Food

Do or Don’t: Slow Cookers

Do or Don't: Slow Cookers

I’m here to plead my case for the old-school appliance (where do you stand?)…

Last September, I ordered a slow cooker almost as large as my refrigerator (I chose the Crock-Pot). “Oh, the possibilities,” my aunt texted me, when she found out. “Welcome to the club.”

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:

Crock-Pot Indian Butter Chicken

Reader, meet the reason I bought a slow cooker: This Indian butter chicken. #worthit

Crock-Pot Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

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.

Crock-Pot Tomato White Beans

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.

Shredded Crock-Pot Chicken

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.)

Crock-Pot Black Bean Enchiladas

These vegetarian enchiladas are only meal I happily eat on repeat. And repeat. Annnnd repeat.

Crock-Pot Chicken Parmesan Soup

This chicken parmesan soup is comfort food at its easiest.

Crock-Pot Cuban Panini

Can you even handle these melty Cuban pulled-pork sandwiches?!

Crock-Pot Black Bean Soup

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.

Crock-Pot Vanilla Cake

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?

P.S. What food geniuses eat for lunch, and nine quick family dinners.
P.P.S. FYI, the This Is Us explosion of a slow cooker is not a thing, don’t worry. :)

(Top photo by Jade Li.)

  1. Anne says...

    I have an 8 month old and our instant pot has saved dinner. We no longer subsist on stir fry and frozen pizza; we eat like actual humans and we don’t put in any more than 30 minutes of work. It’s especially great because you don’t really have to worry about getting your food into the pot on time since nothing takes longer than 70 minutes to cook (I made a pork loin that cooked in 2!! minutes tonight), and you never have to check on it when it’s in, AND it comes out tasting like you spent all day making Sunday dinner instead of rolling around on the floor with your adorable, drooly baby. All new parents should have one!

  2. These comments are inspiring me to be more creative.

    I use mine every week for chicken stock and yogurt – so its worth it for that alone. And also to keep the potatoes warm on holidays. It’s also great for beans.

    Every once in awhile I go crazy and make something else in it like:
    Corned beef – http://www.irishboutique.com/blog/2017/3/16/5-things-about-saint-patricks-day
    Filipino chicken adobo –
    http://www.irishboutique.com/blog/2017/8/22/1h5gs8ns8c3n2pkespau6zal3vgbvm; or
    Chicken Tikka – http://www.irishboutique.com/blog/2017/7/18/cheater-chicken-tikka-masala
    But I think I need to branch out and try twice baked potatoes!

  3. Jess. says...

    I cannot WAIT to try that butter chicken. This is my go-to recipe for weekend slow-cooking: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013327-herbed-white-bean-and-sausage-stew

    It’s not set-it-an-forget-it, as I like to do everything up until “bring to a boil” on the stovetop, but it is the best meal ever, and it’s a joy to come home from church on Sunday and eat like kings. I find it takes at least 2t salt PLUS 1.5 bouillon cubes (beans need a lot of salt to taste like anything).

    Beans in a crockpot, man. Is there anything better than that? xox

  4. Amanda G says...

    I have such a wishy-washy view of my crockpot. For some things, like making stocks or certain soups or pork shoulders and pot roasts, I think it is AWESOME! But then some things – case in point, the slow cooker chicken and wild rice soup I tried last week – turn out SO bad. In the soup last week, the wild rice practically disintegrated and turned to mush. I’ve also had this happen with other soups, where certain things like noodles or butternut squash basically liquefy even though the recipe says they should be added at the beginning. I can always modify and add these things later, but then what’s the point of an easy “fix and forget” crockpot meal?!

    Also, I’m curious if all the people who set their crockpots up to turn on hours after they left the house are keeping the raw food at room temperature before cooking begins? I feel like that could go very wrong, even though the food will eventually be cooked at a high temp! I’m the wife of a Dept of Health employee, so this thought just gives me the chills haha. I’ve found what works best for me is to cook it overnight! Then in the morning I get up a little early, portion out my lunch for the day, and stick the entire crockpot in the fridge. Voila!

    • Melanie says...

      I wonder the same thing about raw food being left in there for hours before cooking. Seems like a hot Petri dish of disease.

    • Tessa says...

      I would think sticking the entire hot crockpot in your fridge would ensure that it wouldn’t cool properly. When I worked at a restaurant we always had to put a big batch of soup into small containers bc it has to cool quickly to not develop bacteria.

  5. Abesha1 says...

    My family loves beets (loves!!!) so I’ve recently been using my Crock Pot to cook them. A little water in the bottom, put them on a stainless steamer (or not), and voila, perfect beets. No oven to be turned on, no watching a pot. Seriously, we eat A Lot of beets.
    Also, rice pudding: 1 cup arborio, 5-6 c liquid (milk & water), condensed milk to taste. Awesome!

    • Emily L says...

      I need to know more about cooking beets. What seasonings do you use? Do they cook on high or low and for how long?

  6. Emily L says...

    Oh, Stella, you can get around the timed cook thing so easily. If I’m cooking something and I know it needs to cook for less time than I’ll be gone I use a lamp timer. It’s one of those things people plug their lamps into when they’re on vacation so the lamps kick on at certain times to make it look like they’re home. I have one I use with my slow cooker. I’ll just set it to start cooking after I leave. I don’t have a pot with a timer on it, and this has always worked like a charm.

    • Anna says...

      You. are. a. genius. Thank you!

    • Geri says...

      Why are the simplest solutions so clever!

    • Cooper says...

      Genius!

    • Sonja says...

      Where have you been all my crock pot life?!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      CHANGING MY LIFE, EMILY!!!!! Thank you!!!!

  7. Hannah says...

    Slow Cook Modern by Liana Krissoff is my favorite slow cooker cookbook. All the recipies are written for 8 hours, so you can actually leave them while you go to work. She also does inventive and fresh flavors, and lots of international cuisine. Highly recommend!

  8. Lorena says...

    I love my slow cooker!

    But who knew that it could be such a villain in a television drama? Those of us who watch This Is Us will never look at our slow cookers the same way again. ?

    • I just thought the same thing!!

      I also just can’t see the point of one…never used one growing up and I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life so the uses are a bit more limited.

    • mindi says...

      At first glance, I actually thought this was an article about This is Us. Oh boy…

    • Thuy says...

      I knoooowwwww ???

    • Jenn says...

      I was just about to comment on this! CoJ – crazy coincidence that all of us sobbed watching a Crock Pot catch on fire last week, and then Stella published this piece… or strategic timing?! :)

  9. Chelsey says...

    I love my slow cooker, I find it’s pretty adaptable with adding on a few extra hours (just add more liquid).

    For me I feel like the last 15 min of making dinner are hectic enough I can’t imagine using a super fast insta pot and adding that pressure ;)

    I’m also a fan of cooking dinner all night, waking up throwing the insert in the fridge and warming when I get home.

  10. Lydia says...

    HAH – that Butter Chicken recipe is exactly what prompted me to buy one too.

  11. Amber says...

    Obsessed!! My favorite use for my crockpot is BAKED POTATOES. You clean them (I just rinse in cold water), dry them off, then put them in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours (or overnight) — or sometimes if I forget in the morning, I’ll put them in at lunch on high for 4 hours. (The time is flexible here, and the longer they go, the tastier they are!) THEN you refrigerate them, THEN they’re ready to re-cook in whichever way you want: simply baked again in the oven, cubed and fried on the stove, or (my husband’s and my favorite) CUT INTO FRENCH FRIES, FULLY COATED IN OLIVE OIL, SPREAD ON A BAKING SHEET OVER PARCHMENT PAPER WITH FLAKY SEA SALT AND BAKED FOR 20 MINUTES AT 425 DEGREES.

