I don't know about you, but when I think of a slow cooker, hearty chili and pulled pork are the first things that come to mind. Most people tend to associate slow cookers with stews, soups, and meat, but this countertop appliance is actually a lot more versatile than we give it credit for.
Yes, you can make a delicious roast in your slow cooker, but you can also use it to make breakfast, dessert, side dishes, skin care products, and even beverages! The following are 16 unexpected recipes that you should try making in your slow cooker.
PS. Don’t have a slow cooker in your kitchen already? What are you waiting for?! After testing all the leading models, we’ve deemed the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Multi-Cooker the best slow cooker, but you can’t go wrong with the ever-popular Instant Pot, either!
1. Everyone’s fall favorite: Apple butter
Apple butter is a fall essential, and it's also a great way to use all the apples you get when you go apple picking. If you want to save yourself the hassle of tending a pot while your homemade apple butter cooks, let your slow cooker do the work instead. This recipe for Slow Cooker Apple Butter is sure to be a hit among your family—you can even give jars of it away as thoughtful holiday gifts!
2. Loaves of bread
Homemade bread is a delicacy in life, but it's also a lot of work. If you're not in the mood to wait around for your bread to prove, and you don't want to buy a bread maker you'll only use twice, you can still make it a hands-off process. Thanks to this recipe for Rosemary Olive Oil Crock Pot Bread by Host the Toast, your slow cooker can produce a delicious loaf—does it not look amazing?!
3. Vietnamese chicken pho
Everyone loves Vietnamese pho. Even my super picky boyfriend, who won't eat half the food I cook, is always down for pho. The moral of the story here is that if you haven’t tried pho, you need to. And if you love it like the rest of the world, you can now make it very easily at home thanks to this Crock Pot Chicken Pho recipe from Served From Scratch.
4. Homemade bars of soap
Did you think slow cookers were just for food? Think again! You can use this versatile appliance to make your very own DIY Hot Process Soap, complete with whatever scents or add-ins you choose. Frugal Farm Wife has great instructions for how to make this totally customizable, which can be a great way to personalize your gifts for the holidays.
5. Lasagna that cooks while you’re at work
Lasagna is typically a very involved meal to prepare, making it impractical for weeknight dinners. However, this family favorite is back on the menu, as you can make it while you're at work with the help of your slow cooker. Just prep the ingredients for Betty Crocker's Slow-Cooker Lasagna the night before, then let the dish cook all day. Voila! Wednesday night lasagna.
6. Ooey, gooey mac and cheese
If you're on a diet, go ahead and skip over this recipe for the sake of your sanity. But if you aren't counting calories, add this to your next meal rotation because homemade mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort dish, and now it's super easy to make. This Slow Cooker Creamy Macaroni and Cheese from Six Sisters Stuff is made by just tossing the ingredients into your slow cooker and letting it do its thing.
7. Rich, chocolatey brownie pudding
If you're all about chocolate, you're going to love this next recipe. Crazy for Crust's Slow Cooker Brownie Pudding is one of the most mouth-watering recipes on this list, in my opinion. Just look at how gooey and chocolatey it is! And you can enjoy it without having to spend hours in the kitchen. Yum.
8. Fall-scented potpourri
Want to make your house smell cozy and inviting before company comes over? Then fire up your slow cooker to make this Fall Slow Cooker Potpourri, from The Novice Chef. It uses oranges, cinnamon, and cloves to leave your whole house smelling like autumn.
9. Deep dish pizza—without an oven
Repeat after me: You can make anything in a slow cooker. That includes pizza. Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza, to be precise. This recipe from A Spicy Perspective is perfect for those summer days where you can't bear to turn on the oven but have a hankering for some delicious 'za.
10. Overnight oatmeal in every flavor imaginable
I'm not really an oatmeal fan, but I might make an exception for this next recipe. Seriously, this Slow Cooker Overnight Pecan Pie Oatmeal from I Heart Eating looks absolutely amazing. If pecans aren't your thing, there are so many other slow cooker oatmeal recipes out there, and one’s sure to tickle your fancy.
11. Slow cooker granola
Like all the other “basic” ladies and gents out there, I’m a huge sucker for anything pumpkin-spice flavored, and I will happily eat a whole a jar of Nutella in one sitting. As such, this recipe for Nutella Pumpkin Slow Cooker Granola appeals to me on a deep, spiritual level. If I didn't already have a slow cooker, I would buy one just to make this recipe.
12. Homemade dulce de leche
Caramel is quite challenging to make at home—just ask the contestants on The Great British Baking Show. DIY Dulche de Leche, on the other hand? Piece of cake. All you have to do with this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe is put sweetened condensed milk into canning jars and cook them in your slow cooker for a few hours to make this beautifully smooth, silky sauce.
13. Your very own Greek yogurt
If your family goes through yogurt like water, it’s probably cheaper and healthier to just make it at home. You might be surprised at how easy it is to make Homemade Greek Yogurt in a slow cooker, but once you do it you'll never want store-bought again.
14. Camryn-approved hot chocolate
We all have causes that we're passionate about, and one of mine is that hot chocolate needs to be made with real chocolate and milk. No exceptions. As such, this recipe for Decadent Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate from Sally's Baking Addiction gets the Camryn Seal of Approval.
15. French toast for a crowd
Hosting brunch in the near future? You’ll definitely want to bookmark Diethood's recipe for Crock Pot Creamy Banana French Toast. It’s an amazing meal to feed a group, and I’m thinking it would be extra delicious with some of your slow cooker granola on top.
16. Overnight cinnamon rolls
Once you make this recipe for Slow Cooker Overnight Cinnamon Rolls from Everyday Good Thinking, you’ll never buy them pre-made or in a tube again. It takes the tough part out of the process by using frozen bread dough, and tops off the warm rolls with cream cheese frosting—yum!
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