Revised and updated. Originally posted February 5, 2016.
As the air turns cooler in the fall all the way through until springtime, slow cooker meals are a staple in our house. In this post I’ll share 7 slow cooker meals my family loves and you just may love them too.
Here are just a few benefits of using a slow cooker:
- Dinner is ready when you’re ready for it (or breakfast or lunch)
- Meals cooked “low and slow” retain more nutrition (specifically heat sensitive vitamins) than high heat cooking methods
- Meat is super tender (even less expensive cuts and chicken thighs)
- The slow cooker is doing all the work of “cooking” while you’re working, playing, or sleeping
- Clean up is a breeze as there is only one pot to wash
As an Integrative RDN and Ithaca Nutritionist, I love to cook and bake but I’ve been working a fair amount in the early evening which makes getting dinner on the table in a short amount of time more challenging. Enter the slow cooker. I add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker in the morning (or sometimes at lunch if I’m working from home), set the heat setting and/or timer, and let it do it’s thing while I’m out and about or seeing clients.
Several years ago, I was looking for a programmable slow cooker to make these meals even easier and I stumbled upon the mighty InstantPot. I now own two (the 6 quart for larger meals or main dishes and the 3 quart to replace my rice cooker for whole grains and legumes) and use both of them all the time for pressure cooking AND for slow cooking. I love when one appliance can do so many different jobs and replace other pieces of equipment.
Now for the 7 slow cooker meals. Here are 7 recipes that I’ve made recently from friends around the internet that were big hits with family and friends. I hope you enjoy them too!
- Chicken Tikka Masala from The Kitchn – My newest favorite recipe on a cold winter day. I’ve made this dozens of times and we haven’t gotten sick of it. I make it with coconut milk for a dairy free version. Serve over brown basmati or short grain brown rice for some added fiber and minerals. I also often add a bag of frozen peas or green beans at the end of the cooking time for some extra green color and protein. My kids love it and it’s loaded with warming spices like turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and ginger.
- Red Lentil Coconut Soup from Scaling Back – This recipe isn’t written for a slow cooker but it works great. Cook for about 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Add chickpeas, lime, and cilantro at the very end of cooking, before serving.
- Chicken Tacos from Valerie’s Kitchen – I made this with both organic chicken thighs and organic chicken breasts. Both ways, it turned out excellent. Serve with soft corn tortillas or lettuce wraps for a satisfying gluten free dinner. Mexican night made super easy- just add sides.
- Thai Peanut Chicken from Dinner then Dessert – For tender chicken, cook on low. Great recipe if you love Thai food. It takes like take-out but is less expensive, faster, and much healthier!
- Enchilada Quinoa Bake from Cooking Classy – I cooked my own black and pinto beans in my 3 quart InstantPot and skipped the cheese for a dairy free version. Follow the directions, it will turn out yummy!
- Turkey Chili with Kale from The Kitchn – Excellent recipe to feed a crowd. It’s delicious, packed with protein, and full of veggies. I skipped the sugar and corn and it was excellent. The best turkey chili I’ve ever made, hands-down. And we’ve made it literally dozens of times since the first time I posted this in 2016.
- Slow Cooker “Rotisserie” Chicken from No. 2 Pencil – Follow the directions. It comes out looking just like the picture, no kidding. No need to buy the store-cooked rotisserie chickens when you can make them this well in your slow cooker at home. If you’re cooking this in your InstantPot and you have the metal rack, use that instead of the wadded up aluminum foil!
By the way, I pin a lot of delicious real food recipes including slow cooker recipes on Pinterest. Are we connected? I’d love to see what you’re pinning to!