In this fast-paced, increasingly digital age, finding time to cook a good meal can be difficult. It’s even tougher for families: In 2017, both parents worked in 62% of married couples with children. Even when only one parent works or in households without children, finding time between work and school, extracurriculars, and maintaining a social life to spend a few hours in front of the oven can seem impossible. That helps explain why the Centers for Disease Control found that 37% of U.S. adults ate fast food on any given day between 2013 and 2016.
Ironically, going slow can actually be a healthier, more convenient way to get a meal on the table. Slow cookers (sometimes called Crock-Pots due to the popularity of the brand) use a low heat to do exactly what the name suggests: cook things slowly. Often, slow cooker meals just require you to throw the ingredients in the pot and leave them to cook on the counter while you go about the rest of your day. Then, you get to return to a warm meal sitting on the counter.
Slow cookers are especially effective in the winter months when everyone craves soups, stews, and hot drinks to warm themselves up. To find the recipes best suited to the cold, winter months, Stacker combed the wide world of cooking blogs and websites to find 50 recipes showcasing the diverse range of amazing meals slow cookers can help you get on the table.
Whether you’re planning a huge holiday party or making a meal for one, these recipes will help you forget the freezing temperature outside.
Source: Jessica in the Kitchen
Even though this chili is cooked with quinoa and black beans, it has a strikingly "meaty" flavor omnivores and vegans alike will enjoy. The best part is it only takes 10 minutes to prep, leaving plenty of time for playing in the snow or curling up on the couch with a good book during a snow storm.
Source: Spicy Southern Kitchen
This treat, mixed with poppy seeds and topped with a lemon glaze, is a spongy, moist bright spot during months where it otherwise gets dark before 6 p.m.
Source: Pinch of Yum
This recipe lets you slowly cook lasagna's classic layers of noodles, sauce, cheese, and vegetables while putting on layers of sweaters, scarves, and coats to play in the snow. It can be made with a vegetable of your choice, letting you tailor it to the tastebuds of whomever you're serving.
Source: A Spicy Perspective
This recipe will let you skip the lines at the Cheesecake Factory and forego a water bath setup in your oven. As the recipe notes, slow cooker lids collect moisture, leaving you with "an ultra moist and silky" dessert that you don't have to worry about as you wait to dig in.
Source: Half Baked Harvest
Chicken noodle soup is a winter staple, but anyone looking to change up their usual routine should try this recipe, which takes a creamy rice soup and tops it with crispy mushrooms for a more complex texture and flavor.
Source: Creme de la Crumb
Another example of using a slow cooker to make a kitchen staple even easier, this recipe replaces standing by your oven for an hour with simply adding a few pieces of aluminum foil to your crockpot. The result is the perfect brownie, crispy on the outside and soft and chewy in the center.
Source: Domestic Superhero
At the end of a long day, this recipe will be waiting for you on the counter. The pork is perfectly tender after cooking for eight hours, and has a perfect mix of spicy and sweet due to the red pepper flakes and peanut butter that make up the sauce smothering the whole dish.
Winter marks the beginning of cold and flu season, and a hearty bowl of chicken soup is a great way to help clear up those sniffles. If you aren't a fan of the traditional chicken noodle variety or are looking to try something new, this Thai soup offers a twist, using peanut butter, lime, and curry to add Asian-inspired flavors to the meal.
Source: Today's Creative Life
This dish is essentially just beef, rice, and a mix of vegetables covered in a tangy sauce. But its simplicity means it also has a lot of flexibility. The vegetables can be swapped according to the taste of whomever's at the table, leaving you with "a whole new meal" that everyone will love no matter what.
Source: Foxes Love Lemons
There's no need to sacrifice a warm, filling breakfast in order to give yourself enough time to navigate icy roads so you can make it to work on time. This oatmeal, which tastes like "carrot cake for breakfast," just needs to be put together the night before and allowed to slow cook until morning.
Source: A Spicy Perspective
This might seem unnecessary if you have an oven at home. But if you've ever forgotten a pizza in the oven, you'll appreciate how difficult it is to make anything other than a perfect, pillowy crust when you use the slow cooker. Make it Chicago style, or change the topping to something more suited to your taste.