5 Easy + Tasty Ways Your Slow Cooker Can Earn Its Keep This Winter

It's so far from a unitasker. Here are 5 of our favorite slow cooker recipes.
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If I could keep only one thing from my kitchen, it would be my slow cooker. Mainly because it’s hard to mess up a slow cooker recipe, but I’m also too lazy to cook sometimes. And, as if you needed another reason to use it, the recipes are virtually limitless, including dessert and drink options galore. I came up with a list of my favorite Food Network slow cooker recipes I think is perfect for cold weather.

Sausage, Bean and Pasta Stew

Slow Cooker Sausage, Bean and Pasta Stew

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Placing a parmesan rind in the slow cooker while the rest of the ingredients cook gives this stew a bold flavor. To tone down the spiciness, use sweet Italian sausage instead of hot.

Chicken Chili

The secret ingredient in this flavorful chili is lager-style beer. Top it with jalapeños, sour cream and extra chili powder to boost the flavor even more.

Apple Butter

Recipe courtesy of the Henderson family

Photo by: Brian Kennedy

Brian Kennedy

Recipe courtesy of the Henderson family

What's better than a homemade apple butter recipe? A slow-cooked one! Serve on biscuits, scones or eat it plain.

Chocolate Fondue

Food Network Slow Cooker Chocolate Fondue

Photo by: Marshall Troy

Marshall Troy

There are a number of desserts you can try in a slow cooker, but chocolate fondue is my favorite. It’s even better than an actual fondue set because it keeps the chocolate at the perfect dipping temperature for hours. 

30 Cold-Weather Appetizer Recipes

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Toasted Crostini With Herbed Cream Cheese Spread

Top warm and crunchy baguette slices with our sweet-meets-savory spread for a crowd-pleasing appetizer you can whip up in just minutes. Get the recipe.

Baked Brie With Raspberry Preserves

Warm-and-gooey baked Brie always impresses, but its preparation couldn't be easier. It's the perfect starter to keep holiday guests satisfied while they wait for dinner to begin. Get the recipe.

Mini Quiche Florentine

Vegetarians (just omit the bacon) and meat lovers alike will fall for these satisfying little mouthfuls. Store-bought pie crusts keep prep time to a minimum. Get the recipe.

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Caramel-Covered Brie

This ooey-gooey recipe looks impressive but it really couldn't be easier to make. Your family and guests won't be able to get enough of the warm, flavorful cheese topped with decadent caramel sauce and crunchy pecans. Get the recipe

Creamy Lump Crab and Corn Dip

Keep ravenous Thanksgiving guests at bay with this warm and creamy starter that features the fresh flavors of crab, corn and three different cheeses. Get the recipe.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits With Honey Ham

Comfort food has never tasted so good. Bake up a batch of from-scratch biscuits, then fill them with thinly sliced honey or country ham for a hearty bite to tide guests over till dinner is served. Get the recipe

Beer Cheese Dip

Why go out when you can whip up the pub favorite at home? Seasoned with hot sauce, cayenne pepper, horseradish and Worcestershire, this hot and spicy dip is guaranteed to warm up your guests on even the coldest of days. Get the recipe.

Smoked Gouda and Herb Puffs

These bite-sized balls of smoked, cheesy, herby goodness are the perfect appetizer for a dinner or cocktail party. Just be careful: They're so addictive that it's impossible to eat just one or two (or three)! Get the recipe.

Homemade Pub-Style Pretzels

Soft and chewy, these yeasty pretzels are perfect for serving with one of our warm dip recipes or just pulling apart and munching on their own. Get the recipe.

Chile and Lime Roasted Cashews

Ancho chile and chipotle peppers give fresh roasted cashews just the right amount of heat. Serve the nuts hot out of the oven for a real treat. Get the recipe.

Homemade Pimento Cheese

Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., shares a Southern-style recipe for spicy pimento cheese. Serve chilled, straight from the fridge, or place in a casserole dish and heat in the oven till bubbly warm. Get the recipe

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Blackberry Farm and Beall + Thomas Photography

Southern Fried Stuffing Balls

HGTV's Meg Caswell, host of Meg's Great Rooms, shares this recipe that can be made with or without sausage. To kick up the flavor, Meg recommends adding crumbled bacon and serving them with cranberry dipping sauce made by pureeing a can of cranberry sauce with a splash of orange juice until creamy. Get the recipe.