    First of all, there’s a biological benefit (somehow) to eating potatoes twice-baked. I can’t remember the specifics, but it’s something about how the carbs break down or the chemical properties or… Ugh I’ll look for it. Just know, it makes them better for you when you bake them once, refrigerate them, then reheat them later. (This works the same way for sweet as well as white potatoes.)

    Second, twice-baked potatoes have a GOLDEN COLOR which gives a GOLDEN FLAVOR that is out of this damn world. I am not kidding. I can’t stop eating them when I make them.

    All right, I’m realizing now that I’ve branched out from the world of the slow cooker to the world of the oven… And that’s not what this post is about. But this secret was just TOO GOOD NOT TO SHARE.

    And now I’m going to make fries for dinner.

    • Sierra says...

      Yes it’s something about the resistant starch, good for gut bacteria I think.

  12. Frin says...

    I’m a college student (I know, what am I doing reading this mom blog) and I love my slow cooker. For someone that subsists on sandwiches, chips and pop-tarts, I sometimes miss real, people food. So I like being able to use my mini crock-pot, not pay much attention to it, and come back to a ready meal–doesn’t demand constant attention and leaves me free to do what I need to do.

    • elinor says...

      fellow college student:) i love making overnight oatmeal in my crockpot! it’s all ready for me when i get up so i can eat a nice breakfast and still get to class on time!

    • Tessa says...

      This is a woman blog, yo! Welcome to all…mothers or not. It’s sad how
      “Mom” has become an insult.
      You don’t hear us bagging on Dads…why is that? No “Dad jeans”, no “Dad van”, no “Soccer Dads”… why is that? Hmm…? Lots of moms are college students, too. Lots of women never become moms. I feel like we as women should all be a little more careful to not use the word disparagingly… your future self may just thank you.

    • Frin says...

      @Tessa, I certainly didn’t mean to offend the CoJ community, I apologize if it came off that way. I wouldn’t consider it to be an insult, I just said it because of the strong emphasis on parenting which is absolutely great but kind of funny in my situation because I myself am not a mom. The fact that I read it–even though I’m not a mom or plan to be one–shows not only my own quirks but the success of the fresh and friendly tone of this blog and the wide range of topics it covers.

  13. Emily says...

    My dad gifted me a slow cooker when I was pregnant with my son and ten years later, it’s the most used appliance in my kitchen after our Vitamix. I mainly use it on the weekends b/c I’ve learned that the best recipes do require some prep (searing meat or cooking veggies, etc.). But if I make chili or soup or some savory dish that can go over rice or pasta, we have at least one night of leftovers and one or two days of lunch.

    I just tried this recipe from Delish, my first time trying anything of theirs, and it was a hit. It made double the filling (fills 8 peppers, not only four) so I froze half and then defrosted to make it again. I used half the cheese and used brown rice and it was incredible

    http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a57275/crock-pot-stuffed-peppers-recipe/

    I worked at America’s Test Kitchen for a long time and was there when they developed their first slow cooker book (Slow Cooker Revolution) and it is by far the best slow cooker book out there. If you don’t already own it, do yourself a favor and buy it. There isn’t a miss in there-every recipe is fabulous.

  14. Sharon says...

    We have a slow cooker with a timer and it pretty much changed the game. I was always paranoid about the crockpot burning down the house or the food being ruined but getting one with a timer makes everything so much easier. It really is a “set it and forget it” kind of thing.

    • Emily says...

      YES!! I cannot imagine using a slow cooker without a timer! Simply set the cook time you need (ie: 6 hours on low) then after the allotted time it switches over to warm. I cannot fathom having to be home to turn it off!

    • KylieO says...

      I was going to say the same thing – mine just switches to ‘warm’ when the 8 hours or whatever are done. I hunted down one for this specific reason! Game changer!

  15. Melanie says...

    Does anyone know of a slow cooker or rice cooker that has a stainless steel insert? I’m slowly replacing everything that is Teflon/non-stick as I believe it is not healthy to cook with those. Thanks!

    • Alison says...

      I have a Cuisinart brand crock pot with a ceramic insert. It works great (like a dutch oven): The URL is super long, google cuisinart 6.5 quart programmable slow cooker to find it. :)

    • Melanie says...

      Allison, how do you find the ceramic insert? I read some mixed reviews for another cooker that uses a ceramic insert . Thanks so much!

    • Jo says...

      Instant Pot comes with stainless steel insert. It has saute/pressure cook/slow cook options. Best kitchen appliance IMO

    • Melanie says...

      Thanks, Jo! I’ve been considering getting one and didn’t realize it was stainless steel.

    • Michelle says...

      Miracle makes a rice cooker with a stainless steel insert. Bought mine via Amazon ages ago for the same reason

  16. Alex says...

    As a nurse practitioner in the ICU with 10 or 12 hour shifts, I also never felt the crock pot worked with my schedule until I got this smart plug : https://www.amazon.com/Smart-Enabled-Amazon-Google-Assistant/dp/B01NBI0A6R Now I can just set a timer on my phone via their app and the crock pot will turn on and off the hour I want it to (i.e. 4 hours into my shift and then 8 hours later, 20 minutes before I walk in the door). It’s been a game changer because honestly, walking into a house of ready, warm, fragrant food is the best ending to a tiring work day (even if the recipe is not as amazing as what Stella posted)… though a hands-off lazy Sunday smelling said food cooking is probably a close second ;)

  17. Verena says...

    I have a very fussy eater, so once a week i get chicken carcasses from our local butcher, put them in the slow cooker with whatever veg is kicking around and cook it over night. The stench is admittedly hard to take, but the stock is fantastic! My children eat it every single day just changing the shape of the pasta. And I don’t worry as it’s nutritious.
    I wouldn’t want to do without it. The other thing is black beans with cumin and onion. So good with nachos and guacamole.
    Also, have you tried baked beans with pomegranate molasses? Gives a nice fruity tang: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/slow-cooked_brixton_70221
    I don’t do that many things with my slow cooker, but those that I do, I wouldn’t want to miss. And what would I feed my children??

    • M.K says...

      I also make easy broth with leftover chicken bones etc and the onion and celery ends that I’ve collected in the freezer… but now that I have an instant pot the broth is so much richer, better and only takes 2 hours start to finish!!

  18. I love my slow cooker – although never pleasent to be frying curry spices and onions at 6:30 in the morning in your clean work clothes, the end game is always worth it. It makes me feel like the food fairy has visited when I walk in the house after a long day at work and can smell that dinner is ready.

  19. jac says...

    Here’s what you do- you stick all the veg that’s about to go bad in the pot, but some legumes in and some stock and you’re good. Variations on this theme include adding tomato paste or tomato juice, adding sausage, or green sauce. As a vegan it’s a lifesaver. I make sauces and soups in it. Yellow curry rice. Anything! I’m making black bean soup this weekend (thanks!).

  20. My crock-pot and I are besties. I make a lot of soups in it during the winter and it cooks sweet potatoes perfectly (washed, poked, wrapped in foil, cook on low for 8ish hrs). It’s great to get home on a cold day to the delicious smell of a hot dinner!

  21. Emily says...

    I agree. The slow cooker always seems to work better when I am home or have a more flexible schedule. We have started doing slow cooker Sundays at my house. It is perfect because we usually end up with enough for two meals, so on Monday night we can focus on getting ready for the week rather than having to cook dinner.

    I also find that vegetarian soups or stews seem to work the best if we want to use the slow cooker on week days. These usually involve less prep (no browning or meat) and can cook for longer without drying out or burning. I also prep everything the night before so I just have to dump it into the slow cooker in the morning.

  22. sasha says...

    I’m trying the soup and the enchiladas this weekend!! Thank you for doing the dreaded *what to make* thinking for me :)

  23. Christina says...

    I’ve made the Indian Butter Chicken and it’s AMAZING! I’m going to try the shredded chicken. I’ve been looking for a recipe.

