5 Family-Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes

Slow Cooker
Photographs by Laura Moss
Five of our favorite food writers share their best family-friendly slow-cooker meals.
Photographs by Laura Moss
Photographs by Laura Moss

Korean Beef Soft Tacos

"The shredded beef and crisp slaw taste as if they just came off a food truck. Even my picky eater gobbles these up when I make them for dinner." -- Stephanie O'Dea, author of 365 Slow Cooker Suppers.

Photographs by Laura Moss
Photographs by Laura Moss

Cheesy Potato and Leek Chowder

"When I was a newlywed, one of the first dishes I made in a slow cooker was this scrumptious soup. It's a take on a French classic, so I felt just like Julia Child. It's been in my family's dinner rotation for years. Best of all, it's so easy!" -- Carla Snyder, author of One Pan, Two Plates

Photographs by Laura Moss
Photographs by Laura Moss

Cranberry Apple Pork Roast

"This pork roast, with its bright flavors of orange juice, cranberry sauce, ginger, and cider vinegar, is such a tasty, almost effortless dinner that I rarely cook pork in the oven anymore." -- Kathy Farrell-Kingsley, author of The Home Creamery

The Naptime Chef, Kelsey Banfield, shows how to make a simple slow-cooker stew.

Photographs by Laura Moss
Photographs by Laura Moss

Chicken Mango Curry

"This not-too-spicy cross between a curry and a stew is even better after a day or two, when the flavors have had a chance to meld further. The mango adds sweetness, and the cashews give it a crunchy boost." -- Matt Kadey, author of Muffin Tin Chef

Photographs by Laura Moss
Photographs by Laura Moss

Polenta With BBQ Turkey

"My family loves to have this smoky dish on a cold winter night. Making polenta the traditional way requires endless stirring. With a slow cooker, you dump in the ingredients and walk away. Then just 20 minutes at the stove to make the barbecue turkey, and you're good to go."
-- J.M. Hirsch, author of Beating the Lunch Box Blues

Here are 4 tips for a better family dinner.

Photographs by Laura Moss
Photographs by Laura Moss

Buying a Slow Cooker

Don't own a slow cooker? For busy families, the delicious food produced by this countertop appliance can be a dinnertime revelation. Its biggest advantage: you can simply set it and forget it. If you're shopping for one, consider these key features:

--A 5- or 6-quart crock lets you cook larger pieces of meat and make enough soup for both dinner and the freezer.
--Both carrying handles and locking lids are handy if you need to transport dishes to potlucks.
--Cast-aluminum inserts allow you to brown ingredients on the stove top, then return the insert to the base for slow cooking. (Fewer pans to wash! Yes!)
--An automatic warming setting keeps the meal hot after the cooking time has ended, a boon if you arrive home a little later than you expected.

-- Carla Snyder

Photographs by Laura Moss
Photographs by Laura Moss

Beyond Beef Stew

As handy as a slow cooker is for making dinner, our staffers put their machines to a number of other creative uses:

- Tomato Sauce Factory: Senior Associate Editor Ellen Harter Wall fills her crock with chopped fresh tomatoes (no need to peel or seed), chopped onions, minced garlic, a pinch of sugar, some basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, a can of tomato paste, and a splash of water, then lets it simmer on low all day. When she gets home, she mixes it all with an immersion blender.
- Cider Muller: Editorial Assistant Jordan DeFrank likes to simmer apple cider with a few cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and orange slices.
- Steel-cut Oatmeal Machine: Senior Digital Editor Samuel Mead puts his slow cooker to work overnight. He mixes 1 cup of steel-cut oats, 4 cups of water, and 1/2 cup of apple cider with 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and salt in the crock before going to bed, sets it on low, and wakes up to a hearty breakfast with his family.

Originally published in the December/January 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Share the gallery


All Topics in Family Favorites


Parents may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.