I'm a recent convert to the slow cooker. My husband and I are going through a full home remodel and I haven't had counters, walls, or floors in my kitchen. In the past year, I've leaned heavily on this trusty kitchen appliance; you might say it's been my right-hand man (or woman, I didn't check) through the process. So when The Kitchn editors asked me to try the top five slow-cooker recipes on Pinterest, I was definitely game.
First, a Few Notes on My Process
As a rule, I'm the person who can't leave a single recipe alone. I'm often found tossing in extra herbs, altering the cooking method, or straight-up changing the ingredients. I use a recipe more as a base model, in that I read it over to get the feel of it, and then do my own thing.
But, in the name of science and delivering exact results, I mustered all of my strength and made these five recipes exactly as written. Some of them I even made twice because I couldn't understand how they came out so radically different than their photo — surely I had made a mistake?
Some were more successful than others, but overall the food looked much better on Pinterest than it tasted in real life. But don't worry! These recipes can be delicious with just a few tweaks.
Here are the top five slow-cooker recipes on Pinterest.
1. Seasoned Chicken, Potatoes, and Green Beans
The simple ingredient list makes this weeknight meal from The Magical Slow Cooker super easy to throw together. The chicken would benefit greatly from an overnight marinade (of any kind) beforehand. Likewise, the green beans could be added the last 15 minutes of cooking for beans that still have a little snap and color to them.
Overall, this was the most successful dish of them all!
2. Slow-Cooker Chicken Fajitas
This slow-cooker twist on a household favorite from Cooking Classy couldn't be easier to make, but the dish was far too mushy for my taste, and there wasn't any bite to the fajita filling.
If I were to make it again, I would alter the order of ingredients — canned tomatoes and chilies, then chicken, then add the vegetables (but only during the last 30 minutes of cooking) — and I might also suggest adding more minced garlic and fresh cilantro. Or skip all the herbs and just use a Frontera Fajita Sauce packet (still a staple in my pantry five years later).
3. Slow-Cooker Chicken Marsala
The idea of making a chicken marsala recipe in a slow cooker is a good one. No one wants to wait around while flavors develop and liquids reduce. There's always something more adult-ish that needs to be done, like laundry. (Seriously, is it ever done?) And since the photo of this recipe from Le Creme De La Crumb was so beautiful, I really wanted this one to work.
In reality, however, it didn't deliver. I made this recipe three times. Three! Alas, I was never able to achieve a dish that resembled the Pinterest photo that has amassed so many re-pins. There was no white-colored sauce to be had, no matter how many times I tried; sadly, it lacked in flavor as much as it did color.
Additional seasoning and some butter might make things a little silkier. This dish would be fine served over pasta or mashed potatoes, but I don't see it standing alone the way a traditional chicken marsala should be able to do.
4. Crock-Pot Honey-Garlic Chicken
This recipe from Diethood stands out from the sea of other chicken dishes that made the top-pinned list. Its ingredient list is unusual in a slow cooker world that is usually dominated by cheese-laden pasta dishes. I had the highest hopes for this dish — and I still do!
On the plus side, it comes together quickly and smells great, but I found the taste to be a little one-note. That said, you could add most any Asian-inspired ingredient from your pantry to balance it out for a more full-bodied flavor.
The dish also left behind a burnt sugary rim that needed scrubbing, and I had issue with the size of slow cooker this was made in. The sauce didn't completely cover the chicken, so I had half white, half dark chicken. The solution: I let this chicken sit overnight in its sauce to get a slightly more cohesive color and flavor, and then diced it up for my daily salad fare.
5. Easy Pot Roast
Where there's a slow cooker, there's a pot roast waiting to happen. I spent the majority of my life not being a fan of this winter staple, but this recipe from My Natural Family was a game-changer — because seriously, everything is better with gravy. I have to confess, though, that I did break my cardinal rule of recipe testing on this one. After four lackluster chicken dishes, I decided to kick this one up a notch. I used almost a tablespoon (or more) of most seasonings and used broth instead of water to keep that flavor packed in.
Have you made any of the dishes above? They've been pinned thousands of times over! What were your results, and which ones will you be trying tonight?