The 10 Best Light & Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes for Extra-Long Days

The 10 Best Light & Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes for Extra-Long Days

Kelli Foster
Apr 23, 2018
(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Anytime busy weeks roll around, or when I really just want a big helping hand with dinner, I make sure to slot a slow cooker recipe or two into my weekly meal plan. Unlike the weekend when I know I'll buzz in and out of the kitchen, on weeknights I rely on recipes I can prep the night before or in the morning, dumping everything in the slow cooker so I can come home to a meal that's just about ready to hit the table.

These 10 recipes do just that, and are light, bright, and perfect for spring.

1. Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

I don't think I will ever think about barbacoa beef without first thinking of tacos. Topped with all the fixings, it feels like a real weeknight treat and promises plenty of leftovers for later.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

2. How To Make Slow Cooker Chili Verde

This chili swaps the canned tomatoes and ground beef for a light, bright base made with tomatillos, chiles, and cilantro, along with shredded pork. The pork and vegetables benefit from a few minutes under the broiler, followed by an all-day simmer in the slow cooker.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

3. Slow Cooker Ginger Chicken Congee

Slow cooker congee is one of the easiest slow cooker comfort foods you will make. To keep it feeling extra fresh on these warm days I like to top it with scallions, fresh herbs, ginger, and sometimes a squeeze of lemon.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

4. Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Get a head start by prepping and assembling the cabbage rolls the day before. Pop them in the slow cooker in the morning and they'll be ready for dinner at the end of the day.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

5. Gingery Tofu Slow Cooker Soup

An all-day simmer infuses everyday broth with spicy fresh ginger, citrusy lemon peel, and savory mushrooms. Add the vegetables, tofu, and soba noodles in the last 10 minutes of cooking to soften and warm them through.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

6. Slow Cooker Sausage and Spinach Breakfast Casserole

This is the breakfast-for-dinner casserole I'm cycling through my meal plan all spring. Get a head start by cooking the sausage up to a couple days in advance. It calls for baby spinach, but you could easily substitute any leafy greens you have on hand.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

7. Slow Cooker Maple-Mustard Pulled Pork

If your pulled pork is usually slicked with a smoky, spiced sauce, this sweet and tangy maple-mustard sauce is such a fun and simple way to give it a fresh twist.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

8. Slow Cooker Golden Chickpea Soup

Slow cooking mellows the pungent, bitter bite of turmeric, and a dollop of yogurt partnered with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before servings, lends a fresh, tangy twist to this vegetarian soup.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

9. Slow Cooker Hawaiian Brisket Sandwiches

Come spring and summer, this is my favorite way to serve up a hearty brisket. There's some minimal upfront prep, but the slow cooker does all the heavy lifting to transform this otherwise tough cut into a wonderfully tender and delicious dinner.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

10. Vegan Slow-Cooker Chickpea Tikka Masala

This isn't exactly a dump-and-go slow cooker recipe, but you will be handsomely rewarded for your efforts. This vegan spin on classic tikka masala swaps coconut milk for the cream and tastes luxurious and light all at the same time.

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