Inviting everyone you know to come to your place for Sunday football seems like a great idea until you realize how many mouths you have to feed. Slaving in the kitchen definitely isn’t an option after kickoff, and fortunately, you don’t have to if you recruit your slow cooker. Though these gadgets fell out of favor for a few decades, they’re back now that everyone has realized how useful they are. This revival also means the number crockpot-specific dishes has exploded over the last several years. Here are seven of our favorite easy crockpot recipes for entertaining a lively crowd.
1. Queso Blanco Dip
While this dip from I Heart Nap Time is a far cry from a true queso fundido, which is pretty much just a dish of melted cheese, it’s completely delicious and a lot more practical for an event where people will be coming and going. All you have to do is combine cream cheese, American cheese, some chiles, and a bit of butter in a crockpot, and then let it melt. It’ll stay perfectly hot and creamy on the warm setting once all the cheese has melted.
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 pound white American cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 (4-ounce) can green chiles
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeños
- 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
- 2 to 3 tablespoons water
Directions: Mix the cream cheese, American cheese, butter, and both chiles in the insert of a slow cooker. Cook on high for 30 minutes, then stir until combined. Thin with milk and water until dip reaches your desired consistency. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the cheese is fully melted. Stir in cilantro, and keep slow cooker set to the warm setting. Serve.
2. Slow Cooker Potato and Corn Chowder
Soup usually demands that you stand over a pot all day. The flavor payoff is great, but it’s not always worth the aching back. Get the same flavor without needing an ice pack afterwards by making Damn Delicious’s corn chowder, which was adapted from Crockpot Gourmet. You can even make it vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
- 24 ounces red potatoes, diced
- 1 (16-ounce) package frozen corn
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup heavy cream
Directions: Combine potatoes and corn in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add flour, then toss to evenly coat the potatoes and corn. Add stock, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine, cover, and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours or high heat for 3 to 4 hours. When soup is done, stir in butter and cream, and let heat through. Serve.
3. Slow Cooker Barbecued Pulled Pork
Barbecue pros have all sorts of secret ingredients they think make their pulled pork the best in the land. Truthfully, the real secret is a low-and-slow method. Since this type of cooking is exactly what crockpots are designed to do, they’re perfect for making this dish indoors. We especially like Food & Wine’s version because it’s full of flavor and insanely simple. Add a few drops of liquid smoke to recreate the flavor you get from cooking pulled pork in a smoker.
The meat alone is great served on some soft buns, but we really like to top it with a simple slaw to add contrasting flavors and textures. This one from Food Network’s Tyler Florence has a kick that really wakes up a sandwich.
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup ketchup
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Asian chile sauce
- 4¼ pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Directions: In a medium bowl, mix onion, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, molasses, mustard, and chile sauce to combine. Place pork in a slow cooker, and pour sauce over the top. Cook on high until the pork is very tender, about 6 hours. Transfer pork to a work surface, and shred with 2 forks.
Pour sauce into a large saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook until thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir shredded pork into reduced sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.
4. Crockpot Sesame Meatballs
Breathe new life into party meatballs by giving them an Asian twist with Little Broken’s recipe. A combination of pork and beef gives these meatballs the best texture, but you can substitute other ground meats if you prefer. Whatever you do, don’t mess with the sauce; it’s the perfect combination of sweet, tangy, and salty.
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup grated onion
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onion, whites and greens
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Directions: Preheat broiler. Line two large baking sheets with foil, then grease with cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine both meats in a large bowl. Add egg, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, and cilantro. Season mixture generously with salt and pepper. Using your hands, gently mix until just combined. Roll mixture into 1- to 1½-inch meatballs, and place on prepared sheet pans.
Broil meatballs for 6 to 7 minutes, flipping halfway through, until thoroughly browned on both sides. Meatballs will not be fully cooked.
Add brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, honey, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and chile flakes to a slow cooker. Stir to combine, then add meatballs. Stir to coat evenly. Cook on low for 3 hours, stirring every so often to make sure meatballs stay coated. Transfer to a serving dish, or set slow cooker to warm. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve.
5. Slow Cooker Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and Apples
Because they have so much flavor on their own, brats require very few ingredients to shine. This dish from MyRecipes cooks the sausages with apples, onion, and sauerkraut, which yields an impressive dish for hardly any work. Once the brats are finished, serve them in some buns with a smear of spicy brown mustard. This recipe also works beautifully with kielbasa or Polish sausage.
- 8 bratwurst links
- 1 (16-ounce) package sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- ½ cup mustard
- 8 hot dog buns
Directions: Place sausages in a slow cooker and top with sauerkraut, apples, and onion. Sprinkle with brown sugar and caraway seeds. Cover and cook on low until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a bratwurst registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, 3 to 4 hours.
Spread 1 tablespoon mustard on each bun. Spoon in some of the sauerkraut mixture, then top with a bratwurst. Serve.
6. Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Chili
A packed weekend can sometimes make it difficult to cook anything that takes longer than 15 minutes. When this happens on game day, Betty Crocker’s buffalo chicken-inspired chili is the perfect recipe. Just chop a few ingredients, mix everything in the slow cooker, and you’ll end up with a stew that tastes like it took a lot more effort.
This recipe suggests finishing the dish pretty simply with just a few blue cheese crumbles. We’re big fans of a toppings bar for chili, though. Set out blue cheese crumbles, shredded cheddar, sliced scallions, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and a selection of hot sauces. Your friends will be seriously impressed.
- 2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 medium celery stalks, sliced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced toamtoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup Buffalo wing sauce
- Crumbled blue cheese
Directions: Grease the insert of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients except for wing sauce and blue cheese. Sir to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours. Stir in wing sauce, and serve sprinkled with blue cheese.
7. Slow Cooker Gooey Brownie Cake
A brownie that’s still molten from the oven is one of life’s greatest treats. Making this favorite dessert in a slow cooker is even easier, and it ensures everyone get’s a perfectly gooey portion. Try the method with Food Network’s recipe. If you like a little bit of texture, stir some chopped walnuts or pecans into the batter.
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more
- 1½ cups sugar
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup semisweet chocolate chunks
- Vanilla ice cream
Directions: Line the insert of a slow cooker with a large piece of aluminum foil. Generously butter foil to prevent sticking.
In a medium bowl, whisk 12 tablespoons melted butter with sugar, cocoa powder, flour, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Fold in chocolate chunks. Transfer batter into prepared slow cooker, and spread into an even layer. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Cake should be set around edges and gooey in the center.
Serve warm topped with ice cream.