Slow cookers are often used during the winter to prepare hearty and warm dishes. However, your slow cooker doesn’t need to sit on a shelf gathering dust during the summer. You can prepare delectable, make-ahead meals that are oozing with fresh and simple ingredients. Use these seven slow-cooker recipes to prepare easy summertime dishes your whole family will enjoy.
1. Sweet and Sour Chicken
Fresh ginger creates a light and savory dish by sweetening the chicken. CookingLight‘s recipe, which yields six servings, contains 332 calories and 3.4 grams of fat. You won’t believe how easy it is to prepare this delectable dish!
- 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 (8-ounce) cans pineapple chunks in juice, drained
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 3 cups hot cooked white rice
Directions: Combine the first twelve ingredients in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours. Serve over rice.
2. Pulled Pork with Bourbon-Peach Sauce
This My Recipes pulled pork tastes exactly how a summer meal should. The bourbon-peach sauce pulls this mouthwatering meal together, while the seasonings create an outdoor smoked barbecue flavor. The recipe, which serves twelve, contains 206 calories and 5.9 grams of fat per serving.
- 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (3 ½-pound) bone-in pork shoulder roast (Boston butt), trimmed
- Cooking spray
- ½ cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- ⅓ cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ cup peach preserves
- 2 cups vertically sliced onion
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Directions: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper; rub evenly over pork. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Place pork in a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Add stock and next four ingredients (through crushed red pepper) to skillet; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add preserves, stirring with a whisk. Pour mixture over pork; top with onion and garlic. Cover and cook on low 6 ½ hours or until pork is very tender. Remove pork from pan, reserving liquid; cool slightly. Shred with 2 forks. Remove onion with a slotted spoon; add to pork.
Place a large zip-top plastic bag inside a 4-cup glass measuring cup. Pour cooking liquid into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into skillet, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Stir bourbon into drippings; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until mixture is reduced to about 1 ½ cups. Combine 2 tablespoons cold water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk; add cornstarch mixture to sauce, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in remaining ¾ teaspoon salt. Drizzle sauce over pork; toss gently to coat.
Recommended wine pairings: Rosé, 2013 Patria Cabernet Sauvignon
3. Succotash Veggie Chili
This EveryDay recipe, which makes ten to twelve servings, is the perfect party dish. You can even customize it based on your guests’ needs. Set out bowls of toppings, including cooked chorizo or grilled chicken breasts, for those who want to make their dish a little heartier.
- 1 (28 ounce can) whole peeled tomatoes, with juices
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
- 2 zucchini, cut into small dice (about 3 cups)
- 3 large red, yellow, or green bell peppers, cut into small dice
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 jalapeno chile, minced (no seeds or membranes)
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 pound frozen corn, thawed
- 1 pound frozen baby lima beans, thawed
- Sour cream, shredded monterey jack, shredded cheddar, diced avocado, lime wedges and chopped cilantro, for serving
Directions: In a large bowl, mash together the tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste, lime juice, 1 and ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and the cumin. In a large slow cooker, stir together the beans, zucchini, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Pour the tomato mixture on top. Cover and cook on low heat until the vegetables are tender but still retain their color and shape, 4 to 6 hours (4 if you prefer your vegetables more al dente; 6 if you like them more cooked through). Stir the corn and lima beans into the chili and let sit for a couple of minutes to warm them up. Serve the chili with all the toppings.
4. Greek Chicken and Vegetable Ragout
EatingWell‘s slow-cooker recipe creates moist, tasty chicken, while the potatoes, carrots, and artichoke hearts help create a dish that’s bursting with flavor. The savory Greek sauce, a combination of egg, lemon, and fresh dill, is the icing on the cake. This recipe yields six servings.
