Top 5 slow cooker recipes

Does anyone else hear John Cusack in High Fidelity whispering in your ear about mix tapes? Okay, it’s just me. That’s okay–my dinner is already in the Crock Pot, which might give me time to go make a mix tape of my own (or maybe just go watch the movie).

Anyway, if you’re not using your slow cooker, I’m here to tell you that you should. I know, every recipe you see is full of cream-of-something soup and comes out looking like glop. I’ve tried my fair share of those, and to be honest, I’m still experimenting. But today I’m going to share my top five, never-fail slow cooker recipes. No, they’re not all one-pot dinners. A lot of times I find myself using the slow cooker to make components of meals so I don’t have to rely so much on canned goods that may have more sodium and additives than I’d like.

5. Overnight steel-cut oatmeal. 1 cup steel-cut oats, 4 cups water (or milk), a pinch of salt, any fruit or spices you like. Spray the slow cooker really well with cooking spray OR mix the ingredients in a heat safe bowl that fits inside the crock and pour enough water around it to come up about half the height of the bowl. Cook on low for 7 hours (if you use the bowl/water bath method, the timing is not so critical). In the morning, serve and add some toppings (I like brown sugar, chopped nuts and a drizzle of milk).

4. Chickpeas (or other beans). No soaking necessary, and great overnight. Rinse a 1-lb. bag of dried beans, dump in the crock with 8-10 cups of water. Cook on low 8-10 hours, or until beans are tender. Use some to make hummus or falafel and freeze the rest.

3. Pulled pork. No, it hasn’t been smoked for hours on a grill, but it’s awfully good. I like this recipe from Our Best Bites, but I like to add some cumin and use a splash of apple cider vinegar as the liquid. I cut the BBQ sauce with vinegar, too. Don’t forget the pickles and the slaw. This is great on a weeknight, and just as good for a party.

2. Overnight chicken broth. Chicken carcass and water. You can add some onion and vegetables if you like. Cook on low overnight. Strain and freeze. Free chicken broth, and you don’t even need a coupon.

1. Fauxtisserie Chicken. Every time there’s a good sale on whole chickens, I buy a couple and stick them in the freezer. This recipe is like Roast Chicken for Dummies, or at least for people who get home late from work/karate/piano lessons and need to eat RIGHT NOW. It’s also a great way to cook chicken that you want to use in another recipe. The meat falls right off the bone and is incredibly moist and juicy.

There you have it–my Top Five ways to use the slow cooker. Go forth and make your slow cooker work for you!

What’s  your Number One slow cooker recipe?