Cooking for one means dinner can easily become yet another turkeysandwich or bowl of cereal. Yawn. Instead of letting the single life rob you of delicious meals, dust off your slow cooker to whip up a batch of chili or curry. If you prep and cook on the weekend, you’ll have phenomenal leftovers that make worrying about weeknight meals a thing of the past. You can also freeze single portions—because who wants to eat the exact same meal five days in a row?
Whether you’re a die-hard ramen fan or like to keep things vegetarian, we’ve got you covered with recipes that will make your Crock-Pot exciting again. And since it does most of the work, you’ll suddenly have tons more free time to go for a run, meditate, or catch up on Last Week Tonight.
Chicken and Turkey
Instant noodle bowls may be reminiscent of dorm dinners, but there’s something about the salty soup that’s undeniably delicious. For a healthier alternative that’s nearly as easy, try this recipe, which calls on the slow cooker to do all the heavy lifting. Even the soft boiled eggs get cooked right in the broth. It’s all the flavor of the original, but without the scary additives.
Chili is one of the greatest comfort foods out there. This recipe is an easy version that’s filled with lean protein from turkey and lots of filling fiber from beans and corn, so you can eat a bowl without feeling like you’re going to burst. Simply brown the meat, add it to the Crock-Pot with the rest of the ingredients, and then forget about it for a couple of hours.
Creamy soups usually rely on, well, cream to get a luxurious texture. As tasty as that can be, it’s pretty rich for everyday eating. This smart soup gets the same silkiness by puréeing onions with a bit of chicken stock before adding it to the slow cooker. Filled with chicken and kale, this is one meal that will make you feel like dancing in the kitchen. Go for it!
Nothing says Sunday dinner like some hearty meatballs. Unfortunately the process of rolling and cooking them can eat up the middle of the day. This recipe is perfect for a weekend dedicated to catching up on some chores—or Netflix. Prep the meatballs in the morning and they’ll slowly cook all day, perfuming your place with the scent of herbs and garlic.
Streamline this Italian classic by browning the chicken and throwing it into the slow cooker along with some veggies, wine, and tomatoes. A final addition of mushrooms gives this stew an even deeper flavor. While serving over pasta is a natural choice, why not try the whole-grain goodness and nutty taste of farro, which has more fiber and protein than white noodles?
Who says turkey is only for Thanksgiving? With 25 grams of protein in three ounces of breast meat, it’s a great choice any time of the year. Cooking the bird in broth with herbs and oranges keeps the meat unbelievably moist and adds tons of flavor. When elegance is this easy, any night can seem like a holiday.
Braised chicken tacos from a Mexican restaurant might be delicious, but why not bring the fiesta home? A simple sauce comes together in the blender and then gets the low and slow treatment with some chicken thighs. Garnish choices are only limited by your imagination.
Crock-Pots have a reputation for producing food that’s kind of boring. Not this recipe! Capture the taste of Jamaica by blending up a sauce of habañeros, spices, ginger, and pineapple juice. It’s sweet, spicy, and insanely good. Don’t let the long ingredient list fool you; this dish is super simple and worth every step.
If you’ve never given Cornish hens a try before, put this recipe on your must-make list. Their small size makes them great for those who have difficulty deciding between white and dark meat, and the combo of citrus and herbs gives them tons of flavor without adding extra fat. It doesn’t hurt that they’re adorable either.
Lasagna might be the king of Italian food, but it takes forever to make. (Making all the layers is just so much work!) This dish gets the same flavor with almost no effort. Mushrooms and zucchini cook down in a rich tomato broth, and the pasta goes in at the end. To streamline the process even more, add a splash of water and throw the noodles right into the same pot in the last 15 minutes. The ricotta topping is a must.
Creamy, fragrant dal is the chicken soup of Indian cooking. Bring the exotic flavors home by cooking up a batch in the Crock-Pot with ginger, turmeric, tomatoes, and some greens. A final flourish of lemon and cilantro completes the meal, which is a good source of fiber and protein.