  24. Slow cooker for the win. I upgraded for an instant pot (slow cooker, pressure cooker, and more!) I never worry about what’s going on in there.

  25. Jo says...

    Were you contacted by NBC PR before you posted this? Seems suspicious, or just very fortunate for them! :)

    • Katherine Guri says...

      Hahah!! RIP Jack!!!!!

    • Liz says...

      Yes! Was thinking the same thing.
      RIP Jack ❤️

  26. M.K says...

    “Anything a slow cooker can do… (an instant pot does better)” http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/10/why-pressure-cookers-are-better-than-slow-cookers.html
    I used crockpots for years with some great recipes but now have an instant pot and it’s sooo much better. (Also- cooking beans in a slow cooker can actually be dangerous- especially kidney beans. Gotta make sure they reach a certain temperature and many slow cookers don’t do it. Pressure cookers are definitely a superior and safer way to Cook dried beans).
    I was completely sold also when I was able to Cook a whole frozen chicken in just over an hour in my instant pot (including coming up to pressure and natural release).

    • Jill says...

      Do you have any secrets for translating crock pot recipes for the instant pot?

    • AMEN to the instant pot (or electric pressure cookers). It can be a pressure cooker, but oh so much more as well. My big issue with slow cookers is that you can’t brown anything in them, which is a needed flavor enhancement to many recipes (and browning something in one pot and then adding it to the slow cooker defeats the purpose of using one, in my opinion). Electric pressure cookers often have a slow cooker function, so you can have that world and so much more.

    • Alexandra says...

      What size instant pot do you have? I’m debating between the 6 and 8 quart.
      Thanks!

    • To clarify, I meant to add that you CAN saute in an electric pressure cooker, which is just another one of its many charms!

    • I second that! I love my instant pot, and it feels like the dishes come out tastier! The flavors are a little more developed, and it’s nice to have “slow-cooked” food in a shorter period of time.

    • Audrey says...

      YES! Another vote for the Instant Pot. So many 6 hour recipes reduced to 30-45 minutes. Second the sautee function which is excellent for meat stews. Love the ability to cook dried beans in 1/2 hour, and cook meat from frozen in under an hour. Steamed whole chicken in less than an hour. And agreed that the food retains its texture and individual flavors much moreso than in a Crockpot, where ingredients get mushy and all adopt the same flavor. Carrots especially noticeable – they retain their chew and sweetness in all kinds of IP soups and stews.

    • M.K says...

      Jill- no secrets exactly to converting recipes.. usually I look up a similar recipe online (so if I want to make my slow cooker black bean soup I look up a generic instant pot black bean soup for the timing and then use my original recipe for the flavors).

  27. Nancey says...

    But JACK!!!

    • Julie says...

      This is exactly what I thought too! :)

    • JB says...

      Omg, I wanted to say something without spoilers. I don’t think I’ll ever use one unattended again.

    • Wendy says...

      My thoughts exactly. I will never look at a crockpot the same way again. ?

    • Liz says...

      I know!!

    • Melanie says...

      Same here!

    • Jen says...

      Hahaha I was waiting for someone to say this!!

    • Lilly says...

      My thought exactly!!!

    • LOL i wondered if anyone would talk about Jack because bye bye crock pots hahaha

  28. My favorite crock pot meals are beef stew (from Leanne Ely’s cookbook, Saving Dinner–I sometimes replace the beef with chicken and the beef stock with chicken stock and it’s also delicious that way) and any kind of soup really.

    I make taco chicken meat in the crock pot too, similar to the 2-ingredient recipe you posted. And I agree that dried beans cooked in the crock pot taste SO much better than beans cooked with any other method. I just rinse 1 pound of dried beans and put it in the crock pot with 6 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of pepper, and that’s it (salt comes later). I actually cook this on high for 8 hours and it turns out perfect.

    At least one dinner a week, usually on weekends, is made in the crock pot. I love getting it all done in the morning!

  29. Elisabeth says...

    I actually have an Instant Pot and a Slow Cooker. Now, I’ll readily admit that I’ve not used my Instant Pot much at all, so my opinion could change, but for now, I like the Slow Cooker better. Perhaps it’s because most of my recipes are oriented that way, but I love that I can throw something in mid-day, and have it finish by dinner (yay, toddler nap-time dinner prep). Or that I can wait 6-8 hours and start a meal even earlier. I know you can do Instant Pot stuff really quickly, but the long pressurizing and de-pressurizing phases made me grumpy because recipes are often written as being finished in “5 minutes!” when it actually takes 30. That said… the fact that Melissa Clark has an Instant Pot cookbook may single-handedly sway my opinion. Her “Dinner” cookbook has made me a serious groupie.

  30. Charity says...

    I’m in the DON’T crowd.
    I really tried to love my crock pot, but always like the results much better when I cook things in my Dutch oven. I find that crock pots tend to muddle flavors and dry out proteins.

  31. the cape on the corner says...

    a crock pot conversation, and no mention of this is us? surprised me! i looove my crockpot but my family was surprised i use it more in the summer than winter. apparently winter is when people hunker down for crock pot cooking, but i like it so i’m not adding heat to the kitchen using the stove in the summer. i don’t think i’ve ever cooked anything on high, ever. and for a longer day, i put it on warm, not even low, and it still gets done. i am VEHEMENTLY anti any recipes that call for pre cooking, namely browning meat. uh uh. that’s the whole reason i am using the crockpot, to have zero efforts made yet a meal has been produced.

  32. Heather says...

    Great recipe recommendations! Would love it if you could post some instant pot recipes too.

  33. Andrea says...

    Crock pots are fine to keep food warm (or to make chicken stock, per Smitten Kitchen), but to actually cook something, they are so meh. The flavors don’t develop or meld. It always feels like a soup that gave up.

  34. Erin in AZ says...

    LOVE my crock pot! Green Chile Pork, Pot Roast, Homemade Chicken Stock, Bean Soup… But also, it’s great for keeping things warm for parties. Nacho Cheese, Apple Cider, Mulled Wine, those little hot dogs in BBQ sauce!

  35. Meredith says...

    Thanks for sharing Stella! Slower cooker meals are often so rich & satisfying on those winter evenings (says the vegan!). I swear by my Wonderbag, a genius invention from South Africa that requires no energy at all. All you need to do is bring food to a boil on the stove and pop it in the bag to continue cooking. Best part is that for each Wonderbag sold the company donates a bag to a family in need- those living in townships without electricity. Doing our part to save the planet, one roast at a time! http://www.wonderbagworld.com

    • sasha says...

      So cool!!

    • Anna says...

      Wow. I just looked up the wonderbag and it looks so great! Text it to my sister in law too right away :) thanks for the suggestion

    • We use our “wonderpot” (“wonderbag”) all the time too–absolutely brilliant. And slow cooker, as well! The wonderpot is great for overnight oatmeal, kedergeree, kitchari, and amazing for camping.

      For slow cooker vegans/vegetarians, check out: /The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone/ by Kathy Hester. Our other go-to slow cooker cookbook is /Cooking Light: Slow Cooker Tonight!/ I often give it as a wedding gift–a great slow cooker and the cookbook together :)

  36. Jessica says...

    I love my crockpot, but I have to say I’ve never actually followed a recipe or kept track of time. For example, for chili, I just throw in a bunch of beans, some corn, spices, tomato (canned) a little water, until it looks the way chili might look before it’s cooked, and then I turn it on for a long time. I make applesauce the same way (apples, cranberries, splash of water, dash of orange juice, lots of time). My crockpot has a low setting, so if I was going to be gone the whole day, I’d use the low setting. If I’m around, I use high and check whenever I think about it.

  37. Lulu says...

    Love my slow-cooker. My life would be so much more difficult without that little gem!

