18 Summer Slow-Cooker Recipes for When It's Just Too Hot to Turn on the Oven

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
Photo: Caitlin Bensel

When sweltering summer temperatures return to the South, the last thing our energy bills need is a hot oven steaming heat into the whole house. It's a season when we look to simple, cool dishes that don't require much, or any, heat to be satisfying. And when that's not quite enough, we take our cooking outside. Our grill becomes our guide to making it through the heat while keeping the family fed.

But when you're eager to spend your time enjoying the pool or a sprinkler session in the yard with the kiddos instead of actively cooking, look to your slow-cooker to help you through the summer months. Sure, you're used to relying on this handy kitchen tool to do the hard work for you come back-to-school season and chilly winter nights, but that doesn't mean it should collect dust when the temperatures hit double digits. Keep your kitchen cool and your days spent in the sun while your slow cooker does the heavy lifting. From tacos to barbecue, here are some of our favorite summer slow-cooker recipes you can enjoy any time.

01 of 18

Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches

Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches

These Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches trade your favorite fast food joint's fried center for a slow-cooked meat with a creamy white barbecue sauce that covers every piece.

02 of 18

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa
Greg Dupree

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Start a fiesta on your back porch this summer with these party-worthy pork tacos that are easy enough to make any night of the week.

03 of 18

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Brisket Sliders

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Brisket Sliders
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Chipotle Brisket Sliders

A little spicy and a little sweet, these sliders are a welcomed addition to any spread, especially on game day.

04 of 18

BBQ Brisket

BBQ Brisket
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: BBQ Brisket

This brisket cooks in a vinegar-based barbecue sauce for about 8 hours to help you serve your most tender slice yet.

05 of 18

Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Greg DuPree

Recipe: Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Be sure to seal in the flavor of your pork by browning it before placing it in the slow cooker. Serve with a Carolina-style vinegar sauce and pickles, sliced onions, and coleslaw for a dinner the whole family will enjoy.

06 of 18

Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder

Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder

This creamy soup makes an indulgent but not too heavy meal on a hot summer day.

07 of 18

Slow-cooked Barbecued Chicken

Slow-Cooked Barbecued Chicken
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Recipe: Slow-cooked Barbecued 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.

08 of 18

Slow-Cooker Sloppy Joes

Slow-cooker Sloppy Joes
Southern Living

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Sloppy Joes

We promise this recipe is an upgrade to your elementary school cafeteria days, and it's the easiest way to get your kids' favorite dish on the table.

09 of 18

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos

Combine the pork shoulder with chicken broth, orange juice, garlic, pepper and salt in your slow cooker, set it in the morning and forget it.

10 of 18

Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken

Crock-Pot Salsa Chicken
Caitlin Bensel

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken

From kid-friendly quesadillas or melty enchiladas with a Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken, there are countless ways to serve this recipe.

11 of 18

Corn and Jalapeño Dip

Corn and Jalapeno Dip
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Corn and Jalapeño Dip

This easy, cheesy appetizer will have everyone at the barbecue raving.

12 of 18

Easy Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork


Recipe: Easy Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

This simple recipe will leave you with enough leftover meat that you'll have a bit of BBQ pulled pork to snack on all week.

13 of 18

Tangy Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder

Tangy Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Tangy Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder

Meet your go-to pork shoulder slow-cooker recipe. It's sure to become an instant favorite 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.

14 of 18

Slow-Cooker Beef Nachos

Slow-Cooker Beef Nachos
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Beef Nachos

Slow-cooker beef brings serious flavor to these nachos, which make a great barbecue starter.

15 of 18

Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce

Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce
Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Recipe: Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce

This fun dish is two recipes in one: delicious, easy meatballs and a slow-simmered tangy tomato sauce.

16 of 18

Brisket Tacos with Summer Salsa

Brisket Tacos with Summer Salsa
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Brisket Tacos with Summer Salsa

Fresh salsa, warmed tortillas, and a spicy brisket filling make these tacos one winner of a dinner.

17 of 18

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor with All the Fixings

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor with All the Fixings
Greg Dupree

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor with All the Fixings

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.

18 of 18

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
Caitlin Bensel

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

Taco night just got a lot easier (and tastier). Serve on corn tortillas with fresh toppings like red cabbage, tomatoes, radishes, and cilantro for a restaurant-worthy bite.

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