Photo: Samantha Skaggs

The Chicken Soup You'd Eat on a Mediterranean Getaway
Fresh lemon and dill are fantastic with fish dishes, lending a bright and sunny note to an array of mild seafoods. As it turns out, these two ingredients can also add wonderful new dimensions to humdrum chicken soup. This recipe, from Samantha Skaggs' new book Real Food Slow Cooker Suppers, has you simmer bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and thighs in the Crock-Pot until they're tender; then you remove the skin and bones, gently tear the meat into large chunks and return them to the slow cooker, along with orzo, lemon juice and fresh dill. In 10 minutes, you'll have a vibrant soup that does an impressive job of beating the winter blahs.

Get the recipe: Lemony Chicken-Orzo Soup with Dill

Photo: Kelly Kwok

A Beloved Party Snack Like Never Before
As if we needed another reason to love nachos, Kelly Kwok offers an insanely good twist on the classic in her book, The Asian Slow Cooker. She cooks chicken thighs or breasts in a mixture of Buffalo sauce, sweet chili sauce, honey, soy sauce and chili flakes until it's shreddable. Then she arranges the cooked meat over a layer of tortilla chips, tops it with Monterey Jack and cheddar and bakes it for five minutes. She serves these sweet and spicy nachos with jalapeños, green onions and cilantro, though they'd also go well with sliced olives, dollops of sour cream and/or diced avocado.

Get the recipe: Firecracker Chicken Nachos

Photo: Katie Webster

A Chicken Stew with an Asian Twist
The flavors in this hearty chicken stew are inspired by a traditional Chinese hot pot, and there are plenty of familiar ingredients, such as shiitake mushrooms, minced garlic, five-spice powder and some red-pepper flakes. But there's a surprise addition: a quarter-cup of dark maple syrup, which adds a pleasing counterpoint to the spices and makes the meaty dish feel fresh and new.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken-Thigh Hot Pot

Photo: Ryan Szulc

Meat and a Side, All in One
Here's a recipe bound for the regular rotation: It's simple to make but not boring, since it includes barley, an ingredient that feels fresh and new. Plus, the grains give the dish some nice heft, so all you need to do is throw together a last-minute salad to make a complete, filling meal. The recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken-thigh meat and a good glug of white wine, along with leeks, which slowly melt into the dish as they cook and are a terrific contrast to the pleasantly chewy barley.

Get the recipe: Crock-Pot Chicken, Barley and Leeks

Photo: Ryan Szulc

Healthy Carnitas That Still Taste Ridiculously Good
Lightening up carnitas, the crispy pork filling you can pile into tortillas, is no easy feat. That's because switching to a leaner protein, such as chicken, and skipping the whole fried-in-oil step can result in dried-out meat that lacks the rich flavor and soft texture of the original. Make chicken carnitas in a slow cooker, though, and you'll have fall-apart tender, juicy meat that's healthy, too.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Carnitas

Photo: Stephen Conroy

A Brand New Take on a Classic Winter Warmer
If you love chicken soup but want to add more veggies—not to mention a whole new flavor dimension—try this vibrant version. It starts with a whole chicken that you poach in the slow cooker, along with the usual vegetables, such as carrots and onions. Here's where things get really interesting: You also toss in aromatic ginger, garlic, star anise and soy sauce. Once the chicken is cooked, you remove it, shred it into bite-size pieces and return it to the pot, along with snow peas, bok choy and egg noodles for a unique and delicious soup that's nutritious, too.

Get the recipe: Fragrant Spiced-Chicken
Tarragon Chicken

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A Very French Comfort Food
Poulet à l'estragon (tarragon chicken) is standard on bistro menus in France; it's one of those dishes that combines basic ingredients you may never have considered putting together—yet makes total sense. Here, it's sweet, anise-like tarragon, cream and falling-off-the-bone chicken; the delicate herb stands up surprisingly well to the other robust flavors. After six hours in the slow cooker, you'll have the most tender meat, a rich sauce—and will have barely had to do a thing.

Get the recipe: Tarragon Chicken
Slow-Cooker Cilantro Cumin Chicken Chili

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The Light Spin on a Classic
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. 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
Slow-Cooker Provençal Lemon and Olive Chicken

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The Laid-Back, Lemon-Infused Meal
It doesn't get much easier than this Provençal chicken dinner: Scatter chopped onions in the bottom of the slow cooker, top with chicken thighs, place a lemon slice on each and toss in pitted, green olives, a dash of white-wine vinegar, some dried herbs and chicken stock. In a few hours, you'll have a simple yet hearty dinner that goes well with nearly any side.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Provençal Lemon and Olive Chicken
Slow-Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese

Photo: Erin Clarke

The Italian Salad-Turned-Main
Balsamic vinegar is fantastic with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, but in colder months we love this hot version of caprese. It's more substantial, too, since it puts chicken in the starring role. A slow cooker's low, slow heat helps mellow out the sometimes sharp-tasting balsamic, and makes a deeply flavored, thick sauce, keeping even breast meat, which often dries out in the Crock-Pot, supermoist.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese
Slow-Cooker Orange Chicken

Photo: Thinkstock

The Takeout Tradition Anyone Can Make
Orange Chicken is a classic Chinese-American dish, citrusy and sweet, and especially good served over rice that soaks up all the juices (and balances out the sugary flavor). This ridiculously easy recipe uses frozen orange-juice concentrate; just a half-can is enough for a pound and a half of chicken. And while it's certainly satisfying if you just follow the recipe to a T, you can also add grated garlic, ginger or red-pepper flakes to taste, or garnish with sliced scallions for a pleasantly contrasting kick.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Orange Chicken