10 Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes

Plus one mind-blowing dessert!

Getting a delicious, healthy meal doesn’t have to entail hours in the kitchen. Instead, get yourself some fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients, throw them in a slow cooker and relax until it’s done. Now we’re talking! Try these easy slow cooker recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There’s even one for dessert (OK, that one’s not so nutritious, but a little indulgence is good for the soul, right?).

QUIZ: Did You Eat Pretty Today?

1Breakfast: Maple Pear Walnut Oatmeal

by Kathy Hester, author of The Vegan Slow Cooker and Healthy Slow Cooking blog

Why we love it:
Oatmeal can help lower cholesterol, may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes, and help reduce blood pressure with its soluable fiber. Plus, walnuts are a great source of omega-3!

1/2 cup steel-cut oats
2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (you can use water instead)
1 pear, chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
sweetener of choice, to taste (1/4 tsp stevia)

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
fresh grated nutmeg
drizzle of maple syrup (optional)

The night before: Spray your cooker with some oil to make clean-up easier. Add all ingredients, except the sweetener and toppings. Cook on low overnight for 7 to 9 hours.

In the morning: Stir oatmeal and add sweetener. It may seem watery at the top, but if stirred, it should be a more uniform consistency. Top with walnuts and a sprinkle of fresh grated nutmeg. Makes 2 to 3 servings

**Please note this recipe uses a smaller slow cooker 1 1/2 to 2 quarts

MORE: Stress-Free (Healthy!) Leftover Solutions

2Breakfast: Keri’s Slow Cooker Breakfast Burrito

by Keri Glassman

Why we love it:
In addition to adding some zip, capsaicin is a healthy substance in cayenne pepper that can help reduce pain, benefit our cardio health and prevent ulcers. Plus, lean turkey is a great source of protein, which can help you eat fewer calories during the day.

1¼ pounds lean, ground turkey
12 ounces diced tomatoes
1 jalapeño, diced and seeded
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
¼ teaspoon ground chipotle
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas

1. Add in all ingredients besides tortillas to a 2-quart slow cooker. Stir, making sure that the turkey is not clumped together.

2. Cook on low for 8 hours. Make sure to stir before serving.

3. Serve inside of an 8-inch whole-wheat tortilla, with your favorite toppings, like salsa and Greek yogurt! Makes 4 servings.

MORE: Slim Down With These Breakfasts

3Lunch: Butternut Squash Soup

by Stephanie O’Dea, NYT Best-Selling Author of the Make It Fast, Cook It Slow and Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life

Why we love it:
This rich, velvety, full-of-flavor soup tastes as if it has gobs of butter and cream in it. But it doesn’t! Squash is loaded with vitamin A and vitamin C, making this a perfectly healthy choice for lunch.

Click to see the recipe.

1 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small medium onions, or 2 tablespoons onion flakes
4 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
2 small apples (fuji), peeled and cubed
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Cut the squash in half long ways. If you microwave the entire squash for 2 to 5 minutes on high, the skin will soften, but you will still need to use a pretty powerful knife. If you can find already peeled and cubed butternut squash, use that.

2. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Brush olive oil on the inside of the squash and roast it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until you can peel the skin away from the flesh.

3. Plug in your slow cooker and turn to high. Add the broth, and the onion and apple. Stir in the spices. Cover to let heat.

4. When the squash has finished roasting, add it to the pot. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours.

5. Blend in small batches with a blender, or carefully blend with a hand-held blender.

COLUMN: Youth-Boosting Squash Soup

4Lunch: BBQ Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

by Rachel Brandeis, M.S., R.D.

Why we love it:
Pork tenderloin is just as lean as chicken. Serve these sandwiches with a tossed green salad for a simple, balanced meal.

1 trimmed 1 pound pork tenderloin
1/2 thinly sliced white onion
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
whole wheat sandwich buns

Cover bottom of slow cooker with sliced onions, place tenderloin on top and cover with BBQ sauce. Cook on low setting for 7-8 hours (make ahead the night before for lunch). Take tenderloin out, shred with two forks and add back to sauce and onions. Serve on whole-wheat buns.

READ MORE: Have a Healthier BBQ

5Slow Cooker Squished Squash

by Jim Perko, C.E.C and Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D.

Why we love it:
Butternut squash is low in fat, high in fiber and a delicious heart-healthy choice for any meal.

1.5 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, medium dice
1 large Fuji apple, medium dice
2 tablespoon golden raisins
½ cup orange juice

Place ingredients into the slow cooker, except for the raisin. Place them in the middle so they will not burn. Cook on high temperature for 2 hours. Makes 8 Servings – Serving Size: ½ cup

MORE: Heart-Healthy Recipes from Dr. Oz & Dr. Roizen

6Dinner: Balsamic Chicken and Spring Vegetables

by Stephanie O’Dea

Why we love it:
Did you know that yellow bell peppers are chock-full of vitamin C? In fact, a large one contains 569 percent of your daily recommended intake. Your immune system will thank you for this recipe!

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 zucchinis, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 yellow squash, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, peeled and sliced into rings
1 head garlic, peeled, cloves intact
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Use a 6-quart slow cooker and add the chicken. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped vegetables, garlic cloves, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Pour this mixture on top of the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours. Serve with brown rice or quinoa. Makes 6 servings.

MORE: Top Ten Healthy Cooking Tips

7Vegetable Stew over a Bed of Quinoa

by Gale Compton, founder and cookbook author, Skinny Ms.

