12 Crockpot Recipes to Make for a Light and Easy Dinner

The easiest way to eat your best and stress less is to get friendly with your slow cooker. Nothing makes delicious and nutritious weekday meals simpler to prepare. Here are 12 light and easy weekday crockpot recipes, so you aren’t inclined to eat takeout every night of a hectic week.

1. Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms

chicken

Chicken dish | iStock.com

First up is an easy chicken dish from Slender Kitchen that tastes indulgent but is actually relatively low in calories and fat. The chicken will cook in your crockpot for four to six hours. And before that, all you need to do is throw your ingredients and seasonings in the slow cooker.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into larger chunks
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves, diced
  • 4 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 14 ounces fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1 bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup red wine (or chicken broth)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • Up to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup black olives

Head to Slender Kitchen for recipe directions.

2. White Bean Chicken Chili

white chicken chili

White bean chili | iStock.com

Chili can be mastered in the slow cooker and kept diet-friendly, too. And this recipe for white bean chicken chili from Six Sisters’ Stuff proves it. Most people think of ground beef when they dream about chili. But if you’re trying to keep things healthy, swap out your beef and instead enlist lean poultry. Even better, this recipe takes just 10 minutes or so to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Optional: 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups fat-free chicken broth
  • 1½ cups (6 ounces) low fat shredded cheese
  • Optional: fat-free sour cream and minced fresh cilantro

Check out the directions at Six Sisters’ Stuff.

3. Chickpea, Squash, and Red Lentil Stew

stew

Dish with butternut squash | iStock.com

Next time meatless Monday rolls around, make this Indian-inspired chickpea, squash, and red lentil stew from Eat, Live, Run. The easy vegan dish will set the tone for a week of healthy meals. Even better, the leftovers freeze well, so you can stash some healthy homemade food in the freezer for future lunches and dinners.

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled and chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt (to taste)
  • Fresh minced cilantro for serving

Read the full directions at Eat, Live, Run.

4. Vegetable Stew

Vegetable stew

Vegetable stew | iStock.com

Here’s another vegetarian recipe that can be perfected in your slow cooker: vegetable stew from Real Simple. Packed with fiber and plant protein from ingredients, such as carrots, turnips, and chickpeas, this dinner really can do no wrong. Just spend 15 minutes prepping everything in the morning, and you’ll have a nutritious meal waiting for you when you come home from work.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 large carrots, diagonally sliced into 2-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
  • 2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 zucchini, cut into ½-inch slices
  • 1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas, drain

Real Simple provides the recipe directions.

5. Healthified Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup | iStock.com

Conversely, if you want a warm, healthy crockpot meal but still desire some meat protein, you can always try this healthified chicken tortilla soup from The Skinny Fork. Is there anything better than hot soup studded with cubed chicken and homemade tortilla chips? Add a little cheese, and the answer is no. Each 1½-cup helping of this dish totals around 244 calories.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 10 ounces diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 14.5 ounces diced or whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup corn, thawed (if frozen)
  • 14.5 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • White corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Get the recipe directions at The Skinny Fork.

6. Vegetable and Chickpea Curry

curry

Curry | iStock.com

This next slow cooker recipe is another ode to vegetables. Cooking Light‘s vegetable and chickpea curry is a healthy dish that isn’t bland or boring, thanks to its complementary cocktail of ingredients and spices, along with the indulgent addition of coconut milk.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup (¼-inch-thick slices) carrot
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1½ cups cubed peeled baked potato
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup (1-inch cut) green beans
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 6 lemon wedges

Cooking Light has the directions.

7. Slow Cooker Beef Lettuce Wraps with Quick Pickles

beef lettuce wraps

Beef lettuce wraps | iStock.com

No one will believe you made these fresh-tasting beef lettuce wraps in the slow cooker. Ingredients, such as soy sauce, miso, and sesame oil, help give this meal “tenderizing moisture, umami depth, and savory personality,” according to Cooking Light. Start the pot roast in the slow cooker in the morning, and then whip up the quick pickles when you get home from work.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1½ teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
  • ½ cup unsalted beef stock
  • ¼ cup lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 11 tablespoons rice vinegar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon white miso (soybean paste)
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¾ cup thinly sliced English cucumber
  • ¾ cup julienne-cut carrot
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 Bibb lettuce leaves
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Get the complete recipe at Cooking Light.

8. Slow Cooked Jerk Pork with Caribbean Salsa

Mango Salsa in a bowl

Caribbean salsa to serve with jerk pork | iStock.com

Jerk seasoning, citrus flavors, and fresh mangoes and avocado come together for a light and easy dinner recipe from Skinny Taste. Boneless pork shoulder is slow-cooked all day, then paired with a homemade salsa. It can be served on its own or over brown rice. Each serving has 265 calories.

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

  • 3-pound boneless pork shoulder blade roast, lean, all fat removed
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons jerk seasoning, such as Walkerswood
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice

For the Caribbean salsa:

  • 1 Haas avocado, diced
  • 2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Skinny Taste has the instructions for this recipe.

9. Slow Cooker Black Beans and Chicken

black beans

Black beans | iStock.com

You don’t have to give up your favorite Tex-Mex flavors just because you’re on a diet. This slow cooker black beans and chicken recipe from Skinny Ms. has fewer than 300 calories per serving and is loaded with protein. Even better, with just four ingredients, it’s a cinch to prepare.

Serves: 9

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast (4 fillets)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 2 cups salsa of your choice
  • 8 whole wheat or low-carb tortillas

Visit Skinny Ms. for the complete instructions for this quick weeknight meal.

10. Hawaiian Slow Cooker Chicken

slow cooker chicken and peppers

Hawaiian slow cooker chicken | iStock.com

The island flavors in this light slow cooker meal will help you stay in beach-ready shape. Chicken is cooked with onions and colorful, healthy bell peppers, plus light soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Each serving has fewer than 300 calories and under 2 grams of fat. The recipe is from Hungry Girl.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sliced bell peppers (any color)
  • 4 cups sliced onion
  • 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks packed in juice (not drained)
  • 1¼-pound raw boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium/light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 1½ tablespoon cornstarch

Head to Hungry Girl to find out how to make this meal.

11. Harvest Time Chicken with Couscous

Chicken and couscous

Chicken and couscous | iStock.com

All you need are 30 minutes to prep this weeknight chicken dinner recipe from Taste of Home. This meal features healthy, filling ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, and tomatoes, plus low-fat chicken breast. Each 1⅓ cup serving has 351 calories and 3 grams of fat.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1¼ pounds), peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can (14½ ounces) stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup peach or mango salsa
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

For the couscous:

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous

Visit Taste of Home to get the complete recipe.

12. Middle Eastern Lamb Stew

Stew Moroccan Lamb Tagine in white bowl

Lamb stew | iStock.com

Lamb’s relatively high price tag causes many home cooks to steer clear of the meat. But this recipe from Eating Well calls for cheaper lamb shoulder, not more expensive lamb leg. The former can withstand the long slow cooking time in the crockpot, while the latter would dry out. Add in fresh spinach; spices, such as cumin and coriander; and canned chickpeas, and you have the makings of light but filling meal with just 253 calories per 1-cup serving.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds boneless lamb stew meat (shoulder cut), or 2½ pounds lamb shoulder chops, trimmed, deboned, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup reduced-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 (15- or 19-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 ounces baby spinach

Check out Eating Well to find out how to make this recipe.

Additional reporting by Emily Coyle.

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