20 Easy Crock Pot Meals
"Set it and forget it" is music to a busy home cook’s ears. Behold, the power of the slow cooker.
Wouldn't it be nice to come home to a hot, healthy meal ready to serve as soon as you walk through the door? Short of having full-time kitchen staff (or a doting stay-at-home partner), how would you even make that happen? A slow cooker, for one. Just flip the switch in the a.m. and return home to something that tastes like you’ve been cooking all day.
Sure, some recipes require a little work upfront — in fact, the tastiest ones do. But the bulk of the “cooking” couldn’t be easier. Here are 20 tried-and-tested crockpot recipes to transform your weeknight dinners.
Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon
Slow cooker beef bourguignon is one of those entrees that never fails to please. This one, from The Recipe Critic, is a true one-pot wonder — with bacon, boneless beef chuck, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms swimming around in wine and a savory broth, spiked with thyme and (shhhh!) soy sauce.
Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken
Have yellow curry powder, will eat delicious dinner. This easy, healthy and pretty straightforward curry recipe works great on a weeknight. Pounded, cubed chicken and veggies cook away in a mild coconut curry sauce, which you serve with cashews and cilantro for crunch and color. Feel free to swap out the potatoes for sweet potatoes for a little extra nutrition. Serve atop rice or rice noodles.
Crock Pot Lasagna
Nothing says comfort food like a classic lasagna — and yes, you can make it in a slow cooker instead of a casserole dish. In this recipe, from Faithful Provisions, you start by placing half of the noodles in the slow cooker, then you brown the ground beef with garlic and onions and add tomato sauce and seasonings. From there, layer the sauce and the noodles in the slow cooker, and let it cook on low for 3 to 5 hours. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, and serve with a big green salad and crusty bread. A perfect Sunday dinner.
Slow Cooker Chili
Chili is one of those dishes that’s simply made for the slow cooker. In this fairly classic recipe, from Smart Little Cookie, you brown the meat and vegetables before adding to the slow cooker, along with black beans, kicky jalapenos, and all the rest of the goodies. Let this chili simmer on low for 6 to 8 hours and, you've got a one-pot meal perfect for game day — or any day, really. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions and crumbled tortilla chips to complete the meal.
Easy Slow Cooker Texas BBQ Pulled Pork
The aptly-named Easy Recipe Depot brings you this dead-simple, all-American dish made with pork roast, your favorite barbecue sauce and a few not-so-secret ingredients (apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce). The end result? Exceedingly tender pulled pork that shreds easily with a fork. Served on Hawaiian rolls, it's ideal for a laid back, family-style meal, or meal-prep for the week to come.
Slow Cooker Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
This recipe, from Six Sisters’ Stuff, is kid-tested and adult-approved — and vice versa. It’s impossibly creamy, thanks to condensed cheddar cheese soup, milk, sour cream, and butter, on top of the go-to cheddar cheese. (Pro tip: Don’t skip the dry mustard.) The total cook time is as little as 2-1/2 hours, depending on your slow cooker and heat level. You can dress it up by adding lobster, or pretend it’s healthy by adding spinach, kale, or other vegetables of your choice.
Slow-Cooker Spanish Meatballs
These are so much better when you call them by name: albondigas. Martha’s straightforward take on Spanish meatballs, which are often served as part of tapas, calls for cumin and hot smoked paprika for the appropriate Spanish flavor. Two pounds of ground pork, plus all the fixings, yields about 25 meatballs — which is to say, don’t be afraid to double the recipe.
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
Indian butter chicken — a.k.a. Murgh Makhani — is the dish that made the Instant Pot famous. (One of them, at least). This crockpot chicken recipe from The Weary Chef is a bit shy of traditional — but what it lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in delicious flavor, thanks to a pantry full of Indian spices. Serve over basmati rice (or brown rice for a healthy twist), along with traditional naan and raita.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
The Sunday pot roast was never easier than this. Aberdeen’s Kitchen’s deceptively simple recipe has you sear the beef chuck roast in a skillet, place it in the slow cooker along with the vegetables and herbs and… that’s it. Let it cook on high for about 4 hours (or on low for 8), then enjoy.
Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos
Belle of the Kitchen isn’t messing around with this insanely simple, “dump and go” slow cooker chicken tacos recipe. There are five ingredients, which, if you like Mexican food, you probably have on hand already: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, taco seasoning, your favorite salsa, cilantro, and lime. That’s it. Really. You don’t even brown this one. After 4 hours on high, or 6 to 7 hours on low, pull the chicken out, shred it with two forks, and serve it with your favorite DIY taco bar fixings. Make a pot of rice and use leftovers to pack up burrito bowls for lunch. Trying to eat low-carb? Use this filling in lettuce wraps with diced avocados to make this an easy and healthy crockpot recipe.
Slow Cooker Korean Beef
I suppose 39,000 Yums can’t be wrong. This dinner recipe, from Damn Delicious, takes all the familiar Korean flavors — like soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and ginger — and infuses them into cubed, beef chuck roast over the course of the day in the slow cooker. The result? Sweet-salty beef, topped with green onions and sesame seeds, ready to serve alongside a steaming bowl of white rice.
Slow Cooker Lo Mein
Damn Delicious also delivers with her slow cooker lo mein recipe, which might make Chinese delivery more or less obsolete. Here, you cook the marinated pork shoulder slow and low, remove, shred the meat, then return it to the slow cooker with all the fresh veggies. Let that cook for 15 minutes or so, until the veggies are crisp-tender, while you boil the noodles of your choice. Toss together and serve.
Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken
This is one of the more popular chicken recipes from 365 Days of Slow Cooking — and it’s not terribly surprising why. Butter, onions, garlic, parm, spinach, and mushrooms make for a pretty classic combination. The only difference? This one cooks low and slow for 3 to 5 hours. “It reminds me a lot of chicken alfredo but I think it’s better,” says Karen Petersen. “More flavorful and it has spinach.”
Slow Cooker Jambalaya
There are only 10 minutes of prep for this jambalaya — which, if you love rich, Cajun flavors, is enough to justify keeping it in your arsenal. In this slow cooker meal from The Recipe Critic, chicken and andouille sausage cook for hours in a Cajun-spiced tomato-y broth, and the shrimp comes in right at the end. It’s traditional to serve jambalaya over rice.
Fall-Off-The-Bone Slow Cooker Ribs
At first, it seemed a little blasphemous to make ribs in a slow cooker. But 6 hours in a crock pot does wonders for tender meat — and, to be sure, you still finish these on the grill or under the broiler for that signature crispy texture.
Slow Cooker Pork Chop Stroganoff
Judith Hannemann, a.k.a. The Midnight Baker, reminded me of something with this recipe. She writes, “Remember your slow cooker is a fantastic summer kitchen appliance because it doesn’t heat your kitchen! I always tended to think it was more of a winter thing because of the type of food usually cooked in it. I was wrong!” I, too, fell prey to the pot roast fallacy. This bone-in pork chop stroganoff doesn’t necessarily scream summer to be, but with the right sides, it's perfect any day of the year.
Slow Cooker Potato Soup
Lowfat Greek yogurt might be the only remotely healthy ingredient in this decadent potato soup recipe, from Gimme Some Oven. And that’s perhaps the point. It’s peak comfort food — with lots of bacon.
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
Like beef bourguignon, chicken cacciatore is one of those classic European dishes that home cooks of yore would tend all day. With your slow cooker, it’s less romantic, of course — but a whole lot more convenient. This recipe from Bless Her Heart Y'all takes just 10 minutes of prep time, then spends 6 hours in the slow cooker making your whole house smell of garlic, olives, tomatoes, and thyme — like your Italian nonna has come to visit. And it’s gluten free, folks.
Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken
The Recipe Critic steps in with another slow cooker hit: General Tso’s Chicken. This recipe asks that you pan fry the chicken beforehand — and extra step, but well worth the trouble. “This is way better than takeout!” writes Alyssa Rivers.
CrockPot Honey Cake
I’m not a dessert person, but I love the idea of a rich, moist cake made in a crock pot. This recipe is from Day 273 of Stephanie O’Dea’s year of slow cooking, and although she burned it at first, it proved pretty delicious.