It seems like instant pots are getting all the love lately, but that doesn’t mean the slow cooker is destined for the dusty back cabinet. There are plenty of recipes that are simple, flavorful, and sufficiently aromatic to come home to—and they don’t require a high-pressure device to cook.
The slow cooker, or crockpot, is an easy-to-use cooking option for both chefs and less-than-stellar culinary wannabes. These slow-moving pots feature simple heat settings and don’t require studying a manual to operate safely. As much as most people learn to love their Insta-pots, a bit of reading is required to figure out how to use them.
And while soup or chili is always great during cold weather, the slow cooker can handle some more elaborate dishes that are great for every season, too. From breakfast to lunch to dinner, there’s a recipe out there to both fill the void and entice the taste buds. Craving dessert? There’s a slow cooker solution for that, too. In fact, with multiple slow cookers, most home chefs can have a mouthwatering meal on the table with very little effort at all.
Plus, slow cookers are great for heat-and-eat meals later—just make a big batch of any of these tasty items, then freeze portions for reheating whenever hunger strikes. Or just eat the entire thing spoon by spoon from the slow cooker itself—no judgment here. Here are 25 slow cooker recipes that everyone will love coming home to—even if it means they wind up scarfing the entire thing down themselves.
25 Surprising Slow Cooker Cheesecake
Cheesecake is another dish that’s somewhat daunting to prepare but doing it in the crockpot makes it so much easier to look forward to. According to A Spicy Perspective, you just need graham cracker crumbs and melted butter for the crust (press it into the bottom of the crockpot—line the pot if you’re worried about mess), then pour the cheesecake filling over the top. In about five to seven hours, you’ll have a perfect cheesecake—without extra pans of water, cracked crust, or leaks.
24 Restaurant-Style Orange Chicken
For those of us who often forget to prep anything for dinner, it’s so tempting to run out for some easy and always tantalizing takeout. Orange chicken seems to top the list of eating-out must-haves for most people, but did you know you can make it at home—all day long while you’re busy doing other things? The Recipe Critic lists everything you need to recreate restaurant-style orange chicken in your slow cooker: chopped chicken, cornstarch, vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, marmalade, brown sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper. Now, you just need some fried rice…
23 Gooey Warm Brownies
Crock pots are for comfort food, right? And what’s more comforting than a warm brownie drizzled with chocolate sauce? That’s right—nothing! Which is why this super simple dessert had to make our list: it’s fudgy and delectable and really easy to make. And, if you put a liner in your crock pot—Spicy Southern Kitchen uses parchment paper—cleanup is just as easy. That is, after you’re done picking every crumb from the paper. The toughest part is the prolonged bake time. But you can wait four hours for the perfect brownie… Right?
22 Juicy And Perfect Pulled Pork
While it’s not an entire meal on its own, pulled pork is an eternal favorite among foodies. And it’s easier than ever to get absolutely perfect with a slow cooker. Just grab a quality pork roast, add barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, and some chicken broth. All Recipes suggests adding brown sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, onion, garlic, and thyme for ultimate flavor. In about five or six hours, you’ll have perfectly seasoned and tender pork for sandwiches, tacos, burritos, or any other savory dish you can imagine.
21 Yes, Pizza Soup Is A Thing
Pizza cravings be darned—we have a crockpot at home! Plus, this recipe comes from Betty Crocker, so you know it’s legit. You just need some ground beef—or sausage, if you’re being fancy like Betty—tomato sauce, beef broth, diced tomatoes, pepperoni slices, mushrooms, and a few veggies like onion and bell pepper. You do have to prep the meat first, but then the slow cooker finishes up in about four to six hours—top with parmesan and it’s like pizza in a bowl!
20 A Creamy Potato Bowl
Potato soup is another often overlooked dish that always hits the spot. After all, aren’t mashed potatoes one of the most loved foods ever? All Recipes has a great slow cooker recipe for potato soup that’s not only creamy and delicious, but also versatile. Their version includes bacon and chicken broth, but this is one pot that’s easily made vegetarian. After all, everyone loves creamy and hearty potato soup, not just meat and dairy eaters! The original recipe calls for evaporated milk, but I’ve subbed plant milks and it’s just as delicious.
19 Pull-Apart Pot Roast
No one wants to keep their oven on for hours at a time to create the perfect pot roast. And yet, everyone wants a savory and tender main dish that basically melts in their mouths. Fortunately, the perfect pull-apart tender pot roast is easier than ever with a slow cooker. Food Network breaks it down: you need eight hours, a four-pound beef chuck roast, veggies, and a handful of other standard kitchen ingredients. And, thanks to the broth, red wine, tomato paste, and spices, you’ll also have some thick and flavorful gravy when it’s all done cooking.
