by Cora L. Diekman
Busy weeknights happen to everyone—but that’s no reason to grab for a frozen dinner. Think ahead and enjoy our 20 favorite slow cooker dinners that are—dare we say—easy.
hawaiian hula pork fajitas
This family-friendly recipe (who wouldn’t want to chow down on these fajitas!?) features pork that can be thrown in the crockpot in the morning and requires only 30 minutes of prep time before serving. The best part of this recipe isn’t even from the slow cooker, it’s the pineapple slaw. Prepare if you dare…
coconut curry cashew chicken
Featuring sweet red peppers and crunchy cashews, this slow cooker recipe comes with an unsweetened coconut milk base and a medley of exotic spices and flavors.
balsamic vinegar and honey pulled pork sliders
This meaty main is versatile and hearty, rounding out any gathering large or small. The simple recipe is a nod to traditional barbecued pulled pork with the delicious tang of balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or room temperature and pile high on top of dinner rolls or buns with lots of pickles and cabbage slaw. A low setting will cook this dish in ten hours, making it a do on busy weekdays, too.
slow cooker mac and cheese
You could technically whip up boxed mac and cheese in a matter of minutes, but this slow cooker version will be so much creamier. We promise, it’s worth it. Your parmesan, romano, and cheddar cheese mac will only take three hours to cook. You’ll never look at mac and cheese again the same way after chowing down on this recipe.
balsamic pot roast
Pot roast is a slow cooker staple, but when a recipe is this delicious AND simple, it’s worth sharing. This balsamic glazed version features a medley of fresh herbs and even a hint of nutmeg!
vegan veggie stew
This recipe is for all your vegan friends! It requires tons of fresh veggies, like tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, red bell pepper, and onion, that will result in a delicious stew full of natural, rich flavors. You can cook on low for eight or nine hours or speed up the process by leaving it on hot for around just four hours.
spinach artichoke dip
Spoiler alert: This recipe is secretly healthy. You’ll have to puree your cauliflower before adding the rest of your ingredients into the slow cooker, but it will make chowing down on the healthy version of your favorite indulgent dip worth the extra dishes. Also, it only cooks on high for one hour, which means you’ll be able to whip this up in no time.
jalapeno popper chicken taquitos
Calling all spice lovers. This easy-to-make taquito recipe will make kids and adults sweat (from spiciness, of course) and smile. Make on a busy weeknight or a lazy “Game Day” with other fun appetizer-like dishes. Bonus: You can add the chicken to the slow cooker frozen—aka straight from the freezer.
Yet another one pot main (and meal!) that’s delicious enough to swap in for takeout night. This simple chicken dish tops out at 11 ingredients (including chicken and cashews) and most are kitchen staples – think ketchup, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Our advice: Opt for low sodium soy sauce to prevent this dish from being overly salty. Serve over piles of fluffy steamed rice. Pack up extras for lunch the next day!
hawaiian chicken with pineapple
You know it’s good when the prep time is “about five minutes”. This recipe yields juicy pineapple and tender chicken for four to six people. We don’t know about you, but just looking at this photo is making us salivate.
With only a handful of simple ingredients and virtually no prep work, this main dish is perfect for the busiest of days. Simply pile everything into the slow cooker in the morning — chicken, mushrooms, garlic, and wine – and then add a bit of cornstarch 30 minutes before serving to thicken the flavorful sauce. A last minute sprinkle of fresh parsley provides a pop of color and freshness to this hearty dish that cooks to perfection while you’re out.
fall-off-the-bone barbecue ribs
Who knew your slow cooker could replicate the delicious flavor of tender, grilled barbecue ribs? Whether it’s too cold outside for the grill, or grilling simply isn’t an option at your place, the slow cooker can make some seriously amazing fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs that are sure to delight any game day (or even weeknight) crowd. The trick is to allow your slow cooker to cook the meat until it’s deliciously tender, and then pop the ribs under the broiler for a few minutes to create that craveable caramelized crust. Customize ribs to your liking by using your favorite barbecue sauce, and pair with simple sides like potato salad, baked beans, or coleslaw.
chicken enchilada soup
Don’t you just love one-pot meals from the slow cooker? This wonderful dish is just that and then some — meaty, lots of complex flavor, AND packs the soul-satisfying punch of slow-simmered soup! Consider this when the weather’s cold, you’re over chili, and you can’t be bothered to do anything except throw ingredients into a pot. Dump everything in, set your slow cooker to high, and in around eight hours you’ll be ready to shred that fork-tender chicken into bowl and top without your favorite enchilada-inspired garnishes. Hello, sour cream!
short rib chili
This recipe is a bit more involved… But we promise the extra step will be worth your spare five minutes! You simply have to brown the short rib cubes, sauté the onions and garlic before dumping the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker. But after that, it’s smooth sailing. You’ll find out just how tasty this dish is after prepping it.
spinach and ricotta lasagna
If you can spare just 15 minutes, you can easily prep this delicious lasagna (that serves six, by the way). Your dish only needs to cook for around four hours, making this the perfect mid-afternoon activity. Bonus: You don’t have to turn the oven on.
If you’ve never thought to cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker, this recipe is totally worth a try. While a slow cooker cannot crisp the skin, everything will be deliciously moist and flavorful, with plenty of savory juice at the bottom to spoon over top. Begin by making 4 small balls out of aluminum foil to place at the bottom of the slow cooker, which will allow the chicken to roast rather than simmer. Then coat the chicken inside and out with a combination of paprika, steak seasoning, salt, and pepper, and place in the cooker for 4 to 4 ½ hours on high, or until the internal temp reads 165 F.
Tip: As with any meat, allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.