Summer is right around the corner, which means things are about to get… hot! And along with the warmer weather comes changes to our menu resulting in lighter and refreshing fare. The oven turns off, we store away the slow cookers and prepare for salads, grilled veggies and fish. But you may just be missing out on a simple summer meal solution: that same crock pot you’ve been steaming stews in all winter long. The beauty of the slow cooker is that you can still heat up delicious meals without heating up the whole house and the simple set-it-and-forget-it mentality that comes with it still proves useful in the incredibly busy summer months. Here are our 9 favorite amazingly innovative slow cooker meals that won’t boil you over.
Salads are a summertime favorite, as is anything BBQ-flavored. This recipe is filled with some seriously savory ingredients with minimal work. For the salad, it’s as simple as lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, bacon crumbles, Parmesan cheese and chili flakes. The slow cooker is filled with pinto beans, tomatillo sauce, BBQ seasoning, garlic, avocado oil and cilantro. Yum
This Hawaiian chicken is perfect for summer especially alongside a dollop of cole slaw. Sweetened with fresh pineapple and packed with flavor, this slow cooker recipe is an easy way to get dinner on the table with little work.
Summertime calls for backyard BBQs and beach parties, which makes appetizers the go-to. This spinach artichoke dip will please everyone’s palate and this healthier version means no guilt afterward. Using reduced-fat mozzarella, reduced-fat onion and chive cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, ground red pepper, frozen spinach, a can of artichoke hearts, onion and garlic powder, the prep is minimal. Just stir the ingredients together in a slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours. Opt for sliced veggies instead of baked chips to keep it healthy.
This time of year calls for some serious R&R, but we often find ourselves on the go more than ever! That’s why it’s so important to incorporate healthy snacks you can take from business meeting to beach. This recipe, featuring the well-respected ancient grain quinoa, along with chia seeds and almond butter, is baked using the slow cooker for minimal mess and plenty of time to step outside for a bike ride while you wait.
The pork, barbecue and spices make this a sensational summer recipe that is perfect for sandwiches, tacos and so much more. Simply place the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook for 6 -8 hours; it truly couldn’t be any easier.
Fresh fruits make any meal feel vibrant just like summer. And chicken is the perfect protein for filling you up while remaining light. This recipe has a variety of other delicious ingredients like carrots, celery, onion, peas, garlic, ginger, pepper, soy sauce and turmeric.
Related: 11 Simple Slow Cooker Recipes
Brunch is big anytime of year, but when the kids are out of school, and routine work schedules let up, you’re bound to feel a little crammed in the kitchen. This recipe takes the stress right out of brunch using a hands-off cooking method. Using just a handful of seasonal veggies and eggs, this slow cooker recipe will keep the kitchen cool and your family and friends satisfied.
Salmon makes any meal feel extra special. Rich in flavor but light and fresh for summer, it’s filled with healthy fats essential to your health. Fish is easy to overcook, however, so for this slow cooker recipe, the salmon is placed at the bottom of a covered oven-safe dish before putting in the slow cooker.
Pasta is one of those comfort foods we love so much, we’ll fit it into any season. This recipe calls for making your own homemade tomato sauce to keep your sugar and sodium intake in check. Chopped veggies and fruits like bell pepper, onion, eggplant and tomatoes are center stage in this dish. Topped with refreshing basil, it’s simple yet perfectly pleasing to the palate.