Best slow cooker recipes: healthy, hearty, easy-cook meals

These best slow cooker recipes will make short work of warming, hearty, healthy meals – while you get on with your day. There's even a cake!

Crock Pot: best slow cooker recipes
(Image credit: Crock Pot)

Aaah, slow cooker recipes: possibly the most tempting, mouth-watering, labour-free meals you can cook at this time of year. Why? Slow cookers are culinary magicians capable of transforming raw food into tasty dinners with the littlest of effort from you. 

So if you've got a busy life, the slow cooker is your holy grail. Chuck in a pile of ingredients, go about your day and when you come back... you'll have a lovely meal waiting for you, and your family will be praising your genius cooking skills. Ha! Shorter evenings can't stop you! Dinner parties just got a whole lot easier, too.

In honour of Crock Pot (the original, iconic slow cooker) launching the new digital ‘Lift & Serve’ cooker, we are sharing their best slow cooker recipes. Keep scrolling...

Crock Pot Lift & Serve Digital Slow Cooker | Was £59.99 now £34.99

With the new digital slow cooker, set your cooking time from 30 minutes to 20 hours. Auto keep-warm means your dish is ready when you are and the hinged lid makes stirring and serving easier.

Shop Crock-Pot slow cookers in the USAView Deal

Slow cooker starter recipes

1. Curried red lentil, tomato and coconut slow cooker soup

Slow cooker soups

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

This scrumptious soup combines warming flavours and, if your slow cooker doesn’t have a sauté function, just needs a little preparation on the hob before you let the appliance do the work.    

You will need: 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed chilli flakes, plus a few to garnish
  • 100g red lentils
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • Chopped coriander, to garnish
  • Green chilli slices, to garnish

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the onions and fry for around eight minutes until softened, or use the slow cooker’s sauté function if it has one.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, chilli flakes, and cook, stirring, for around two minutes.

3. Add the lentils and cook stirring for a minute.

4. Add the mixture to the slow cooker pot, if using a frying pan.

5. Add tomatoes and vegetable stock, and season with salt and pepper.

6. Set aside 60ml of coconut milk, then add the remainder to the pot, stirring to combine the ingredients.

7. Cover and cook on high for one to two hours.

8. Season to taste and serve drizzled with the remaining coconut milk, chopped coriander, and chilli slices, if liked.

2. Chilli chicken, bean, corn and lime slow cooker soup

Slow cooker soup

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The slow cooker will make the chicken in this soup beautifully tender. If you want to turn it into more of a meal, serve accompanied with rice. Coriander makes a great alternative garnish if you don’t want the kick of extra chilli.

You will need:

  • 500g skinless boneless chicken thighs, or breasts, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 400g can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chillli, chopped, plus slices, seeds removed if preferred, to garnish
  • 200g can sweetcorn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp lime juice

Method:

1. Add the chicken to the slow cooker and stir in stock, cannellini beans, onion, garlic, chilli, sweetcorn, cumin and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Cover and cook on low for seven to eight hours, or high for five to six hours.

3. Stir in lime juice and season to taste.

4. Garnish with slices of green chilli.

3. Mushroom and potato slow cooker soup

Slow cooker soup

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Like your soup creamy? This recipe is sure to please. Offset its richness by serving with warm, fresh bread, or add the crunch of toasted slices.

You will need

  • 50g butter
  • 450g mushrooms
  • 30g flour
  • 425ml chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 small potatoes cut into 1.5cm pieces
  • 230ml single cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish

Method:

1. Melt the butter in a frying pan, and add the mushrooms and cook until tender, around five minutes.

2. Add the flour slowly, and keep stirring until the mixture is smooth.

3. Place the mixture in the slow cooker and add the stock.

4. Add the potatoes, then the single cream, and stir until the mixture is combined.

5. Cover and cook on high for three hours or low for six hours, or until the potatoes are tender.

6. Season to taste and serve garnished with parsley.

Slow cooker mains recipes

Looking for inspiration for dinner or a hearty lunch? These are our favourites.

4. Sweet potato and coconut curry with chickpeas and spinach

This curry is lovely and mild with a touch of natural sweetness from the potatoes, however if you prefer some extra heat, add in some extra chopped chilli with the garlic. Team the curry with some cous cous or if you prefer rice, that works just as well.

