Desserts
, by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore. You actually bake the cake in a springform pan set in the cooker, so you get a perfectly round cake but can actually leave the house while it bakes.
Get the recipe: Cider-Glazed Apple-Walnut Cake
A Spoonable Alternative to Pecan Pie
Although you can get pecans year-round, they're harvested in the fall
and the buttery-tasting nuts often show up in Thanksgiving desserts. Try them in Wyss and Moore's bread pudding, which combines cubed cinnamon-swirl bread with the crunchy nuts. In just a few hours, the slow cooker turns the egg- and milk-soaked bread into tender pudding that melts in your mouth.
Get the recipe: Praline-Pecan Bread Pudding
The Chutney That Has No Bounds
Keep a container of flavorful chutney on hand and you'll never be at a loss for a creative appetizer, lunch or dessert. This one incorporates cranberries, crystallized ginger, dried apricots, cinnamon and orange juice, so it makes a lovely sweet and spicy combination. Spoon it onto a block of cream cheese and either serve the two as a spread for crackers, dollop some on top of a wheel of Brie, add it to a grilled cheese sandwich, spread it on warm scones or let it accompany a slice of pound cake.
Get the recipe: Candied Cranberry and Crystallized Ginger Chutney
The Easiest Way to Make Your Toast Taste Like Fall
Apple butter is basically applesauce that's gone to the dark side. When you cook the ingredients (apples, cider, spices, lemon juice—plus some brown sugar) in a slow cooker for hours, their flavor concentrates. The sugar caramelizes and turns the apples deep brown. The longer you cook it, the better. Wyss and Moore suggest letting it simmer overnight, since it will thicken while you sleep, and you can wake up to warm, fresh apple butter to spread on toast, muffins or scones.
Get the recipe: Apple Butter