27 Easy Crock Pot Meals
"Set it and forget it" is music to a busy home cook’s ears. Behold, the power of the slow cooker!
Short of having full-time kitchen staff (or a partner with lots of free time on their hands), how is a busy modern person in the midst of a pandemic supposed to make dinner happen each and every night? A handful of reliable, go-to recipes and a trusty, if not very sexy, secret weapon: your Crock Pot or slow cooker. Just flip the switch in the a.m. and come dinner time there’s something that tastes like you’ve been tending the stove all day — even when, in reality, it’s been Zoom to Zoom to Zoom.
Sure, some recipes require a little work upfront — in fact, the tastiest ones do. But the bulk of the “cooking” couldn’t be easier. Here are 27 tried-and-tested Crock Pot recipes from around the globe to transform weeknight dinners and delight the whole family.
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Easy Crock Pot recipes for classic comfort food
For when you want something that tastes “just like Grandma’s” but at a fraction of the time and effort.
The Sunday pot roast was never easier, or more delicious, than this. Yummly’s own deceptively simple recipe has you season and sear the beef chuck roast on the stovetop before placing it in the slow cooker alongside carrots, shallots, herbs, wine, and other delicious tidbits. Let it cook for about 6 hours, until fork tender; then enjoy.
Slow cooker beef bourguignon is one of those entrees that never fails to please. This one, from The Recipe Critic, is a true one-pot wonder — with bacon, boneless beef chuck, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms swimming around in wine and a savory broth, spiked with thyme and (shhhh!) soy sauce. This is not your typical slow cooker beef stew, folks.
This is one of the more popular chicken recipes from 365 Days of Slow Cooking — and it’s not terribly surprising why. Butter, onions, garlic, Parm, spinach, and mushrooms make for a pretty classic combination. The only difference? This one cooks low and slow for 3 to 5 hours. “It reminds me a lot of chicken alfredo but I think it’s better,” says Karen Petersen. “More flavorful and it has spinach.”
Judith Hannemann, a.k.a. The Midnight Baker, reminded me of something with this recipe. She writes, “Remember your slow cooker is a fantastic summer kitchen appliance because it doesn’t heat your kitchen! I always tended to think it was more of a winter thing because of the type of food usually cooked in it. I was wrong!” I, too, fell prey to the pot roast fallacy. This bone-in pork chop stroganoff, with the right sides, is perfect any day of the year.
Like beef bourguignon, chicken cacciatore is one of those classic European dishes that home cooks of yore would tend all day. With your slow cooker, it’s less romantic, of course — but a whole lot more convenient. This recipe, a Yummly original from Jennifer Clair, skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs spend just 3 hours in the slow cooker but still make your whole house smell of garlic, olives, tomatoes, and rosemary — like your Italian nonna has come to visit (we only wish!).
These are so much better when you call them by name: albondigas. Martha’s straightforward take on Spanish meatballs, which are often served as part of tapas, calls for cumin and hot smoked paprika for the appropriate Spanish flavor. Two pounds of ground pork, plus all the fixings, yield about 25 meatballs — which is to say, don’t be afraid to double the recipe.
Nothing says comfort food like a classic lasagna — and yes, you can make it in a slow cooker instead of a casserole dish. In this recipe, from Faithful Provisions, you start by placing half of the noodles in the slow cooker, then you brown the ground beef with garlic and onions and add tomato sauce and seasonings. From there, layer the sauce and the noodles in the slow cooker, and let it cook on low for 3 to 5 hours. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese, and serve with a big green salad and crusty bread. In a word: Yummy.
You’d never guess the secret to making this soup recipe, a Yummly original by Ashley Strickland Freeman, so silky. So I’ll go ahead and tell you: canned evaporated milk. But just trust: This is peak comfort food — with lots of bacon.
Easy Crock Pot recipes for Southern dishes
Southern food naturally lends itself to the Crock Pot — and thank goodness for that.
The aptly-named Easy Recipe Depot brings you this dead-simple, all-American dish made with pork roast, your favorite barbecue sauce and a few not-so-secret ingredients (apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce). The end result? Exceedingly tender pulled pork that shreds easily with a fork. Served on Hawaiian rolls, it's ideal for a laid back, family-style meal, or meal-prep for the week to come.
This recipe, from Six Sisters' Stuff, is kid-tested and adult-approved — and vice versa. It’s impossibly creamy, thanks to condensed cheddar cheese soup, milk, sour cream, and butter, on top of the go-to cheddar cheese. (Pro tip: Don’t skip the dry mustard.) The total cook time is as little as 2-1/2 hours, depending on your slow cooker and heat level. You can dress it up by adding lobster, or pretend it’s healthy by adding spinach, kale, or other vegetables of your choice. It makes a perfect side dish alongside roast chicken, or a main dish to shine on its own.
There are only 10 minutes of prep for this jambalaya — which, if you love rich, Cajun flavors, is enough to justify keeping it in your arsenal. In this slow cooker meal from The Recipe Critic, chicken and andouille sausage cook for hours in a Cajun-spiced tomato-y broth, and the shrimp comes in right at the end. It’s traditional to serve jambalaya over rice.
At first, it seemed a little blasphemous to make ribs in a slow cooker. But 6 hours in a Crock Pot does wonders for tender meat — and, to be sure, you still finish these on the grill or under the broiler for that signature crispy texture.