  38. Anneka says...

    I’m going to second the Instant Pot recommendation. Yes, it is more money, but it does SO MUCH MORE in much less time, and is smaller, which is gold in a small NYC apartment.

  39. Kayla says...

    I’ve been hearing a ton of “I’m never using a crock pot again” after last weeks episode of This Is Us. ??

  40. Juliette says...

    I use my crockpot all the time! I work 8-9 hours a day too so I have to pick recipies that can be cooked on low for that long, some of them actually get better the longer you cook them (I made a lamb and prunes cooked in red wine dish that was melt in your mouth delicious) …. I love having diner ready when I get home!

  41. claire says...

    We had a slow cooker but never used it so we donated it. Then our rice cooker broke and we decided to replace it with an Instant Pot. Total game changer!

  42. Jeannine says...

    Is there such a thing as a small, sad apartment kitchen-sized slow cooker?

  43. NSU says...

    I used to be a slow cooker devotee, but now i’m (stovetop) pressure cooker all the way! Does everything I did in the crock pot but (sorry) better and faster AND doesn’t take up counter space or smell up my apartment (like my day-long chicken stock would).
    IMO Instant Pot does all the things but none of them particularly well. Versatility (and convenience) at a (slight) cost…. but whatever gets you cooking!

    • Sadie says...

      Also a stovetop pressure cooker fan, former crock pot user. I also briefly had an Instant Pot-like cooker, but I killed it cooking dried beans in it– the foam somehow found its way into the circuit board and shorted it out! So it’s back to the stovetop for me!

  44. Ling Ling says...

    Have you tried using an instant pot? Really good food within a few minutes!

  45. Barbara says...

    I use my crock pot every couple of weeks. I portion the food out into individual servings and freeze them.

    My go-to recipes are these 2 Cooking Light recipes:
    http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/thai-style-pork-stew
    http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/all-american-chili (I saute the meat and veggies and add frozen corn)

    And yesterday I made this recipe. It was so yummy. It’s going into the rotation:
    https://www.foodiecrush.com/slow-cooker-thai-chicken-soup/

  46. I think the appeal of a slow cooker over an instant pot is that you have to do all the work before it is time to eat. That night before prep (never in the morning! Just dump it in and go in the morning!) means that you have food after work with zero effort. My mom made amazing roasts and soups in the crock pot all the time when I was growing up!

    • Deanne says...

      I totally agree. I admit that I’ve never used the Instant Pot, but I don’t want it to be done faster if faster is an hour after I get home and put it all in. I want to walk in the door after a 10 hour day and just put it on a plate or bowl and eat.

  47. katie says...

    Stella, you are my people. Hell yes to the crockpot! I got one from my big sister when I graduated from college nearly 20 years ago, she said, “You’re gonna need this.” It’s a game changer, especially for small kitchens &/or slim wallets. I pack my lunch everyday, and it’s awesome to make stuff on the weekend that easily packs into multiple work lunches, plus, it’s a dream to clean. I also use mine to make bone broth -overnight! I never worry about it – set it and forget it, man. Thank you for these recipes; I’ll be trying them all!

  48. Liz says...

    The black bean soup from Smitten Kitchen is the best! I never tire of it. Love my Hamilton set n forget slow cooker. Although I bought a fancy Breville Fast Slow cooker, I still favor my old slow cooker.

  49. Holly says...

    I don’t want to post a spoiler, but the last episode of This is Us may have have traumatized me!

  50. Ellen says...

    I’m in the minority here but I’ve never owned a crock pot and never will. I actually like to cook and the idea of throwing things into a pot is not cooking to me. I like the process of layering flavors, seasoning, tasting, adjusting, playing…it’s therapeutic for me and relaxes me at the end of the day. I have a treasure chest of meals I can get on the table in 20 minutes or less so I think the time thing is not an issue for me.
    Full disclosure..I’m a chef.

    • Kate says...

      Same, Ellen. Well, except for the chef part. :)

    • I’m not a chef, but I LOVE cooking on the stovetop. Using a crock-pot kind of baffles me, honestly. I don’t feel confident when I’m not actively involved in the cooking process. But, it takes away all the fun of cooking! This is just my opinion, but I’m with you- it’s therapeutic for me to come home and chop, saute, and boil. :)

    • Valerie says...

      Ellen — share some of your treasured meals! 20 minutes or less is what I need.

  51. Andrea R says...

    Gotta say, my Instant Pot wins for “large, counter-hogging electric appliance”. I never use my crock pot anymore but am holding onto it “just in case”. Maybe it’s because my 4 year old is up with me in the morning so I just don’t have extra time to get food going. I’ve pinned this article so I can give it one more shot. Thanks!

  52. jessica says...

    I made that lentil soup from Hugh Achenseson’s cookbook that was posted on COJ a month or so ago…it was DYN-O-MITE!!

  53. Lisa says...

    I firmly reject the crock pot in lieu of my Instant Pot, which we use multiple times a week. Never have I been so enamored with an appliance!

  54. Lynn says...

    Yes, I love mine too! But am thinking about upgrading to an instantpot because I think that you can use it as a crockpot but it has a timer so you can set it to start whenev. I think?? Those 3-6 hour recipes are a no go during the work week for me.

  55. Hannah says...

    I appreciate the merits of the slow cooker, I do-but when I got an instant pot for my birthday last year, I haven’t looked back once. Oh my heavens. It lives up to every ounce of hype, for real.
    It has transformed my cooking life. I don’t care that I’m gushing. It is an amazing workhorse of a machine. I’m in a tender relationship and I don’t care who knows it.
    My vegetables are never mushy.
    My meats are never overcooked.
    My beans are perfect perfect perfect.
    My 4-minute mac and cheese is my family’s Hallelujah.
    My birthday is never forgotten. (Because that is mine and my instant pot’s anniversary now so…)

    And dinner is always still on regardless of remembering or forgetting to defrost freezer items.

    Just sayin.
    ?

    • sasha says...

      So you like it, then?
      ;)

    • Katie says...

      We must have very different skills! I like my instant pot, but plenty of things that come out of it are not very good, and definitely not perfect…..

  56. I make bone broth in my slow cooker. Every time I make roast chicken for dinner, I save the bones and toss them in the slow cooker with enough water to cover them. 48-72 hours on low, then I’ve got some delicious broth.

  57. Kathy says...

    Even better than the crock pot is the pressure cooker…amazing time savings, phenomenal meals, even on weeknights! Perfect beets in 20 minutes, chuck roast and gravy or pulled pork in an hour….

  58. Celeste says...

    I would seriously make all of these. And I want to add that after the cooking time is done, mine drops to warm. I’ve never had any scalding.

  59. j says...

    a crockpot dinner is like a gift to my future self! i can attest to the greatness of the smitten kitchen black bean soup; its permanently in rotation and my husband loves it. This is another favorite: https://thelemonbowl.com/slow-cooker-chicken-curry/

    but I always saute the spices, onion and tomato sauce first because the flavor is 1000x

  60. Margaret says...

    Saturday lunch is my least favourite meal to cook and more often than I’d like to admit ends up being chips and salsa, so the slow cooker is perfect for me! A few weekends ago I learned you can make lasagna in a slow cooker. Brown the meat, then layer sauce, meat, cheese, and noodles *uncooked* as your normally would. Often I add a layer of spinach too. I think I cooked it on low for 5ish hours. Turns out perfect!

    • Katie says...

      Word!

  61. Samantha says...

    The timing of this post made me laugh after the This Is Us episode that everyone’s been freaking out about! I don’t even watch the show, but I’ve seen people posting about crock pots everywhere, haha.

