30 easy slow cooker recipes

Your go-to guide for delicious, healthy slow cooker recipes to enjoy this winter.
Published 23 May 2022 | Updated 23 April 2024
Slow-cooked lamb and lentils with olives

When you think about slow cooker meals, you probably think of convenience: You can toss in the ingredients before you leave the house, and return hours later to the welcoming smell of dinner—warm, tasty, and miraculously done. Or maybe your mind goes to hearty cold-weather meals: rich stews and chillis. Or to feeding a crowd without the last-minute kitchen frenzy.

Your slow cooker is brilliant at prepping meals that keep you on course with your weight loss and health goals. The low-and-slow method coaxes flavour from nutritious ingredients, including loads of ZeroPoint foods. It works wonders with lean proteins, turning out tender dishes without fatty cuts of meat. Beans get creamy, spices meld, veggies caramelise—all without a lot of oil or butter.

So, whether you want to take things slow or speed ’em up, cook for a gang or just for two, we’ve got you covered with ideas and techniques for your kitchen’s most valuable gadgets.

Expert tips for slow cooking

1. Avoid lifting the lid on your slow cooker unless really necessary as this allows the heat to escape. Also cut your ingredients into similar-sized pieces so they cook evenly.

2. Slow cook tougher cuts of meat (such as chuck or stewing steak). However, still remove as much visible fat as possible (there will be enough interconnective tissue to keep it soft and tender).

3. Reduce the liquid content when converting recipes for the slow cooker as there is less evaporation. As a general guide, use ½–1 cup (125-250ml) less than for other cooking methods.

4. Chuck steak and lamb shoulder are best for slow cooking (cheaper cuts of meat) as expensive cuts will become tough instead of tender.

5. Use paper towel for blotting any cooking fat that rises to the top.

6. Keep an eye on the liquid level and add more water or reduce the temperature if the food starts to stick.

Converting recipes for slow cooking

Here’s how to convert your favourite recipe for the slow cooker. If it normally takes:

  • 30 minutes – 1 hour: slow cook for 2-3 hours (high) or 5-7 hours (low).

  • 1-2 hours: slow cook for 3-4 hours (high) or 6-8 hours (low).
  • 2-4 hours: slow cook for 4-6 hours (high) or 8-12 hours (low).

If you want to convert our slow cooker recipes for the stovetop or oven you can use the above as a guide in reverse. For example, a slow cooker recipe that takes 1-2 hours on high will take 15-30mins on the stovetop or in the oven.

When converting recipes for the slow cooker, reduce the liquid content as there is less evaporation. As a general guide, use 125-250ml less than for other cooking methods.

How to buy and clean a slow cooker

When to use a slow cooker:

The slow cooker makes everything tender, thanks to its low heat and long cooking time. That means it’s a go-to for foods like tough cuts of meat, hearty vegetables, and dried beans. At the very end of cooking, you can add delicate ingredients, such as herbs, leafy greens, or shellfish.

What to look for when buying:

To get the most versatility out of your pot, choose a 5.5-litre or larger slow cooker with a removable insert—that’ll make cleaning easier. All slow cookers should have Low and High cooking modes, but double check to be sure before you purchase one. For the ultimate convenience, choose a slow cooker that’s programmable, which will allow you to set a start time and specify the cooking time. When time’s up, the cooker will automatically turn off and, if your model has it, switch over to “keep warm” mode.

How to clean a slow cooker:

First, unplug your slow cooker and let it cool to room temperature. Remove the ceramic/stoneware insert and wash by hand, using a brush if necessary (but check the manufacturer’s instructions—you might be able to put it in the dishwasher). Wipe down the outside of the appliance with a sponge, and clean off any spills that might have gotten onto the heating surface.

How to store:

Reassemble the slow cooker after cleaning and drying all parts. Once everything is together, store it in a cupboard.