- 1 pound carrots, cut into 1 ¼-inch pieces, or 3 cups baby carrots
- 1 pound (3-4 medium) yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1 ¼-inch-wide wedges
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
- 1 (14-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 (15-ounce) can artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered if large
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh dill
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
Directions: Spread carrots and potatoes over the bottom and up the sides of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Arrange chicken on top of the vegetables. Bring broth, wine, garlic, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour over the chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, 2 ½ to 3 hours on high or 4 to 4 ½ hours on low. Add artichokes to the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk egg, egg yolks, and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon. Cover and keep warm. Ladle about ½ cup of the cooking liquid into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth. Whisk the egg mixture into the remaining cooking liquid in the slow cooker. Cover and cook, whisking 2 or 3 times, until slightly thickened and sauce reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in dill and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and serve.
5. Seafood Pesto Pasta
This savory dish is packed with tender scallops and shrimp, in addition to zesty flavors from the white wine, parsley, and lemon. The best part? This Money Crashers recipe, which yields six servings, only takes 10 minutes to prepare.
- 3 cups frozen chopped broccoli
- 1 pound frozen bay scallops
- ¾ pound frozen raw, peeled medium-size shrimp
- ⅔ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup white wine
- 3 sprigs parsley
- 1 thick slice of onion
- 1 thick slice of lemon
- ½ pound angel hair pasta
- 7 tablespoons reduced-fat basil pesto (such as Buitoni)
Directions: Before turning on the slow cooker, coat it with a nonstick spray. Place the broccoli in the bottom of the bowl, then cover the broccoli with frozen scallops and shrimp. Pour the chicken broth and wine in the pot. Toss in the parsley, onion, and lemon. Cover and cook on low for four hours, or on high for two hours. Drain the slow cooker and discard the parsley, onion, and lemon. Cook angel hair pasta to al dente (for approximately 7 minutes) and reserve a ½ cup of pasta water. Put the pasta in a large bowl and add the seafood, broccoli, and pesto, tossing well to combine the ingredients. Add pasta water one tablespoon at a time if needed.
6. Lemony White Bean and Carrot Spinach Salad
You will love this Better Homes and Gardens slow-cooker recipe, which yields six servings, for lemony white bean and carrot spinach salad. The vegetables are garlic infused, and the lemon juice keeps this healthy salad nice and fresh.
- 1 ½ cups dry Great Northern beans
- 5 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced (1 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 ½ cups no-salt-added chicken stock
- 1 (5 ounce) package fresh baby spinach
- 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 medium avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and chopped
- ¾ cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese (3 ounces)
- ⅓ cup pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
- Lemon wedges (optional)
Directions: Rinse beans; drain. In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven combine beans and enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Rinse and drain beans. In a 3 ½- or 4-quart slow cooker combine the soaked beans, carrots, onion, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour stock over mixture in cooker. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 ½ to 4 hours.
If desired, remove ½ cup of the cooking liquid; set aside. Drain bean mixture; discard any remaining cooking liquid. Return bean mixture to the hot cooker. Stir in spinach, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer bean mixture to a serving platter. Top with avocado, cheese, and pistachios. If desired, drizzle with enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten. If desired, serve with lemon wedges.
Recommended wine pairings: Zinfandel, 2013 Akoya Chardonnay
7. Slow-Cooker Caribbean Spiced Ribs
These mouthwatering Betty Crocker Caribbean spiced ribs are sweet, savory, and perfectly seasoned. It’ll only take you about 10 minutes to prepare this dish, which yields six servings.
- 3 pounds pork loin back ribs
- 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cups barbecue sauce
Directions: Spray inside of 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Remove inner skin from ribs if desired. In small bowl, mix dried minced onion, mustard, red pepper, allspice, cinnamon, and garlic powder. Rub mixture into ribs. Cut ribs into 4-inch pieces. Layer ribs and sliced onion in slow cooker. Pour water over ribs. Cover; cook on low heat setting 8 to 9 hours. Remove ribs from cooker; drain and discard liquid from cooker. Pour barbecue sauce into shallow bowl; dip ribs into sauce. Return ribs to cooker. Pour any remaining sauce over ribs. Cover; cook on low heat setting 1 hour longer.