It’s easy to get stuck in your cooking routine. We are all guilty of it, making the same dishes week after week and season after season. While most of us cook chili, soup, or pot roast in our slow cooker, there is a whole world of recipes out there that are also great for slow cookers. Everything from fondue to party mix can be cooked – and even sometimes served – in the crock. We’ve compiled some of our favorite slow cooker hacks that will hopefully get you experimenting in the kitchen and experiencing the versatility of your favorite kitchen appliance.
Slow Cooker as a Fondue Pot
If you don’t have a fancy fondue set, you can still enjoy this decadent dessert using a small slow cooker. Dip your fruit or pound cake right into the slow cooker or scoop the chocolate mixture into a bowl and surround it with assorted dippers like strawberries, pineapple, banana, angel food or pound cake, pretzels, marshmallows or cookies. Try our decadent Chocolate Fondue.
Slow Cooker for Snacks
You can also use your slow cooker to make snacks. Our Slow Cooker Cereal Party Mix is the perfect example. Find your favorite corn, rice, or wheat square cereal and put them into the slow cooker with pretzels, nuts, and cheesy crackers. Stir and cover the mixture with melted butter and various spices and cook. Let the mixture cool on parchment paper and serve in a huge bowl for the perfect game-day snack or separate into smaller portions and bag for the kid’s school lunches.
Slow Cooker for Baking
There’s no need to turn on the stove and heat up the house in order to bake. Let your slow cooker help. These overnight slow cooker cinnamon rolls are prepared the night before. The dough rises in the refrigerator overnight and makes for a sweet, fluffy, pull-apart breakfast.
Slow Cooker as a Punch Bowl
While most people think of cooking food in their slow cookers, they also function as a great serving vessel for hot drinks. Not only will your house smell amazing while the drink stays warm, you don’t have to worry about making multiple batches so everyone gets a hot drink. The concoction will stay warm throughout the night and your guests can serve themselves right out of the crock. Serve our Hot Buttered Rum at a party this holiday season.
Slow Cooker for Caramelizing
Did you know you could caramelize food in your slow cooker? We caramelized onions for our delectable French Onion Soup. Caramelizing onions in the slow cooker creates the chemical reaction similar to stovetop caramelization, but without having to babysit the onions as they cook down. You simply slice the onions, either by hand or by a MUCH easier, quicker method – with a food processor, and place in the slow cooker crock. You can even add a little sugar if you want a sweeter caramelization. Use the onions for soup right away, or divide into smaller portions and freeze to use in recipes later.
Slow Cooker for Warming Candy Melts
Add crafting to the list of things slow cookers can make a little easier in your household. We made spooky Halloween marshmallow pops with the help of a small slow cooker. You can either warm candy melts on the stovetop and transfer them to the slow cooker to keep warm, or melt them in the slow cooker. The slow cooker provides for easy dipping and the entire family can get in the Halloween spirit decorating these festive pops.
Slow Cooker for Purees and Butters
We know canned purees and butters are easy to use and taste fine, but in our eyes, nothing beats homemade. Puree is actually quite easy to make at home, especially in a slow cooker. Try our Slow Cooker Pumpkin Puree for a great addition to soups, breads and pies. Making Apple-Pumpkin Butter takes a little longer, but we promise it is well worth the effort. It is done over two days, first making applesauce in the slow cooker then cooking pumpkin puree down until it turns into a rich, concentrated butter.
Slow Cooker for Quick, Easy Breakfast
Most people leave their slow cookers on the kitchen counter during the day while they wait for their delicious meal to be done just in time for dinner. What most people don’t realize is slow cookers can be a great appliance for quick breakfasts. Our Overnight Cranberry Apple Steel-Cut Oatmeal cooks in the slow cooker while you sleep, so all you have to do in the morning is scoop it out, serve and enjoy. Premixing ingredients for a breakfast casserole in your slow cooker crock and chilling overnight makes for easy prep in the morning and serving from the slow cooker make for even easier cleanup. Try our Slow Cooker Breakfast Sausage Casserole the next time you have overnight guests.
Slow Cooker for Desserts
Say goodbye to dry, crumbly cake. While slow cookers are generally used for chili, soups and stews, they also are a great option for making desserts. Our triple chocolate cake and chocolate cherry pineapple dump cake are both made in the slow cooker. You won’t believe how moist the final product is.
Slow Cooker as a Slow Roaster
If we have a big protein like a whole turkey or a pork roast on the menu, generally we immediately think to put it in the oven. However, slow cookers are great for cooking meat and poultry. Using the slow cooker locks in the juices, giving you a tender, moist results. Try our Slow Cooker Herb Turkey Breast. It delivers big on taste but is perfect for small gatherings.
Slow Cooker for Cooking Pasta
No need to wait for water to boil. We started with raw pasta shells and made slow cooker stuffed shells with spinach from start to finish in the slow cooker. Our classic and south of the border lasagnas are also cooked in the slow cooker.
Slow Cooker as a Gift Basket
Slow cookers don’t only have to be used for cooking – they also make a great gift basket. Fill the slow cooker with ingredients, dish towels, and cooking utensils and give the lucky recipient all the tools they need to make a great meal in their new slow cooker.
Slow Cooker for Browning and Searing
Some of our slow cookers are equipped with stove top-safe cookware. If a recipe calls for searing or browning before cooking, you can simply remove the crock and put it directly onto the stovetop before placing it back in the slow cooker base to finish cooking. The roast for our family-style pot roast with egg noodles was seared first. You can sear and cook using the same vessel, limiting the amount of cleanup.
What would I ever do with out one? Great for many uses.
So many clever ideas I had never thought about! Love the caramelized onions and the cranberry oatmeal! Will have to try them!
Does anyone else notice the turkey breast is shaped like a heart? These slow cooker hacks are the way to my heart, that’s for sure!
Thanks, Sarah! I have a large crockpot that my husband uses, but after reading your blog, I may get a small one just for steel cut oats. I love them, but seldom make them because our gas stove does not have a simmer and I ruin them every time because I don’t like to stand over the pot and stir the whole time.
I can’t wait to try the oatmeal recipe, it looks delicious! Thanks so much for the great tips, who knew?