Photo By: Photography: Kat Teutsch; prop styling: Elizabeth MacLennan; food styling: Jamie Kimm

Pepperoni Pizza Hand Pies

Just 10 basic ingredients are all you need to whip up these tasty little pockets of spicy, cheesy goodness. Get the recipe.

Nacho-Stuffed Potato Skins

If your cold-weather get-together includes gathering around the TV for a football game, then be sure to make these restaurant-style potato skins a star player in your appetizer lineup. Get the recipe.

Maple Chili Popcorn

Food Network's Jeff Mauro of The Sandwich King shares this endlessly munchable spicy-meets-sweet recipe that's great as both a light snack before a big holiday meal and for filling cellophane favor bags that guests can enjoy later. Make several batches a day or two before your get-together then store the popcorn in an airtight container. Get the recipe.

Photo By: Courtesy Kelsey Nixon ©2012 CookingChannelTV.com

Spicy Cheese Straws

No fall or winter party is complete without the classic cheese straw. A savory combination of butter and cheese gets an added kick from cayenne pepper, making them a crowd-pleasing appetizer or hearty snack. Get the recipe.

Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Top flour tortillas with creamy goat cheese and guava jam for a crowd-pleasing starter that can be made in minutes. Get the recipe.

Braised Pork Belly on Homemade Biscuits

Succulent braised pork belly on fresh, from-scratch buttermilk biscuits is sure to tempt guests. The biscuit's scaled-down size ensures everyone can enjoy this homey comfort food without ruining their appetite. Get the recipe

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Blackberry Farm

Blackened Tuna Bites

Tempt health-conscious guests with these sushi-inspired appetizers that get their "heat" from a healthy topping of wasabi or hot sauce. Get the recipe.

Ropa Vieja Mini Tacos

With two types of chiles, these spicy steak mouthfuls are sure to warm up guests coming in from the cold. Cut down on prep time by making the tasty filling ingredients a day or two ahead of time then stuffing mini taco shells right before guests arrive. Get the recipe.

Classic Cheese Fondue

Always a party favorite, cheese fondue can be made hours before serving. Serve with crunchy veggies and crusty bread. Get the recipe.

Savory Focaccia

Freshly roasted garlic cloves, olive oil and rosemary sprigs give this tasty Italian favorite its signature flavor. Have a batch in the oven when guests arrive to fill the house with a tempting, herbal aroma. Get the recipe.

Photo By: Stefano Gargiulo

Crudites With Herbed Cream Cheese

For a healthy first course, whip up this flavorful herbed cream cheese to artfully top crunchy raw veggies. Get the recipe

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Photo By: She-n-He Photography

Fried Camembert

Take gooey fried cheese to the next level with Camembert and truffles. Sophisticated and oh so yummy, this quick and easy starter is sure to please even the pickiest of palettes. Get the recipe.

Bruschetta With Caramelized Dates, Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Whipping up bruschetta appetizers is a snap. Just toast a fresh baguette then top the slices with a soft cheese, like chevre, and any combination of savory ingredients like caramelized dates, spicy red pepper jelly, finely chopped pistachios or crumbled bacon. Get the recipe.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Fire up guests' appetites with shot glasses filled with this spicy vegetarian soup. Get the recipe.

Tofu Edamame Falafel With Tofu Tahini

Serve these tasty bites as a warm appetizer that both vegetarians and meat lovers will enjoy. Get the recipe.

Photo By: Courtesy Lee Anne Wong ©2012 CookingChannelTV.com

Nut-Crusted Brie With Cherry Chutney

Almonds, pecans and walnuts add a crunchy finish to toasty, gooey Brie. Serve with our tangy cherry chutney for an appetizer that's sure to wow your guests. Get the recipe.

Artichoke and Black Truffle Dip

Pair flatbreads and pitas with our savory Mediterranean-inspired dip that's served hot fresh out of the oven. Get the recipe.

Taleggio Crostini With Apple, Thyme and Honey

These tasty crostini can be prepared in a flash with only a few simple ingredients. They're a healthy, light starter for holiday guests to enjoy while dinner is prepared. Get the recipe.

Photo By: Courtesy Andrea Albin ©2012 CookingChannelTV.com

Slow-Cooker Sangria 

Is there anything better than warm, spiced wine on a cold night? Yes: Prepping it in the slow cooker. While the spices and citrus peels infuse into the wine, it will double as an air freshener. It's a win-win. 

Make This: Slow-Cooker Sangria

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