Since the first mass-produced model, the Electric Bean Pot, hit the market in 1952 (20 years after Irving Naxon first patented his device), slow cookers have been the saving grace of both busy urbanites and suburban parents. In 1972 the appliance was rebranded as the Crock-Pot and became more popular than ever!
Slow cookers give users the most precious gift in cooking - time. Whether a brand-name Crock-Pot or some other kind, slow cookers use moist heat to cook the contents placed inside the appliance. The low temperatures make it safe to leave on while you run errands, go to work, or sleep soundly, effectively making mealtime a mostly labor-free, hands-off task. Still, utilizing your slow cooker to its full potential requires some know-how.
If you are interested in a hassle-free way to make homemade meals, even on the busiest nights of the week, from breakfast dishes that cook while you sleep to simple dinner ideas that won't require you to babysit a host of pots on the stove, look no further read on to discover our 50 essential slow cooker recipes! istockphoto.com
Slow cooker breakfasts are a great way to work in the most important meal of the day on a busy schedule. Here we have rounded up some of our favorite recipes for everything from easy overnight oatmeal to filling crustless quiche. Pexels
Slow Cooker Apple-Spice Oatmeal
Wake up to a warm nutritious breakfast; this simple slow cooker oatmeal using classic apple-spice flavors can be made in your slow cooker while you sleep.
For the Slow Cooker Apple-Spice Oatmeal recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Bacon and Cheese Quiche
A fluffy breakfast quiche doesn't have to bake in the oven to perfection; your slow cooker can easily pull off this puffed savory pastry in a few hours! - Lauren Gordon
For the Slow Cooker Bacon and Cheese Quiche recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Slow Cooker Mexican-Style Quiche
Particularly useful when cooking for a crowd that may be arriving for a mid-morning brunch, this recipe is the perfect blend of classic morning fare and flavorful midday treat. The spices, cheeses, and even the vegetables are all easily customizable to your personal preferences. - Lauren Gordon
For the Slow Cooker Mexican-Style Quiche recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Overnight Breakfast Casserole
Let this breakfast casserole cook overnight, and wake up to a warm breakfast complete with sausage, eggs, and hash browns.
For the Slow Cooker Overnight Breakfast Casserole recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Overnight Porridge
You could slow down and eat at home or pack up a bowl of this multi-grain porridge to take to work with you. With a slow cooker, it can happen. - Shelby Kinnaird
For the Slow Cooker Overnight Porridge recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Make entertaining easy with these simple slow cooker appetizer recipes that include bite-sized snacks, dips, and more. Thinkstock
Healthy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip
Who doesn't love a delicious Buffalo chicken dip at a party? It's creamy, delicious, a little spicy, and extremely flavorful. But when it is loaded with a few different types of cheese, this dip can get pretty fattening, pretty quickly. We've lightened up this recipe for you so you can thoroughly enjoy this essential party food without the guilt. - Lauren Gordon
For the Healthy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe, click here. Photo Modified: Flickr / alanagkelly / CC BY-SA 4.0
Slow Cooker Buffalo Wings
These slow cooker chicken wings are easy and so delicious, and you only need seven ingredients to make them!
For the Slow Cooker Buffalo Wings recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sliders
These sliders are a wonderful appetizer that everyone will love. The delicate pork is coated with a delicious barbecue sauce; you won't believe it's homemade and budget friendly. No fancy ingredients are used here; all it takes is some time.
For the Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sliders recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Nachos
Slowly braise the chicken until tender along with the taco seasoning and pinto beans. Then top off with fresh cilantro, sour cream, cheese, and salsa before serving.
For the Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Nachos recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Southwest Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Green chile peppers and pepper jack cheese give this classic spinach and artichoke dip a much-needed spicy kick. Serve with homemade tortilla chips for an extra special twist.
