Few things are better than a warm, healthy home-cooked meal or snack. Unfortunately, the cooking process can be so long and complex that many of us turn to takeout and premade meals instead.
Sound familiar? It’s time to reacquaint yourself with the slow cooker (sometimes referred to as a Crock-Pot), an appliance that heats food slowly over a long period of time.
While long cooking times may not sound ideal, slow cookers actually make the cooking process fairly easy. “One of the main benefits of using a slow cooker is how little thought goes into it,” says Alix Turoff, RDN, a nutrition coach based in New York City. “You can combine all of your ingredients at once, set it for a few hours, and come back to a ready-made meal,” she says.
Slow cookers are an especially good choice for meat lovers. Why? Because the long, slow cooking process seals in moisture. This means that meats — especially leaner cuts — won’t dry out the way they do with other cooking methods, Turoff says.
Slow cookers offer an easy, hands-off method for cooking meat, as well as comforting foods like soup and chili, but they’re also a convenient option for snacks and desserts.
To prove how convenient and versatile slow cookers really are, we rounded up 10 meal, snack, and dessert recipes. You can prep all of them in 20 minutes or less, and then let the device do the work while you go about your day.