18 Pasta In One Pot
If you’re a big fan of spaghetti, then you’ll love this next recipe. Did you know that you can cook a full spaghetti dinner in one slow cooker? That includes meatballs, whether you make your own or drop frozen ones in. Basically, the recipe involves whatever sauce and meatballs you want, then adding the pasta for the last 10 to 20 minutes of the cook time (anywhere from three to eight hours depending on how high you set the heat and whether your meatballs are frozen or fresh).
17 Nearly Grilled Carne
Carne asada is a dish best prepared on the grill, right? After all, you want those char marks and crunchy edges. Or do you? You can achieve the same flavor with your slow cooker, complete with the fresh lime juice and plenty of spice. Betty Crocker even suggests using a rump roast, but you could also use traditionally sliced carne for this one. The key is using the right blend of spices, and then plating the beef with some salsa and guac—and plenty of tortillas on the side!
16 Comforting Pot Pie
Another smart use of breaded products, a pot pie doesn’t have to come from a tin that arrives frozen to your kitchen. Of course, this version relies on the use of packaged Pillsbury products, but hey, it’s comfort food, so it doesn’t have to be made from scratch. This hearty dish comes complete with chicken, heavy cream, gravy, and those ever-present mixed veggies—a simple dish to throw together, even including the 30 minutes for the biscuits to cook at the end.
15 Simple Bean Soup
Beans may not be the most exciting meal you can make in a slow cooker, but each bowl of crock pot bean soup is filled with protein, fiber, and a heartiness that will keep you full for hours. Traditional bean soup involves ham or ham bones, but you can go without depending on the flavor you want. Make it simple by purchasing a variety bag of beans for soup, or pick and choose your favorites. Or, use canned beans for an even faster to throw together soup.
14 Tin To Tummy Tuna Casserole
Maybe it’s just me, but I remember tuna casserole from my childhood as one of the ultimate comfort foods. As an adult, it’s a little off-putting to crack open a can of fish to toss into a casserole, but you could also use tinned chicken for the same effect. That and some broth and milk (or a simple canned cream of mushroom or celery soup), plus a few veggies like peas and carrots and some noodles, make for a simple dinner that’s reminiscent of childhood for many people.
13 Vegan-Pleasing Pulled Jack Fruit
If you haven’t heard of jackfruit, get ready for some serious flavor. Not only is this dish completely vegan, but it’s also low-fat and packed with vitamins. Even if you don’t follow a plant-based diet, you may be tricked into thinking this is a meaty dish—and with the right sauce, it’s even more flavorful the next day when you reheat it. Just make sure you get the right variety of jackfruit for a pulled-pork-like plate: you want either canned and packed in water, frozen, or fresh jackfruit for best results.
12 Super Cheesy Lasagna
Lasagna is another recipe that sounds like way too much work—but you can take the budget route and make it even simpler with your slow cooker. Personally, I always skip the ricotta cheese and the complicated egg mixtures—cottage cheese is fine for most of us home chefs, anyway! I never precooked my noodles, either, which makes this the ultimate easy dinner with little prep work. Just layer your noodles, sauce, and cheese—lots and lots of cheese—and you’ll have mouthfuls of melty goodness waiting in a few hours.
11 One Pot And Done Dumplings
Bread is one of the most satisfying and comforting foods ever—so this recipe takes advantage of the bready taste of dumplings and makes it accessible for slow cooking. All Recipes lists a handful of simple ingredients for this one: skinless, boneless chicken, a diced onion, some butter, cream of chicken soup, and refrigerated biscuit dough. It’s almost deceptively simple—and just as delicious—and it’ll be ready in about six hours. Of course, you do need to check in on the chicken and put the biscuit dough in about 30 minutes before serving, but that’s the price you pay for toasty and delicious dumplings.
10 Heartwarming & Hearty Chili
Chili is a standby for slow cookers because it’s so versatile and simple. Want meat? Brown some ground beef or cook some chicken ahead of time, then toss it in the slow cooker with canned beans, tomato sauce, and the spices of your choice. Taco seasoning is ideal for chili—it comes in convenient packets you can just toss in. Chop up celery, onion, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots—basically any veggie you want—give it all a stir, and then set it and forget about it until the spicy aroma starts wafting around the house.