Tomato and basil sauce is never as hearty as a meat ragu, sadly. Get the same texture, and a lot more staying power, by filling up with this Bolognese. It’s loaded with mushrooms, cauliflower, carrots, and eggplant. Chop the veggies in the food processor, add to the Crock-Pot with the rest of the ingredients, and set it to cook. There’s plenty of time to run errands—or check out Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Canned soup is convenient, but it also often comes with corn syrup and potassium chloride. No thanks. Peeling tomatoes and roasting garlic for this recipe take a little bit of prep time, but it’s pretty much no-maintenance after that. High in lycopene that could help prevent a stroke Dietary and Circulating Lycopene and Stroke Risk: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Li, X., Xu, J. Scientific Reports, 2014 May 22;4:5031, tomatoes have a tangy and sweet flavor that’s perfect in this soup.
For a vegetarian entrée with some serious staying power, try this vegetarian curry. It’s filled with veggies for tons of vitamins and antioxidants, chickpeas for protein, and a little bit of apple for natural sweetness. There are tons of ways to enjoy the leftovers: Serve on a bed of brown rice or quinoa, add an egg on top, or even pureé it with a little water to transform it into soup.
Thom Kha Gai soup is filled with sweet, spicy, and sour flavors that make it a favorite at Thai restaurants. A slow-cooker version makes it so easy that you can enjoy it at home all the time. Add tofu, vegetable stock, coconut milk, and a bunch of seasonings to the insert and let it cook. Cilantro and mushrooms are perfect finishing touches. Forget takeout, this is make-in goodness.
This soup will stay with you thanks to beans and potatoes, and there’s loads of vitamins and even a little bit of calcium from the kale. The recipe includes steps for garlic-rosemary crostini to top it all off, but if you don’t have time, any quality loaf of bread makes a delicious dunker.
Packed with beans, mushrooms, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, and broccoli, this casserole brings serious flavor and loads of texture. The quinoa and beans alone provide about 10 grams of protein per serving to keep you satisfied, and a final sprinkle of Parmesan sends it over the top. It’s a natural for dinner but also perfect for lunch and breakfast.
It’s time for beets to get some attention outside the realm of salads and this old-school soup does the trick. Sauté some veggies and caraway, then add them to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. Beets and cabbage provide lots of filling fiber and give this soup just enough sweetness. Sour cream is a traditional topper, but Greek yogurt offers works just as well.
You’ve probably had Mexican rice, but what about Mexican quinoa? This Crock-Pot recipe makes getting dinner on the table really easy. And a combo of peppers, corn, black beans, and cheese ensure it’s as tasty as it is healthy. Leftovers can easily morph into burritos and tacos.
It seems like tea is finding its way into a lot of foods, but many of them just end up tasting like a mouthful of potpourri. Yuck! This pork dish gets just enough aroma from chai tea and some apple cider. When leftovers taste like this, you’ll want to use your slow cooker way more often.
Balsamic vinegar is better for a lot more than just salads. This recipe smothers a pork tenderloin in a sweet and tangy sauce made with the vinegar, honey, garlic, and some soy sauce. Pork tenderloin is a lean source of protein and contains phosphorus to promote healthy bones. Cook and serve. It doesn’t get easier than that.
Traditional pork carnitas cook slowly and then head to the fryer to get a little bit of crispness on the edges, but that’s a lot of hassle and added oil. This version is simpler, healthier, and just as flavorful. Garlic and bay leaves add flavor as the meat cooks, and chipotles offer some serious kick. This filling is great for tacos, burritos, or a seriously killer grain bowl.
For a low-maintenance version of an American favorite, this pork and apples is about as easy as it gets. Galas apples are suggested, but Granny Smith or Honeycrisp would be delicious as well. Leave the skin on for even more nutrients and a prettier presentation. Even the classics can benefit from a little makeover.
There’s nothing wrong with traditional stuffed peppers, but this version seriously amps up the flavor. Mix up some browned pork, spices, coconut milk, sweet potato, couscous, and pineapple for a filling that’s far from ordinary. Tip: Pick different colored peppers for a rainbow effect.
Pork can seem like a bland protein, but this recipe gives it a complete makeover with ginger, cumin, and cinnamon. Chickpeas add heartiness and fiber while butternut squash gives a light sweetness and plenty of vitamin C. Who says cooking for one has to be boring?
