I’m here to plead my case for the old-school appliance (where do you stand?)…
But, from the beginning, the slow-cooker rallying cry — “fix-it and forget-it” — did not apply to me. Most recipes required two to six hours of simmering time, but my workday is eight hours. (Would everything burn?!) And secondly, when it was cooking, I was ALWAYS thinking about it. As Sam Sifton wrote for The New York Times, a slow cooker began to feel like “an exercise in vague worry.”
Still, a handful of successful dinners, especially bean and chicken recipes, kept me from losing hope, and soon I realized a winning combination: Crock-Pots and lazy weekends. On those days, my schedule was flexible — I could handle a three-hour recipe while I was puttering around my apartment. And the meal would feed me for a better part of the week. Maybe the process is “best for afternoon cooking while a game or opera plays on the radio, for while you’re doing chores or running errands,” Sifton agreed. There you have it — the slow cooker reign continues.
If you’re still on the fence, here are nine hearty weekend projects to win you over:
Reader, meet the reason I bought a slow cooker: This Indian butter chicken. #worthit
Chicken tortilla soup is always on my dinner rotation, and this spicy version has everything I like in a recipe: minimal prep, not too many ingredients and a good excuse for chips.
Two of life’s sweetest pleasures? Beans on toast and a slow-cooker recipe that requires zero work (no chopping, mincing or sautéing). This tomato and cannellini bean recipe checks both of these boxes.
Crock-Pot shredded chicken has transformed my lunch game. One batch of this recipe makes enough chicken for five midday meals — tacos, salads, wraps. (This two-ingredient recipe is also near and dear to my heart.)
These vegetarian enchiladas are only meal I happily eat on repeat. And repeat. Annnnd repeat.
This chicken parmesan soup is comfort food at its easiest.
Can you even handle these melty Cuban pulled-pork sandwiches?!
PSA: Crock-Pots turn dried beans into masterpieces. “No presoaking, no simmering, just tossing cold dried beans in the slow cooker for three hours and they are perfection itself: bean nirvana,” Smitten Kitchen says of her black bean soup recipe.
Dessert is one of the slow cooker’s most underrated specialities. This vanilla cake has caramelized edges and a cult following (note: commenters recommend baking a little less than the suggested time). Also, who’s up for testing Martha Stewart’s cheesecake?
Where do you stand? Do you have any go-to recipes or tricks?
(Top photo by Jade Li.)