  62. Kelly says...

    Slow cookers make the best broth ever. Put a whole chicken, carrots, onion, celery, bay leaf, a few tablespoons of vinegar (essential) covered with water in the slow cooker for the day and you will be left with the best broth and chicken that is still moist. This works for turkey breast too. And ham.

  63. with this brutal winter, i’ve taken to making overnight chicken stock to make chili or soup or stew.

    saturday night before bed i add a chicken carcass from the week’s rotisserie chicken, scraps of vegs (carrots, onion, celery, mushroom stems) and spices, add water, set on low and go to bed. (there are some weeks where the scrapes are lean so i’ll splurge and add in a whole carrot or whatever. )

    wake up sunday morning, strain and i’ll have some piping hot and rich stock make the week’s lunch of soup/stew/chili.

    it’s the cirrrrrrrrrrrrle of lifffffffffe.

  64. Sanaa Murray says...

    hello HOW did you write this article just for me? my in laws gave us a slow cooker for christmas (also the size of our brooklyn kitchen basically) and i’ve been a bit stumped on how to use it given no recipe calls for my 10 hour workday worth of cooking time! thank you i am so so excited about these recipes!

  65. Nan says...

    I’m no good at cooking red meats but in a slow cooker, beef stew is the bomb! It’s also great for making your own bone broths.

  66. MK says...

    My new years resolution is to cook more, and this is perfect.
    My husband and I are so inexperienced that we’re kind of starting from scratch! So far this year we’ve tried this recipe (https://smittenkitchen.com/2017/10/quick-pasta-and-chickpeas-pasta-e-ceci/), and even tho the word “quick” is in the title, it’s taken me a few tries to get right. Literally we are one month in and we have tried exactly one new thing.
    So- fist bump if you are trying! We’ve got to start somewhere, right?
    (Indian butter chicken, I’m coming for you!)

  67. Kelly says...

    I am another Instant Pot over slow cooker convert. The shorter time and precision of the Instant Pot are huge wins in my book. But to be honest, if I’m going to be home on a lazy Sunday, it’s just as easy to make a stew or such in a pot on the stove!

    Before Instant Pot i used a slow cooker regularly and was regularly disappointed by it – I found that so many recipes either require so much pre-work, or they are super bland with really runny sauces! between that and the timing issues I always felt like the slow cooker oversold making things easier.

    However when entertaining the slow cooker is fabulous for a couple things, especially if you’re pressed for oven/stove top space:
    1. keeping your mashed potatoes or any other pureed dish warm – genius on thanksgiving when you’re trying to heat up all the casseroles!
    2. Party Meatballs – a jar of grape jelly, a jar of chili sauce, 2 bags of frozen meatballs, heat til warm. Transfer to a fancy chafing dish if you want to upgrade!

  68. jean m goddard says...

    These recipes look amazingly delicious, although I have to admit that I am still trying to wrap my head around cake cooked in a crock pot! Fun post!

  69. Laura says...

    I LOVE my old school crock pot. My favorite is throwing some chicken breasts in, cover in salsa and go. Endless possibilities! Chilequiles! Enchiladas! Chicken salad! It’ so easy and delicious…except yesterday when I got home and had completely forgotten to plug it in. Ugh. As my friend said… subconscious This is Us fear! haha

  70. kash says...

    I LOVE my slow cooker. As a PhD student on a very tight budget, it’s a complete and utter game-changer.

    Stella, I will say: if the recipes call for 6 hours of simmering, and you know you will be working for 8 (I have the same problem–I’ll be in the library for 8 or 9 hours, but then the recipes will call for smaller amounts) then just add an extra cup of fluid! Honestly, if you’re making beans or soup or something like that, an extra hour or two will only deepen the flavour. I have done this a gazillion times! Just add a bit of extra fluid and you’re set :)

    My slow cooker also has a “high” and “low” setting, so if the recipe calls for 6 hours at high, I just put it in for 8 hours on low. Almost always works!

    Other than black bean soup (which, like Deb Perelman says, is a slow-cooker classic) my favourite thing to make in the slow cooker is chicken cacciatore, or stock! The slow cooker is a game changer for homemade chicken stock.

    • Rebecca K Ringquist says...

      Yep- what she said. I’m on team instant pot.

    • Nicole says...

      Yes, i totally agree!!! You need an instant pot!!! It’s a game changer!!

    • Bianca says...

      Totally agree!

  71. Jenny L says...

    I love my crockpot so so much!!!! Early evening is typically my toddler son’s grumpiest time of the day and I’m just getting home from work. Knowing dinner is already done let’s me focus on giving him quality time. I only have a few crockpot recipes I really love but no one in my family minds a frequent rotation of the same meals.

  72. Linda Z says...

    I love my crock pot. And also, this is the most ironic post ever after last week’s This is Us episode.

    • I was thinking the same thing! I am not giving up my crock pot any time soon, but after last week’s This Is Us episode, I will never look at a crock pot the same again.

  73. Tang says...

    I definitely thought this post was going to reference This is Us. :D

    • Jen says...

      Same!!!!

    • Lucy says...

      Me too! First thing I thought of.

    • same!

    • Jacqueline says...

      Legit felt my stomach drop when I saw this pic. I thought that was weird, why am I have such a strong reaction to this post? Then it all came rushing back. I don’t think I can watch the next episode. Will have to have husband pre-watch and tell me how many sleepless nights will occur if I watch it…

    • Emily says...

      Ahh me too!! So traumatic.

  74. Slow cookers are old school. Instant pot is where it’s at these days! Get with the program guys!

  75. Whitney says...

    This is so funny- I just dragged my slow-cooker out of the pantry to try a new recipe. I keep checking on it to make sure it looks good! Living in the South I am surrounded by people who swear by their slow-cookers. I bought one thinking it would change my meal plan game but I really dislike prepping dinner in the morning. I think I’m going to stick with Stella’s theory: slow-cooker Saturday.

  76. Erin says...

    I was a HUGE Crock-Pot fan for a least a decade …. until I received the Instant Pot as a gift a little over a year ago. I use it so often that it has a permanent home on my counter top and I’m considering donating my dusty Crock-Pot. The Instant Pot has this marvelous saute feature allowing you to sear meats and veggies before adding liquid and using the slow-cook function. As a working mom with two kids in sports and after-school activities, the pressure-cook feature is a game-changer. Monday night I made butter chicken in about 30 minutes (including hands-on time). Aside from pressure cooking being fast, vegetables come out with some bite and color vs the overcooked, soggy veggies my Crock-Pot rendered. Looking forward to cooking your recipes in my Instant Pot. All hail the Instant Pot!!

  77. Angela Robertson says...

    I’ve seen it posted above but getting a outlet timer for your crock is key when you work days longer than a 6 hour recipe (who has a 6 hour work day?! If you’re hiring, hit. me. up.) Every few months or so I prep a few freezer crock pot meals so during especially crazy weeks when fast food is looking like a regular on my dinner menu, I thaw a prepped meal the day before, then pop in the crock pot the next day. Some of my tried and true favorites are:
    https://thechicsite.com/2015/11/23/creamy-turkey-and-rice-soup/
    https://www.nobiggie.net/creamy-crockpot-hot-chocolate/
    https://thehumbledhomemaker.com/freezer-crockpot-chicken-fajitas/
    https://www.themagicalslowcooker.com/balsamic-beef-roast-and-veggies/

  78. Sandra says...

    I’m so excited to try some of your vegetarian recipes…we use our slow cooker for meat for my husband/son, but most of the veggie options I’ve tried resulted in unappealing mush.

  79. Iva says...

    The number of This is Us references here and in the article is disturbingly small haha. I don’t have a slow cooker, but then I’m also not married to a Jack Pearson, so that’s that.

    • Julia Merrick says...

