Slow Cook

10 Slow-Cooker Recipes Made for Fall TV Binges

So you can have dinner waiting for you at the end.

September 13, 2018

There are a few things I do when I come home from work: I greet my pup Quentin "Q" Compson, kneeling down to her level and sticking my head out so she can lick the heck out of my face (which, I've read, helps raise her serotonin levels). I pour myself a glass of wine, put on an episode of whatever show I'm watching, and cook myself something to eat. In many ways the television is beside the point; it's just background noise to calm me into my weeknight ritual.

When the weekend hits, however, this quaint domesticity is magnified times a thousand. As an introverted hermit, I like to shut off completely for those three nights (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) and recharge my INTJ batteries in the cozy comforts of my Netflix queue.

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Appropriately, we're in the thick of it: fall television premieres. I'm most excited about the new season of BoJack Horseman, which is returning to Netflix this Friday—and you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be binging the entire season in one sitting without talking to a single soul.

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In times like these (when sitting on the couch with a bowl of something good to eat is all that matters in the world), it helps to have something slow-cooking away in the Crock-Pot so you can catch up on your favorite shows. To aid in this important era of "peak television" viewing, here are some of my favorite lazy, set-it-and-forget-it recipes. At the end of 6 to 8 hours (about the runtime of one season of BoJack), dinner will be waiting for you.

Our Best Slow-Cooker Recipes

Martha Stewart recipes reprinted from Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker. Copyright © 2017 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Stephen Kent Johnson. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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Top Comment:
“I love my slow cooker! I make huge portions of spaghetti sauce and it’ll last for maybe five days until we eat it all. Question: I cannot eat kale. At all. If I’m careful, I can eat spinach and love it steamed with a few spritzes of vinegar. Can I exchange spinach instead of kale in most recipes? So many recipes sound delicious except for the kale. What do you suggest? Thanks!”
— Kathryn L.

Hugh Acheson recipe reprinted from The Chef and the Slow Cooker. Copyright © 2017 by Fried Pie, LLC. Photograph copyright © 2017 by Andrew Thomas Lee. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

To Go With

What's your favorite thing to make in the slow cooker? Let us know in the comments below.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Shannon McLaughlin
    Shannon McLaughlin
  • Kathryn Lambert
    Kathryn Lambert
  • lizkarwags
  • Josh Schnakenberg
    Josh Schnakenberg
  • Elaine Barisoff MacGregor
    Elaine Barisoff MacGregor
Eric Kim is a Senior Editor at Food52, where his weekly solo dining column, Table for One, runs every Friday morning. Formerly the Digital Manager at Food Network, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.


