10 Easy Slow Cooker Dinners to Make on Busy Weeknights

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

On any week that’s peppered with late nights at the office and activities like sports practice, piano lessons, or book club, getting dinner on the table can feel like a feat of Everest-like proportions. These are the nights to pull out your slow cooker and rely on it to do the heavy lifting leading up to dinnertime. Whether you need a dump-and-go recipe that can cook totally hands-off, like sloppy Joes or soup, or have a few minutes for up-front prep, these are the 10 slow cooker dinners to add to your meal plan on busy weeks.

Thought your week was too busy for fajitas? Think again! Save for opening a few cans, this is a hands-off dinner that can be left unattended for hours, and delivers the rich, spiced flavors as the traditional stovetop version.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

Spend about 10 minutes prepping in the morning, then toss everything into the slow cooker and let it simmer all day while you’re at work. With a cook time of about eight hours, it will be ready to spoon into bowls when you walk in the door.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Not only does this weeknight dinner require minimal effort to pull together, but cleanup is also a breeze. There’s a lot to love about juicy chicken, tender broccoli, and rice that all comes together in a single slow-cooking session.

(Image credit: Diana Yen)

Here’s what to cook when you want to come home to something totally comforting. It’s just like the classic, minus the time spent standing at the stove.

(Image credit: Hali Bey Ramdene)

Here is one more reason you should always hang on to those leftover Parmesan rinds. This white bean soup is an easy meal to pull together on busy weeks, and makes its own broth with some help from a Parmesan rind as it cooks. It’s satisfying and comforting without being too rich and heavy.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

This hearty vegan stew is on regular repeat in my meal plan all year long. The bulk of the work is prepping the veggies, but it rewards you with plenty of leftovers, which means tomorrow’s lunch is ready to go.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

This hearty vegan chili comes together easily with the aid of a slow cooker. All you have to do is mix everything together, turn it on, and come back to a comforting dinner.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

With a little planning, this chicken and broccoli dinner replicates the goodness of a stir-fry with the help of the slow cooker.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Yes, you can even make crispy-skinned chicken thighs in the slow cooker. Coat a pack of bone-in, skin-on thighs with a warm spice rub and layer them in the slow cooker, and many hours later dinner is ready.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

You can leave the takeout menu right where it is. This dump-and-go recipe for the Indo-British classic is a breeze to pull together, and benefits from a long, slow simmer while you’re at work.