      OMG WHY DID I CLICK ON THE LINK??? Had not caught up with “This is Us” but couldn’t stop myself from reading it….A slow cooker kills Jack??! I can’t. Reminds me of when Mitch Dawson was killed off Dawsons creek for dropping his ice cream while driving. Never ice cream and drive guys! RIP Mitch and Jack #hottesttvdads

    • Emily says...

      Thank you Joanna for sharing this article about crock pot concerns! Man, I do wonder if the writers are thinking, “Wow” we didn’t see that coming!

  80. Nicole says...

    I also live in a tiny NYC apartment and mine has no oven, so I like having the option of a slow cooker. Whenever I can’t think of any lunch ideas, I make shredded chicken and pair it with rice/beans/salsa/whatever I can find for burrito bowls. Another good excuse to eat chips :)

  81. Emily says...

    I use mine for corned beef and cabbage and also pot roast. Williams Sonoma makes the most amazing “Yankee Pot Roast Sauce” and I just literally put the beef in the crock pot, add the sauce, and then a few hours later add the vegetables. Its so hard to wait for dinner that night! I have an Instant Pot but I am very intimidated by it, haha! I have never used it so I need to start

  82. So…none of you all have seen This is Us yet, huh?

    • Nicole says...

      Right?! I totally thought the show was the reason for thise crockpot post only to be mistaken!

    • Rebecca K Ringquist says...

      Right? I can’t look the same at mine since!

    • sasha says...

      So I don’t watch the show, but I HAVE worried about leaving my crock pot simmering home alone all day long. It’s old (& I unplug lamps too, sadly my grandmother died in a house fire). And my dog has been known to counter surf too. I’ve put it on my front patio and cooked dinner there many times. I’m vegan, so maybe this wouldn’t be the best bet if you’ve got a roast in there. Also, if there was a roast in there, my naughty dog would absolutely knock the dang thing off the counter, probably burn herself, and eat herself sick. Veganism solves a lot of problems at my house.

  83. Jill says...

    YES! My crock pot is the key to quick and hearty weeknight dinners. It’s been a lifesaver for me. Thanks for the new recipes! Can’t wait to try them.

  84. I love my crock pot more than any other kitchen appliance. I make lasagna, beef roasts, chilies, stews, you name it!

  85. Leah says...

    Two words: Instant Pot.
    I rolled my eyes at all the hype and now that I have one, I use it probably 4x/week and it has legit changed my life.

    • Erin says...

      I know right?!! My relationship with my Instant Pot is similar to my husband’s relationship with our Roomba – love and appreciation.

    • Yes! I hate new appliances and always loved my slow cooker, but we received an Instant Pot as a gift and it is completely wonderful. I love the slowcooker but it requires planning ahead. Like we’ll be headed out for a day of hiking and think wouldn’t it be nice if we had something waiting for us when we get home- but then we realize we don’t have all the ingredients, yada yada yada. With the instant pot you can think that on your way home from hiking, grab the items from the store and it will be done while you make a cocktail and relax.

  86. O says...

    Best thing I’ve made in my crock-pot….. Spiked Apple Cider!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yum!!!!

  87. Shannon says...

    I have found some great slow cooker recipes on the blogs Half Baked Harvest and Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

    I have noticed that the high setting is generally too hot on my particular brand so I basically cook everything on low. I have never had a problem with going over the 6-8 hour mark on low.

  88. Twyla says...

    I always set my crockpot on top of my stove while it’s running and I don’t worry about it (a lesson I learned after my countertop started to turn brown). I have an older one with only a low & high setting, so I have to choose recipes that are ok to be cooking for 8 hours or more. Here are a few things that make heavy rotations in my crockpot:
    Chicken or beef broth – I simmer the bones all night, then add the rest of the ingredients in the morning for soup so it can simmer the rest of the day.
    Split pea soup – totally ok if its a little overcooked.
    Sweet potato, butternut squash, carrot soup – when you get home just add a can of coconut milk & puree. SO good!
    A huge batch of pinto beans, which gets divided up & frozen in freezer bags.
    Pork shoulder – I typically cook it on high for 8 hrs; it pulls apart so easily and gives us a few meals out of it (tacos, bbq buns, Bi Bim Bap).
    Chicken & salsa – cook on low for 8 hrs, drain some of the liquid, shred the chicken and add a 1/3 a brick of cream cheese. Kid approved.

    • Lindsay says...

      Thank you!!

  89. Sonya says...

    These look great! The Butter Chicken from Sarah Waldman is one of my 2.5-year-old’s favourites!

  90. VP says...

    I have a slow cooker but probably used it less than 10 times. I am sure I could get more use out of it, but the meals I make don’t ever really need it. I think it would be best for shredded meats, and I want to look at that enchilada recipe posted here!

    Honestly I use my pressure cooker WAY more. It is fast, and when making curries for tougher meats like lamb, it gets the meat VERY tender. Also great for cooking lentils, beans, etc.

  91. Taylor says...

    Two words. Instant Pot. It is life changing magic.

  92. Sarah says...

    Yes to slow cooking! I get the hype of an Instapot but I don’t think it should replace a slow cooker. Slow cooking releases and intensifies the flavors of every dish. I love it for making a big batch of sweet potatoes (Just rub it in coconut or olive oil and wrap it in tin foil), Tex-Mex soup, and berry crumble topped with ice cream. Martha Stewart has an excellent book called Slow Cooker. It has some insane recipes.

  93. Carol says...

    I use mine at least once a week. I prep the ingredients the night before and then just dump them in on my way out the door.

  94. Anna says...

    If you are cooking chicken breasts in your crock pot for shredded chicken, my #1 tip is to use a hand mixer to shred them. Just put them in a bowl, mix on high speed and you have perfectly shredded meat in less than a minute. No more messing around with two forks.

    • MK says...

      Genius!

    • Emily says...

      There’s youtube videos that show how to do this, as I must admit I was confused and perplexed on how to do this the first time I read about it. The videos helped and made me brave enough to try it!

    • Libbie says...

      Oh my gosh, Anna. Game changer!

    • laura says...

      thanks for sharing! will definitely try!

  95. Katrina says...

    I made pot roast this week in my crockpot and it is the best. Crockpot all the way!

  96. L says...

    my mom bought me one last year and i haven’t used it! :,( definitely saving this page for the weekend.

  97. Lauren says...

    As an avid crock-pot user, I also struggled with the timing issue as i am away for work longer than the typical recipe time and my crock-pot is outdated and doesn’t have the timer capability. Then my mom taught me a genius trick- buy a timer for your kitchen outlet! I had never thought of that. I typically prep everything in the cooker the night before and refrigerate the ceramic dish. Then plug your slow cooker in before you leave for work and set your timer so it starts the slow cooker at the appropriate time the recipe needs. In prepping the night before, it cuts down on the morning prep, but also leaves the dish cold and the ability to get to room temp by the time the timer kicks in. The outlet timer I bought was an inexpensive mechanical one off of Amazon, but there are ones you can buy that are smart home / wifi / Alexa capable (although those are a bit beyond me… haha).

    • Kelly says...

      that’s a great idea! i usually prep everything right after I finish dinner but before cleaning the kitchen, turn on the slow cooker over night , and then refrigerate my food before i leave for work and heat it up when I get home. The bonus to this step is that any grease in the dish congeals on top while refrigerated and I can scrape it off when I get home.

  98. Kelley says...

    I love my crock pot! I totally hear you about the recipes that are only 3-4 hours and I do tend to make those kinds of recipes on weekends. BUT, you could get a programmable slow cooker. Mine has a “warm” setting that kicks in when the full on cooking part is done. This way I can do a six hour recipe on a work day and still come home to a ready-made meal, and also not have to worry about food poisoning. Win win win.

    • Raquel says...

