I'll admit it. When people talked about how much they loved their slow cooker, I'd subtlety roll my eyes and ignore them. I couldn't get past the image of my Mom's old crockpot and all those gloppy Pinterest fails I'd seen floating around the internet. I like cooking and appreciate the flavors you get from food when you roast and sear and sauté. Of course, I don't always have as much time as I'd like for cooking. Which is where my new slow cooker comes in. I received one as a gift and it took me months to finally use it to make pulled pork (it did a damn good job). Then I made chili (again, simmering that stuff for hours can really develop some flavors). So I was wrong. Slow cookers can be great. They're the perfect short cut for any home cook with a full-time job. Oh and the other thing I love about my new favorite appliance? Plenty of leftovers. And just because you set a timer and forget it, that doesn't mean you have to follow the same "can of cream soup + frozen veggies" formula our mothers used. This kitchen workhorse can do so much more. Here are a few creative and delicious recipes to try.
Cedar Plank Salmon
Despite putting your grill away for the fall and winter, you can still enjoy this smoky and tender salmon dish from a crock pot. It’s topped with a simple sauce made from maple syrup, butter and a little grainy mustard. Serve this on top of some greens and you’ve got an impressive and healthy dinner.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Why wait for Indian takeout to be delivered when you can have this popular creamy curry dish (which benefits from a nice, long simmer) cooking away while you're off doing other things?
Vietnamese Beef Pho
If you haven't jumped on the pho bandwagon yet, let us sing the praises of this tasty Vietnamese soup. Just imagine a comforting bowl of piping hot beef broth with silky noodles, meaty bits and plenty of flavorful herbs. In short: it's exactly what you want on a chilly, overcast day.
Honey Garlic Chicken
This hearty one pot meal is packed with the most flavorful chicken thighs and three different kinds of vegetables. Honey and garlic punch up the flavors of this modern take on a traditional roasted chicken. And bonus, it serves four to six people, so this is essentially a dinner party without much cleanup.
All-American Mac & Cheese
This slow-cooker mac and cheese is so deceptively easy to make that it feels somehow wrong. But it's so right. Dry pasta, milk and cheese go in, and a few hours later, out comes that warm, gooey comfort food you want after a long day.
Cider-Braised Pot Roast
One of the most traditional meals you can cook in a slow cooker. This beef pot roast gets delectably tender and flavorful after six hours of cooking. The apple cider adds a nice sweet-meets-savory undertone to the whole dish and if you want to take it to the next level, swap the standard cider for the hard stuff.
Black Bean Enchiladas
Satisfying and flavorful, this is a dish we would've never considered making in a slow cooker. Admittedly, things don't come out quite as pretty as in the picture here, but the enchiladas are tasty as hell (and plenty easy too).
Guaranteed to be the simplest lasagna you'll ever make. It consists of a few minutes of stovetop cooking for the meat and onions, and then into your slow cooker goes everything else. Take off and when you come home, your house smells like an Italian grandmother has been cooking all day and you've got a classic dish ready to go.
The Slow Cooker Spectrum
There's a range of sizes and prices to consider, based on how much you're planning to you use your slow cooker. Here are some sound options.