Super simple solutions to weeknight cooking is here. Slow cooker or crock pot cooking is easy and quick in preparation and ready when you get home from school or work. I try and present extra simple recipes that require no other pots (with one exception below). Note, slow cooker and crockpot are used interchangeably here. A few slow cooker quick tips:

  • Always put warm ingredients into a warm slow cooker and cold ingredients into a cold slow cooker.

  • When cooking meats skim fat off the top before serving

  • To thicken liquid or sauce, remove meat or chicken, add a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water, keep slow cooker on high and stir, cook an additional 45 minutes and liquid will thicken

  • No need for fancy slow cooker settings, just low, high and warm

Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken

Photo by: Cookie and Kate

  • 3 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 jar (6.25 oz) basil pesto
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons white wine

Spray slow cooker lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides. Nestle chicken thighs in slow cooker in even layer; they may be arranged tightly, if necessary.

In small bowl, stir pesto, chicken broth and white wine. Pour over chicken thighs, and mix to evenly coat chicken.

Cover and cook on high heat setting 4 hours. Serve immediately over rice or mashed potatoes.

Asian Orange Chicken

Serves 4-6

A bit like Chinese take-out at home. I also make this with pieces of white and dark meat chicken cubes. Serve over rice.

Photo By: Serious Eats

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 pieces ginger, about ¼ inch thick
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted, optional
  • Chopped fresh herbs, parsley, cilantro, and basil tossed with olive oil, optional garnish

In a zip-lock bag, combine the orange juice concentrate, honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Mix well. Place the chicken in the bag and coat it well with the sauce. Pour the chicken and sauce in the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Remove the chicken. Strain the sauce (or just pour it in) into a saucepan. In a small dish, stir the cornstarch and cold water. Pour mixture into the sauce and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until thickened, about 1 – 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with rice. Alternatively, to thicken in the crockpot, remove chicken, add a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water, keep slow cooker on high and stir, cook an additional 45 minutes and liquid will thicken

Crockpot Lentil Soup

Serves 6 - 8

Use a very large crockpot for this soup, the vegetables and liquid need room to expand. Simple and delicious, just chop everything and put in the slow cooker.

Photo By: The Kitchn

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried, additional chopped parsley as garnish
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme

Place all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Stir thoroughly before serving. Top with chopped parsley.

Slow Cooker Savory Short-Ribs with Beer and Herbs

Serves 6

Short ribs hold up well to slow cooking. The flavors develop and the meat gets very soft with this method. Rosemary and thyme mixed with beer create tremendous depth of flavor. I use a full-flavored beer like Heineken or Corona but the original recipe calls for a Guinness or Stout, which are a bit stronger in flavor. If you prefer, use red wine for a different flavor but a rich delicious one too.

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium parsnips, cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley, stems and leaves separated (leaves used for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 (12-ounce) beer or red wine
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, brown the short ribs, in batches, until they are browned on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.

While the short ribs are browning, place a layer of onion and carrot pieces into the bottom of a slow cooker and season them with salt and pepper. Place the browned meat on top. Add the remaining onions and carrots along with the parsnips and turnips. Place rosemary, thyme and parsley in a cheesecloth or a “soup bag” and tie it up and place in the crockpot. Add Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, and brown sugar. Pour beer over everything and add enough water to almost cover the contents. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until the meat is very tender.

To serve, carefully remove the meat and vegetables from the slow cooker. Remove the cheesecloth and discard. Serve the ribs with the juice and garnish with chopped parsley leaves.

Slow Cooker Indian Chicken

Serves 6

People seem to be lovers or haters or Indian food. I think some haters are just unfamiliar or turned off by the fragrant spices that usually permeate the house when cooking Indian food. I happen to be a lover and make it often. My kids love it now too. The flavors are warm and comforting and very filling. I serve it with store-bought Naan bread or white basmati rice.

  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound baby red-skinned potatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems separated, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 6)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (spice blend available in National markets with a hechsher)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, cut into pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer, almond milk or soy milk

In a 6-quart slow cooker add red onion, potatoes, jalapeno and cilantro stems. Arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer over the vegetables and sprinkle with the garam masala, 3/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Dot with the margarine and add the cinnamon stick. Pour the tomato sauce and non-dairy creamer over the top. Cover and cook on low, 7 hours.

Stir and serve chicken with sauce with chopped cilantro stems sprinkled on top.

Slow Cooker Fall Chili with Pumpkin

Serves 6

The fall flavors in this dish are perfect for a rainy day. I serve it in individual dishes with toasted bread or over rice or potatoes. Fire-roasted tomatoes are available in national markets, near other canned tomato products. They are not spicy, just roasted over fire so they have a distinct and delicious smoky flavor. Hunt’s fire-roasted tomatoes have an OU hechsher.

Photo by Chay Berger and Elizabeth Kurtz

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Tortilla chips, for garnish

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring until softened. Add ground beef or turkey and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain fat and transfer mixture to a 5-6 quart slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours. Serve warm in individual bowls with crumbled tortilla chips or toasted bread, or serve over baked potatoes or rice.