44 Budget-Friendly Slow-Cooker Recipes

When your schedule's full and your wallet's empty, meal planning can be a challenge. These cheap Crock-Pot meals come together with inexpensive ingredients and pantry staples for a hearty meal for less.

1 / 45

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

When I have leftover ham in the fridge, I like to make this slow-cooker split pea soup. Just throw the ingredients in the slow cooker, turn it on and dinner is done. —Pamela Chambers, West Columbia, South Carolina

Go to Recipe

How do you save money on groceries? Share your tips with us!

2 / 45

Vegetarian Red Bean Chili

For a vegetarian red bean chili that meat lovers would like, this recipe is healthy and tastes great. It takes just a few minutes to prepare, then the chili simmers in the slow cooker leaving me free to do something else. I top bowls with shredded cheddar cheese.—Connie Barnett, Athens, Georgia

Check these mouthwatering crock pot appetizers which is super easy to make and perfect for a party or a Sunday afternoon get togethers.

3 / 45

Buffalo Chicken Chili

This Buffalo chicken chili is rich in the best way. The cream cheese, blue cheese and tangy hot sauce join forces for a dinner recipe everyone will love. —Peggy Woodward, Shullsburg, Wisconsin
4 / 45

Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken

This is a fabulous slow-cooker ranch chicken recipe that we have passed around to all our friends, especially those who have young children. It's wonderful for a cold winter night or a hot summer day when you don't want to turn on the oven. Serve it as a weeknight family dinner or for a large group. —Sonya Stark, West Jordan, Utah

Here’s a look at our most popular slow-cooker recipes from 2023.

5 / 45

Onion Meat Loaf

My husband and I really enjoy this delicious meat loaf made with onion soup mix. You only need five ingredients to assemble this easy entree before popping it in the slow cooker. —Rhonda Cowden, Quincy, Illinois
6 / 45

Slow-Cooked Beef Vegetable Soup

Convenient frozen veggies and hash browns make this meaty soup a snap to make. Simply brown the ground beef, then stir everything together to simmer all day. It's wonderful served with bread and a salad. —Carol Calhoun, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
7 / 45

Beef and Barley

I like to serve this to company. I'm not sure where the recipe originated for this country-style dish, but I have had it for years and rely on it when I'm hosting a meal for a group. —Linda Ronk, Melbourne, Florida
8 / 45

Slow-Cooked Stuffed Peppers

My favorite kitchen appliance is the slow cooker, and I use mine more than anyone else I know. It does a great job with this good-for-you dish. —Michelle Gurnsey, Lincoln, Nebraska
9 / 45

Slow-Cooker Salisbury Steak

These flavorful "steaks" fit into everybody's budget. A special friend shared the recipe, and I think of her each time I make it. - Susan Wright, Mineral Wells, West Virginia

For all of your slow-cooker groceries, here’s what experts recommend about grocery shopping on a budget.

10 / 45

Soy-Garlic Chicken

Because I’m a full-time mom and help my husband on our ranch, I’m always looking for simple yet hearty meals for the slow cooker. My family really likes this one. —Colleen Faber, Buffalo, Montana
11 / 45

Slow-Cooker Sweet Sour Meatballs

For a meal on busy days, I pop ready-made meatballs in the slow cooker to make this tantalizing Asian-style specialty. Nothing is more convenient than walking in the door to dinner. —Lisa Stepanski, Munnsville, New York
12 / 45

California Tamale Pie

When I serve California Tamale Pie, I know I’ll see smiles on the faces of everyone at the table. With this recipe, you’ll enjoy the taste and texture of classic tamales, without the time and hassle. —Patricia Nieh, Portola Valley, California
13 / 45

Polish Kraut with Apples

The combination of apples, sauerkraut and smoked sausage gives this hearty dinner an old-world flavor. I enjoy this, and it's so easy to make. —Caren Markee, Cary, Illinois
14 / 45

Cabbage Barley Soup

My neighbor had an abundance of cabbage, so a group of us had a contest to see who could come up with the best cabbage dish. My vegetarian soup was the clear winner. —Lorraine Caland, Shuniah, Ontario
15 / 45

