Slow-cooker recipes are a lazy cook's dream: just toss the ingredients into the pot, turn it on, and do your thing for the rest of the day. When you come back, a warm, delicious meal will be ready and waiting for you. Most of these recipes are so easy they're virtually impossible to mess up, but for the kitchen newbies out there, these Crock-Pot recipes with only three ingredients are a great place to begin your foray into the slow cooker world.
Although they're a staple item in many American kitchens these days, slow cookers haven't actually been around very long in the grand scheme of things. According to CNET, the ancestor of the modern-day Crock-Pot dates back to 1936, when the inventor Irving Naxon applied for a patent for a portable cooking device that housed the crock, aka the pot, with its own heating element. Naxon said he was inspired by one of his grandmother's recipes, which involved cooking food at a low heat for several hours.
Naxon's invention, called the Naxon Beanery, went to market in the '50s. In 1970, he sold the design to Rival Manufacturing, which rebranded it as the Crock-Pot, and the rest is culinary history.
Thanks to the Internet, slow cooker recipes are easier than ever to come by. Here are 13 recipes that only have three ingredients, making them the perfect weeknight dinner.
1Root Beer BBQ Pulled Pork
The Comfort of Cooking's recipe for BBQ pulled pork is insanely easy and filling.
2Maple Apple Cider
You can add pomegranate or oranges to this Half Baked Harvest recipe to spice it up, but the main ingredients are apples, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Just add water and you'll have a warm winter treat within a few hours.
3Slow-Cooker Cocktail Meatballs
Try these three-ingredient meatballs from Mom on Time Out for your next party.
43-Ingredient Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cake
Willow Bird Baking's recipe for pumpkin cake takes advantage of boxed spice cake mix. Add pumpkin puree and butter, and you have a delicious dessert.
5Beer Cheese Dip
This beer cheese dip from A Spicy Perspective is perfect for game day (or any occasion, honestly).
6Sweet & Tangy Meatballs
This meatball recipe from Table for Two is super cheap and easy.
7Slow Cooker Queso Dip
Once you've made this slow cooker queso dip from The Kitchn, grab some tortilla chips and enjoy. Or just spoon it into your mouth — no judgment.
8Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese
Technically, The Kitchn's recipe for slow cooker macaroni and cheese has a little more than three ingredients, but they can be divided into three categories: Noodles, cheese, and spices.
9Slow-Cooker Whole Chicken
It doesn't get any simpler than The Kitchn's recipe for cooking a whole chicken in a Crock-Pot.
10Mini BBQ Pork Sliders
This recipe for barbecue pork sliders calls for any soda you'd like, or swap it out for beer.
11Slow Cooker Kalua Pig
Meat is a popular option for slow cooker recipes, and for good reason. Check out this three-ingredient recipe for Kalua pig from Nom Nom Paleo.
Applesauce doesn't have to be store bought. Make your own with this recipe from The Kitchn, which has three main ingredients: apples, lemon juice, and salt. Add water and enjoy.
The three big ingredients in Food Fanatic's slow cooker mashed potatoes are butter, onion, and of course, potatoes. Herbs like garlic and parsley make it especially delicious.