23 Delicious Slow-Cooker Recipes for Busy Weeknights

23 Delicious Slow-Cooker Recipes for Busy Weeknights

We can think of few things better than walking through the door after a long day and knowing that a home-cooked meal awaits us. And since we don't have our own personal live-in chefs, we'll have to rely on our slow cookers to help us out.

These comforting recipes take just a little bit of prep work in the morning or the night before, and then rely on the slow cooker to do the heavy lifting. Your future self will thank you.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

1. Slow-Cooked Brisket and Onions

This recipe is one of the examples of where the slow cooker really shines. How else could you serve brisket on a weeknight without your trusty slow cooker? Fix this for dinner and your family or dinner guests will thank you.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

2. How To Make Mac & Cheese in the Slow Cooker

Ask most kids (and many adults) what their favorite comfort food is, and you're likely to get mac and cheese as the answer. So make it easy on yourself and let your slow cooker do the heavy lifting on this easy-to-prepare recipe.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

3. Slow-Cooker Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

Made with coconut milk, this spicy stew is actually vegan. But the flavors are so bold and delicious that even the staunchest carnivores will line up for seconds.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

4. Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Split Pea Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Most split pea soup has a ham bone or ham hocks in it, but this vegetarian version omits it. The good news is that it doesn't lack anything in flavor. And the grilled cheese croutons? Well they're the savory equivalent to the cherry on top.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

5. Slow-Cooker Peppered Beef Shank in Red Wine

You'd never guess this meal came from a slow cooker by looking at it. That's what makes it the perfect meal for a weeknight dinner party.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

6. Slow-Cooker White Chicken Chili

What makes a "white chili," exactly? For us it's a hearty stew with plenty of white beans and Southwestern spices — and this recipe definitely fits that template. Make this in the morning, and we promise everyone in your family will be excited about dinner.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

7. Slow-Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls

This is the best kind of slow-cooker recipe. Not only is the cooking time hands-off, but the prep time is minimal as well. Oh, and the end result gets covered in cheese. Perfect.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

8. Slow-Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon

This is more than just beef stew. The French classic, made popular here by Julia Child, is worth all the hype. And making it in the slow cooker makes it even more appealing for all the time you'll save.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

9. White Bean & Bacon Soup

While you can make this on the stovetop or in the oven, we like this soup best when made in the slow cooker. It lets us assemble and go about our day, while making our kitchen smell delicious and inviting.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

10. Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

If you've been intimidated by the long cooking time of chicken tikka masala in the past, don't forget about your good friend the slow cooker. This adaptation is the slow cooker at its finest.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

11. Slow-Cooker Celery Soup with Bacon

Think of this soup as a new twist on potato-leek soup. The bacon is used more as a garnish, but you could sauté the vegetables in the bacon fat quickly before putting them in the slow cooker for more smoky flavor.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

12. How To Make French Onion Soup in the Slow Cooker

As soon as we learned you could make caramelized onions in the slow cooker, we knew we had to figure out a French onion soup recipe that could make good use of the kitchen appliance as well.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

13. Slow-Cooker Cheesy Panade with Swiss Chard, Beans, & Sausage

If you're unfamiliar with panades, allow us to introduce you: It's basically a dish of day-old bread, cheese, and ingredients you're likely to already have in your pantry. It's the savory bread pudding of your dreams.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

14. Slow-Cooker Hearty Chicken Minestrone

The key to making this minestrone is making the chicken stock in your slow cooker, and then adding the vegetables and pasta toward the end. It might seem strange to assemble the full soup at the end, but the stock is what makes this recipe a keeper.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

15. How To Cook Pork Chops in the Slow Cooker

Keep your pork chops juicy by giving them a dunk in brine for an extra flavor that also keeps them from drying out.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

16. Slow-Cooker Tuna Noodle Casserole

Don't relegate tuna noodle casserole to the kids' table — or the oven. This grown-up version is sophisticated enough for adults, and will surely trigger plenty of nostalgia.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

17. Slow-Cooker Beef and Barley Stew

Making stew is more of an improvisation than a recipe, and this stew is no exception. Feel free to follow the ingredient list to the letter, or adjust it to your preferences.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

18. Slow-Cooker Chicken in Milk

You may be skeptical about cooking a chicken in milk, but believe us, it is divine. The lemony-sage flavor and the golden skin that results will make you a believer too.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

19. How To Cook Salmon in the Slow Cooker

You won't need as much time as a stew or roast to cook salmon in your slow cooker, but this technique allows you to cook a lot of salmon all at once. Plus, you can use a variety of liquids and aromatics to punch up the flavor of your dish.

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

20. Slow-Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Thicker and richer than chicken tortilla soup, this Southwestern-inspired dish is satisfying and hearty. And because it's made in the slow cooker, you can serve it year-round.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

21. How To Make Mashed Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

Mashed potatoes aren't just for big holiday meals — they can be a weeknight staple as well. All you have to do is break out your slow cooker and let it do most of the work.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

22. Slow-Cooker Ham Bone Soup

While this recipe might have originated from a desire to use every last bit of a ham, it has become a favorite winter recipe. It's perfect for casual dinners with friends or just to have at the end of a long week. If you don't have a ham bone, get one from your butcher or swap in smoked ham as well.

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

23. Slow-Cooker Cheesy "Baked" Spinach & Mozzarella Rigatoni

This is basically a baked pasta casserole, but minus the baking. It's the easiest dinner to throw together in the morning and return to at the end of the workday. Now all you have to do for meal prep is assemble a salad and open a bottle of red wine.

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