24 Slow Cooker Recipes Perfect for Summer Entertaining

From spicy pork tenderloin to slow-cooker carrot cake, there are plenty of hot weather dishes to simmer without heating up the house.


Victor Protasio

Slow cookers are often associated with cold-weather cooking, when deeply comforting stews and long-simmered tagines help fill the tummy (and soul) on long winter days. But summer slow cooker recipes are worth it too! If you put away your slow cooker when the mercury starts to rise, you're doing a dire disservice to yourself, your family, and anyone you're planning to feed during spring and summer months.

Indeed, in the summertime when the mere idea of heating up an oven or sauté pan makes you break a sweat, you can use a slow cooker to make dinners and sides. Here, we've collected our best summer-worthy slow cooker recipes.

01 of 24

Slow-Cooker Puttanesca With Roasted Broccolini

Slow-Cooker Puttanesca With Roasted Broccolini
Jennifer Causey

If you’re not using your slow cooker to make pasta sauce, this is the perfect recipe to start with. Here, the multitasking appliance is used to create a rich, tangy puttanesca made with peeled tomatoes, Italian sausage, kalamata olives, and capers. When the sauce is almost done cooking, go ahead and boil your pasta and roast the broccolini for an easy summer meal. 

02 of 24

Slow Cooker Chicken Tostadas

Slow-cooker Chicken Tostadas with toppings on a white plate with a purple cloth napkin
Caitlin Bensel

This recipe transforms boneless, skinless chicken thighs into juicy, salsa-infused meat, perfect for topping tostadas—aka toasted or fried corn tortillas. Add a fresh, homemade pico de gallo and crumbled queso fresco, and dinner is served. If you’re cooking for a larger group as part of a summer soiree, simply double the recipe.

03 of 24

Slow-Cooker Pork With Peppers and Olives

Slow Cooker Pork with Peppers and Olives
Greg DuPree

Cuban ropa vieja meets pork (instead of the traditional beef) in this easy slow-cooker recipe. Here, the meat is bathed in a tomato-y bell pepper and onion sauce. Once you add pimiento-stuffed olives and generous amounts of oregano, cumin, and garlic, you’ve got a deep, flavorful stew. Serve with black beans and white rice to soak up every last bit of the delicious sauce.

04 of 24

Slow Cooker Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Slow-Cooker Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Victor Protasio

For a summertime dessert that calls for just 25 minutes of prep, consider this pineapple upside down cake. While you will need to add the ingredients to the slow cooker in batches, that’s really the only work required, aside from inverting the cake once it’s finished. Serve with a generous dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and dig in!

05 of 24

Slow-Cooker Ragù With Spaghetti Squash

Slow-Cooker Ragù With Spaghetti Squash Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

If you’re looking for a lighter alternative to spaghetti in the summer months, try spaghetti squash. While there are many ways to cook the pasta-like insides of this gourd, using a slow cooker means you only need to do 15 minutes of hands-on work, while the appliance does the rest. Shower the finished dish with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan and you’re all set. 

06 of 24

Slow Cooker Cinnamon-Pecan Monkey Bread

Slow-Cooker Cinnamon Monkey Bread on a serving platter
Heather Meldrom

There’s something about monkey bread in the summer that conjures up memories of campfires and sing-a-longs. This version requires just 20 minutes of hands-on work, and can function either as an after-dinner treat or decadent breakfast. Just note that if you plan to serve it immediately after cooking rather than keeping it warm, reduce the water called for in the recipe to 1/3 cup.

07 of 24

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

Yes, chili is great when it’s cold and blustery outside, but it’s just as delicious during the warmer months as well. Plus, since this meat-free recipe uses a slow cooker, you don’t need to stand over the stove for hours. This hearty dish is packed with sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and a variety of beans, and is perfect for a crowd.

08 of 24

Slow Cooker Mexican Beef Sliders

EXTRA SHARP: Slow Cooker Mexican Beef Sliders

In this recipe, Barbacoa-inspired beef chuck roast is flavored with chipotle chiles in adobo, ground cumin, dried oregano, and more, before cooking in the slow cooker for about eight hours. Once the meat is done, it’s piled onto slider buns with a quick slaw and pickled jalapeños that bring acidity and heat, respectively. If you need a new dish for your next cookout, try this one.

09 of 24

Slow-Cooker Deep Dish Pizza


Victor Protasio

While you might not think to use your slow cooker to make a pizza pie, it’s totally possible to do it. Simply stretch the pizza dough to fill a large slow cooker insert, then top as you like. Yes, it’s that easy, and works for any time of the year.

10 of 24

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

2-Ingredient Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe
Getty Images

There are so many things you can make with shredded chicken—tacos, chicken chili, pasta salad—and this recipe gets the main ingredient taken care of with just five minutes of prep and two ingredients. If you’re feeding a summer crowd, adjust the recipe accordingly.

11 of 24

Slow-Cooker Soy-Braised Chicken

Slow-Cooker Soy-Braised Chicken
Con Poulos

This take on chicken adobo includes chicken that is braised in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce, which creates a sweet and sour marinade that’s as delicious as it sounds. Serve with rice and bok choy so you can soak up every last bit.

