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The mornings are filled with frost and fresh snow, the evenings are chill-inducing – and whether you’re venturing out into the cold or staying comfortably indoors, there’s nothing better during winter than ending your day with a comforting meal that really warms you up from the inside out. But creating cozy dishes doesn’t mean you have to spend time whipping up recipes on your stove or inside your oven. You can make winter-ready meals in no time at all (or, well, what seems like no time!) with your trusty slow cooker.
Sure, slow cooker dinners take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours of stewing and simmering. But it’ll do all of the hard work for you while you go about your busy day, making it a handy solution for any night of the week. And we’ve rounded up some of our coziest, most comforting slow cooker recipes that’ll satisfy your hunger all while warming you up this winter.
Satisfying soups and stews
If there’s perhaps one category of dish the slow cooker is best known and most utilized for, it’s stews and soups! And who doesn’t want to dig a spoon into a soup or stew when winter weather is at its worst? Whether you’re opting for light and broth-y or thick and creamy, your slow cooker can turn even the toughest ingredients (looking at you, lentils!) and budget-friendly proteins into delicious lunches and dinners. As an added bonus, these cozy recipes often come together in your slow cooker without any need to break out – and dirty – extra pots, pans or tools.
Comforting chilis and curries
Beans, lentils, chopped veggies, plenty of herbs and spices – chilis and curries are everything in one warming bowl. And with the help of your slow cooker, you can take the hours of simmering and stirring required on the stove and make them completely hands-off. Plus, creating chili or curry in your slow cooker allows you to build even richer flavors in these spicy, completely comforting dishes. Try these different varieties to spice up your usual recipes with something new.
Think your slow cooker is only for soups and stews or meat-based mains? This one-pot wonder can turn out some seriously impressive casseroles too – and it’s the perfect vessel for layering flavors, bringing together an array of winter’s best in-season veggies and, of course, topping it all off with some ooey-gooey cheese. These slow cooker casseroles are the ultimate in comfort food. And best of all, they don’t require you to turn on your oven.
Winter-ready meat dishes
Centering your meals around protein – and specifically, different kinds of meat – can be a challenge if you’re trying to save time. Your slow cooker can be your biggest ally, allowing you to pop everything from beef to chicken to lamb right inside and cook slowly over hours. Plus, many meat-based mains can be cooked right alongside your veggies and side dishes for an even easier, more efficient dinnertime solution.