Slow cooker recipes: prepare healthy, hearty meals with ease

The 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)

As you're about to discover, we love slow cooker recipes. Not only do they require minimal labour – which is always good news in our books – but they also deliver super satisfying and super succulent meals, whether you're throwing in a joint of meat or a load of leftover veggies.

So, how do they work? Well in the case of the best slow cookers, all that you'll need to do is add all of your ingredients to the pot and set the timer. From there your slow cooker will do all the work, allowing you to get on with work or simply sit back and relax. It really doesn't get much easier than that. Jump to view our simple slow cooker soups, slow cooker meals, or even slow cooker desserts. Yep, that's a thing.

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Best slow cooker recipes

From soups, to main dishes, to desserts, we've rounded up our favorite slow-cooker dishes, below. 

1. Chili chicken and sweetcorn soup

Slow cooker soup

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Slow cooking this chicken and sweetcorn soup will make the meat beautifully tender, while requiring minimal effort. Plus, the added chili and lime make it a little more zingy and flavourful than your average chicken broth.

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 or a heavy based pan and stir in stock, cannellini beans, onion, garlic, chili, sweetcorn, cumin and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Cover and cook on low for seven to eight hours in the slow cooker; or for three hours on a hob.

3. Stir in lime juice and season to taste.

4. Garnish with slices of green chili.

2. Aubergine red Thai curry

aubergine red thai curry

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This aubergine curry is delicious and healthy, and the ingredients are not difficult to find. Thai cuisine is also very vegetarian-friendly, with a great range of dishes that don't require any meat at all. 

You will 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 to your slow cooker or to your lidded pot, put the lid on and slow cook on a low heat 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.

3. Slow cooker chili

bean chilli recipe

(Image credit: Getty)

This slow cooker chilli is a thing of beauty: a simple, hearty meal that can be happily consumed in front of Netflix, or served with nachos as party food. It also was pretty much made for the slow cooker (although you can cook it on a hob, too). The longer you stew it, the tastier it gets. 

You will need:

  • Lean beef mince, 400 grams;
  • Rapeseed oil, two tablespoons;
  • A tin of tomatoes;
  • Tomato paste, 20-30 grams;
  • A tin of kidney beans;
  • White onion, one, chopped;
  • Garlic, two cloves;
  • Salt, to taste
  • Medium-hot red chillies, two;
  • Stock, chicken, vegetable, or beef, 750ml;
  • Very dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa), finely chopped or grated;
  • Coriander, 50 grams, to granish

Method:

1. In a deep frying pan, warm the onions in the oil; they should soften but not change colour.

2. Add the garlic cloves and the beef mince, season with salt and fry on high heat until the mince is slightly browned on the outside. Don't like your chili hot? Go down to just one chili instead. Want it hotter than everyone else? Add some Tabasco sauce at the serving stage.

3. Add the tinned tomato and paste and the chillies and distribute evenly throughout the mince. Fry for about five minutes.

4. Scoop the mixture into your slow cooker, add the chocolate and cover with stock. Cook on medium heat for four to five hours, adding the kidney beans in the last 40 minutes/half hour of cooking. 

5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with plain boiled rice as a healthy meal, or as party food with tortilla chips and Tex-mex dips. 

4. Chicken fajita one pot pasta

Crock Pot slow cooker pasta recipe

(Image credit: Crock Pot)

This one pot slow cooker pasta bake is such an easy midweek meal to make – especially since it uses a fajita mix to add seasoning and depth of flavour. To achieve a deeper depth of flavour to your chicken, try to remember to marinade the day before, too. This recipe can be cooked in a pressure cooker, too – much more speedily. And, of course, you can make it in a lidded pot on the hob if you don't have a slow cooker (yet).

You will need:

  • 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 approximately 30 minutes.

2. Select Brown/Sauté on your slow cooker and allow to heat. If you don't have that function, you can do this step in a frying pan.

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

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

5. If you've been cooking in a frying pan, transfer to the warmed slow cooker now. Pour in the hot stock on top, 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 cook on high for eight to 10 minutes.

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

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.

5. Teriyaki chicken brown rice bowls

This comforting, tangy Teriyaki chicken recipe is the perfect pick me up – and while it's packed with exotic flavours, it's easy to make. Love a takeaway but saving your pennies? Homemade is always better and cheaper.

You will need:

  • Boneless chicken thighs, 450 grams. We don't recommend using chicken breast for this recipe, as the slow cooking benefits thighs much more, with their higher fat content;
  • Honey, 100 ml;
  • Soy sauce, 100 ml;
  • Garlic, two cloves, finely chopped;
  • Ginger, a thumb-sized piece, finely chopped;
  • Sesame seed, 10 grams;
  • A medium-hot red chilli, chopped;
  • Spring onion to garnish, 50 grams;
  • White jasmine rice, steamed, 125 grams per person;
  • Broccoli, steamed, 250 grams 

Method:

1. For the slow cook method, combine the honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli, and sesame in a bowl and mix together well. Cooking on the hob: keep these ingredients separate for now.

2. Put your chicken thighs into the slow cooker and cook on high for three to four hours, or on low for four to five hours. You're done! 

3. Cooking on the hob? Fry the chicken thighs in a dash of light vegetable oil in a thick-based pan until the skin is golden all over. 

4. For hob cooking, add the ginger, chilli (go easy if you don't like it too hot) and garlic to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes.  

4. Next, add in the honey, soy sauce and a splash of water to the pan; coat the chicken with the sauce, adding more water if it gets too dry. Watch the sauce carefully so that it doesn't burn until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Plate up on steamed rice with a side of steamed broccoli (find more ways to cook broccoli in our guide). Drizzle any sauce left in the pan over the chicken. Garnish with chopped spring onion and sesame seeds. 

