Although slow cookers are obviously not seasonable and can — and should — be used year-round, there's no doubt that they are best during the winter. Harsh, cold weather means you want to come home and cuddle up with a warm meal, not come home and cook for an hour. These winter Crock-Pot recipes let you do just that, and no, it's not too good to be true. For those who aren't aware, the Crock-Pot is one of the best kitchen appliances ever to be invented. If your end goal for the day is to come home to a delicious homemade meal that is ready the moment you walk in the door, but you have no one to cook it for you, you need a Crock-Pot in your life.
Crock-Pots allow you to prepare your food in the morning (or even the night before, depending on what meal you're trying to make), then they slowly cook that food for the next six to eight hours while you're busy sleeping, getting things done, going to school, or working. This slow cooking makes the Crock-Pot perfect for things like soup and stew, but they certainly shouldn't be limited to that.
A slow cooker makes it worth it to wake up a little bit earlier than normal to prepare dinner for later on. Coming home to an enticing smell and the fact that dinner is already ready for you is hard to beat, especially on a very cold day. Need help thinking of some recipe options? Here are 20 winter Crock-Pot recipes you need to try before the season is over.
1. Tomato, Kale, and Quinoa Soup
Slow cookers are ideal for soup because they really allow the flavors of the ingredients to blend together. This tomato, kale, and quinoa soup from Damn Delicious is hearty, filling, warming, vegetarian, and good for you to boot.
2. Crock-Pot Italian Chicken and Broccoli Rabe Chili
Similar to soups, slow cookers are also obviously perfect for making chili. And how can you resist this one? This chicken and broccoli rabe chili from Half-Baked Harvest is certainly unique, but it also sounds incredible. Let the flavors mix together all day long for a dinner that will feel practically gourmet.
3. Slow Cooker Short Rib Sauce with Bucatini
Step up your Sunday pasta night with this slow cooker recipe from How Sweet It Is. Breathe in the amazing scent of sauce cooking all day, which will obviously make you drool everywhere, then eat it with pasta at night. That is the true definition of #SundayFunday, guys.
4. Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie
One of the first recipes I ever think of when I think of winter dishes is pot pie. It's warming, it's hearty, and it's super filling. Chicken pot pie can be a little intimidating to some, but the Crock-Pot element of this recipe from Damn Delicious makes it much more simple — and faster — than you would think.
5. Cinnamon Apples
If you're looking for a quick, tasty, not-too-sugary dessert for the weekdays, look no further. These cinnamon apples made in the slow cooker from A Spicy Perspective are so good and so easy. They take two to four hours, and are very versatile. Eat them on their own, pour them over ice cream, add them to your oatmeal in the morning, or sprinkle granola over them.
6. Crock-Pot Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup
Take advantage of the season of squash with this very warming soup. It's hard to find something wrong with this recipe from Half-Baked Harvest. From hearty Indian flavors to perfectly cooked pork, it's awesome. It's also great if you're having friends over for dinner, because it's impressive looking.
7. Chicken Tortilla Soup
Ah. What sounds better than coming home on a really cold day and eating a bowl of flavorful chicken tortilla soup? This recipe from Back To Her Roots is simple but delicious. It's also great to save for lunches during the week.
8. Wassail Recipe
Crock-Pots are for more than just dinner — you can also use them to make drinks. This warming drink from A Spicy Perspective is great for a party or just for yourself. Add alcohol if you need to!
9. Crock-Pot French Onion Soup with Cheesy French Toast
Yes, you can even make French onion soup in a Crock-Pot. While you obviously have to make the cheesy toast separately, this is still a great dinner to come home to, or to make on the weekends. This Half-Baked Harvest recipe even includes a stovetop alternative in case you want to skip the whole slow cooker part one day.
10. Slow Cooker Baked Oatmeal with Bananas and Nuts
As we've already established, the Crock-Pot is for way more than just dinner. It's also a great way to have breakfast ready for you the moment you wake up. Slow cookers make delicious, creamy oatmeal. This recipe from Foodie Crush mixes your oatmeal with bananas and nuts, but you can really add whatever fruit and toppings you'd like.
11. Buffalo Chicken Dip
The Super Bowl is coming up, meaning you need to have a clutch appetizer recipe on hand. But really, you don't need an excuse for something as awesome as this dip from Foodie Crush. It's a great dish to take with you to a party because it's so easy to prepare.
12. Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin
Impress the heck out of everyone with this bacon wrapped pork loin recipe from Damn Delicious. It could not be more simple, but it's the perfect thing to come home to on a cold winter day.
13. Slow Cooker French Dip Panini
If you have the extra time to make a panini, you should try this recipe from Good Life Eats. You can even start it in the morning for a fancy weekend lunch. You'll basically feel like a chef when you're done.
14. Crock-Pot Caramel Apple Crumble
Use your Crock-Pot to make dessert for those extra chilly nights. This caramel apple crumble recipe from How Sweet It Is is a great way to use up the apples still leftover from the fall. Add ice cream or whipped cream, or go crazy and add both.
15. Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
Corn may seem like more of a summer food, but when you put it in a savory soup like this one, it becomes perfect for winter weather. This recipe from Foodie Crush mixes corn with bacon and potatoes for a thick chowder you won't be able to stop eating.
16. Beef and Mushroom Pot Roast
Few main entrees scream "winter!" more than pot roast. This recipe from Natasha's Kitchen, made with mushrooms and cream, is thick and hearty and filling. It will change the way you think of pot roast. I'm pretty confident about that.
17. Crock-Pot Chicken and Dumplings
OK wait, maybe I've changed my mind: few entrees scream "winter!" more than chicken and dumplings. This recipe from How Sweet It Is really puts your slow cooker to good use with dumplings that will make chicken soup even better than you remember it.
18. Chicken Parmesan Caserole
Is doesn't get much more comforting than chicken parmesan. Make a casserole version of the popular Italian dish in your Crock-Pot with this recipe from House Of Yumm. It couldn't be easier, and it's great for Sunday dinner.
19. Crock-Pot BBQ Beer Pulled Chicken with Cheddar Corn Popovers
OK, so while the popovers clearly are not made in the Crock-Pot, the chicken is — and that's kind of the real star. This recipe from Half-Baked Harvest is perfect for a Super Bowl party, or honestly, any other day of the year.
20. Slow Cooker Cheesy Breakfast Potatoes
Who doesn't love homemade breakfast potatoes in the morning? The only downside is that making them can take forever, and your breakfast will quickly turn to brunch. Use the slow cooker to make them while you sleep. This recipe from Damn Delicious includes savory sausage, but you can always leave that out for something vegetarian if needed.
For more ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.