Our best slow cooker recipes roundup shows how to make your favorite braised recipes for easy and satisfying weeknight meals, snacks, and condiments.
I admit it. For a long time, I denigrated the slow cooker, all the way back to its first iteration as the Crock-Pot. I considered it the lazy cook’s appliance.
In my defense, when I was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, the Crock-Pot was nothing more than a receptacle to cook bland brothy bean soups. Whenever any friend’s mom aimed higher and made a pot roast, green bean casserole, or poached pears in red wine, it was just a plate full of simmered, blechy mush.
Nowadays, though, the slow cooker has become smarter, savvier, and a hell of a lot sleeker. They’re capable of searing and sauteing, which means saying hello to caramelization and layers of flavor.
As cooks, we’ve become savvier, too. We understand more and demand more of our equipment. We know that even though a slow cooker meal is mostly unattended, there’s still plenty of actual cooking to do. So we won’t lose our touch—or our bragging rights. As a result, I am a happy convert to slow cookers.
Is it taking the easy way out? Kinda yes. But it’s hardly cheating. See for yourself.
Delicious. Family loved these slow cooker French dips.–Warus
Very easy to make and delicious to eat. I will make these slow cooker ribs over and over again and will pass this on to my daughter.–Simpson H.
I loved this bacon jam! My house smelled heavenly all the time it was cooking. Easy and delicious! Everyone who tries it wants the recipe. Big hit!–Elizabeth E.
Will all of these slow cooker recipes work in an Instant Pot?
Yes. Each of these easy slow cooker recipes will work with the slow cooker function of a multicooker, such as an Instant Pot. In our experience, the slow cook function on some multicookers does take longer than in a regular slow cooker.
Is it ok to stir the contents of my slow cooker frequently?
Not really. If you need to stir your slow cooker applesauce or beef chili every couple of hours, that’s ok, but it’s best to leave the lid on and let the cooker work its magic. The steam created in the Crock Pot creates a perfect braising environment, and every time you lift the lid, all of that steam escapes.
So many slow cooker recipes call for browning the meat first. Do I really need to do this?
If the recipe calls for it, then yes, it’s best to take the time to sear your meat, particularly if you’re making beef stew, pork posole, or slow cooker chicken. The dark crust that forms on the meat adds an incredible amount of flavor to your finished dish.
If you’re using a multicooker, this can be done in the same pot using the sauté function.
If you’re using a traditional slow cooker, you need to do this in a separate pot, skillet, or Dutch oven. Don’t forget to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan into your slow cooker along with the browned meat.
What’s the difference between the HIGH and LOW setting on a slow cooker?
The difference between the two settings is the amount of time that it takes for the contents of the slow cooker to reach a simmer. Since the HIGH setting allows the slow cooker to reach temperature more quickly than LOW, the food cooks faster.
We love the convenience and hands-off cooking that the slow cooker provides, but we know it’s not the only tool that can save us on a busy weeknight. For more weeknight inspiration, check out our collection of Instant Pot recipes and air fryer recipes.