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Main Content

Slow Cooker Recipes

by The Old Farmer’s Almanac staff

For full flavor, slow is the way to go.

A slow cooker is a must-have for easy-to-make recipes. The so-called “cooking without looking” method has enjoyed popularity for decades—and for good reason. To come home to a ready-to-eat meal is one of life’s little pleasures . . . picking recipes is another!

Beginner Basics

For slow cooker success, follow a few simple tips:

  • Pre-warm the pot by filling it with boiling water for a few minutes, then discard.
  • Know the general rule: 1 hour on high equals 2 hours on low.
  • Add another 15 to minutes to the overall cooking time each time the pot is uncovered.
  • Brown meats before adding them to the pot.
  • Use thickening agents like flour, cornstarch, or tomato paste to add texture. (The steam that collects under the lid and runs down the sides of the pot can water down ingredients.)

Safety Measures

Bacteria thrive in the temperature range between 40° and 140°F so it is important to keep food from staying in that zone for too long.

To reduce any kind of bacterial risk, follow these guidelines:

  • Make dishes with high moisture contents, such as soups and stews. The moisture generates steam, which helps raise the temperature to a safe range quickly.
  • Thaw frozen meat or poultry thoroughly before cooking.
  • Do not refrigerate prepped ingredients in the slow cooker removable pot—it will take too long to reach cooking temperature if the pot is cold to start.
  • Cut meat and poultry into small pieces to ensure thorough cooking.
  • Bring liquids to a simmer before adding them to the slow cooker to jump-start heat.
  • Keep meat or poultry submerged in stock while cooking to ensure heat transfer.
  • Do not overload the pot; ½ to ¾ full is the recommendation.
  • Remove leftovers from the slow cooker, cool quickly, and refrigerate. (Do not let it cool for hours in the slow cooker.)
  • Reheat leftovers on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave, but not in the slow cooker—it takes too long to reach a safe temperature.

Ready, Set, Go Slow!

Here are a few fall-inspired recipes to try:

Maple Baked Beans


  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 pound (2 thick strips) salt pork, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus extra to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


Precook the beans: Put beans in a large (3- to 4-quart) pot with 6 cups water. Set over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low, uncover, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 1 hour. Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid.
Pour beans into your slow cooker; add remaining ingredients, combining well. Cover and cook on high until beans are tender, 7 to 9 hours (time varies depending on your slow cooker), stirring periodically; add reserved liquid as needed to keep beans moist. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Apples and Pork


  • 3 to 4 pounds lean pork (boneless is preferred, but boned chops can be used)
  • 6 cups applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple pie spice
  • 6 small red-skin potatoes
  • 4 carrots, peeled and coarsely cut
  • 2 cups white pearl onions, peeled salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 firm tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced


Cut the pork into large chunks. Put the pork, applesauce, and spice into a large pot. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 4 hours. One to 1-½ hours before the cooking finishes, add the potatoes, carrots, and onions and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Fifteen minutes before the cooking finishes, add the apple slices and stir. Remove the pork, vegetables, and apples to a large platter and pour 1 cup of the sauce over it all. Serve the remaining sauce on the side. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Did You Know?

Though the term “crock pot” is often used interchangeably with slow cooker, they are not one and the same. Crock Pot is a brand name for the popular American appliance that came onto the market in the 1970s. And it has an interesting history.

The inventor, Irving Naxon, was inspired by his Lithuanian mother, who used to make a bean-based stew back in her home village. The stew, called “cholent,” is a traditional dish that cooks all day. Its origins are rooted in the Jewish Sabbath, a day when no work is to be performed. Ovens were turned off for the Sabbath, which begins on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening. During that time, the pot of cholent was put inside the oven, where slow residual heat over the course of the 24 hours would cook the stew.

Fast forward to 1940, and Naxon has a patent in hand for his “Naxon Beanery,” the forefather of the modern-day Crock Pot.