These satisfying suppers are perfect for your busy schedule. Just toss in the ingredients and let your slow cooker do all the work.
Turn summer tomatoes into a dinnertime star.
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Tomato Sauce
This sweet-and-salty side could not be easier to prep on Thanksgiving morning. Best part? It's made in the slow cooker, so you're saving valuable stovetop space.
You're three steps away from a kid-friendly, company-worthy meal.
Recipe: Sausage-and-Bean Stew
Classic posole, a delicious slow-simmered Mexican pork stew often reserved for special occasions, is typically a time-consuming labor of love. But this one gives you all the comfort and flavor of the old-world version made in your slow cooker.
Recipe: Mexican Stew
This is no ordinary pot roast. First, it's rubbed with coffee. Then it simmers in dark stout beer and beef stock, yielding a deeply delicious gravy. Small carrots with tops and pearl onions elevate it further. Just be sure to pile the veggies on top of the beef after all other ingredients are in your cooker, so they'll cook perfectly and keep a vibrant color.
Recipe: Beer-Braised Pot Roast
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.
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti
Chipotle chiles add a kick, but sweet potatoes balance the heat. Adjust the spice in this homey chili by increasing or decreasing the amount of chipotle to suit your taste. Buy the large dried lima beans if you can find them. They really look amazing and also give the chili a decidedly Southern accent.
Recipe: Smoky Turkey-and-Sweet Potato Chili
Fresh tomatillos look like small green tomatoes wrapped in thin papery skin. Remove skin, and rinse before chopping. If you can't find fresh, look for canned on the Latin aisle at the grocery.
Recipe: Pork-and-Black Bean Chili
This classic red chili has chunks of stew meat and ground beef along with tomatoes, red beans, and spices. Fire-roasted tomatoes add a note of smokiness to the mix. If you can't find fire-roasted, use plain tomatoes and add a pinch of smoked paprika.
Recipe: Beef-and-Bean Chili
Classic cafeteria-style goodness, this recipe yields enough to serve as a side for a crowd, or it could be dinner for a family of four. Recipe by Pam Rawlinson, North Augusta, South Carolina.
Recipe: Uncle Jack's Mac-and-Cheese
This fun dish is two recipes in one: delicious, easy meatballs and a slow-simmered tangy tomato sauce. If you have any extra sauce, toss it with your favorite green vegetable, spoon it over a bowl of creamy grits, or pair it with pork chops or other meats.
Recipe: Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce
Canned whole peeled tomatoes work best in this delicious sauce. Use a pair of kitchen shears to coarsely cut them in the can, or squeeze them by hand.
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Sunday Sauce
Nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of hearty Brunswick stew. For extremely tender meat that's easy to shred, try cooking on low heat for a long time. High heat yields a less tender product.
- Recipe: Easy Brunswick Stew
Make your favorite creamy coleslaw to serve with or on this barbecue sandwich. Freeze any leftover meat for up to one month.
This pork-and-bean mixture is versatile. Serve it spooned over cornbread or rolled up burrito style in flour tortillas. Make hearty nachos, quesadillas, or tacos too. It can even be used as a meaty addition to huevos rancheros (fried corn tortillas topped with fried eggs and salsa).
- Recipes: Chalupa Dinner Bowl
Add a dash of hot sauce to your bowl for extra heat. Use a variety of your favorite beans, if you wish, in this recipe.
- Recipe: Slow-Cooker Veggie Chili
All you need is 20 minutes to get this dish in the slow cooker, then you have a hearty chicken and veggie supper waiting for you when you get home.
Recipe: Chicken Thighs With Carrots and Potatoes
Make a simple one-dish dinner that's sure to wow your guests. This beef recipe, flavored with gravy and mushrooms, is a hearty, filling dish. Pair with a salad or bread, for sopping up the sauce, and you're ready to eat.