Shannon M. October 11, 2018
Hi Erik, I too love slow cooked meals, staying in, and dogs. I think it’s safe to assume you love dogs. So now I have to plan a binge of BoJack Horseman. I’ve never seen it. Can’t wait!
And I slow cook carnitas. Pork shoulder, cumin, chili powder, garlic, oregano, thinly sliced oranges, lots of pepper, a little salt. Dry cook. It’s a bit fiddly because one should really crisp it up after, but so delicious and makes meals for days.
p.s. Love your writing voice - thanks for the article!
Author Comment
Eric K. October 11, 2018
Aw, thank you for this sweet comment Shannon. Yes, I am 100% a dog lover.
Author Comment
Eric K. October 11, 2018
P.S. That pork shoulder sounds incredible.
Alice October 28, 2018
Shannon, everything you said. And I'm interested in your pork shoulder recipe-I need something new besides pulled pork. Between that and Eric's Beef Stroganoff, I'm set for a minute.
Kathryn L. October 8, 2018
I love my slow cooker! I make huge portions of spaghetti sauce and it’ll last for maybe five days until we eat it all.
Question: I cannot eat kale. At all. If I’m careful, I can eat spinach and love it steamed with a few spritzes of vinegar. Can I exchange spinach instead of kale in most recipes? So many recipes sound delicious except for the kale. What do you suggest? Thanks!
Nan G. October 8, 2018
Cut up tiny chard would work in salads.
Beet greens might also work in some recipes.
If you can get it, broccoli rabe sliced up could work, too.
Kathryn L. October 8, 2018
I’ll try broccoli rabe. I can’t do chard or beet greens. I’m limited when it comes to higher fiber foods due to severe Crohn’s disease. I’ve been hospitalized if I’m not careful. So I’m very careful. If broccoli rabe doesn’t work, hopefully some spinach will. Thanks for your help!
Melinda October 9, 2018
You might want to try a small amount of quinoa if you haven't had it before. It has twice as much fiber as other grains. I also have severe Crohn's disease with many surgeries. Quinoa is great because it has a lot of protein and due to malabsorption issues I look for higher protein foods. When I am able to eat foods with fiber, quinoa is a wonderfully versatile food!
Kathryn L. October 10, 2018
Thank you Melinda. I do like quinoa. That’s a great idea for those days when I could use the protein that quinoa has. Good reminder. Thank you!
lizkarwags October 6, 2018
thank you for the fall slow cooker inspo....I can't bring myself to browning meat before starting the slow cooker and generally skip this step or avoid recipes that require it. what's your take on *not* browning meat and throwing everything into the slow cooker?
Author Comment
Eric K. October 6, 2018
Psst. I *never* brown my dang meat before throwing it into the slow cooker. Defeats the purpose, for me. In this Sam Sifton piece ( he writes: "Debates rage over whether to brown the meat before placing it in the slow cooker. Brown if you must, but there is no real difference in the outcome, and the time saved by skipping this step is part of the dish’s appeal."
Sharon November 5, 2018
Sorry Eric, but there ABSOLUTELY IS a difference between boiled meat and meats (and other ingredients) that have been browned and caramalized first. It is the building block and flavor foundation of every great meal. I bought a slow cooker last year to experiment with. I concluded that they are great for people who don't really want to fuss with or tweak their dishes while cooking. Just throw it all in the pot and come home hours later and eat. Now, that might be just fine for some folks, but certainly not for everyone. Great cooks ENJOY keeping a close watch on and fussing over their creations, constantly checking, adjusting and tweaking to achieve the end result they are aiming for. There isn't a professional chef on earth that doesn't advise to taste, taste, taste, season and adjust as you go. That is not possible with a slow cooker. Granted, some folks' time restraints demand just getting a family meal on the table, lickity split, with a minimal amount of effort after a long day's work. That's the reality of life for many of us. As far as the NY Times article goes, it's like this; some people have 20/20 vision and some don't. Likewise, some have 20/20 taste buds and some don't. I have found my mini slow cooker to be an excellent sous vide cooker! But it comes nowhere close to producing the rich, brown depth of flavor that I grew up on and learned at my mother's knee. Keep cooking, Eric. It takes time for some to develop 20/20 taste buds, but you may get there.
Josh S. September 23, 2018
Just curious, was this a sponsored post by Netflix?
Author Comment
Eric K. September 24, 2018
Hi Josh, nope! All sponsored posts are marked up top with an all-capped SPONSORED. This just comes from someone who loves three things: 1) slow cookers, 2) staying in, 3) BoJack Horseman.
Elaine B. September 23, 2018
Into my slow cooker before I go to bed, I add a frozen pork hoc, kidney beans, water or chicken stock, and set it to cook 8 hours. The next morning, I adjust seasoning and now I have "ham and bean soup" ... hearty and delicious!
Author Comment
Eric K. September 24, 2018
Sounds delicious. Thanks for the idea, Elaine.
Michele J. September 23, 2018
Great article! I absolutely adore my slow cooker My favorite things to make are chicken soup with matzo balls, and Italian beef for Italian beef sandwiches. Set it and forget it. What a win!
Author Comment
Eric K. September 24, 2018
Mm. You wouldn't happen to have those recipes lying around, would you?
Nan G. September 23, 2018
My fav slow cooker recipe is the versatile rotisserie chicken.
The whole bird gets a dry rub of equal parts
brown sugar
chili powder
Then it goes in a dry slow cooker on low for 5 or 6 hours.
You can do anything with it when it's done.
Whole pieces, or, shredded in soups, salads, beans, etc.
It's absolutely lovely.
Cin September 23, 2018
Slow cooking dry sounds interesting and I would like to try it. How big was your chicken?
Nan G. September 23, 2018
I have a small oval cooker so I get small whole chickens.
Author Comment
Eric K. September 24, 2018
Me too, fascinated by this recipe... Let me know if you guys try it?
Ann S. September 23, 2018
I wish this list included some nice slow cooker vegetarian options too. After all, people who don't eat meat also like to solo binge tv too.
Linda D. September 23, 2018
Yes, exactly.
Nicole S. September 23, 2018
Me, too!
Jusika September 23, 2018
Me 3
Author Comment
Eric K. September 24, 2018
Hi Ann, Linda, Nicole, and Jusika: I'm on it!
Lisaly September 24, 2018
Great! I'm interested in vegetarian slow cooker options too!
Nan G. October 6, 2018
Slow cooker vegan chili with soy chorizo is spicy and filling.
1 pkg Soy Chorizo
1 onion, chopped, & browned
1 tsp olive oil
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cans beans of your choice (pinto, black, kidney), drained
1 can corn, drained
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tsp sugar
Take the chorizo out of the casing and layer around all the other ingredients.
Cook low about 4 hours.
I eat this with tortilla chips while watching TV.
Author Comment
Eric K. November 6, 2018
Vegetarian slow-cooker recipes for you!
g. M. September 16, 2018
From one introvert to another, thank you for this article. Would you be willing to share other netflix 'binges'. Looking for new stuff. I'm currently in the final season of Nurse Jackie...good stuff, hard to watch at times but good.
Author Comment
Eric K. September 22, 2018
Thanks for the note, g. marks. I loved United States of Tara, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Evil Genius, and (though I'm ashamed to admit it) The Fosters. Weird mix, but there they are!

What about you?
Hollis R. September 22, 2018
United States of Tara (yes!), True Blood, Claws, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Mad Men. there are so many quality series on TV these days, it's like an inundation of kudzu! all great stages for actors to showcase their talents, and for writers to explore new depths. it gives new purpose to bingeing!

i used to throw 6-hr-long Janeteenth gatherings for my girlfriends, where we'd all show up at my place in pajamas and start a BBC Jane Austen production at 7 am, full of British foods that i'd cook and bake (and we'd party hearty, too -- they were always on Saturdays in months that began with "J", so January, June, and July), while enjoying early 19th century Brit lit -- i'm a Janeite and love turning people on to Ms. Austen's novels. then, the short versions of Emma and Persuasion appeared, mid-'90s, along with Clueless (a modern take on Emma), and i'd switch it up. but the food i'd learned to love while i was at Oxford was omnipresent. i'm a great baker, and while there was never icing, there was always plenty of schlag on the side! oh, those were great parties, those Janeteenths!
kauffmannbeard September 13, 2018
I'm so confused; why is the Pork Tenderloin recipe on this list when you go back to all the information about it and several agree that to use tenderloin vs. loin is up in the air and that as it is written and tasted, is not that good?
Hollis R. September 13, 2018
this is an excellent article, with wonderful recipes! i am SO there, even though here in Central Florida there really isn't an Autumn (my favorite season) to speak of).
Author Comment
Eric K. September 22, 2018
Thank you, Hollis!
HalfPint September 13, 2018
I love making bolognese sauce in a slow cooker (I even put the recipe on Food52) and a pot roast that I got off a comment on Serious Eats (which uses Coca Cola, Lipton Onion soup mix, ranch dressing mix, and a couple of squirts of ketchup). I adore using the slow cooker so much that I try to re-work a lot of the recipes that I like so that they can be cooked in a slow cooker.
Author Comment
Eric K. September 14, 2018
Oh my goodness, I love that. Secret recipe hidden within the comments section. Mind sharing it here? I couldn't find it!
HalfPint September 14, 2018
Literally: put 3-4 lb chuck roast into slow cooker. Add (more like dump in) 1 can cola (not diet!), 1 package Lipton Onion Soup mix and 1 pouch ranch dressing mix (yeah, Hidden Valley). Drizzle ketchup on top of the meat (the original comment was to "draw a diamond check pattern"). Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until tender. The "sauce" that gets created is pretty darn good. You can probably thicken it to make a gravy.
Author Comment
Eric K. September 16, 2018
Ah this sounds so delicious. Thanks for writing it up for me. Reminds me of this Cola Ham I make every Christmas.
Jessie September 13, 2018
Braised shank steaks.
Where I live, ALL butchers cut them obscenely thin. Any steak, really. So I stick these, frozen, into the crockpot with tomato paste, half a head of white garlic cloves, some seasonings and finally, chicken broth and soy sauce. SO good!
Usually I eat what's left because my roommates are wimps when it comes to "different" food.
It's all good. More for me!
Author Comment
Eric K. September 13, 2018
That sounds amazing. I'd eat it.