14 Easy Slow Cooker Recipes That Require Less Than 20 Minutes of Prep

Consider these dishes some of the easiest recipes ever.


Antonis Achilleos

The beauty of a slow cooker is how easy the countertop appliance can make meal prep. However, set-it-and-forget-it recipes often tend to feel like the stuff of legend, with full-on dinners requiring a few too many steps to make the slow cooker meal feel that much easier. Still, plenty of complete meals can be created in the slow cooker, and they’re not all soups, stews, and chilis! 

Yes, you can prep efficiently, skip the stovetop simmer and frequent stirring, and have a fantastic dinner with simple slow cooker recipes that don’t require a ton of kitchen time before or after cooking. This collection of recipes need only 20 minutes or less of hands-on work, so you’re free to let the appliance do the cooking and spend your time however you like until it’s time to eat. 

01 of 14

Crockpot Pulled Pork Tacos

Kan Kanbayashi

With just 15 minutes of hands-on time followed by eight hours of cooking, these tender tacos feel like a labor of love, but are truly quite simple. Jarred salsa is the key to this flavorful pork, so choose your favorite type for top-notch tacos. A toppings bar also keeps assembly efficient!

02 of 14

Slow-Cooker Chicken and Pasta Soup

Slow-Cooker Chicken Soup Recipe with Pasta
Romulo Yanes

Nothing hits the spot quite like homemade chicken soup. This simple version requires just five minutes of hands on time, and starts with fresh chicken thighs for that legit from-scratch flavor.

03 of 14

Slow-Cooker Soy-Braised Chicken

Slow-Cooker Soy-Braised Chicken
Con Poulos

Inspired by FIlipino chicken adobo, these braised chicken thighs slow-cook in vinegar, soy, and brown sugar for incredible flavor. Adding bok choy at the end brings an element of freshness, and served over rice, this is the ultimate comfort food.

04 of 14

Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole Chili

Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole Chili
Antonis Achilleos

Chocolate, raisins, cinnamon, and more spices all bring out the richness of this chicken cooked in mole. Served with sliced avocado, plus garnishes like radish and cilantro, this dish with just 15 minutes of prep time can be truly elegant.

05 of 14

Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

Overhead View of Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup Served in a White Bowl with a Metal Spoon

The ultimate weeknight dinner, this soup collects a bunch of hearty pantry ingredients in the slow cooker—frozen corn, canned black beans, canned tomatoes—to stew all day for a satisfying and flavorful soup. Top with tortilla chips, cheese, and a wedge of lime. If this becomes a staple, play with the ingredients and try swapping out corn for canned hominy, or white beans for black.

06 of 14

Slow-Cooker Chicken Congee

Slow cooker chicken congee
Jennifer Causey

This classic Chinese breakfast can be cooked overnight for a warm and savory morning treat, or can be served at any time of day. The rich, umami-forward porridge is full of chicken falling off the bone, and can be topped with a fried or poached egg.

07 of 14

Slow-Cooker Coq Au Vin

Slow Cooker Coq au Vin Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

Making a classic coq au vin—chicken braised in wine—can take all day, and this one cooks for over six hours with just some quick prep. The biggest time commitment is crisping the bacon and chicken before slow cooking, but that just fills the house with excellent smells to linger until dinnertime.

08 of 14

Slow-Cooker Spinach Lasagna

Slow-Cooker Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna With Romaine Salad
José Picayo

If you’ve never baked a lasagna in your slow cooker, now’s the time! This vegetarian recipe requires just 15 minutes of hands-on work—layering spinach, cheese, pasta, and sauce—and cooks in four hours.

09 of 14

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala
Roland Bello

This Indian stewed chicken can cook on high for three to four hours, or low for seven to eight to time your meal accordingly. It’s rich, full of tangy sauce, and can be enjoyed with rice, naan, or both.

10 of 14

Slow-Cooker Deep-Dish Pizza

SLow Cooker Deep Dish Pizza
Victor Protasio

This pizza proves that pretty much anything can be made in the slow cooker! Stretch pre-made pizza dough over the bottom, and layer with sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings. Just go ahead and delete your pizza delivery app, this is your new go-to.

11 of 14

Slow-Cooker Spaghetti Squash Ragù

Slow-Cooker Ragù With Spaghetti Squash Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

This meat sauce simmers for a sophisticated meal, served with slow-cooked spaghetti squash for an extra serving of veggies. Cooking the halves of the squash over the sauce is efficient, and makes for easy serving and cleanup.

12 of 14

Slow-Cooker Pork Ditalini Stew

Ditalini and Stewed Pork Soup
Gentl & Hyers

This elegant stew uses pork shoulder to create a silky, meaty experience that’s worth inviting company over for. The small pasta makes the dish a full meal, no sides necessary.

13 of 14

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili With Sweet Potatoes

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili With Sweet Potatoes, Beans, and Tomatoes Topped With Corn Chips in a Bowl
Con Poulos

This plant-based chili is full of sweet potatoes, peppers, and two types of beans, and is the perfect steamy bowl for the end of a cold day. It can also be a great topper for baked potatoes or nachos.

14 of 14

Slow-Cooker Puttanesca With Roasted Broccolini

Slow-Cooker Puttanesca With Roasted Broccolini
Jennifer Causey

A restaurant-worthy pasta dish with less than 20 minutes of prep? This tangy sauce is it, plus fresh pappardelle only takes a few minutes to cook, so you can go straight from the slow cooker to the table faster than you can say buon appetito.

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