Filipino food doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, but it might become your new favorite cuisine after you give this recipe a try. The flavors are salty, tangy, and spicy. Interested yet? A bed of egg noodles is perfect for soaking up all that flavor, or spiralize some zucchini noodles for another great (and gluten-free!) option.
Bottled pasta sauces can taste processed and hide added sugars and sodium. For an extra special noodle topper, try making this rich braise. Beef cooks down in a hearty tomato sauce spiked with red wine and a little bit of rosemary until it’s tender. Sick of pasta? Try it on baked potatoes, spaghetti squash, or a sandwich.
A classic beef stroganoff combines mushrooms and steak in a creamy sauce. It’s delicious when done right and even when it’s done wrong and the meat gets dry and tough. Using the slow cooker and a braising cut of beef ensures the meat will be ultra-tender. Stirring in a sour cream mixture just before serving gives a luxurious texture. It might be better than your grandma’s!
Sometimes, nothing beats a steaming bowl of soup. Pull out the slow cooker for this easy version of a simple favorite. It’s rich, hearty, and warming. Just be sure to use pearled barley; quick-cooking will turn to mush.
Takeout can be an appealing option when you’re feeling tired—until it arrives and it’s mostly sticky sauce with just a few slices of meat and some limp veggies. Thankfully it’s a cinch to make a way healthier version in the slow cooker. Just make a quick soy and brown sugar sauce and add it to the beef. Tossing in the broccoli at the end ensures it stays nice and fresh.
Not all stewed meat needs to taste the same. Why not wake things up with a little bit of sriracha? This hearty beef dish combines everything in the Crock-Pot to cook nice and slow. A little bit of parsley at the end adds some freshness, and just look at those colors!
With so much sugar, it’s no wonder kids like sloppy joes. Bring this beloved sandwich to the adult table by cutting out some of that sweetness and adding a little chili powder and bell pepper. Plus, lean beef is a great source of protein and packs tons of iron to promote oxygen-carrying red blood cells. This may be a decidedly more adult recipe, but you still have permission to get messy.
While most Crock-Pot recipes are super easy, they usually need at least one side dish to go with them. For a truly crazy week, this stew is a complete live saver. It’s full of beef, veggies, potatoes, and a rich sauce, so it’s a complete meal. No time to head to the store? No worries. Swap in any veggies you have on hand.
Sometimes, planning dinner for the week means having to buy more groceries than one person can carry. Don’t worry, this meatloaf totally has you covered. Beef, onion, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, and eggs are all you need to make this beloved dinner. It’s a blank canvas for any topping you like. Ketchup is a natural choice, but salsa is ridiculously good too.
Southern seafood dishes always bring tons of flavor, but they also tend to bring lots of buttah. This recipe lightens things up with a tomato base that gets a serious flavor boost from garlic, Cajun seasoning, and chili powder. With plenty of leftovers to get you through the week, every day can seem like Mardi Gras.
Seafood in a slow-cooker? Don’t rule it out. This chowder takes a shortcut by precooking the celery and onions in the microwave before adding it to the Crock-Pot with the usual suspects of fish, stock, and bay leaves, plus some harissa for a little bit of zing. Tilapia serves up a dose of protein plus some B vitamins to keep you feeling energized. A touch of cream makes this soup over-the-top delicious.
The word “elegant” hardly comes to mind when it comes to Crock-Pot cooking. Time to change that. This delicate salmon dish gets a steam in some wine, fennel, and orange juice. It’s also a lot easier than constantly monitoring a fillet on the stove or in the oven since the heat is so much gentler. The caper sauce is delicious, but we think classic tartar sauce is just as good.
Simplify cioppino with a simple, two-stage cooking process in the Crock-Pot. Start off with the veggies, fish stock, wine, and tomatoes. Once the broth is flavorful, the seafood goes for a quick swim. Swap in any of your favorite fish or shellfish. This meal is so low maintenance that you can enjoy a glass of wine while you wait. Now that’s a great way to cook!
Just when you thought all simple fish dishes were boring, this recipe proves that’s definitely not true. Halibut steams with a bright tomato mixture that’s basically a cross between bruschetta topping and salsa. That’s our kind of condiment! Choose Alaskan halibut for the most omega-3s.