- Recipe: Beef With Red Wine Sauce
Brown the meat in a Dutch oven, then let the slow cooker work its magic as the rich spices meld. You can also serve the versatile, tender beef over baked potatoes instead of in soft tortilla shells.
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Beef Tacos
Serve shredded brisket on top of tortillas with your choice of toppings for a creative taco night.
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Beef Brisket
Slow cookers don't brown food, so here we broil the ribs for extra flavor before adding them to the pot. Serve with cornbread and a simple green salad with creamy Italian or ranch dressing.
Recipe: Spicy-Sweet Ribs and Beans
If your company runs late, the meat for the burritos will hold for quite a while. Keep warm on low in the slow cooker, if necessary.
- Recipe: Easy Burritos
This Italian pot roast is an easy weeknight dinner. Play around with the mushroom selection; try baby portabellas or creminis.
- Recipe: Italian Pot Roast
This slow-cooker version of the fan favorite King Ranch Chicken Casserole is sure to please the whole family.
Tip: Removing the slow cooker's lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking gives the casserole oven-baked flavor and texture.
Recipe: King Ranch Chicken
Start with a whole chicken, cut up, and simmer in a homemade barbecue sauce of ketchup, cola, cider vinegar and a splash of bourbon for a Southern barbecue flavor. Enjoy this slow-cooked chicken by itself or as a sandwich piled with Pickled Peppers & Onions atop Sweet Potato Cornbread.
- Recipe: Slow-cooked Barbecued Chicken
Once the chilly weather sets in, we guarantee you'll be looking forward to this spicy dish after a long day at work.
- Recipe: Spicy Slow-Cooker Beef Chili
A chuck roast paired with sweet potatoes and butternut squash will hit the spot on the chilliest winter nights.
Make a classic chicken and dumplings recipe even more Southern by topping the vegetable-and-chicken-packed stew with cornbread dumplings.
Recipe: Chicken and Cornbread Dumplings
Get all the satisfaction of a hearty casserole with none of the messy cleanup. Preparing it in a slow cooker will ensure an even more tender bite.
Recipe: Chicken-and-Squash Casserole
Host a grits-bar brunch, and start with these simplified grits. Then, offer a variety of toppings so that everyone can make their favorite combination.
- Recipe: Slow-Cooker Cheese Grits
You can also serve the delicious beef in slider buns with your favorite sandwich toppings for a heartier meal.
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Beef Nachos
We like the tang and body that green tomatoes give this comforting stew.
Recipe: Green Tomato Chile Verde
Rev up your slow cooker the night before. Perfect for game day, tote it to the game, plug it in, and let your crowd build their own sandwiches.
Freeze pot roasts and braised pork shoulders in their cooking liquid—it preserves the juicy flavor and tender texture while guarding against freezer burn. Portion cooled meat into zip-top freezer bags, add cooking liquid, and freeze up to 1 month.
Start by slow-cooking pork shoulder in an aromatic bath of pineapple, beer (try a floral, spiced white ale like Hoegaarden or Blue Moon), and canned chipotles in adobo. Then shred the meat and set out a taco bar full of fresh flavors, bright colors, and crunchy textures. You can't go wrong here. We like bowls of crumbled cheeses, sliced radishes, chopped onions, avocado, shredded cabbage, and plenty of fresh cilantro.
This savory meatloaf recipe is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Easy Side: Prepare 1 (30-oz.) package frozen country-style shredded hash browns according to package directions. Stir in 1/4 cup each chopped fresh parsley, sour cream, bottled Ranch dressing, 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
Here's a low-fat version of the Louisiana favorite with all the classic, cue-the-trombones flavor you'd expect in this hearty dish. Make a big batch and freeze leftovers for later.
- Recipe: Stovetop Red Beans and Rice
This comforting slow cooker dish is perfect for Thanksgiving or an easy supper.