Crock Pot slow cooker recipes vegan curry

(Image credit: Crock Pot)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 200g shredded red cabbage
  • 1kg approx. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
  • 400ml carton of passata
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • To serve – 100g baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped coriander leaves, 300g couscous

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, cook for approx five minutes. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and continue cooking for a further few minutes.

2. Lower the heat, adding the spices, stirring well to prevent any burning.

3. Spoon the mixture into your crockpot bowl.

4. Add the red pepper, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, lentils, passata, stock and coconut milk and stir to combine all the ingredients.

5. Cover and cook on high for four to five hours until the potatoes are tender.

6. Stir in the chickpeas.

7. Place the peanut butter into a small bowl, add a few spoonful’s of the hot curry sauce and mix to a smooth sauce before adding to the rest of the pot.

8. Continue cooking for a further 30 minutes.

9. Before serving – place the cous cous into a heatproof bowl, add 300ml boiling water and cover to steam for a few minutes. Remove the cover and fluff with a fork, adding a little olive oil and some salt and pepper.

10. Stir the spinach into the hot curry and serve alongside the cous cous, scatter with the coriander leaves.

5.  Chicken fajita one pot pasta 

To achieve a deeper depth of flavour to your chicken, try to remember to marinade the day before.

Crock Pot slow cooker pasta recipe

(Image credit: Crock Pot)

Ingredients:

  • 600g skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
  • 50g approx. fajita seasoning
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 800ml hot chicken stock
  • 300g farfalle pasta
  • 1 x 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
  • To serve - sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, chopped jalapeños

Method:

1. Place the chicken into a suitable mixing bowl. Add the fajita seasoning (we used two sachets of the medium flavoured seasoning). Stir well to thoroughly mix and set aside for approx. 30 minutes.

2. Select Brown/Sauté on your pressure cooker and allow to heat.

3. Add the oil and the chicken and stir fry for approx five minutes, stirring occasionally allowing the chicken to brown.

4. Add the onion and continue sautéing for a further two to three minutes.

5. Pour in the hot stock, add the pasta and briefly stir.

6. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and do not stir.

7. Place the peppers onto a square piece of foil and loosely fold around, crimping the edges to make a parcel.

8. Sit the parcel on top of the tomatoes, (this prevents the peppers from getting too mushy)

9. Secure the lid and select Manual, high pressure, five minutes.

10. Once the time has elapsed, allow the unit to continue onto Keep Warm for a further five minutes, before carefully venting the unit.

11. Remove the lid, using a pair of tongs carefully release the peppers from the foil pack and empty into the bowl. Stir well to combine the ingredients.

12. Adjust the seasoning and serve ladled into warm pasta bowls.

13. Add a dollop of sour cream, a handful of grated cheddar and a scattering of chopped jalapeños.

6. Teriyaki chicken brown rice bowls

Crock Pot slow cooker recipe teriyaki chicken

(Image credit: Crock Pot)

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp dark brown soft sugar
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 250g brown basmati rice
  • 1½ tbsp cornflour

Method:

1. Place the soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, sugar, ginger and garlic into a medium sized bowl, stir well and add the chicken, coating the thighs in the sauce.

2. Cover and marinate for approx 30 minutes.

3. Place the unwashed brown rice into the inner pot and using the cup measure provided, add 2½ cups of cold water.

4. Seal the lid and cook on the Rice/Risotto setting for 15 minutes. Once the time has elapsed allow the steam to release naturally.

5. Remove the rice to a warm bowl and add the marinated chicken and sauce into the pot.

6. Cover and cook on manual for 10 minutes, releasing the steam manually once the cooking time has ended.

7. Preheat your oven to 200ºC/180ºC for a fan oven (this step isn’t necessary but gives your chicken that sticky glaze and golden colour).

8. Remove your chicken from the cooking pot using a slotted spoon; place this onto a suitable baking tray.

9. Select the Sauté mode and while the sauce is bubbling, stir in a little cornflour mixed with water to thicken.

10. Brush over the cooked chicken before placing into the hot oven. Cook for 10 minutes until a deeper brown glaze develops.

11. Add the brown rice to your warm bowls adding in your choice of vegetables and the teriyaki chicken.

12. Scatter over some sesame seeds and serve with the extra sauce.

7. Vegan mac 'n' cheese

Crock pot slow cooker vegan recipe

(Image credit: Crock Pot)

Ingredients:

  • 2 litres of nut or plant based milk
  • 150g tub of vegan style soft cheese
  • 1 x 254g carton of single soya cream
  • 500g macaroni pasta
  • 300g grated style vegan cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp English mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp nutritional dried yeast flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Topping optional:

  • 100g panko style breadcrumbs
  • 100g vegan cheddar cheese
  • 15g nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1tsp mustard powder
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Empty the milk into the crockpot bowl. Add the soft cheese and cream and using a hand whisk, mix until smooth.