Mushroom Pork Tenderloin

This juicy pork tenderloin in a savory gravy is the best you'll ever taste. Prepared with canned soups, it couldn't be easier. —Donna Hughes, Rochester, New Hampshire
16 / 45

Chunky Chicken Cacciatore

This healthy pasta recipe is so versatile! Look in your fridge for anything else you want to throw in, like red pepper, mushrooms, extra zucchini—you name it. And if you're a vegetarian, go ahead and leave out the chicken. —Stephanie Loaiza, Layton, Utah
17 / 45

Sweet Orange Chicken

This orange chicken recipe with orange marmalade is a family favorite. It's sure to be a hit at your next get together!—Louise Gilbert, Quesnel, British Columbia
18 / 45

Buffalo Pulled Chicken

This slow cooker dump dinner is one of my go-to's. The lighter chicken is a nice alternative to pulled pork. —Kim Ciepluch, Kenosha, Wisconsin
19 / 45

Simple Swedish Meatballs

When my husband packs these saucy slow-cooked meatballs in his lunch, all his work buddies wish they had their own! It's comfort food at its easiest. — Christina Logan, Gun Barrel City, Texas
20 / 45

Zippy Bean Stew

This bean stew is a staple for my co-workers and me once the weather turns cool. Although this is a low-fat dish, it definitely doesn't taste like it! —Debbie Matthews, Bluefield, West Virginia
21 / 45

Sweet Potato Lentil Stew

I fell in love with the spicy aromas in this sweet potato lentil stew. Add whatever ingredients you have on hand, like zucchini, spinach, kale and corn. —Heather Gray, Little Rock, Arkansas
22 / 45

Pumpkin-Lentil Soup

I was really craving a hot delicious soup—something filling and healthy. I looked around my kitchen for a few ingredients, then created this recipe. Pumpkin adds creamy richness and body. —Amy Blom, Marietta, Georgia
23 / 45

Slow-Cooker Stuffed Shells

There's no need to precook the shells in this simple pasta dish. It's almost like magic when you open the lid and find the deliciousness waiting in the slow cooker. Add garlic bread and you're golden! —Sherry Day, Pinckney, Michigan
24 / 45

Slow-Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

This recipe is creamy, warm, satisfying and fairly inexpensive—and it needs just a few ingredients! Who could ask for more on a cold winter evening? I will admit, though, that I have been known to make it during summer, too. —Jason Kretzer, Grants Pass, Oregon
25 / 45

Shredded Chicken Tostadas

These flavorful tostadas are super easy and family-friendly. You won't believe how tender and juicy the chicken comes out. Just load the tostadas with your favorite fresh toppings, and you'll have one simple, sensational meal. —Lisa Kenny, Houston, Texas
26 / 45

Meatball Tortellini

I combined some favorite staples from our freezer and pantry to come up with this easy dish. It has few ingredients and little preparation. —Tracie Bergeron, Chauvin, Louisiana
27 / 45

Carolina-Style Vinegar BBQ Chicken

I live in Georgia, but I appreciate the tangy, sweet and slightly spicy taste of Carolina vinegar chicken. I make my version in the slow cooker. After the tempting aroma fills the house, your family is sure to be at the dinner table on time! —Ramona Parris, Canton, Georgia
28 / 45

Slow-Cooker Potato & Ham Soup

In our house, this recipe is a win-win. It's easy for me to whip up and easy for my family to devour...the crusty bread for dipping doesn't hurt, either. —Linda Haglund, Buffalo, Minnesota
29 / 45

Slow-Cooker Mushroom Chicken & Peas

Some amazingly fresh mushrooms I found at our local farmers market inspired this recipe. When you start with the best ingredients, you can't go wrong. —Jenn Tidwell, Fair Oaks, California
30 / 45

Citrus-Herb Pork Roast

The genius combination of seasonings and citrus in this tender roast reminds us why we cherish tasty recipes. It's nice to serve with hot noodles to soak up any extra citrus gravy. —Laura Brodine, Colorado Springs, Colorado
31 / 45