For the Slow Cooker Southwest Spinach and Artichoke Dip recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Warming winter soups have never been easier to make. Pull out your slow cooker or Dutch oven for an easy after-work dinner idea. With so many variations, you will never grow tired of these simple slow cooker soups. Pexels
Cheesy Potato Slow Cooker Soup
Potatoes and cheese? Yes, please! This six-ingredient slow cooker supper is unbelievably easy and amazingly delicious. - Pillsbury
For the Cheesy Potato Slow Cooker Soup recipe, click here. Pillsbury
Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup
This healthy, flavorful soup is loaded with tons of fresh, nutritious ingredients like spinach, carrots, celery, and onion and simmers in a slow cooker while you're away at work so it tastes like it cooked all day - because it did.
For the Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
Slow Cooker Meatball Soup
You can use frozen store-bought meatballs, as the recipe suggests, or try your hand at making your own for this simple and delicious soup bursting with classic Italian flavor.
For the Slow Cooker Meatball Soup recipe, click here. Easy Home Meals
Slow Cooker Shanghai-Style Beef Borscht
Borscht, a traditional Eastern European soup, is usually made with beets, but this Chinese version (also known as Luo Song Tang) is made instead with cabbage and tomatoes. Make sure to add the cabbage no more than 30 minutes before serving so it doesn't become mushy!
For the Slow Cooker Shanghai-Style Beef Borscht recipe, click here. Gourmet Persuasion
Slow Cooker Turkey Fajita Soup
Serve with chips and salsa and top with cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced avocados, jalapeños, or tomatoes. And if you're feeling really motivated, whip up some cornbread to serve on the side.
For the Slow Cooker Turkey Fajita Soup recipe, click here. Sweet and Spicy Monkey
Chicken is cheap, easy to make, and a healthy source of protein, which makes it no surprise that slow cooker chicken recipes are always ranked among some of our most popular. Check out this selection of simple, slow cooker chicken recipes that will make lunch or dinner preparation a breeze. istockphoto.com
Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings
If you need something warm and comforting, look no further than this classic American comfort food that has everything you need in a single bowlful.
For the Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Caribbean Chicken Drumsticks
Transform humble chicken drumsticks into tender, boldly spiced bites of heaven. With habanero chile, ginger, allspice and more, these drumsticks will not disappoint.
For the Slow Cooker Caribbean Chicken Drumsticks recipe, click here.
Slow Cooker Chicken Verde
This chicken takes no time at all to prep - just 10 minutes - so it's the perfect thing to make when you need to figure out what's for dinner in a hurry. Paired with some steamed rice or a simple side salad, this makes for an easy and complete meal for any day of the week.
For the Slow Cooker Chicken Verde recipe, click here. Danielle Walker
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
This mild and fragrant chicken tikka masala is full of flavor from toasted spices and plenty of aromatics like garlic, fresh ginger, jalapeños and more.
For the Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, click here. Diane Balch
Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken With Chopped Almonds, Apricots, and Cauliflower
Rather than serve this tender chicken, marinated in almond butter, cumin, coriander, and ginger, with couscous, here the chicken is accompanied by finely diced cauliflower studded with dried cherries for sweetness and tossed with fresh herbs, like cilantro and basil.
For the Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken With Chopped Almonds, Apricots, and Cauliflower recipe, click here. Danielle Walker
From slow cooker pork shoulder to brisket, one of the best ways to use your slow cooker is to produce tender, flavorful meat dishes. Check out this roundup of slow-cooked dishes that slowly simmer in spices and herbs to produce an outstanding final product. Pexels
Slow Cooker Brisket Recipe
Enjoy this meltingly tender beef brisket and let your slow cooker do all the heavy lifting. The beer in this recipe helps tenderize the meat, and the chile adds a lovely zing.
For the Slow Cooker Brisket recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs
If you are looking for a decent gluten-free meatball, this is the recipe for you! Made with coconut flour instead of the standard all-purpose kind, these meatballs are delicious served over gluten-free pasta, zoodles or whatever you fancy!
For the Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Pork and Apple Sauerkraut
This traditional recipe for pork and apples uses pork spare ribs that are slowly cooked until they fall off the bone. Then, a side of sauerkraut complements the sweetness from the apples.
