Photo: Ryan Szulc

The All-in-One (and All-Star) Chicken Dinner
This simple yet not-boring twist on chicken stew hits every note: It's homemade and comforting, easy to throw together and just a little different from the usual. It includes barley, an ingredient that feels fresh and new, and the grains give the dish some nice heft, so it's a complete and 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: Alan Richardson

A Sunshiny Antidote to the Winter Blahs
Moroccan stews (aka tagines) are traditionally cooked in cone-shape tagine pots, but you can easily recreate the steamy environment in a slow cooker. The region's rich and colorful spirit comes across in this sweet veggie stew, which incorporates butternut squash, rutabaga, carrot and apricot. It looks fantastic on the plate, and makes for an unexpectedly robust meal served with couscous.

Get the recipe: Golden Vegetable Tagine

Photo: Carrie Vitt

The Supper to Eat When Your Cheeks Are Flushed and Your Legs Are Sore
After an invigorating day of sledding or skiing, pot roast is a godsend, since it's warm and satisfying, yet doesn't require more than a few minutes of hands-on time. And while the basic recipe calls for carrots, we love swapping in parsnips; their sweet, nutty taste is a nice complement to the rich beef.

Get the recipe: 6-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

Photo: Jennifer Tyler Lee

The Pasta Sauce That Can Do Anything
Ladle it over noodles, spoon it over spaghetti squash, layer it into lasagna stuff it into zucchini—the uses for Bolognese are seemingly endless. This healthier take on the Italian classic features ground turkey, as well as olive oil, leeks, garlic, tomatoes, chicken broth and oregano, so it's fresh and light, yet still hearty enough for a frigid day.

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese

Photo: TeodoraDjordjevic/Thinkstock

A Soup That Tastes As Lively As It Looks
Laced with cumin, coriander and cardamom, this buttery-tasting pumpkin soup is a warm and spicy dish to curl up with when the wind chill's below zero. The winter squash holds up surprisingly well in the slow cooker; in fact, after hours in the pot, its deep orange color becomes even more intense. The finished dish is a thick, creamy soup that combines sugar and spice.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Curried Pumpkin Soup

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 include shiitake mushrooms, minced garlic, five-spice powder and a bit of red-pepper flakes, among other ingredients. The addition you didn't see coming? A quarter-cup of dark maple syrup, which adds a pleasing counterpoint to the spices. Its sweet taste and caramel color feel just right on cold winter day.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Thigh Hot Pot

Photo: Matt Armendariz

A Year-Round Corn Chowder
Here's a bright way to chase the winter blues away: a veggie soup that relies on sweet, summery corn (from the freezer aisle) for a peppy taste—and look. The recipe also includes cauliflower, red bell pepper, onion and baby red potatoes (leave the skins on for even more color), plus a bit of unsweetened almond milk for thickness. It's lovely any time of year, but will especially perk you up on a day when summer barbecues seem light-years away.

Get the recipe: Cauliflower and Corn Soup

Photo: Thinkstock

A Homemade Twist on a Windy-City Classic
Making pizza in a slow cooker eliminates two of the common pitfalls of cooking it in the oven: stretching the dough into an evenly formed shape that's neither too thick nor too thin; and, keeping the pizza from going from undercooked to burnt-to-a-crisp before you know it. This indulgent-tasting, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza has the added bonus of being lighter than the restaurant version, as it's made with just a tablespoon of oil.

Get the recipe: Puttanesca Pizza

Photo © Tara Donne

The Cheesy, Melty Dip That Instantly Conveys "Swiss Chalet"
Baked Brie is a bit like cheater's fondue (and we're all for it)—and while there are dozens of ways to make the classic appetizer, this version is one we hadn't tried before. 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 ideal with crackers, sliced apples or toast points.

Get the recipe: Brie with a Cranberry Balsamic Sauce

Photo: AnnaPustynnikova/iStock/Thinkstock

The Lava-Cake-Like Dessert
A dense and very chocolaty treat is just the thing for a freezing-cold day—and all the better if you eat it when it's still warm. These slow-cooker brownies fit the bill, and then some. The batter is basic (it includes a stick-and-a-half of butter, which helps impart a gooey consistency), and results in custardy brownies that are the perfect indulgence for when the wind is howling outside.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Brownies