Tip: If your sauce is too runny after the cooking is done, you can thicken it with a couple of tablespoons of plain flour in the pan on low heat. Simply remove the chicken, mix in a little flour vigorously until you achieve a uniform texture.

6. Slow cooker roast chicken

roast chicken

(Image credit: Getty)

This slow cooker roast chicken recipe makes for a delicious Sunday roast and has a delicious smoky flavour.

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 10 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 ham

Gammon

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

These slow cooker gammon recipes will change your ham game forever. Home-cooked ham is many people's favourite guilty pleasure, and these recipes will help you avoid a dried out piece of gammon. 

To make sure your ham doesn't turn out dry, you'll need to cook your gammon in something quite acidic, though not too vinegary. We recommend apple cider, ale, or apple juice, about 750ml. You'll also need:

You will need:

  • Gammon cut of pork, about 750g–1kg;
  • Whole grain mustard, 100 grams. You can use any other type of mustard if you prefer, but we think whole grain works especially well here;
  • Honey, 100 ml;
  • Salt, to taste;
  • 750ml of apple cider, ale or apple juice, to cover the gammon joint.

Method:

1. Rub the gammon with the salt, mustard, and honey. 

2. Put it in the slow cooker and pour in the cider/juice/ale to cover the meat. 

3. Leave to cook on slow for six hours. 

4. Your ham is ready to serve with apple chutney and chips/fresh bread. 

Yes, it really is that easy! What to do with the leftover juice? We'd reduce it, skim off the fat and use in next week's gravy.

Slow cooker pulled pork

slow cooker pulled pork

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The ultimate slow cooker pulled pork recipe is here: and it's probably the easiest slow cooker recipe ever. We don't say that lightly, but you really can pretty much throw any ingredients you have in your kitchen at it, and it'll still be nice. There's also likely no better way to make pulled pork than in a slow cooker – it's almost as if slow cookers were invented for the stuff. However, you can cook it in an oven, too. 

You will need:

  • Pork shoulder, 500-750 grams, with the fat trimmed off
  • Dry white wine/apple cider vinegar/ketchup, 250ml – either of these acidic ingredients will do
  • Stock, chicken or vegetable, 250 ml
  • Salt, to taste
  • Onion, finely chopped, one
  • Garlic, four cloves
  • Paprika, two teaspoons

Method:

1. Rub a generous amount of salt and paprika (or meat spice rub) into the pork before placing it into the slow cooker – or a deep, oven-proof dish if you don't have one. This is supposed to be a salty, flavoursome meat, so don't hold back on the salt, or it could turn out bland.

2. In a pouring jug, combine the stock, the acidifier (wine/vinegar/ketchup), the onion, and the stock. 

3. Pour over the mixture over the pork. Tuck in the garlic cloves. 

4. If you are cooking in a slow cooker, set it on a low setting and cook for six to eight hours, until the meat is easily pulled away with a fork. If you're cooking it in the oven, cover it with a lid (or make a lid with foil) and cook at 150ºC/130ºC (fan oven)/gas mark 2 for upwards of four hours – you want the meat to literally fall apart. If it isn't, give it longer. As long as you don't let the stock dry out, you can continue to cook the pork at this temperature for up to eight hours. If it does dry out, add more stock.

5. Serve with warmed mini tortillas, coleslaw, lime and coriander (as shown in the photo), or with a brioche bun, slaw, and sweet pickled gherkins.

Find more gorgeous slow cooker recipes in our feature – starters, mains, and desserts sorted. 

Slow cooker rice pudding

slow cooker rice pudding with berries on top

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

This vegan slow cooker rice pudding is made with coconut milk, giving it a gorgeous flavour. Serve with berries for a healthy breakfast, dessert or snack

You will need:

  • Vegan butter, 15 grams
  • Pudding rice, 100 grams
  • Coconut milk, 750 millilitres
  • Cater sugar, 25 grams
  • Sprig of mint, to decorate
  • Raspberries, 250 grams (for the sauce) plus extra to decorate, and 2 tbsp icing sugar

Method:

1. Grease the inside of slow cooker pot with vegan butter.

2. Add the rice, coconut milk and sugar, and stir.

3. Cover and cook on low for three to four hours, until the rice is tender. If cooking in a heavy based pan, it will be worth checking that the rice doesn't dry out as it cooks every now and then. If it does, add more milk.

4. Make the raspberry sauce. Place raspberries, icing sugar and 50ml of water in a food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth.

5. Spoon the raspberry sauce into bowls, and top with rice pudding. Sprinkle with whole raspberries and add a sprig of mint.

Slow cooker chocolate cake

Slow cooker chocolate cake

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This super tasty chocolate cake is one of the most indulgent slow cooker recipes around – and we can't get enough of it.

You will need:

  • Dark chocolate, powdered in a food processor, or dark chocolate powder, 100 grams
  • Plain flour, 150 grams
  • Plain Greek yoghurt, 200 grams
  • Sugar, two to four tablespoons, to taste
  • A teaspoon of melted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
  • A teaspoon of baking soda

Method:

1. Grease the inner bowl of your slow cooker with butter. 

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the chocolate, yoghurt, and sugar, mix together well.

3. Fold in the flour gradually to avoid lumps. 

4. Add the melted butter and baking soda.

5. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker bowl. Cook on low for three hours. Serve with cream or ice cream. 

Slow cooker raspberry upside down cake

Got yourself a slow cooker and thinking... 'cake'? This one is easy, delicious and light

You will need:

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

For 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 tea-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.

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