For the Slow Cooker Pork and Apple Sauerkraut recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Pork Chops
These pork chops are easy and hearty for those colder days of the year, when you need something sustaining and delicious.
For the Slow Cooker Pork Chops recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Forget about using flour to thicken a stew! This recipe goes grain-free and instead purees some of the vegetables before adding them back into the stew for a silky gravy that everyone can enjoy.
For the Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Looking for a way to simplify dinnertime? These one-pot (or slow cooker) dinners are easy to make and plenty hearty for warm, nourishing dinner. Thinkstock
Crock-Pot Egg and Broccoli Casserole
For a group breakfast or brunch, this easy slow cooker egg casserole will ensure that no one needs to be stuck in the kitchen and there will be plenty of food for all!
For the Crock-Pot Egg and Broccoli Casserole recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Crock-Pot Shepherd's Pie
This hearty casserole is a favorite in Ireland, where it was whipped up during the coldest of winters. As its name suggests, it was originally made with lamb or mutton, but these days you may be more familiar with the beef version. For a healthier version, try using ground chicken. - Lauren Gordon
For the Crock-Pot Shepherd's Pie recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker 5-Cheese Taco Lasagna
This untraditional lasagna recipe swaps customary Italian flavors for classic Mexican ones, using queso blanco instead of mozzarella and topping it off with fresh avocado, cilantro, and sour cream.
For the Slow Cooker 5-Cheese Taco Lasagna recipe, click here. Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole
This casserole may take some time to make, but it's definitely worth it. The chicken and beans are both soft and full of flavor.
For the Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Hashbrown Casserole
Cheesy, delicious, and totally worth the wait, this slow cooker meal will have you "mmm-ing" after each bite. Add in bits of bacon or any of your other favorite breakfast meats and your simple side can be transformed into a hearty regular dish.
For the Slow Cooker Hashbrown Casserole recipe, click here Shutterstock
The much thicker kin of soup, stews tend to use larger, tougher cuts of meat that take hours to cook. Skip the waiting by using your slow cooker, so you don't have to babysit the pot while you run errands or complete other tasks. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker African Sweet Potato Stew
Vegetarians and meat eaters like will love this hearty and delicious stew. With curry powder, green lentils, ginger, cayenne and more, this stew is bursting with flavor!
For the Slow Cooker African Sweet Potato Stew recipe, click here. Time Inc. Books
Slow Cooker "Osso Buco" Stew
Osso buco is traditional Italian stew made with veal shanks and is wonderful served with some creamy polenta. This recipe turns to the slow cooker to get things done effortlessly and can be made with beef instead of veal if you prefer.
For the Slow Cooker 'Osso Buco' Stew recipe, click here. Melissa Joulwan
Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew
Throw everything together in your slow cooker and let it go low and slow for a simple, yet satisfying stew that is comforting and delicious.
For the Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Mexican Lentil Stew
Here's a simple Mexican-inspired stew that uses chorizo as the main protein source. Serve with a generous dollop of sour cream for a simply delicious dinner.
For the Slow Cooker Mexican Lentil Stew recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Slow Cooker Minestrone Stew
This hearty minestrone stew calls for garden vegetable soup (such as Progresso Vegetable Classics), turkey Italian sausage, and gluten-free macaroni. It's easy to customize with any vegetables, legumes, or herbs you happen to have on hand.
For the Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup recipe, click here. Pillsbury
Thai Beef Stew
This slow cooker stew, which is made with healthy coconut oil, gets that hint of umami flavor from the addition of fish sauce. Make this beef stew for a simple weeknight dinner.
For the Thai Beef Stew recipe, click here. Danielle Walker
Looking for a way to celebrate Meatless Monday or simply trying to cut out meat from your diet? Look no further, because these vegetarian slow cooker ideas include everything from hearty vegetarian chili to simple mac and cheese. Shutterstock
Slow Cooker Huevos Rancheros
For a fabulous vegetarian breakfast look no further than these tasty huevos rancheros - a winning combination of cheese, green chiles, a splash of cream and , of course, some fried eggs!