12 of 24

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Pork Sandwiches with Crunchy Coleslaw

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Pork Sandwiches With Crunchy Coleslaw
Romulo Yanes

If you don’t feel like firing up the grill for your next BBQ, just make these barbecue pork sandwiches instead. In this recipe, pork flavored with brown sugar, chili powder, vinegar, and more cooks until it’s tender enough to shred with a fork. The coleslaw served alongside provides the perfect crisp and creamy balance, while the sandwich rolls hold everything together.

13 of 24

Slow Cooker Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Real Simple Web Gallery - Slow Cooker Cakes - Carrot Cake

Yes, you can make carrot cake in the slow cooker, and yes it’s just as delicious as any oven-baked version without turning your kitchen into a sauna. In fact, one could argue that cake made in a slow cooker has more moisture and bakes more evenly, yielding a tastier final product. Just don’t forget the cream cheese frosting, which you’ll make separately once the cake is baked.

14 of 24

Pulled-Pork Tacos

Slow-Cooker Pulled-Pork Tacos
Kan Kanbayashi

There’s never a wrong time of year to eat tacos, especially if they come together with just 15 minutes of hands-on work thanks to the slow cooker. Serve these pork tacos with tortillas, cilantro, sour cream, lime, and extra salsa for a complete meal.

15 of 24

Slow Cooker Cuban Sandwiches

Slow-Cooker Cuban Sandwiches
Greg DuPree

Slow cooked meals have a reputation for being overly rich, but in summer months, the goal is dinners that are light and refreshing. That's precisely why you should make these sandwiches: briny pork, salty ham, tangy pickles, and bright mustard fill crusty bread. Serve with an ice-cold beer and a side of baked chips for a fast and delicious dinner.

16 of 24

BBQ Sweet Potato Bakers

Slow-Cooker BBQ Sweet Potato Bakers
Max Kelly

Use your slow cooker to soften spuds, like these healthy and hearty sweet potatoes. Pack them with plenty of summer-ready toppings like fresh corn, chopped tomatoes, or crisp chives to bring your farmer's market haul right to your table. Serve with a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to avoid turning on your stove.

17 of 24

Chicken Taco Soup

Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
Jennifer Causey

You might think soup is just too hot for a summer day, but it can be very refreshing and filling without making you fan yourself at the table. Plus, you can use cooling toppings like radishes, sour cream, avocado, and fresh corn to keep things light.

18 of 24

Sweet and Spicy Pork Tenderloin

Sweet and Spicy Pork Tenderloin
Greg DuPree

A spicy-sweet coating of brown sugar and crushed red pepper helps seal in moisture in this pork tenderloin. A hint of umami is added by soy-spiked beef stock. You can use this tenderloin the way we recommend—served over rice with crisp, refreshing cucumbers and carrots, or use it to make quick tacos, a salad topper, or even the meat for a mix-and-match burrito bowl.

19 of 24

Coca-Cola Carnitas

Coca-Cola Carnitas
Jennifer Causey

Fans of batch cooking will appreciate this slow-cooked pork shoulder recipe. It's brimming with flavor thanks to chili powder, cumin, and oregano, but a braise of sugary cola makes the meat tender and exceptionally juicy. (Crazy, we know!) Put this in to cook on a Sunday or the first night of your vacation, and use it to make tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and more all week long.

20 of 24

Black Bean Posole

Slow Cooker Black Bean Posole
Victor Protasio

Cool, fresh toppings like avocado, radishes, and cilantro tame the heat and spice of this Mexican soup, which help you stave off a sweat. Plus, this soup is broth-based, which is lighter and more refreshing than a hearty stew on a hot night. It's perfect for freezing if you have any leftovers, but we doubt there will be much left behind.

21 of 24

Open-Faced Pulled-Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Broccoli Slaw

Slow-Cooker Open-Face Pulled-Pork Sandwiches With Tangy Broccoli Slaw
Marcus Nilsson

Juicy pulled pork makes for fast and easy sandwiches with a quick, fresh, and crisp slaw topping. You can eat the slaw (which is also made ahead for the best flavor) on the sandwich or as a side. If you've got summer-ripe ears of corn, they're welcome with this easy summer sandwich too.

22 of 24

Big-Batch Slow Cooker Black Beans

Big-Batch Slow Cooker Black Beans
Jennifer Causey

Beans can long-simmer over a stove eye, but the heat can be overwhelming when the sun is so strong. Opt for cooking beans in your slow cooker instead. You can even skip the overnight soaking step. Use your batch of beans as a side throughout the week or as the base for a soup, salad, or grain bowl.

23 of 24

Slow-Cooker Cheesecake

Slow-Cooker Cheesecake
Victor Protasio

Once you make cheesecake in a slow cooker, you may never bother with the traditional oven method again. A little whipped cream on top never hurt either.

24 of 24

Slow Cooked Angel Food Cake

Slow-Cooker Angel Food Cake
Victor Protasio

Light-as-air angel food cake is the perfect companion to juicy summer strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and/or a tropical mixture of pineapple, mango, and flaked coconut. This fluffy dessert can bake while you make an assortment of no-cook summer dinner.

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