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not your standard stew: creative ideas for slow-cooker sundays

breakfast, snacks, dessert, and more! have fun with these inventive ways to use a slow cooker

If you’re anything like us, you grew up on hearty dishes made in a slow cooker, or “crockpot.” But the handy appliance has come a long way in the past few years — and so have the many meals you can prepare with it. Sure, beef stew will always be a delicious classic, but did you know you can make breakfast in a slow cooker? And snacks? And desserts? We’re excited to share a few of our favorites, but first, let’s talk about the different slow cookers out there.

The Crockpot™ Cook & Carry is not only an amazing deal ($49.99!) but it’s designed to be taken on the go. Think: tailgate parties, potlucks, and picnics. The four-quart cooker features a secure-fitting lid and locking system to prevent leaks and spills, plus an auto setting to keep food warm for when it’s time to serve. Next up is the Hamilton Beach® Multicooker, which combines the functions of a slow cooker, roaster, rice cooker, and steamer. It has nine different cooking programs and holds up to six quarts. The Crockpot™ Express Crock XL Multi-Cooker holds up to eight quarts, but the best part about it? In addition to slow cooking, it also sears, boils, and pressure cooks. So you can have a traditional slow-cooked meal, or whip something up in mere minutes. And if you want an appliance that truly does it all, go for the Ninja® 11-in-1 Pro Pressure Cooker + Air Fryer. With its 11 programmable functions, it slow cooks, pressure cooks, air fries, sautés, makes yogurt, sous vide, and more. Talk about endless recipe options!

rise and shine

Breakfast in a slow cooker is “easy like Sunday morning.” If you want to set it and forget before you go to bed, try overnight oatmeal or cozy sweet rolls. Is there anything better than waking up to a house smelling of warm sugar and cinnamon? Frittatas, egg casseroles, hash browns, and even French toast are also amazing when made in a slow cooker. Within hours you’ll have the perfect brunch, or better yet, breakfast for dinner!

all the mains

From traditional beef to fish, lamb, tofu, and veggies, there are internet pages devoted to slow cooker stew recipes. But over here, we’re big fans of beans. They’re inexpensive, they’re full of protein, and they might just be the most versatile meal ever. A few of our favorites: refried beans, baked beans, cowboy beans, white bean soup, Hoppin’ John… the list goes on. We also love to make chicken and dumplings in a slow cooker, as well as pot roast, coq au vin, and of course, chili — all the chilis!

snack time

A slow cooker is an ingenious way to make snacks and appetizers for the whole family. All you need are a few fun ideas and some forward thinking. Roasted nuts and candied pecans are insanely good in a slow cooker, as are mini meatballs and chicken wings. But perhaps our favorite party pleaser is dips, from spinach-artichoke to French onion, queso to salsa verde.

what's for dessert?

Making dessert in a slow cooker is one of those why-didn’t-we-think-of-this-sooner ideas. If you can imagine it, you can literally make it. You’ll never go wrong with a fruit cobbler, and the cake and brownie recipes out there are endless. Have you ever made chocolate fudge? It can be cumbersome on the stove, but with a slow cooker, all you need are a few easy ingredients and one hour of time.