If you haven’t discovered the magic of slow cookers yet, you’re missing out big time. Slow cookers give you the chance to throw in a few ingredients into the pot, and a few hours later you have a complete meal. In other words, you’ll avoid long prep times. Instead, your prep time will be anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. The hard work is all left to the slow cooker.

Slow cooker recipes are great for people with very busy schedules who don’t really have the time to cook balanced or elaborate meals. Many people with busy schedules tend to rely on takeout or frozen meals. That leads to missing out on nutrients.

Explore these delicious slow cooker recipes below, and you’ll be on your way to lightening speed cooking! BONUS: The clean up after using a slow cooker is also extremely fast!

Honey Garlic Chicken

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Servings: 4 / Prep time: 5 minutes / Cook time: 4 hours

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons chili paste sambal oelek, sriracha, or hot sauce of choice
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For Serving:

Prepared brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice
Toasted sesame seeds
Chopped green onion

Instructions:

Place the chicken in the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. In a medium mixing bowl or very large measuring cup, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, tomato paste, chili paste, garlic, and rice vinegar. Pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours or HIGH for 2 to 3 hours, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. If you are available, flip the chicken over once halfway through to coat both sides. (If not, don’t stress; it will still be tasty.)

Remove the chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Whisk the cornstarch into the slow cooker cooking liquid. Cover and cook on HIGH for 15 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. If you'd like the sauce particularly thick, you can cook it for a full 30 minutes in the slow cooker OR follow the stovetop method below.

For quicker sauce thickening, reduce the sauce on the stove: After whisking in the cornstarch, transfer the cooking liquid to a medium saucepan. Cook on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring often until the sauce thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. (If your slow cooker insert is stovetop safe, you can remove it from the slow cooker and place it directly on the burner, but do not do this unless you are POSITIVE your insert is stovetop safe or it may crack.)

With two forks (or your fingers if the chicken is cool enough), shred the chicken and place it in the slow cooker. If you reduced the sauce on the stove, add it back to the slow cooker now. Stir to coat the chicken with the sauce. Serve over rice, sprinkled with green onions and sesame seeds.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

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Servings: 6 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 4 hours

Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
half an onion, diced
2–3 cloves garlic, minced
a sprig of fresh rosemary (sub a small pinch of dried herbs)
a spring of fresh thyme (sub a small pinch of dried herbs)
32 oz chicken broth
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
1 package frozen peas and carrots (2–3 cups)
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup of heavy cream
3 tablespoons cornstarch
fresh chopped parsley
1 thawed sheet of puff pastry

Instructions:

Slow Cook: Place the chicken, salt and pepper, onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, broth, potato, and pea/carrot mix in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours. Remove the chicken, shred, and return to the pot. Remove the herb sprigs and discard.

Make it Creamy: Whisk the flour and cream together until smooth. Add to the slow cooker. Keep on high heat for another hour or so. For a thicker soup, whisk the cornstarch with a little bit of cold water and add it to warm soup in the slow cooker.
Bake the Puff Toppers: Cut your puff pastry into triangles, circles, or hearts! Bake as directed (we did 375 for 10-15 minutes).

Serve: Stir the parsley into the soup to add a little fresh color. Divide the soup among bowls and top with the puff pastry.

Pasta e Fagioli

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Servings: 6 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (4.4 ounce) package diced pancetta
1/2 large onion chopped
4 sticks celery chopped
3 medium carrots chopped or sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 (28 fluid ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
4 dashes Italian seasoning
4 cups chicken broth/stock
1 (15 fluid ounce) can red kidney beans drained
1 (15 fluid ounce) can white kidney beans drained
1 cup pasta (ditalini or macaroni)
Salt & pepper to taste
Shaved parmesan cheese optional, for serving

Instructions:

Add the pancetta to a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté until it starts to get crispy. I like to prepare the other veggies while doing this step.
Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the garlic, followed by the diced tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Be sure to scrape up the brown bits. Let it bubble until the liquid is noticeably reduced (stir occasionally) to help concentrate the flavor. This should take 8-10 minutes or so.

Add the chicken broth and beans to the pot. Increase the heat to high. Once the soup is boiling, add the pasta.

Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is nice and tender. I suggest stirring every few minutes so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Season soup with salt & pepper as needed (the soup should be fairly salty already). This soup is delicious served with some shaved parmesan!

