Easy Crockpot Recipes That Are Perfect for Hot Weather
While crockpots might seem like something straight out of 1973, they might be even more practical today as we continue to get busier. Modern times have led to an explosion of food blogs entirely dedicated to utilizing slow cookers. Even star chef Grant Achatz is a fan, using them both at home and in his restaurants. If it’s good enough for the man behind the 26th best restaurant in the world, it’s good enough for you. Most people look to these devices during the chillier months of the year, but slow cookers are pretty practical for hot weather. Instead of sending the temperature soaring the way your oven or stove does, a slow cooker doesn’t put out that much heat, which is a relief during the last sweltering weeks of summer. Try these six crockpot recipes to get a fantastic meal on the table without losing your cool.
1. Barbecue Pulled Chicken
Manning the smoker or grill for hours while enjoying a few beers is one of the best ways to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon. A busy weekday is a completely different story. Get all the flavors of a weekend barbecue without the time investment by making Eating Well’s crockpot pulled chicken recipe. The sweet and tangy sauce gets a hint of smokiness from some chipotle powder, so it’ll taste every bit as good as the version you make outside.
- 1 (8-ounce) can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
- 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
Directions: Stir tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire sacue, mustard, ground chipotle, and salt in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker until combined. Add chicken, onion, and garlic. Mix to combine.
Set lid into place, and cook on low until chicken pulls apart easily, about 5 hours.
Transfer chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork. Return chicken to sauce, stir to coat, and serve.
2. Slow-Cooker Collard Greens
True southern greens already take quite a while to braise, so transferring the process to a crockpot is definitely the way to go. This version from Chow.com gets tons of flavor from some sautéed garlic and onions, chicken stock, and ham hocks. Make sure to serve these with some sort of starch like cornbread or biscuits to sop up all that delicious juice. And don’t forget the hot sauce.
- 2 pounds smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey drumsticks
- 5 pounds collard greens
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, medium diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cup slow-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, divided
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions: Place ham hocks or turkey drumsticks in the bottom of a slow cooker and set aside. Using hands, remove stems from collards, and discard. Tear leaves into bite-size pieces, wash, dry, and set aside.
Heat oil in a large, wide pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high, add broth, and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then add greens, one handful at a time. Continue to add greens as they wilt until all greens have been incorporated.
Turn the heat off, then add 1 tablespoon vinegar, sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, and cayenne. Transfer greens to slow cooker. Cover with the lid and cook until greens are very tender, 4 to 5 hours on high or 5 to 6 hours on low.
Remove ham hocks or drumsticks to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones, discarding skin and bones. Shred meat, then stir into greens. Add remaining vinegar, and stir to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve.
3. Pineapple-Ginger-Glazed Pork Chops
Loaded with fresh pineapple, bell pepper, and ginger, these tangy and tender pork chops from Family Circle taste like a way better version of takeout sweet and sour pork. The chops cook with a sweet ketchup sauce for three hours, then get a finishing touch of fresh pineapple right at the end. A bit of steamed rice and some blanched snap peas are a nice way to round out the meal.
- ⅓ cup crushed pineapple
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 (10-ounce, 1-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1½ cups fresh pineapple chunks, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 cups cooked white rice
Directions: In a small bowl, stir together crushed pineapple, ketchup, soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer to slow cooker. Top with red pepper and two-thirds of ketchup mixture. Cover, and cook on high for 3 hours.
Remove chops to a platter. Combine remaining ketchup mixture, cornstarch, and pineapple chunks. Pour sauce from slow cooker into a saucepan, and brign to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in cornstarch mixture, and cook 1 minute. Serve pork with sauce and rice.
4. Slow-Cooker Beef Nachos
Nachos for supper on busy nights usually involve little more than chips and cheese. Make a much tastier version with Southern Living’s recipe starring braised beef. Before heading off to work, brown the roast, then transfer it to the crockpot with some banana peppers and beef broth. Set the heat to low, and the meat will be perfectly tender when you walk in the door. All that’s left to finish the dish is top some chips with the meat and a handful of other fixings, send it on a quick trip to the oven, then dig in.
- 1 (3-pound) boneless beef rump roast
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 (12-ounce) jar banana pepper rings
- 1 (15-ounce) can beef broth
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Tortilla chips
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, and drained
- Onion, finely chopped
- Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Sour cream
Directions: Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat and brown meat on all sides. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add banana peppers, broth, and garlic. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until meat easily shreds. Transfer to a cutting board, reserving cooking liquid. Shred roast, and return to cooker. Keep warm on low setting. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange chips on a baking sheet. Top with beef, black beans, tomatoes, onion, and cheese. Bake 10 minutes. Serve with cilantro, avocado, and sour cream.
5. Slow-Cooker Garlic Chicken with Couscous
Roast chicken makes an impressive dish, as long as you cook it perfectly. Unfortunately the bird often comes out dry and overcooked. Get all the flavors of the Sunday favorite by making this foolproof crockpot chicken cooked in white wine from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. The low-and-slow method lets the chicken soak up all the flavors from the wine, garlic, and herbs while ensuring the meat stays super moist.
Though this recipe calls for couscous, you can substitute just about any other starch. Mashed potatoes, orzo, or rice are all good choices. To get a little bit more fiber into the meal, go with something like farro or barley.
- 1 (3½- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces, patted dry
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved, and thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, halved
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup couscous
- Chopped fresh parsley
Directions: Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Working in batches, cook chicken, skin-side down, until golden, about 4 minutes.
Combine onion, garlic, and thyme in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken, skin-side up, in a single layer. In a small bowl, whisk together wine and flour until smooth. Add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until chicken is tender about 3½ hours on high or 7 hours on low. Cook couscous according to package directions. Serve chicken and sauce with couscous, and garnish with parsley.
6. Slow-Cooker Cioppino
The thought of seafood cooked in a crockpot might leave you feeling uneasy, but don’t worry. This smart recipe from Cooking Light simmers a base of tomatoes, wine, garlic, and herbs all day, but waits until the very end to add the shrimp, fish, and scallops. This means you’ll have a really flavorful broth and perfectly cooked seafood. A little bit of crusty bread on the side makes this stew into a complete meal.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ cups chopped onion
- 1½ cups chopped fennel
- 10 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ⅜ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ pound chopped fresh tomatoes
- 2 (2-inch) pieces lemon rind
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (26-ounce) box chopped tomatoes
- ¾ pound cod, cut into 2-inch pieces
- ½ pound medium shrimp, peeled, and deveined
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
Directions: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, swirling to coat pan. Cook onion, fennel, and garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add wine and tomato paste, stirring well. Bring mixture to a boil and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add water and next eight ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
Uncover, and discard lemon rind and bay leaves. Stir in seafood and lemon juice. Cover and cook on low 13 to 15 minutes, or just until fish flakes. Garnish with basil, and serve.