      Yes, yes and yes!!! Totally second this.
      Also, SkinnyTaste (food blog) has great slow cooker recipes and two books – the second one has more sc recipes.
      Honestly, most of the recipes I make take 6-10 hours. So I either make them at night and in the morning they are ready or I put them early in the morning and when I get home from work I take my time to relax, shower, watch the news and then have dinner. so good. My husband and I usually make 2 sc recipes each week and it has been a game changer to our routine. Plus we eat like Fiona and Shrek (no joke) and a recipe for 4 ppl only last us one meal lol.

  99. annie says...

    Oh, Stella. You are speaking my love language, and you’ve upped my lunch game. :)

  100. Maywyn says...

    The kind with a removable crock is my favorite. I find flavors are dependable with that style.

  101. Hope says...

    Oh lord, I wouldn’t want a kitchen with no crockpot! Blasphemy. ;) I have this one (https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0061TWKWU/ref=mp_s_a_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1517419822&sr=8-10&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=crockpot) and like a commenter above me said, it switches to “warm” after 4,6,8 or 10 hours. I’ve never burnt a single thing in my crockpot! I also have the crockpot you tagged in the post, and have kept it on longer than I should have for a meal, and it didn’t burn, either, so yeah. It’s basically magic and no one should live without. :)

  102. Beth says...

    I also love my InstantPot (which can double as a slow cooker) & you can saute stuff in the pan before turning on the slow cook feature. That way there are fewer dishes.

  103. Carolyn M says...

    I have a slow cooker/rice cooker combo which is amazing because I don’t have a ton of space. Thanks for the recipes!

    We use our slow cooker at least once a week to make oatmeal. It took some tries to find the recipe that worked best for our cooker, but am so glad that we went through that trial period. It’ s so nice to wake up in the morning to something warm and healthy.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love the idea of waking up to something warm!

    • MK says...

      Share this recipe plz. :)

  104. Lauren says...

    I would be lost without my slow cooker! We make that chicken parm soup on repeat in our house!

  105. Beth says...

    I also work long days (sometimes gone from the house 10+ hours). The only way I can feed my family healthy meals are with my crock pot. I bought one with a “keep warm” feature. As soon as it is done cooking, it just keeps the food warm (and safe) until we get home & dinner is ready.

  106. my main thing with slow cookers is that i just want to be able to chop some things up and throw everything in a pot. i feel like most recipes require “browning” things in a pan first, and by the time you’re getting to your slow cooker you have a sink full of dishes!! the butter chicken recipe looks amazing because you just throw things directly into the cooker. thanks stella!!!

    • Simone says...

      There’s a new crockpot that you can brown in it. On the stove. I’ve been debating updating to that one by I don’t neeeeeeed it yet. But that is an amazing feature.

  107. Tara says...

    I work from home and STILL consider the crockpot a life-saver. My favorite is a chili-lime pork recipe that we actually do with chicken but is great with either protein: http://eat-drink-love.com/slow-cooker-chili-lime-pulled-pork-tacos/. I also do a chicken tikka masala with a simmer sauce and zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, carrots and red bell peppers. With two boys playing all.the.sports and me being, okay, I admit it, a less-than enthusiastic cook, this gets dinner sorted and then leftovers for school lunches on one fell swoop. Hooray!

  108. teegan says...

    I use mine regularly. As a vegetarian, I don’t mind beans being overdone (which makes them creamy and delicious) or things like sweet potato soup (that I just add some dairy to and run an immersion blender through).
    Favorite recipe: White beans covered by an inch of water plus a cup of white wine and half a cup of olive oil. Add as many smashed garlic cloves as you like, a pinch of salt, and some rosemary. Greens can be tossed in as well. This is the BEST thing to come home to on a cold evening.

    • Jessica says...

      How many cups of beans, approx??

    • teegan says...

      It’s usually a 12-oz package

  109. One of my favorite overnight fall treats is crockpot applesauce! You basically just slice up a couple of apples and take out the seeds (I leave the skins on because I’m lazy) and toss it in the crockpot with some cinnamon and maybe a little bit of water and you wake up to delicious homemade warm applesauce. I portion it out for the week as delicious sweet but also healthy afternoon snacks :)

    • teegan says...

      Yes to this! I make it just the same.

  110. Victoria Haynes says...

    I try to always have some bags of the Goop Mexican chicken in my freezer (although your 2-ingredient version sounds way easier).

    Also, our go-to dinner party dish is this Korean shredded beef: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/coca-cola-korean-beef-tacos. Serve with lettuce wraps and David Chang’s pickled daikon/carrots and his ginger/scallion sauce. Slow cookers are great for entertaining so you can clean up all the prep dishes well beforehand.

    One thing: my husband will mention the Maillard effect literally every time we use the slow cooker. It’s a cook’s illustrated thing that says, basically, you get exponentially more flavor out of meat and onions if you brown beforehand. Maybe not so important for chicken breasts, but I always pre-sear red meat.

  111. Heather says...

    Wait I’m so confused that “do or don’t” is even a question that applies to crock pots. Of course it’s a do! Doesn’t everyone have one??

  112. Deborah says...

    What timing! I was just thinking I needed to attempt to use my slow cooker again and these recipes look fantastic.
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  113. Jess says...

    I’m too nervous to leave the slow cooker running all day while we’re at work, so recently we’ve dubbed Sundays “slow cooker Sundays.” Every week I try a new recipe, then do my usual 2-3 hour cook-up/prep for the week. It’s great not having to dirty up the kitchen again a few hours later to make dinner. Last week’s episode of This is Us will likely haunt me forever so not going to be leaving the slow cooker on while we’re out for the day anytime soon (even though I know that’s what it’s made for).

  114. Tamara says...

    Do! It’s such a time saver and nothing welcomes you home after a long day like that delicious aroma. But I suggest quickly browning beef before adding it to a slow cooker recipe. Otherwise, it comes out too mushy.

  115. Despite ‘This Is Us’ BASICALLY RUINING slow cookers forever, I still love my slow cooker and pull it out on the regular. ;)

    • Trista says...

      YES!!!

      But I guess as long as you don’t use an already broken slow cooker for 20 years, you’ll be good.

  116. Hannah says...

    I love using my Crock Pot to keep mulled wine warm for parties. I have trouble finding motivation for everyday recipes since I’m cooking for one. Once I upgrade to more space I’ll find an excuse to use it! I can tell my neighbor uses his all the time because I can smell him making pot roast or pork and beans from across the hall! Luckily, he shares. :)

  117. Megan says...

    Slow cooker fan. I used it all the time though when I was working (would be on for 9ish hours) and I didn’t feel like there were negative effects… I usually only made pulled pork and that likes to be over cooked.

  118. Denise says...

    A slow cooker is also excellent for taking away from home. My family did Christmas in a cabin in the woods and my Mom made a slow cooker turkey breast & yams that beat any traditional massive home meal. Just plug it in and go for a hike. Easy on Mom, delicious holiday meal. What’s not to love.

    • Tara says...

      Another Tara here…forgot to say that this is a gift my mom gave to us: Thanksgiving turkey breasts in a slow cooker are fantastic! They don’t get dried out, you don’t have to spend all day basting and you aren’t trying to eat turkey for weeks afterwards. And, as you mention, you can go for a hike. Game-changer!

  119. Gina says...

    Best kitchen appliance!!
    In fact.. I fixed some killer ham and beans last night. It also makes a great breakfast casserole when needing something for large groups at the holidays.

  120. Valerie says...

    Two words: INSTANT POT. Has a slow-cooker function, if you really need it. But you can whip up meals in under an hour– EVEN RIBS–and for more than half of that time, you’ll just be waiting for the pressure cooker to be done.

    • Betsy says...

      Serious Eats has a big piece on how pressure cookers are way better than slow cookers, due to Maillard reaction and caramelization, etc. My experience has totally backed it up, and I like that I can prep like I would for the slow cooker, take it out of the fridge and throw it in the pressure cooker, and have dinner in a totally passive 30-60 minutes.