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

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Servings: 36 meatballs / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 pounds organic ground chicken(pasture-raised preferred)
2 cloves garlic , minced
1 yellow onion , finely diced
2 stalks organic celery , finely diced
1 large jalapeno , seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
1 organic, pastured egg
2 teaspoons organic coconut flour
1/4 cup all natural Buffalo Sauce , plus 1 cup (I recommend Tessemae's brand)
salt and pepper , to taste
scallions , for garnish
blue cheese (optional)

Instructions:

In a large glass bowl, combine the ground chicken with garlic, onions, celery, jalapeno, eggs, coconut flour and 1/4 cup of buffalo sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Optional: if you want to add blue cheese, I recommend 1/4 cup here.

Using your hands, thoroughly combine the meatball mixture together and form into small meatballs (about the equivalent of 2-4 bites). Don't worry if the meat is a little sticky or if your meatballs aren't perfectly smooth--they'll cook up evenly under the broiler. Arrange the meatballs evenly on a baking sheet.

Turn on your broiler to high (~550F) and place the baking sheet with the meatballs on the second rack. Broil for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and using tongs, flip the meatballs over. Broil for another 10 minutes. If you need to use 2 baking sheets, broil the meatballs in batches to ensure even cooking.

Place the broiled meatballs into your slow cooker and cover with the remaining buffalo sauce. I often do this in layers to ensure the meatballs are evenly coated. Turn your slow cooker on low heat for at least 2 hours.
Serve the meatballs directly from the slow cooker, topping with chopped scallions and optional blue cheese garnish. If you're serving the meatballs at a party and want them to sit out, turn your slow cooker to warm and they'll save all night. Enjoy!

Pulled Pork Gyros

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Prep time: 20 minutes / Cook time: 8 hours

Ingredients:

3 1/2 lb boneless pork shoulder, 1.5 kg
1/2 cup orange juice
1 lemon, juice only
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 tbsp greek spice rub
For the Greek Rub:
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground rosemary
2 tsp ground coriander, cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
6 tsp dried oregano
4 tsp dried thyme
3 tsp salt
3 tsp ground black pepper
3 tsp paprika
3 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp sugar

Instructions:

Combine the greek spice rub ingredients. This recipe makes more than you'll need for this pulled pork recipe. Store the leftovers in an airtight container. You can use it for all kinds of meat, in salads, or to season vegetables.

Trim any excess fat from pork shoulder if necessary. Rub the meat with 4-6 tbsp of the spice mixture and place it in a slow cooker. Top with minced garlic.

In a small bowl, combine orange juice, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. Pour the mixture over the meat and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours (or on high for 5 hours).

When the meat is fork tender and can be easily shredded take it out of the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Add as much as you like from the remaining liquid in the slow cooker to the shredded pork.

Four Cheese Mac and Cheese

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Servings: 8-10 / Prep time: 20 minutes / Cook time: 2 hours and 35 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound medium elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups grated American cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 cups whole milk
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Instructions:
Place macaroni, 1 cup cheddar cheese, American cheese, cream cheese and Parmesan into a 4-qt slow cooker.
Stir in milk, evaporated milk, Dijon, paprika and onion powder, making sure the macaroni is submerged as much as possible; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Cover and cook on low heat for 90 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes, stirring every hour until tender and creamy.* Uncover and stir in remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese until melted, about 2-3 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed.
Serve immediately, garnished with chives, if desired.

Thai Chicken and Noodles

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Servings: 6 / Prep time: 15 mins / Cook time: 4 hours

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cubed
Salt and pepper, to taste
14 oz light coconut milk
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 white onion, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
1 green pepper, sliced
6 thai chili peppers, seeded
8 oz dry rice noodles
Juice of 1 lime
4 sprigs green onion, to top
1/4 cup bean sprouts, to top
1/4 cup cilantro, to top
1 handful dry roasted peanuts, chopped, to top

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and saute until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken to the slow cooker.

Add in the coconut milk, red curry paste, peanut butter, chicken broth, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Give the pot a light stir. Then, add in the onion, garlic, ginger, green pepper, and thai chili peppers, and stir once more. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours.

About an hour before you’ve finished cooking (at the 3 hour mark), add the rice noodles to the crock pot and mix well. Continue to cook for another hour, or until sauce has thickened and the noodles have softened.

While you wait for the noodles to cook, slice your green onions in half, longways. Keep slicing until you have thin strips. Place the green onions in a bowl of ice water and let sit– this will make them curl up.

When the Thai Chicken and Noodles has finished cooking, remove it from the slow cooker and divide into bowls. Squeeze lime juice over them and garnish with the curled green onions, been sprouts, cilantro, and dry roasted peanuts. Serve warm.