Complete the meal by trying this easy side: Drizzle sliced fresh tomatoes with oil-and-vinegar dressing; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Slow cooking oxtails (beefy cuts from the tail of a cow) with red wine and aromatic vegetables releases their rich flavor, creating a hearty, fork-tender stew that’s guaranteed to take the chill off a cold winter’s evening.
Recipe: Wine-Braised Oxtails
This versatile recipe can be used in lots of innovative ways. Shred the cooked chicken, and toss with hot cooked pasta. Create a casserole, or jump-start a fililng for easy enchiladas or a fast pot pie.
- Recipe: Creamy Slow-cooker Chicken
This hearty Italian classic features chicken slow-cooked with spinach and carrots. Easy Side: Toss 1 (5-oz.) package mixed salad greens with 2 cups each refrigerated unsweetened pink grapefruit sections and diced avocado, 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, and 1/3 cup bottled poppy seed dressing.
Recipe: Chicken-and-Spinach Lasagna
All you need are 5 ingredients and 10 minutes of prep time to make this citrusy lemon-rosemary chicken for dinner.
Recipe: Lemon-Rosemary Chicken
This recipe calls for baby portobellos, but your favorite sliced mushrooms will work just fine. Serve the beef tips over hot cooked egg noodles or rice tossed with parsley.
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Burgundy Beef Tips
Thinly sliced pancetta (unsmoked Italian bacon cured with salt and spices) and a few quick twists of kitchen string turn an inexpensive pork loin into a party-worthy dish.
Recipe: Pork with Apples, Bacon, and Sauerkraut
One pork shoulder roast, a few pantry ingredients, and eight hours on low effortlessly produces the most succulent and tender pork, just as if you waved a magic wand. The best part—you can save the leftover pork for two fast and hearty weeknight suppers.
Leftover Recipe 1: Pork Noodle Bowls
Leftover Recipe 2: Pulled Pork Nachos
Look for jars of peeled garlic in the refrigerated cases in the produce section at most major supermarkets. While there, grab a package of poultry herbs, which includes fresh thyme, rosemary, and parsley and can substitute for the individual herbs. Add dried apricots to infuse the rich sauce with a fruity back note, and serve over couscous for a North African-inspired supper.
Healthy and hearty, this quinoa chili will become a family favorite. The recipe calls for a bottle of beer; use your favorite seasonal brew to amp up the flavor. The alcohol will evaporate as the chili simmers in the slow cooker.
Anaheim peppers are long, slender chile peppers with a sweet, mild heat. Look for Mexican tortilla soup broth on the soup aisle.
Recipe: Tortilla Soup
This will become your new go-to pork shoulder slow-cooker recipe, thanks to the sweet and tangy soy-and-vinegar flavor profile. Pull the pork, and serve it Southern-style over grits or sandwiched between buns, and ladle on plenty of sauce.
Recipe: Tangy Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder
Serve this stick-to-your-ribs dish with garlicky slabs of thick Texas toast and a green salad to all of your cowpokes on the range; then take a bow as they tip their hats.
A special dinner such as Chicken with Artichokes and Wild Mushrooms is easily achieved on busy weeknights thanks to your slow cooker. The chicken is first browned in a skillet for added visual appeal and flavor.
All your favorite ingredients are featured in this easy slow-cooker version of Spaghetti Casserole.
Recipe: Spaghetti Casserole
Prices range from $25 for a basic, two-temperature-setting (Low/High) model to $125 or more for a programmable, multi-temperature model.
- Look for a stoneware insert. This dishwasher-, oven-, and microwave-safe insert makes cooking and cleaning a snap.
- Choose the right size: A standard 2.5-qt. model is fine for two; 3.5- to 5-qt. serves a family of four; larger families need at least a 6-qt. capacity.
- Determine what’s best for your schedule. Programmable models generally let you select a 4- to 6-hour cook time or 8- to 10-hour cycle. A warm setting comes on at the end, and keeps food warm until you’re ready.