10 Balanced Slow Cooker Dinners We Really Love

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The slow cooker is one of the best tools for getting easy dinners on the table. I mean, what’s not to love about an appliance that practically does all the work for you? But the slow cooker does not always produce the most flavorful results — a common complaint is that things often come out tasting one-note — so a lot of recipes rely on high-fat ingredients like cream or cheese to jazz things up.

If your goals include eating more balanced meals — packed with more veggies and protein, and less fat — but you still want the convenience of cooking in a slow cooker, we’re here to help you. From chicken enchilada soup to veggie burrito bowls, there’s a recipe here for everyone.

This recipe specifically calls for brown rice, which holds up better in the slow cooker, so you’re already on your way to a meal packed with whole grains. Feel free to swap plain yogurt for the sour cream in the lime sour cream portion of the recipe.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This simple chicken calls for only two ingredients: boneless, skinless chicken breasts and water (or chicken stock). Put it in salads, in soups, sandwiches, grain bowls — wherever you want to add a punch of protein.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This soup gives you the flavor of enchiladas, but without all the cheese typically found in this Mexican dish. It starts with a base of homemade enchilada sauce, which means you can also control how much sodium and sugar make it in. Serve with plain yogurt and you’re all set.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Spinach and artichoke dip is a classic for game night, but for a healthier twist that’s more weeknight-friendly, go for this chicken instead. Made with low-sodium chicken broth, you can serve this over quinoa or brown rice for a wholesome dinner.

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(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

This hearty curry is vegan, but you’d never guess, thanks to its super-meaty texture and incredible flavor. Save the addition of coconut milk for the very end for a little extra richness. Serve over a bed of rice or your favorite grain with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro leaves.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When you need something nourishing and comforting, this vegetarian soup will be there for you. The ginger-turmeric broth and baby bok choy are light and bright, while additions like buckwheat soba noodles and cubes of tofu round things out so you won’t be hungry an hour after eating.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

First of all, yes, you can cook salmon in your slow cooker! This method is perfect for a Sunday night batch-cooking session and ensures your salmon comes out perfectly tender every time. Seasoned simply with salt and pepper, this salmon is versatile enough to enjoy in any number of ways.

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(Image credit: Diana Yen)

If you’re staring down a glut of seasonal veggies, this is the perfect recipe to put them all to use. This simple vegan stew is great enjoyed on its own or served alongside grilled chicken or fish.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Another great vegan stew from the slow cooker! This one’s spiced with flavorful curry powder and made creamy with a little help from some coconut milk. Packed with veggies and chickpeas, it’s filling enough to eat on its own for lunch or with some rice or quinoa for dinner.

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(Image credit: Diana Yen)

When taco Tuesday rolls around, this is the recipe you should make. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts become tender enough to shred with two forks after a stint in the slow cooker, and they’re cooked alongside ingredients like garlic and cumin for extra flavor without adding any fat. Serve in warm corn tortillas and garnish with guacamole, pico de gallo, lime, and cilantro.

A Flavorful Soup for Any Day of the Week

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