Our 10 Most Popular Dump Dinner Recipes of 2019

updated Dec 21, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

This was the year we fully embraced dump dinners. The name might not be great (okay, it’s pretty awful!), but dump dinners are some of the most magical recipes we know. Save for maybe chopping a vegetable or two and measuring out some spices, these dinners skip the upfront prep and nearly all the cooking steps.

All you need to do is toss everything in your slow cooker or Instant Pot and hit some buttons. Some are ready in an hour (or less!) and some cook all day, but all are comforting and delicious. We shared a lot of dump dinners this year, and these were the 10 most popular ones that you made over and over again.

1. Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

To keep these noodles from getting soggy, we minimized the amount of liquid by cooking the dried noodles directly in the marinara sauce instead of broth or water. 

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

2. Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

Use a bag of frozen peppers and onions and you won’t need to chop a single vegetable for this hearty veggie dish. (Avocado counts as a fruit, right?)

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Slow Cooker Chicken Posole

To keep the dirty dishes to the bare minimum, you can shred the chicken thighs right in the slow cooker. Wait until you see how easily they fall apart.

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Posole

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

When we need a comforting, no-prep dinner that’s ready in under 30 minutes, this is the one we turn to. And the very best part is that this Instant Pot mac and cheese is creamier than any other one-pot macaroni around, thanks to pressure-cooking the noodles in their own starches.

Get the recipe: Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Trader Joe’s Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Inspired by a takeout favorite, this version starts with a TJ’s fan favorite simmer sauce, a pack of chicken breasts, and diced tomatoes.

Get the recipe: Trader Joe’s Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Credit: Joe Lingeman

6. Slow Cooker Shredded Balsamic Beef

Whether you serve this beef over egg noodles, polenta, or mashed potatoes; layer it on a sandwich; or pile it into tacos, burritos, or quesadillas, you truly can’t go wrong. I speak from experience.

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Shredded Balsamic Beef

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Slow Cooker Sausage and Lentil Stew

The beauty of chicken sausage is that it’s already cooked, so there’s no need to brown the meat on the stovetop first. You can toss everything in the slow cooker and go.

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Sausage and Lentil Stew

Credit: Joe Lingeman

8. Trader Joe’s Slow Cooker Spicy Mediterranean Chicken

If TJ’s zhoug sauce is a staple in your fridge, it’s time to add this popular dinner to your meal plan ASAP. And if not, we recommend grabbing a tub of this spicy herb dip sooner than later.

Get the recipe: Trader Joe’s Slow Cooker Spicy Mediterranean Chicken

Credit: Joe Lingeman

9. Slow Cooker Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Drop everything in the cooker in the morning and by the end of the day you’ve got a full-flavored broth loaded with soft, tender beans and all the spiced undertones you expect from black bean soup.

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Credit: Joe Lingeman

10. One-Hour Cheesy Spinach Slow Cooker Tortellini

This is a go-to when we need to get dinner on the table but can’t keep an eye on the boiling pot on the stovetop. Plus, this version involves fewer dirty dishes, which is always a win in our book.

Get the recipe: One-Hour Cheesy Spinach Slow Cooker Tortellini