9 Cheesy Hash Casserole
Another creative use of potatoes that’s great for any meal of the day, hash brown casserole is cheesy, crispy, and overall totally palate-pleasing. It’s great for those breakfast-for-dinner nights, but it could also hold its own as a dinner side dish. All Recipes uses sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and frozen hash browns to achieve a delectably cheesy crunch with ease. In about four hours, you’ll be ready to ladle the cheesy goodness onto your plate—or straight into your mouth.
8 Lazy Chicken Soup
Feeling a bit under the weather but don’t have the energy to tend to a pot of soup? If you have a slow cooker, you don’t have to resort to using the canned version, and you can still have a piping hot bowl of soup that totally hits the spot. The key is starting early in the day, so you don’t have to pre-cook the chicken separately. Just toss in broth, spices, and raw chicken, then cook on low for six to eight hours. Later, you’ll shred the chicken with a fork and add whatever noodles and veggies you want.
7 Savory Slow Cooker Enchiladas
Do you ever get a hankering for enchiladas but feel like making them the authentic way is way too much work? Splendid Table has the ideal slow cooker solution. First, you’ll spread some salsa at the bottom of your crockpot. Then, you’ll mix up onion, pepper, black beans, corn, a spice blend, and any meat you prefer and wrap portions of the filling in your favorite kind of tortilla (either corn or flour will work fine here). Make layers of enchiladas—separated by salsa and cheese like a lasagna—and cook for two to four hours on high. Make sure to save some cheese for melting on top later!
6 Easiest Ever Quinoa
No slow cooker recipe list would be complete without mentioning quinoa. It is, after all, one of the most sought-after super foods that health nuts everywhere are passionate about. But, it can also be easy to prepare and delicious. It’s easy enough that Moms with Crockpots even recommend it for picky kids—and that’s saying something about the flavor it packs. The dish also happens to be plant-based, so it’s a great side dish everyone can enjoy. All you need is rinsed quinoa, broth, and a few chopped veggies—plus cilantro for garnish.
5 Chocolate Cake—Yes, Really
Sometimes you’re on your way home after a long day and start to crave some kind of baked delicacy. And sure, there are showstoppers out there that are worth a pit stop at the supermarket. But usually? Grocery store cake can be pretty disappointing. But what if you had a fresh and still warm cake ready to go at home? You can have just that—though you might want to grab some store-bought frosting for simplicity—with a basic chocolate cake recipe from All Recipes. Pro tip: it’s even more satisfying if you do dinner in one slow cooker and dessert in the other.
4 Flavorful Fried Rice
If you have more than one slow cooker, you can achieve a complete restaurant-quality meal that’ll have you tearing up your takeout menus once and for all—because you can prep both orange chicken and fried rice for a dinner everyone will love. Of course, you will have to add fried egg to the mixture, so that adds an extra step beyond set it and forget it. But trust us (and The Daring Gourmet), it’s worth it! Just leave the meat off this version if you prefer to let your orange chicken take center stage.
3 Roasted Veggie Medley
Roasted veggies are a dish that people may not necessarily lust after, but there’s just something about crispy and perfectly seasoned veggies that hit the spot. Of course, turning the oven on is always daunting, so it will be a relief to know that you can achieve perfect roasted vegetables in the slow cooker, too. Betty Crocker suggests a honey and olive oil glaze, but either way, the fresh thyme and white balsamic vinegar give that flavorful punch you need to make this dish a hit.
2 Traditional At-Home Applesauce
It seems offbeat, but I stumbled across the concept of making applesauce at home when I had way too many apples from a local orchard. Sure, they looked a little rough, but I knew they’d be super sweet once peeled and cooked. Just peel and chop your apples, add a bit of water to the slow cooker, then throw in a cinnamon stick (or even ground cinnamon, it’ll still be delicious) and start simmering. The smell will be heavenly in just a few hours, and the taste is unlike anything you’ve ever had from a jar—you’ll just need to mash or blend the end result to your texture preference. And definitely try it warm!
1 Dessert Delivered In A Snap
If you’re often hit with dessert cravings at inopportune times, then be prepared early with this simple crock pot cobbler! Another contribution from our friend Betty Crocker, this recipe is for peach cobbler, but there’s no hard and fast rule about what fruit you add. Grab a box of Bisquick (or pre-mix your own batter blend if you’re feeling fancy!), some milk, sugar, and fruit, and you’re good to go. Oh, and don’t forget the ice cream to melt on top once it’s done!