2. Add the pasta, grated cheddar, mustard powder and yeast flakes and stir well.

3. Cover with the lid and cook on High for approx 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove the lid and stir well, adding in salt and pepper to taste.

5. For a crispy flavoursome finish, mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the cooked mac 'n' cheese.

6. Preheat your oven/grill to high, and brown the topping until golden and bubbling.

7. Or simply bake the topping ingredients on an oven tray for approx. 15 minutes in a hot oven until golden, serve separately for sprinkling on top.

8. Serve as an accompaniment to a main meal or just enjoy its own simple loveliness.

8. Slow cooker roast beef

slow cooker beef roast recipe

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Ingredients

For this classic roast beef recipe, enough for four people, you'll need:

  • Roasting joint, rump cut, or beef brisket, one kilo;
  • Sunflower oil, a couple of tablespoons;
  • Red onions, two;
  • Garlic, two cloves;
  • Rapeseed oil, two to four tablespoons;
  • Potatoes, 500 grams;
  • Carrots, 250 grams;
  • Parsnips, 250 grams;
  • Fine green beans, to serve on the side, 500 grams;
  • Beef stock, 750 ml
  • Plain flour, a couple of tablespoons;
  • Butter, 25 grams;
  • Rosemary and thyme, a couple of sprigs each
  • Bay leaves, two
  • Red wine, a glug

Method:

1. If your slow cooker has a sear function, set it to 'sear', add a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil and sear the beef on both sides first. Otherwise, you can do this in a pan. Remove the beef from the slow cooker and put it to one side, leaving the juices where they are.

2. Line the bottom of your slow cooker with roughly chopped onion, roughly chopped, unpeeled potatoes, carrots (peel first), and the parsnips. Tuck in the garlic cloves. Drizzle with the oil (rapeseed or sunflower will do, too) and lightly season with salt. 

2. Place your roasting joint on top of the vegetables and completely cover with beef stock and a good glug of red wine (a glass full will do). Add the rosemary, thyme, and bay. Put the lid on and cook on a medium setting for about 1.5 hours.

3. After 1.5 hours have passed, pour the remaining liquid carefully out of your cooker and into a pyrex glass jug; let cool. In a small pan, make a roux by mixing the butter and the flour, then gradually add the stock you've just removed from the slow cooker, whisking constantly. Once you've achieved a smooth consistency, you have your gravy. Keep it on a very low heat to warm.

4. Boil the green beans for five to seven minutes; strain.

5. At around the 2.5 to three hour mark, your roast should be done; if you like your meat very well done, you might want to cook for an extra 20 minutes. 

6. Serve with the gravy and the boiled green beans.

9. Aubergine Thai red curry

Vegetarian slow cooker recipe for cold nights: aubergine Thai red curry

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Ingredients:

For this easy and heartwarming, meat-free slow cooker recipe for two, you'll need: 

  • Aubergine, 300 grams. We prefer using mini aubergines, but can also chop up one large aubergine
  • Thai red curry paste, preferable Barts, two to four teaspoons, to taste
  • White cup mushrooms, 250 grams
  • Lemongrass, one stalk
  • Ginger, 20 grams or a thumb-sized piece, sliced
  • Tinned tomato, one tin
  • Coconut milk, 500ml
  • Juice of one lime

Method:

1. For best results, it's best to start on the sear function on your slow cooker (if you have it; don't worry it not, you can do this in a frying pan). Stir fry the aubergines and the cleaned and chopped mushrooms in the red curry paste; if you wish, you can add a little bit or rapeseed oil. 

2. When the vegetables have softened, add all the other ingredients and slow cook for about 1.5 hours, or until the sauce is not too runny. 

3. For an even fresher taste, you can add fine green beans or sugarsnap peas towards the end. 

4. Serve with jasmine rice. 

Some recipes advise mixing your own Thai paste, but we've found it almost impossible to achieve an authentic flavour. Some people also like adding a bit of fish sauce to the mix, but we find the flavour (and smell) to be quite strong, so go easy if you do decide to add it. Obviously, the fish sauce will also make the dish non-veggie.

