12 Easy Summer Crockpot Recipes That Let You Turn Off the Stove

...and ~chill~.

June  5, 2019
Photo by Meredith Corporation

When your slow cooker has an adorable blue-checkered design like mine does, then it's always out on the counter, ready to cook up all manner of tasty dinners. That means using my Crock-Pot to meal-prep or to cook (i.e., dump ingredients, turn on, walk away), even in the sweltering heat of summer.

Especially in the sweltering heat of summer.

Because what's one thing you don't have to do when you're plugging in the good ol' Crock-Pot? Turn on the stove. Which means my tiny New York City apartment gets to stay cool as a cucumber while I set and forget my meals for the week, leaving me time and space to catch up on my latest Netflix obsession, Dead to Me, or to spend a quiet day at the beach reading or rooftop happy-houring with friends.

I can come home to a fully cooked meal—and all I have to do is tuck in.

Slow-cooking in the warmer months is useful, as well, for when you're entertaining outdoors. You can cook your large-format dishes without batting an eye, freeing up the grill for burgers and steaks. Think: big batches of slow-cooker BBQ chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, and smoky shredded beef tacos. Thanks to the Crock-Pot, your summer cookouts have never been easier.

The versatility of warm-weather slow-cooking is boundless. So whether you're feeding friends at a backyard barbecue or meal-prepping for the week just for you, these summer Crock-Pot recipes should have you covered:

Summer Crock-Pot Recipes

1. Bourbon BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Nothing says summer cookout like the sight of BBQ chicken drumsticks, i.e. little sweet-and-sour glazed meat lollipops. These beauts get slow-cooked with a few spices, then slathered in a homemade bourbon BBQ sauce.

2. Chicken Breasts With Creamy Mustard-Leek Sauce

"I challenge you to come up with a Crock-Pot chicken breast recipe that doesn't dry out," I prompted our test kitchen director Josh Cohen. He came up with this easy yet elegant weeknight dinner option—and yes, moist-as-can-be thanks to the luscious mustard-leek sauce that goes with.

3. Smoky Shredded Beef Tacos

The main point of using your slow cooker is to cook a big batch of meat that you can mix and match in about a million ways. Here, tender, slow-cooked beef chuck roast gets thrown into tortillas and topped with lettuce, guac, and cheese. While they'd be great just about any night, these tacos are perfect for a party, as your guests can assemble their own meaty parcels.

4. Mediterranean Chicken Thigh Stew

Mediterranean food and summer go hand in hand. This slow-cooker chicken stew has those signature bright, briny flavors, thanks to feta, olives, and tomatoes.

5. Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue

If it's pulled pork you're after, then you'll want to try this Crock-Pot wonder. "This recipe gives you fork-tender pulled pork barbecue with just 10 minutes of effort," writes recipe author Ivy Manning. "It gets a slightly smoky flavor from smoked paprika."

6. Indian-Spiced Lentils With Spinach

These vegetable-packed lentils are just the thing you want to eat on hot summer nights when you're looking for sustenance without the heaviness.

7. Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Wings

Let your slow cooker do most of the work for these sweet and salty chicken wings—no deep fryer or hot oil required. Finished with an addictive hoisin and soy sauce glaze, they'll be the first thing to go at your backyard BBQ.

8. Shiitake Noodle Hot & Sour Soup

I'm never above a comforting bowl of vegetarian noodles, even in the summer. This hot and sour number relies on dried shiitake mushrooms, which reconstitute as they slow-cook with all of the other aromatic ingredients.

9. Lemon-Thyme Steamed Artichokes

Did you know that you can steam artichokes in a Crock-Pot? The ultimate warm-weather food, these come out perfectly tender, flavored with garlic, lemon, and thyme with an optional anchovy dipping sauce.

10. Bacon, Corn & Cheese Frittata

For brunch, ditch the oven and make this bacon and corn–packed frittata in your slow cooker. Just be sure to use a soufflé or casserole dish that can fit into your Crock-Pot insert; the indirect heat will set your eggs and your kitchen will stay chill while you're at it.

11. Low-Country Shrimp Boil

Growing up in the South, my cousins and I would cook up huge shrimp boils on the beach: corn, shrimp, kielbasa, and lots of lemon. This slow-cooker version is a little tamer for quieter summer get-togethers—just dump, set, and forget.

12. Pot Roast With Chickpea Salad

I'll leave you with this über Crock-Pot dinner, for nights when you want classic pot roast comfort without the fuss. Don't forget to make the fresh chickpea salad; it really brightens up the rest.

Do you use your Crock-Pot in the summer? Tell, tell in the comments!

Excerpted from Instant Pot Miracle 6 Ingredients or Less © 2018 by Ivy Manning and Better Homes and Gardens Fast or Slow © 2018 by Meredith Corporation. Photography © 2018 by Morgan Ione Yeager and Meredith Corporation, respectively. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, 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.


Sheryl T. June 9, 2019
Sadly I must work all day and a slow-cooker recipe that cooks for only a couple of hours just, in my world, makes a mockery of the whole concept :-( But I *am* going to try the artichokes, on a short day.
isw June 9, 2019
Been doing artichokes in the microwave for years; it's a whole lot faster.Trim them, put about half an inch of water with a bit of lemon juice (vinegar in a pinch) in a microwave-safe container (no oil needed), roll the 'chokes around to get all the cut surfaces wet (to avoid browning), and give 'em about 20 minutes, turning after ten or so.
sf-dre June 6, 2019
A slow cooker is a must for San Francisco summers! Soup and pot roast are year-round foods. Looking forward to making the frittata and the wings.
Author Comment
Eric K. June 6, 2019
Love it. SF summers are the best--lucky you.
Merrill S. June 5, 2019
Eric, what a helpful round-up! (And I too have gotten recently hooked on Dead to Me.)
Author Comment
Eric K. June 5, 2019
What a great, positive (I didn't say healthy) representation of friendship.
HalfPint June 5, 2019
Do I use my Crock Pot during the summer? Absolutely! I make Kalua Pork with a large pork butt. The pork gets shredded and go into freezer bags for later use in sandwiches, tacos, burritos,...

Or I make pork rillette (I have a recipe on this site), meatloaf (since I love my meatloaf year round), and garlic confit.
Author Comment
Eric K. June 5, 2019
I love that you eat meatloaf in the summer. Why the heck not?
Sharon June 9, 2019
Why not, indeed. Unlike fruits and vegetables, meat isn't seasonal!