8 Times When You’d Be Smart to Use a Slow Cooker

Did you know your slow cooker does way more than just dinner?

Slow cooker open with slices of oranges floating insidePhoto: Taste of Home
Photo: Taste of Home

On busy days, especially, I want to fill up on warm, delicious comfort food. Of course, on busy days, I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen…so, short of grabbing takeout, what’s a girl to do?

At times like these, I get out the slow cooker and let it do all the work for me. And slow cookers can handle more than just dinner (but I love them for that, too). Here are some instances when this favorite kitchen contraption can really come in handy:

1. When You Want a Warm, Ready-made Breakfast

With a little overnight legwork and your slow cooker’s warm setting, you and your family can roll out of bed to a scrumptious breakfast that’s ready to eat. If you’re looking for a lighter morning bite, how about granola?

2. When Your Sweet Tooth Is Going Crazy

Tried-and-true slow cooker dessert recipes to the rescue! A fantastic tip I learned through the slow cooker grapevine: Always use high-quality extract in slow cooker recipes calling for vanilla. The alcohol in vanilla doesn’t burn off very fast in a slow cooker, so the flavor tends to be more pronounced than it is with other cooking methods.

3. When You Want to Go out, but Your Pocketbook Says to Stay In

Many of us wish we could eat out every night (if only to avoid the dishes), but it can be an expensive endeavor. Enter these restaurant copycat recipes inspired by some of the tastiest menu items in the business.

4. When You Want to Make Tasty Gifts for Friends and Family

Turn a slow cooker into your personal creative assistant! Slow cook something sweet (like peanut clusters), savory (party mix, anyone?) or saucy (such as peach salsa), then pack it up for your nearest and dearest.

5. When You’re Hungry for a Snack

Did you know your slow cooker is a champ at roasting nuts? Try these candied nuts (which would make another great holiday giveaway, by the way). You can also use a slow cooker to make incredibly rich applesauce. Now that I’m thinking about it, I think I’ll make this mouthwatering recipe tonight!

6. When You Want Lunches for the Week

Bring out the slow cooker to make a big-batch recipe you can split up for the week. On a Sunday, make the chicken for this taco salad, simmer a big crock of lasagna soup or roast the pork for these sandwiches. Or get inspired by any of these easy dump-and-go recipes.

7. When You Really Want a Drink

Yes, slow cookers do beverages, too, from melting chocolate (for chocolate milk or hot cocoa) to heating up cider or this delicious spiced wine. Pretend it’s a punch bowl when you’re hosting a party!

8. When You Don’t Feel like Doing Dishes

Before starting your slow cooker masterpiece, it’s best to be good to yourself by thinking ahead about cleanup. Some choose to speed up the cleaning process by wrapping the insert with a BPA-free liner. If you decide to forgo the liner, here are some excellent tips for cleaning a slow cooker.

Whether you’re a longtime slow cooker or just brought home your first crock, these ideas will assist you on even the craziest days.

This Slow Cooker Meal Plan Lets You Cook Once, and Eat All Week
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