10. Slow cooker roast chicken

slow cooker roast chicken recipe

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Ingredients

For this simple yet delicious recipe for a succulent roast chicken with a smoky twist, you will need:

  • White onion, one;
  • Carrots, two;
  • A large whole chicken;
  • Salt;
  • Smoked paprika, 10 grams;
  • Garlic, one clove

Method:

1. Line the bottom of your slow cooker with the roughly chopped onion and carrots;

2. Mix the paprika, salt, and finely chopped garlic clove in a small bowl. Score the chicken skin in a few places, then rub as much of the chicken as you can with the seasoning.

3. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, then cook for five hours on the low setting of your cooker. 

4. If you want crispy skin, stick the pot under the grill for the last five to ten minutes, without the lid. Check that your slow cooker is safe to go under the grill; if not – transfer the chicken into a grill proof dish for the skin crisping. 

5. The juices remaining from cooking will make an excellent sauce/gravy, especially if you're serving the chicken with mashed potato.  

Slow cooker dessert recipes

Looking for inspo for dessert? You won't believe it, but you can cook these desserts in a slow cooker.

11. Raspberry upside down cake 

For this recipe you will need to grease and line the base and sides of your Crockpot bowl with some foil or baking parchment.

Crock Pot slow cooker dessert raspberry upside down cake

(Image credit: Crock Pot)

Ingredients for the sponge:

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g softened butter
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150g self raising flour

Ingredients for the raspberry topping:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g softened butter
  • 300g fresh raspberries

Method:

1. Prepare the topping by placing the sugar and butter into a small mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to whisk for approx one minute until combined.

2. Spoon onto the lined base of your bowl, spreading evenly to cover.

3. Top with the raspberries.

4. For the sponge, place the butter and sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk until light and creamy.

5. Gradually whisk in the eggs beating well between each addition.

6. Slowly mix in the flour, do not over-mix.

7. Spoon the sponge mixture over the raspberries and level the top.

8. Place a clean t-towel over the bowl before closing the lid, this will ensure your cake stays dry during cooking.

9. Cook on Low for 2.5 to three hours.

10. Remove the t-towel and lid and carefully place the inner bowl onto a wire cooling rack for approx 30 mins.

11. Carefully remove the cake using the foil sling which formed part of your bowl lining. Otherwise run a knife around the outside of the cake and invert the pot, carefully catching the cooled cake onto your hand before transferring to a plate.

12. Delicious served warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

12. Slow cooker Christmas cake recipe

slow cooker Christmas cake recipe

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The beauty of this recipe is that you can really experiment with what you like best. More/different fruit? Not a problem. More/other type of booze? Again, try out different types to see what you enjoy the most. Will it be sherry or whisky? Finally, there's the question of icing or no icing. This recipe does not require icing, because we like serving our Christmas cake with clotted cream. But there's nothing stopping you smothering your cake in as much icing as you like if you like it that way (or how about salted caramel flavoured buttercream?) 

Ingredients:

For our juicy version of the Christmas cake, you will need:

  • Large eggs, three;
  • Plain flour, 250 grams;
  • Brandy, 200 ml + extra for impregnating the cake afterwards;
  • Raisins, sultanas, sweetened dried cranberries, glace cherries, 200 grams each;
  • Butter, melted, 200 grams;
  • Treacle/molasses/syrup, two to four tablespoons;
  • Cinnamon, one teaspoon;
  • Brown sugar, four tablespoons;
  • Ground almonds, 100 grams;
  • The zest and juice of a large orange

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then add the flour and the melted butter. 

2. Mix in both types of sugar, until the mixture is smooth.

3. Add the ground almonds, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, and the brandy. Keep mixing until uniform.

4. Add the fruit. You'll want to make sure it's evenly distributed throughout the cake mixture.

5. Pour the mixture into your pre-lined slow cooker/cake mould (to go inside the slow cooker). Cook on medium for three to four hours or slow for four to five hours, or until the cake is a golden brown colour on top.  

6. Take the cake out of the slow cooker, and out of the mould if using one. Then, make a few small holes in the top of the cake with the tip of a knife; drizzle a little more brandy. Discard any that ends up collecting at the bottom of the cake. Let the cake cool completely before icing. If making icing, simply follow the instructions on your icing pack.

7. Serve on its own if iced, or with clotted cream/brandy cream if having without. 

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