Are you a die-hard slow cooker fan? A crockpot appreciator? A person who wishes she put her slow cooker to more regular use? However, you slow-cook-roll, hopefully these recipes will make you happy. You’ll find braises, soups, stews, dips, roasts, meatballs, and sides. Whether you’re looking for dinner to be ready when you walk in the door, or you need a way to cook an extra dish for a gathering without using the stove, the slow cooker can be your best friend.
If your slow cooker is in a hard-to-reach place, make it more accessible. The easier it is to pull out your crockpot, the more often you will put it to use, and the more slow-cooked soups, stews, braises, roasts, and so on will fill your table with dinnertime happiness.
One of my fondest cooking-for-a-crowd memories (and coincidentally, one of my sons’ more embarrassing ones) was when I decided to lug my slow cooker full of Red Lentil, Fennel, and Chicken Slow Cooker Soup to a football game for the end-of-season game-side potluck on a particularly chilly day and became very popular. My boys loved the soup — they just weren’t too crazy about being the children of “that slow cooker mom.” But, when a number of their friends happily dug right in and were generous with their praise, they grudgingly admitted that maybe it wasn’t such a ridiculous idea after all.
18 Slow Cooker Recipes to Set and Forget: Choose from fall-apart pork, creamy mashed potatoes, hearty chilis, shredded chicken, and more!Tweet This
Tips for Using Your Slow Cooker
- Make sure your slow cooker model has an automatic timer that switches to “warming” mode when the cooking time is up. You don’t want it to turn off, nor do you want it to keep cooking the food past the intended cooking time.
- Be generous with the seasonings. Flavors don’t concentrate as much when cooking with a crockpot, so you’ll want to make sure you add enough salt, pepper, spices, and herbs to come through.
- Taste before serving. Unlike other types of cooking, it’s hardest to taste as you go, so you’ll want to check before you dish it up to make sure it has the right level of seasoning.
- Add some fresh ingredients at the end. Some fresh herbs, or perhaps a bit of acidity in the form of vinegar or citrus juice, are best added at the end so they keep their clean, fresh, bright flavors.
- Continue to cook with the top off if you want to thicken up your dish. Almost no evaporation takes place when cooking with a crockpot. That means that your food could become a bit more watery than you want. If you continue to cook it with the lid off for a bit at the end, the liquid will have a chance to reduce.
- Skip low-fat ingredients. Dairy can be tricky in the slow cooker, to begin with. Using dairy that is less than full-fat can cause sauces to curdle or separate. Stick with full-fat, but use dairy judiciously.
- Adjust the temperature if needed. Most dishes can be cooked on either high or low in a slow cooker; the time is just different. The general rule of thumb is that foods that will take 8 hours on low will cook to tender in 4 hours on high. So, a 2:1 ratio for the low setting to the high setting. I usually prefer cooking things longer at the lower temperature for lower, slower cooking. But it’s nice to know there is flexibility, so you can make decisions based on the time you have.