For the time being, we will table the questions of whether chili is Southern and whether Texas is part of the South. Instead, we’ll focus on how easy it is to make chili in the Crock Pot. In this fairly classic recipe from Smart Little Cookie, you brown ground beef, ground pork, and vegetables before adding to the slow cooker, along with black beans, kicky jalapenos, and all the rest of the goodies. Let this chili simmer on low for 6 to 8 hours and you've got a one-pot meal perfect for game day — or any day, really. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, and crumbled tortilla chips to complete the meal.
Easy Crock Pot recipes for Mexican dishes
Who doesn’t love Mexican food? And who doesn’t love Mexican made easy with a slow cooker even more?
Belle of the Kitchen isn’t messing around with this insanely simple, “dump and go” slow cooker chicken tacos recipe. There are five ingredients, which, if you like Mexican food, you probably have on hand already: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, taco seasoning, your favorite salsa, cilantro, and lime. That’s it. Really. You don’t even brown this one. After 4 hours on high, or 6 to 7 hours on low, pull the chicken out, shred it with two forks, and serve it with your favorite DIY taco bar fixings. Make a pot of rice and use leftovers to pack up burrito bowls for lunch. Trying to eat low-carb? Use this filling in lettuce wraps with diced avocados to make this an easy and healthy Crock Pot recipe.
Think of tortilla soup as a mash-up of your favorite chicken soup — and nachos. Enchilada sauce and diced green chiles give this recipe, by Chelsea’s Messy Apron, its on-point flavor profile. While soup makes for a great appetizer course, the black beans, corn, and chicken breast give it enough heft to make it a meal unto itself. And all the toppings — avocados, cilantro, cheese, and tortilla strips — make it fun for the whole family. This is chicken noodle soup's more exciting cousin.
Of all the Mexican slow cooker recipes, carnitas is it. You take a hunk of pork butt, add a ridiculous amount of vegetable oil and some classic Mexican herbs and spices, and 6 to 8 hours later, after a little crisping under the broiler, you are well on your way to the best pork tacos, tostadas, or fajitas you’ve ever had.
Easy Crock Pot recipes for pan-Asian dishes
Almost as easy as your favorite Chinese, Korean, Indian, or other go-to Asian take-out.
Have yellow curry powder, will eat delicious dinner. This easy, healthy, and pretty straightforward curry recipe works great on a weeknight. Pounded, cubed chicken and veggies cook away in a mild coconut curry sauce, which you serve with cashews and cilantro for crunch and color. Feel free to swap out the potatoes for sweet potatoes for a little extra nutrition. Serve atop rice or rice noodles.
Indian butter chicken — a.k.a. Murgh Makhani — is the dish that made the Instant Pot famous. (One of them, at least). This Crock Pot chicken recipe from The Weary Chef is a bit shy of traditional — but what it lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in delicious flavor, thanks to a pantry full of Indian spices. Serve over basmati rice (or brown rice for a healthy twist), along with traditional naan and raita.
I suppose 55,000 Yums can’t be wrong. This dinner recipe from Damn Delicious takes all the familiar Korean flavors — like soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and ginger — and infuses them into cubed, beef chuck roast over the course of the day in the slow cooker. The result? Sweet-salty beef, topped with green onions and sesame seeds, ready to serve alongside a steaming bowl of white rice.
Damn Delicious also delivers with her slow cooker lo mein recipe, which might make Chinese delivery more or less obsolete. Here, you cook the marinated pork shoulder slow and low, remove, shred the meat, then return it to the slow cooker with all the fresh veggies. Let that cook for 15 minutes or so, until the veggies are crisp-tender, while you boil the noodles of your choice. Toss together and serve.
The Recipe Critic steps in with another slow cooker hit: General Tso’s Chicken. This recipe asks that you pan fry the chicken beforehand — an extra step, but well worth the trouble. “This is way better than takeout!” writes Alyssa Rivers.
Easy vegetarian Crock Pot recipes
Slow cookers work magic with beans, squash, and a whole rainbow of vegetables.
A stick-to-your-ribs vegetarian chili? Yes, indeed. This dump-and-go recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen takes 8 hours on low or 4 on high and the leftovers just get better and better. The key here, as with all chili, is to go wild with the DIY toppings. Feel free to kick the spices up a notch.
Butternut squash gets the Thai treatment in this silky-smooth soup by Kitchen Treaty. The squash, onions, and broth go into the Crock Pot all day, then you puree in batches and stir in the coconut milk and the Thai red curry paste about 30 minutes before serving.
So easy. So delicious. And with a dash of garam masala, curry powder, and cumin, each, so perfectly flavored. This sweet potato curry recipe from Salt and Lavender is a winner — and vegan to boot.
Easy Crock Pot recipes for dessert
Yes, for dessert!
I’m not a dessert person, but I love the idea of a rich, moist cake made in a Crock Pot. This recipe is from Day 273 of Stephanie O’Dea’s year of slow cooking, and although she burned it at first, it proved pretty delicious.
Who can resist fudge brownies? Hardly anyone. But then this Crock Pot recipe from Recipes That Crock really takes it to the next level. The main ingredients are just brownie mix, chocolate syrup, and water in a Crock Pot for 3 hours. And then you add All. The. Toppings.
So simple, so perfect for fall. Take your baking apples, cover them in a mixture of oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter, and then ignore them for the next 3 hours. Thanks, again, 365 Days of Slow Cooking!
More slow cooker recipes to explore
For additional Crock Pot inspiration, check out these related Yummly articles: