Easy slow cooker recipes to get you through a busy fall

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Slow cookers are the ultimate comforting, time-saving workhorses of the kitchen. You can make breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and even dessert within your slow cooker if you know how to use it correctly. The beauty of slow cookers is that they make it so you can run around all day long, between errands, carting the kids places, going to and from work, and anything else you need to do, and still sit down to a delicious meal at a reasonable hour. When lazy summer days give way to hectic, frenetic fall ones, it’s time to break out the slow cooker. These delicious slow cooker recipes will help you make the most of it so you can cook and eat well all fall long.

Indian chicken stew

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If your family likes Indian food, this comforting slow cooker Indian chicken stew from Midwest Living will easily replace your regular takeout joint. Chicken, chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach mingle in a fragrant curry and ginger-scented broth and come together to make a tasty and healthy dinner. Eat it on its own if you’d like, or serve it with rice, quinoa, or another hearty grain.

Red wine braised chicken

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This red wine braised chicken from Midwest Living was made for those cold, dreary days when you need a hot meal to warm you up. Chicken, sauce, and veggies all come together in one pot, meaning the only additions, be it a green salad, mashed potatoes, or noodles, are completely optional to round out the meal. Make sure you don’t use the absolute cheapest wine available. The flavor of the wine will directly affect the flavor of the whole dish, but especially the sauce.

Beer-braised pot roast

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Southern Living’s beer-braised pot roast is pretty much a showstopper. This one requires a tiny bit more work before arranging everything in your slow cooker, sure, but it’s well worth the effort. Rub the roast with coffee, then braise it low and slow in a savory stout and stock mixture, and top it all off with carrots and pearl onions. Serve it over grits, polenta, mashed potatoes, or noodles for what just might be your new favorite pot roast.

Mac and cheese

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There might not be anything better than a good homemade mac and cheese. This slow cooker mac and cheese from Delish is quick and easy, which is honestly just about everything you want in a busy weeknight dinner. Everything gets thrown in to the bowl of your slow cooker and then all you have to do is turn it on — no stressing over a classic cheese sauce for you. If you’re going to make this during your work week, however, take note: it only takes between two and three hours to cook, so it’s not a leave on for eight hours while you’re gone for the entire day kind of a meal.

Red lentil dal

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Lentils are comforting no matter how you cook them. There’s just something about them. This slow cooker red lentil dal from Cafe Johnsonia makes it easy. It’s healthy, filling, and flavorful, and the seed mixture that you sprinkle over the top of each finished bowl puts it over the top. Five hours in the slow cooker, set it and forget it, and then all you have to do before serving it up is make a batch of brown rice. That’s a pretty easy Indian dinner when all is said and done.

Beef and broccoli

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If beef and broccoli is your go-to takeout order, you’ll be making this slow cooker beef and broccoli from Damn Delicious all fall and winter long. This dish doesn’t require any browning of the meat before throwing it in the slow cooker, which means it comes together quickly and easily. All you’ll have to do before serving is make some rice and then you’re all set. How easy is that?

Brisket and onions

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This slow-cooked brisket and onions from The Kitchn is a sort of variation on a pot roast. You cook the brisket low and slow with a whole mess of onions, some stock, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. When it’s all done, the sauce becomes velvety, the meat tender, and the onions melt in your mouth. Not bad for a dinner made while you spent the day at work.

Pasta with eggplant sauce

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If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious pasta that’s elegant enough for a dinner party, but still dead-easy, look no further than this pasta with eggplant sauce from Better Homes & Gardens. All you have to do in advance is a little slicing, dicing, and brown the sausage. The eggplant sauce gets silky and delicious while hanging out in the slow cooker all day. Then, before you serve it, all you have to do is grate a little cheese, cook some pasta, and toast some pine nuts. Dinner is served.

Pork shoulder with zesty basil sauce

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If you’re looking for a tasty, substantial, make-ahead dinner, this slow cooker pork shoulder with zesty basil sauce from Epicurious might be just the ticket. The sauce is more like a chimichurri than a pesto and pork shoulder is pretty much tailor-made for cooking low and slow, which is exactly how a slow cooker operates. After seven or eight hours, the meat will melt in your mouth, yet the sauce will still lend a balancing brightness to the dish.

Honey sesame chicken

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There aren’t many dinners that come together with more ease than the slow cooker honey sesame chicken from Creme De La Crumb. All you have to do is pull together a sweet and savory honey and sesame sauce to pour over quickly sautéed and browned chicken pieces. Cook it all together for a few hours, serve it over rice, garnish it with sesame seeds (or toasted sesame seeds) and maybe some sliced green onions and dinner is served.

Curried pumpkin soup

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If you’re looking for a flavorful and satisfying dinner that screams fall, it just might be this curried pumpkin soup from the Oprah website. Cumin, coriander, cardamom, and coconut milk gussy up your typical fall squash soup. It’s warming and comforting, but also enough to feel like a good dinner, especially if you serve it alongside a simple green tossed salad and some crusty bread. Not much better than that.

Apple and onion pork loin

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Apples and pork go together like peanut butter and jelly. The Oprah website’s apple and onion pork loin is a good introduction if you’re still on the fence about it. More of a substantial meal than soup or salad, it’s a full meal in the slow cooker — you don’t have to do anything when it’s done, but serve it. It’s packed with fall and winter flavors: sage, thyme, rosemary, and apples and is sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike.

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Chicken Parmesan pasta

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This slow cooker chicken Parmesan pasta from Damn Delicious might be the easiest way to make one of your family’s favorite Italian-style dishes. You can use any kind of pasta and then simply add chicken, a quick, cheater marinara sauce, and both mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. The whole shebang will be ready in about four and a half hours. Make sure you finish it with a generous sprinkling of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley. It’ll brighten up the whole dish.

Chicken tortilla soup

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Just about everyone loves chicken tortilla soup, so this slow cooker chicken tortilla soup from Delish is nearly guaranteed to be a hit. It’s a classic. Transform boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the most delicious soup in only about five to five and a half hours. Add corn, bell peppers, onion, fire-roasted tomatoes, garlic, and warming spices like cumin and chili powder for a delicious yet nutritious broth-based soup. Before serving, load up on toppings like corn tortillas cut into strips, some shredded cheese, avocado, a dollop of sour cream, a squeeze of lime, and some fresh, herbaceous cilantro for a dinner that’s sure to satisfy.

Korean short ribs

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Slow cooker Korean short ribs from The Kitchn are just the thing to shake up your dinner (or slow-cooking routine). Asian pear, coconut vinegar, fish sauce, ginger, coconut aminos and the like make sure that this dish will arrive on your dinner plate packed with flavor. Make sure you don’t skip the fresh cilantro. It’ll brighten everything up and pull all the flavors together.

Maple-mustard-sauced turkey thighs

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These maple-mustard-sauced turkey thighs from Better Homes & Gardens are a great weeknight dinner choice. Serve these saucy, seasonal main courses with a side of red potatoes (also covered in sauce, of course) as well as a fresh green tossed salad. It all comes together in about seven hours, so you might even be able to set it before you leave for work and come home to a lovely, ready-made dinner.

Hawaiian pork chops

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These slow cooker Hawaiian pork chops from Creme De La Crumb — slow-cooked pork with a sweet and tangy sauce, pineapple slices, and rice — are sure to be a hit at your dinner table. They’re super simple to make. In about six hours, you’ll have perfectly-cooked, saucy pork and pineapple, and then all you have to do is make a batch of rice and rough-chop some fresh cilantro to sprinkle over the top and brighten all those yummy flavors up a bit.

Carnitas

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Carnitas are delicious, but they take a lot of time and effort. Not so with these slow cooker carnitas from Show Me The Yummy. This recipe is truly a “set it and forget it” kind of recipe. Throw the ingredients in your slow cooker, head off to work or out for the day, come home, shred the pork, and pile it high into your favorite tortillas and add fresh, flavorful toppings. It’ll keep you full and happy all fall long.


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