Picture this... You’ve just wrapped up a hectic day of work - all you want to do now is go home. But, before you can do that you still need to pick up the kids from school and chauffeur them to their extracurricular activities as well as run various errands. Oh, and don’t forget that tonight is your turn to have dinner on the table for the family. Just thinking about it is enough to raise your stress levels through the roof…

Enter the slow cooker! While it won't do your day job for you or help with watching the kids, it will help with mealtime. With the use of a programmable slow cooker, you just pop a few ingredients in and then you can set it and forget it. You can then go about your day and know that when you come home, you'll have a delicious, deeply-flavored meal that's ready to serve! Check out Yummly's collection of recipes below so that the next time someone in your family asks, "What are we eating today" you can say "It's in the slow cooker."

Slow Cooker Breakfast Recipes

Ah, breakfast— the most important meal of the day, some would say. However, we’re also sure that some (particularly those with children or an early morning work schedule) would also say that breakfast can be one of the most stressful meals, as well. That stress stops today. Make creamy oatmeal, a healthy quiche loaded with veggies, or a filling cheese-egg-and sausage breakfast casserole. The best part is you can do your prep the night before and then set-and-forget about your slow cooker, allowing you to sleep easy knowing a warm breakfast will be waiting for you in the morning. With the help of a slow cooker, you will rediscover your love for breakfast, one recipe at a time. Try out some of our favorites below!

Slow Cooker Lunch Recipes

From veggie fajitas to pulled pork sandwiches, slow cooking your lunch can be more than just soups and stews for a hearty dinner. Slow cookers can be utilized to become one of the most cost-effective and useful gadgets in your kitchen, making meal prep and clean-up a breeze. No more spending $13.50 for a sad-looking salad at lunch that leaves you feeling hungrier than when you started eating. With a slow cooker, you can create a meal you actually want to eat (and for much cheaper than $13.50 a serving).

Take a tip from us and try out one of the slow cooker recipes below. We promise, you won’t be reaching for that expensive salad any time soon.

Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes

You’re done with work. It’s almost time to throw on your pjs and snuggle up to a Netflix binge or your favorite movie. But first? Dinner time.

Don’t order something in again (it’s the third time this week already, come on). Why stand over a stove top, only to slave away for an hour or two cooking something you’re only half interested in (you’d much rather be relaxing, we know).

Instead? Make your weeknight meal a healthy one by placing some sweet potatoes, black beans, chili powder, and garlic powder into your slow cooker before you run out the door in the morning (or even before you head to bed, tonight!). Before you know it, you’ll be eating a delicious vegetarian chili.

Prefer to make your weeknight dinner a little more on the hearty side? Try making comfort foods like mac-and-cheese, slow cooker beef roast, or a cheesy chili.

Maybe you want to spice things up? In that case, you may want to make a slow cooker version of Indian chicken curry, Mexican tortilla soup, or Asian beef and broccoli. Or, if you'd prefer to keep things more on the traditional side, you can try a variety of chicken recipes, including making a while Italian chicken. Wherever your mood (and stomach) takes you, Yummly's got you covered so take it easy on yourself and come home to a cooked meal. Save yourself some time and your wallet some money by using some of the easy recipes below. You’ll be thanking yourself (and us) later.

Slow Cooker Dessert Recipes

Contrary to popular belief, digital slow cookers aren’t just for dinners like beef stews and rump roasts. The heat settings of the slow cooker (a.k.a. the process of cooking at such a low temperature for as long as 20 hours) is actually ideal for many different types of desserts. Try out a skinny slow cooker chocolate chip cookie bar or indulge with a decadent cheesecake to wow your family and friends. They’ll be dying to know your secret, wondering how on earth you found the time to perfect such an amazing and time-consuming dish. But don’t worry. Your secret is safe with us.

Slow Cooker Side Dish Recipes

The slow cooker is also ideal for making sides. Use your slow cooker to make those mashed potatoes you love so much, without the hassle of constantly checking on them. Use your slow cooker to try out that mac and cheese recipe you saw online last month but haven’t had the time to try out just yet. There’s no need for you to stress over cooking any more. With a slow cooker, your busy week? Yah. It just got a whole lot easier.

Slow Cooker Pro Tips

Now that you have enough recipes to last you a lifetime or two, it’s time to get started cooking. But how? Below are some answers to frequently asked questions as well as tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your slow cooking device.

What's the difference between a slow cooker and a Crock-Pot?

  • Crock-Pot is the original slow cooker and is a registered trademarked name that's owned by Rival Company. Essentially, all Crock-Pots are slow cookers, but not all slow cookers are Crock-Pots. Other popular slow cooker brands include All-Clad and Hamilton Beach.

How much can my slow cooker actually hold and cook?

  • We recommend filling the cooker half to two-thirds full for best results.

How small should I cut veggies to ensure the best possible product?

  • Try to cut them as uniform as possible to ensure similar cooking times.

What kind of meat should I be using?

  • Tougher cuts of meat tend to cook best in the slow cooker. Brisket, chuck roast, chicken thighs (bone-in), or pork shoulder are just a few examples. The fattier the meat, the better. Leaner cuts (sorry, chicken breasts) tend to dry out easier and faster, so if you do decide to brave the waters of lean meats, make sure to be extra generous with your sauces or added fats (I’m looking at you, butter).

I forgot to unthaw my meat last night. Can I still throw it in the slow cooker today?

  • Unfortunately, frozen foods will not cook properly, or evenly, in the slow cooker. If you’re desperate, you can attempt, but we definitely do not recommend.

Should I brown my meat before throwing it in the slow cooker?

  • Not necessary, but a smart move! While it’s not a “must” to brown the meat before putting it in your slow cooker, it will definitely enhance the flavor of your meal even more. If you have some extra time, try it out! Too busy today? Not a problem. Your meal with turn out just as cooked and just as yummy without that extra step.

I’m not sure if my food is cooking properly. Should I open the lid and check on it?

  • No. No. No. This is where slow cookers and Christmas presents collide. There should be absolutely no peeking. It’s tempting, we know, but every time you remove the lid, you’ll need an extra 20 minutes of cooking time. Remember, patience is a virtue.

I live on a ski resort in the mountains. Will the altitude affect the cooking time?

  • If you live in a high-altitude area, we recommend an extra 30 minutes for each hour of cooking time suggested in the recipe.

There’s a lot of extra liquid in my slow cooker. Is there something I can do with this or should I just toss it out?

  • Try transferring your extra liquid to a saucepan. Let it simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes. This will allow the liquid to thicken. Congrats! You now have a flavorful homemade sauce for your dish, as well.

I have found that my food sometimes lacks salt after slow cooking. What can I do to avoid this?

  • Try salting your food at the end of your cooking. What? At the end? This is madness! Maybe, but we promise it’s worth a shot. You see, vegetables release a lot of water when cooking. If you salt at the beginning of the slow cooking process, by the end, all the salt will have dissipated. Thanks for nothing, veggies.

I’m afraid my dish is going to come out looking dull and lifeless. Any tips?

  • Fresh herbs are a must when slow cooking. In addition to adding them into your slow cooker concoction, try garnishing with some parsley, green onions, scallions, mint, cilantro, or dill to make your dish not only delicious but beautiful, as well.

How should I go about clean-up at the end of my cooking?

  • If you have a ceramic insert, make sure to let it cool completely before placing it in cold water to ensure that the insert doesn’t crack. This also goes for the opposite. If you have a cold insert that you prepped in the fridge, allow it to come to room temperature before turning the slow cooker on. These tips may seem tedious, but a few tedious minutes is better than an hour trip to the store to buy a new slow cooker.
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