For the Slow Cooker Huevos Rancheros recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is the homiest, most delicious comfort food you can treat yourself to. Now imagine being able to come home to freshly baked, always delicious mac and cheese that comes straight from a slow cooker? You'll be in heaven, we promise!
For the Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
Slow Cooker Mushroom Spinach Lasagna
Here's a great vegetarian lasagna recipe made with a mushroom-spinach tomato sauce layered with uncooked lasagna noodles and cheese in a slow cooker. Easy, vegetarian and delicious!
For the Slow Cooker Mushroom Spinach lasagna recipe, click here. Hunt's
Slow Cooker Stuffed Artichokes
These artichokes are cleaned and trimmed, and then stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Finally, they're slowly cooked until tender.
For the Slow Cooker Stuffed Artichokes recipe, click here. Guiding Stars
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Curry
This recipe uses protein-rich lentils cooked slowly with flavorful curry leaf, turmeric, and mustard seed to develop a rich curry flavor. The potatoes and pinto beans make this dish hearty enough for a filling main course.
For the Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Curry recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Use your slow cooker to make warm cakes, sweet breads, and more. Your slow cooker will save you time and free up oven space for the main course. Thinkstock
Crock-Pot Bananas Foster
This traditional desert from New Orleans has everything you could possibly want in a dessert - caramel, walnuts, banana and rum. Could it get better? Yes, it could, because this version is made in a slow cooker!
For the Crock-Pot Bananas Foster recipe, click here. Taste of Home
Slow Cooker Banana Bread
This simple banana bread makes a perfect and delicious use of your overripe bananas. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream and caramel sauce for a decadent dessert.
For the Slow Cooker Banana Bread recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake
Don't stress over dessert. Simply combine the ingredients and let your slow cooker do all the work while you are tending to more important kitchen tasks.
For the Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee
Who knew you could make creme brulee in a slow cooker?! Now's your chance to impress guests with these delicious treats.
For the Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee recipe, click here. Time Inc. Books
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
Who wouldn't love a slice of this creamy, autumnal pumpkin swirl cheesecake? If you need a delicious dessert, this one is easy-peasy to make and everyone will love it.
For the Slow Cooker Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Turtle Monkey Bread
With refrigerated biscuit dough and plenty of sugar, you can make warm, gooey, chocolaty monkey bread in your slow cooker.
For the Slow Cooker Turtle Monkey Bread recipe, click here. Shutterstock
What better way to keep warm drinks warm during a party or cold winter day than in your slow cooker? Try our version of hot buttered rum or perhaps a hot toddy! Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Chocolate Hot Buttered Rum
This slow cooker hot buttered rum is made even more decadent by the addition of chocolate chips. If you prefer something more traditional, simply omit the chocolate chips from the recipe.
For the Slow Cooker Chocolate Hot Buttered Rum recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Hot Toddy
Hot toddies are the perfect antidote to a cold day, so nothing could be more welcoming than greeting guests with a slow cooker full of hot toddies for them to enjoy. This recipe will completely chase any and all cold weather blues away; party because of the enticing aroma and partly because of the alcohol.
For the Slow Cooker Hot Toddy recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Mulled Wine
Whether you are milling (and mulling) around a farmers market, or enjoying a quiet evening at home by the fire, mulled wine warms your soul in a way chilled wine just can't. This recipe, which has a little kick of brandy in it, is perfect for a wine-drinker that loves a little bit of sweet aroma and flavor in their wine bouquet. Just set the slow cooker up and enjoy!
For the Slow Cooker Mulled Wine recipe, click here. Thinkstock
Slow Cooker Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
What better way is there to warm up on a cold winter day than with a hot cup of sweet and salty hot chocolate? Just top with marshmallows, and everyone will be begging for a cup and if you're feeling really indulgent, pair your sweet drink with one of these deliciously decadent chocolate recipes!
For the Slow Cooker Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate recipe, click here.
More from The Daily Meal:
30 Slow Cooker Recipes That Aren't Soup or Stew
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20 Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes
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50 Healthy Slow Cooker Dinners Thinkstock