Using a slow cooker to help you make food quickly may seem like a contradiction. But while it’s true that start-to-finish cooking times are quite long, slow cookers are actually ideal time-saving tools for busy cooks. Once the ingredients are prepared and placed in the cooker, they require no further attention until you arrive home after a long day, ready to serve up a hot meal.
The following top-rated recipes require only 15 minutes of prep time, so you can turn on the machine and go about your day — perfect for a satisfying weeknight dinner.
|Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
A few shortcuts help this soup to come together in a flash. The ingredient list calls for prepared squash puree (either homemade or canned), and an immersion blender allows you to blend the mixture directly in the slow cooker.
This classic Mexican dish is lightened up with this recipe, as the pork is simmered in flavorful citrus juices instead of lard. Warm some tortillas, cut a few lime wedges and dinner is served.
|Thai Red Curry Beef
Red curry paste, coconut milk and fish sauce add authentic Thai flavors to this hearty beef dish. Make a side of steamed jasmine rice ahead for serving; it’s perfect for soaking up the extra sauce.
|Slow-Cooker Braised Lamb Shanks
After simmering for six hours in the slow cooker, these lamb shanks are falling-off-the-bone tender — and impressive enough to serve when entertaining. Blending the ingredients when they’re finished cooking ensures a thick, rich sauce.
|Stout-Braised Short Ribs
These hearty beef short ribs are slow-cooked in stout, a beer made with dark-roasted barley, which lends a rich, deep color and bittersweet flavor to the beer. Served with creamy mashed potatoes or polenta, these are perfect for a chilly, cozy night in.