Tangy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

The slow cooker not only makes this an easy meal, it keeps the pork tender, saucy and loaded with flavor. —Beki Kosydar-Krantz, Mayfield, Pennsylvania
32 / 45

Slow-Cooker Chuck Roast

My husband and I like chuck roast recipes, so this slow-cooker chuck roast recipe is terrific. You'll also love how flavorful and tender this comforting beef chuck roast turns out. —Bette McCumber, Schenectady, New York
33 / 45

Conga Lime Pork

Dinner guests won’t be too shy to get in line when this yummy chipotle pork moves to the buffet table. —Janice Elder, Charlotte, North Carolina
34 / 45

Creamy Slow-Cooker White Chicken Chili

My friend Caroline Gray and I came up with this creamy slow-cooker white chicken chili. It's unusual because it calls for Alfredo sauce. —Cindi Mitchell, St. Marys, Kansas
35 / 45

Slow-Cooked Caribbean Pot Roast

This dish is definitely a year-round recipe. Sweet potatoes, orange zest and baking cocoa are my surprise ingredients. —Jenn Tidwell, Fair Oaks, California
36 / 45

Mexican Chicken Chili

Corn and black beans give this satisfying chili a Mexican flair the whole family will love. Adjust the cayenne if you have small children or are looking for a little less zip. —Stephanie Rabbitt-Schappacher, West Chester, Ohio
37 / 45

Slow-Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches

My mom made the best Italian beef. I’ve added to it over the years, but it’s still her recipe. She made these Italian beef sandwiches for family reunions, and there were never leftovers. —Mary McVey, Colfax, North Carolina
38 / 45

Chili Coney Dogs

From the youngest kids to the oldest adults, everyone in our family loves these hot dogs. Inspired by the classic Coney dog, they’re so easy to throw together in the morning or even the night before. —Michele Harris, Vicksburg, Michigan
39 / 45

Slow-Cooker Chicken Thighs

Here’s a real sensation: Asian-style slow-cooker chicken thighs and rice. They always go over big with my family. —Gigi Miller, Stoughton, Wisconsin
40 / 45

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Don’t be shy about loading up the spices and shredded chicken into your slow cooker. Chicken tortilla soup tastes amazing as leftovers the next day. Your family will thank you for this one! — Karen Kelly, Germantown, Maryland
41 / 45

Zesty Beef Stew

Preparation couldn't be simpler for this hearty no-fuss stew! I created this dish when I didn't have some of my usual ingredients for vegetable beef soup. My husband says it's the best I ever made! —Margaret Turza, South Bend, Indiana

These are the best cheap dinner ideas that you’ll want to try out.

42 / 45

Country Rib Sandwiches

Perfect for a weekday dinner or cozy weekend meal, this recipe makes fall-off-the-bone tender meat with delicious flavor. —Margaret Luchsinger, Jupiter, Florida
43 / 45

Bacon-Beef Barley Soup

Here’s a robust dish that’s perfect for hungry teenagers! Served over creamy mashed potatoes, this quick, comforting soup really hits the spot. —Cathy Peterson, Menominee, Michigan
44 / 45

Sweet-and-Sour Beef Stew

This chunky meal in a bowl makes terrific use of nutrient-packed vegetables. It has a deliciously sweet and tangy taste. —Frances Conklin, Cottonwood, Idaho
45 / 45

Shredded Beef au Jus

My mom found this recipe in a farm journal soon after she and my dad got married. The tender beef has been a family favorite for years, and my dad often requests it. —Danielle Brandt, Ruthton, Minnesota

Rachel Seis
As deputy editor for Taste of Home magazine, Rachel has her hand in everything you see from cover to cover, from writing and editing articles to taste-testing recipes to ensuring every issue is packed with fun and fabulous content. She'll roll up her sleeves to try any new recipe in the kitchen—from spicy Thai dishes (her favorite!) to classic Southern comfort food (OK...also her favorite). When she's not busy thinking of her next meal, Rachel can be found practicing yoga, going for a run, exploring National Parks and traveling to new-to-her cities across the country.