    • Kate says...

      Haha I was scrolling the comments and waiting for the Instant Pot pile-on. I agree it’s far superior!!

  121. Nicole says...

    Woohoo thanks for including a vegan option! I’m going to try that recipe this week :)

  122. JP says...

    I shelled out for a Kitchen-Aid crockpot. The biggest issue I had with it was that the glass cover cracked soon after I bought it, so it had to be retired, no parts available and I did not have time to troll eBay. I did manage a few perfect batches of beans, but everything else that was intended for serving immediately after a workday tasted “cooked to hell” or looked like all of the life had been sucked out of it. I learned to add time to incorporate fresh elements as a part of the meal (i.e. slow cook the meat, add freshly sauteed veg and/or herbs after) but it sort of negated the whole point of the appliance. Honestly, I was kind of relieved to see the slow cooker go, as I never truly felt comfortable leaving my doggie home alone with it plugged in, for safety reasons.

  123. Mollie says...

    I had the same problem working an 8-5 job M-F, but then I bought a mechanical outlet timer, it’s the best! Now I just toss things in before work, set the timer, and crock pot doesn’t turn on until 2pm. Now I come home to the house smelling delicious with dinner ready. (The only problem is if your ingredients can’t sit at room temp for several hours without spoiling, but if your meat goes in frozen or if you eat vegan it’s typically not an issue.)

    • MaryB in Richmond says...

      Oh.My.God. You’ve SOLVED IT FOR ALL OF US!!!

    • margaux says...

      YASSS!

  124. Sheila says...

    After we got a pressure cooker, we got rid of the giant crockpot my mom got us. She insisted we’d love it and we just didn’t. And I LOVE the pressure cooker. Who knew? Also, is that picture in your house? There is a pretty serious Pyrex collection in the background I’d like to know about!

  125. Sarah Beth says...

    I’m also a slow cooker fan! I know people complain that the food isn’t as good as what you can make in a pot, which, DUH! The point isn’t slow cooker or pot, it’s slow cooker or TAKEOUT. I work from 830-5, and have a two year old. Making food when I get home is not feasible 5 nights a week. I bought an instant pot like everyone else, but I found with time to come to pressure and to prep, it wasn’t really saving me any time in the precious window to get dinner on the table. So I’m sticking with my faithful slow cooker, which I load up in the morning while my family sleeps (chicken breasts with black beans, corn, and chili powder and cumin are a favorite), set it for 7-8 hours, and then it goes to warm when it’s done. It is my best friend, and lets me make a hot dinner that is good, if not spectacular, several nights a week. The timer is a must, though!

  126. Kate says...

    I’ve had my crock pot for 10 years and it’s still going strong, but I got an Instant Pot for Christmas and now my beloved slow cooker has found a new home in the garage! Regardless of which one you use, I think everyone needs a slow cooker in their lives – set it and forget it! Also, they’re really good for keeping mulled wine or apple cider warm for parties!

  127. Sindy says...

    Stella – I experienced the same problem with timing and work. When you’re ready for an upgrade, you can get a slow cooker with a delay timer/time setting option so it doesn’t start cooking until the right time. We got an Instant Pot on Black Friday and it has a slow cooker delay time option, but there are also slow cookers that are not pressure cookers that do that as well. Thanks for the great recipes, especially dessert.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      This is very exciting news, Sindy! Thank you!

    • Kat van der Hoorn says...

      I second this – if you can, I’d return the one you have and get one of the many that have a timer, and when the timer is done turns it to keep warm. It keeps it warm and safe, without having to worry about burning!

  128. My mom gave my sister and I an old crockpot that sat unused for three years. The last year we lived together, we pulled it out and became *obsessed* with it for dinner parties! Pull together the ingredients the night before, pop them in morning of, let it cook all day and have a ton of food available for a big dinner party that night!

    Since then, my crockpot routine has become more of the “late Sunday morning” meal prep variety, which is still crazy useful, especially in the winter when all I want to eat is tomato-y, bean-filled stews.

  129. Katie says...

    My crock pot has a timer, so you can tell it cook for 6 hours, then it just switches to “warm” mode, which keeps it safe but doesn’t over cook the food. It’s such a relief to have dinner ready when I get home or to plan ahead!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Wow, this is a game changer! Thanks, Katie!

    • Amanda DeWit says...

      Yes! The crock pot with the timer is definitely the way to go. Works great for weekdays that way!

  130. Cynthia says...

    My husband cooks ham in the crockpot and it is amazing. A crockpot is a real life saver.

  131. Laura says...

    Not sure why anyone would buy a regular crock pot over the Instant Pot- which has a slow cooker option but can also pressure cook things speedily.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      So interested in an Instant Pot! I purchased a slow cooker to save a little $ :)

    • Stephanie says...

      Agreed! This is one kitchen gadget that has been a total game changer.

    • D says...

      $

    • margaux says...

      i don’t have room to store an instant pot. it’s far larger than my slow cooker which fits perfectly in my cabinet.

  132. Simone says...

    I got the book The Chef and the Slow Cooker (by Hugh Acheson) for Christmas and have used my crockpot more this past month than I have in years. I had almost donated it during a recent de-cluttering spree but it turns out I just needed a little inspiration to pull it back out. It’s one of my favorite kitchen tools again!

  133. Annie says...

    YES TO THIS! I’ve had the same conundrum of using the Crock Pot during the week. Tried making butternut squash soup once, and after a long day at the office, it had turned into baby food – yuk! Weekend Crock Pot creations make me feel like a winner – the day of and throughout the week!

  134. I have a friend who swears by hers but I owned one for years, never used it and gave it away. Similar with my rice cooker, sadly. I think I can use it as a slow cooker so I might just dust it down and read the instruction booklet again. I am not very gadgety; don’t have a microwave, a dishwasher and don’t like my toaster or my electric kettle. Unfortunately, my husband does. I use my oven or hob. Perhaps I am just not that busy.

  135. I received a slow cooker awhile ago and arrived at the exact same conclusion you did! I only use it on weekends — it allows me to essentially cook two meals at once and then I have lunches or dinners frozen and ready for the upcoming week!

    My FAVORITE thing I have ever prepared in my slow cooker is Budget Bytes’s carnitas!!! I was a nervous wreck buying $22 worth of pork from Whole Foods, but it turned out AMAZING. We ate two portions and had enough leftovers for three meals after, rotating between tacos and pulled pork sandwiches.

    https://www.budgetbytes.com/2017/03/slow-cooker-carnitas/

  136. brianna says...

    Crock-Pot is in big trouble after what happened on This Is Us. I know it’s just a TV show and it was a fluke with their 20-something year old Crock-Pot, but it’s one of the only things about life that makes me nervous.

    • Alesha says...

      RIP Jack Pearson

    • Elizabeth says...

      I thought the same thing when I saw the picture for this post!! I’m paranoid after last week’s episode now.

    • Maggie says...

      My son’s name is Jack Pearson and I think I’m in love with Milo Ventimiglia. Its all very confusing.

    • Shannon says...

      YES! That is all I could think about after seeing this post! I do love crockpot recipes but I am slightly terrified to use it after last week’s episode!

    • Alison says...

      When I saw the title of this post my first thought was This Is Us too!

  137. Ruth says...

    GAME CHANGER. I love my slow cooker. I’ve had it for 10 years now. Been through EVERYTHING with me (since living alone, moving in with boyfriend, marrying said boyfriend, and having a kid –> she’s 2 now!). There are a lot of new cookbooks out there to experiment with so definitely check them out. Not just for chili and pot roast any more.

  138. I make a killer butter chicken, but I’ve never thought about doing it in a slow cooker. Great idea!

  139. Emily B says...

    I love that top photo!