Why we love it:
Quinoa is often referred to as being one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom. It’s rich in fiber and has a low glycemic index, which is perfect for those of us wishing to ditch a few pounds.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small sweet onion, sliced into thin rings
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cups baby carrots, peeled, cut in half
2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1” cubes
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Kosher or sea salt to taste
2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
2 sprigs fresh thyme, remove stem and discard
1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cups organic baby spinach, chopped and loosely packed
1 cup uncooked white quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water

In a small skillet, add olive oil, turn to medium-low heat and sauté onion until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and continue sautéing one additional minute. Add onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, bay leaf, black pepper and salt to slow cooker, cover and cook on low approximately 8 hours.  During the last 15 minutes of cooking time, add thyme and parsley.

In the meantime, add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan, cover, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and cover until stew is ready to serve.

Turn off slow cooker, add spinach and cover until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove bay leaf, stir and serve over a bed of quinoa. Makes 6 servings.

MORE: Is Too Much Protein Bad?

8Dinner: Momma’s Downhome Turkey Chili

by Gale Compton

Why we love it:
Scoop yourself some of this chili and you’ll get 19 grams of lean, muscle-building protein and tons of antioxidants, which can lower your risk of certain types of cancer.

1 pound lean ground turkey breast, approximately 93% lean
1 yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, no salt
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste, no salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
Kosher or sea salt to taste
2 cups water

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cook turkey mixture in a large skillet on medium heat, breaking up turkey into small pieces, cook until no longer pink.  Drain off any fat, add turkey to slow cooker along with all remaining ingredients. Add cooked meat and all other above ingredients to slow cooker, cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Add additional water toward the end of cooking time, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

MORE RECIPES: Vegetarian Chili

9Vegetarian Chili with a Chickpea and Quinoa Twist

by Keri Glassman

Why we love it:
This vegetarian-friendly chili is hearty enough to pass the test with meat lovers. The quinoa and lentils pack a protein, fiber and antioxidant punch, and the butternut squash and pumpkin add a nice taste of fall while helping to ramp up your immune system for the winter ahead.

2 quarts of boiling water
½ cup of lentils
½ cup dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon ground red pepper
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ½ cups fat-free, lower-sodium vegetable broth
½ cup water
1 (28-ounce) can of whole, crushed tomatoes, not drained
2 cups butternut squash, chopped and peeled
2 cups pumpkin, chopped and peeled
6 cups cooked quinoa


1. Put 2 quarts of boiling water into a saucepan with lentils and chickpeas, cover. Leave for 1 hour before draining, and then add them to a 6-quart slow cooker.

2. After heating a large skilled on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan, being sure to coat it evenly. Add in the onion, sautéing it for 4 minutes and stirring a few times.

3. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, while stirring continuously.

4. Incorporate the tomato paste, as well as the red pepper, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Sauté for 30 seconds while stirring.

5. Add the onion and garlic mixture into the slow cooker. Pour in the vegetable broth and add the water and tomatoes in and cook in the slow cooker on high for 8 hours.

6. Add the rest of the oil (should be 1 tablespoon) to a large skillet on medium-high heat, again being sure to coat the pan.

7. Sauté pumpkin and butternut squash for 5 minutes, then add it to the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 1 hour.

8. Once it is done, serve over quinoa. Makes 8 servings.

RECIPE: Chili Mac ‘n’ Cheese

10Lentil and Kale Soup

by Jim Perko, C.E.C and Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D.

Why we love it:
Kale has been called the “queen of greens” and one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. And rightly so. It’s loaded with vitamin A, C and K, and it’s touted as an anti-cancer food that also helps lower cholesterol while reducing the risk of heart disease.

1 cup red lentils
2 cups onions, chopped
2 cups leeks, chopped, white part only
1 ½ teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon cumin
1 ½ cups celery, chopped
1 ½ cups carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups sweet potatoes, small dice
3 cups chopped tomatoes (or 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes)
6 cups water & 4 tablespoon natural vegetable base (or 6 cups vegetable stock)
1/8 cup tomato paste
4 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tablespoon hot sauce
3 cups kale, blanched and chopped

In a sauté pan on medium heat, add olive oil and sauté onions until transparent add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Place sautéed onion, garlic and remaining ingredients into the slow cooker, stir well and cover. Cook on high temperature for 4 hours. Serve with cooked kale on the side. Makes 12 servings.

RECIPE: Chia Lentils Recipe

11Dessert: Hot Fudge Sundae Cake with Cocoa Whipped Cream

by Beth Hensperger, author of Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook

Why we love it:
Chocolate. And pudding. And whipped cream. Say no more!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pudding Top
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Cocoa Whipped Cream
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (8-ounces) cold heavy whipping cream

1. Spray the slow cooker with butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, granulated sugar, 2 tbs cocoa, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and stir in milk, oil and vanilla with a few strokes until just smooth. With a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the crock and smooth to make an even layer. Combine the brown sugar, cocoa powder and espresso powder in a small bowl; pour in the boiling water and beat until smooth with a whisk. Gently pour over the batter; don’t stir.

2. Cover and cook on high for 1 3/4-2 1/4 hours, until a bamboo skewer or metal cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, and the cake is firm on top when pressed with your finger. While baking, combine the sugar and cocoa in a mixing bowl and stir with a whisk. Pour in the cold cream and stir with the whisk until mixed and no lump. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to dissolve the sugar.

3. Turn off machine. Remove the lid and let cake stand uncovered for about 30 minutes to cool to warm and thicken the fudge sauce. With an electric mixer, whip the cream to soft peaks. Makes 2 cups.

4. To serve, scoop the warm cake into individual bowls and spoon a few tablespoons of sauce. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry. Serve immediately. It is just as good room temperature or chilled. Makes 6 servings.

MORE: Eat Dessert for Breakfast?