10 Soul-Warming Slow Cooker Recipes for Winter Gatherings

Spend more time with family (and less time cooking!) Throw together these easy, one-pot recipes for stress-free holiday entertaining.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Decadent Chocolate Fondue

This simple dessert is full of holiday fun. Ingredients: 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips, 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Directions: Place all ingredients into a heatproof ceramic or glass jar. Fill a slow cooker with about 2-3 inches of water and place the jar into the slow cooker. Cook on high for 1-2 hours until the chocolate is melted. Mix well and serve with cookies, pretzels, fruit, marshmallows or graham crackers. Entertaining a large crowd? Add more than one jar to the slow cooker.

Hearty Minestrone

Protein-packed and loaded with good-for-you veggies, this soup tastes 1,000 times better than the stuff in a can. Ingredients: (2) 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 4 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups water, 1 bag frozen Italian vegetable mix, 1 large onion (diced), 5 cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons dried Italian spice, 14.5 oz can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed), 14.5 oz can great northern beans (drained and rinsed), 1.5 cups ditalini (tubular) pasta, 2.5 cups baby spinach, salt and pepper to taste. Directions: Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock, water, onions, spices and frozen vegetables in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Add the beans and pasta and cook for another half hour, or until pasta is tender. Stir in spinach and mix until wilted. Serve hot, topped with shredded parmesan and a side of garlic toast.

Mongolian Beef

Skip the Chinese takeout and make this one-pot flavorful dish at home. Ingredients: 2 pounds chuck roast, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons minced ginger and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Directions: Combine beef, soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic and ginger in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove meat from slow cooker and shred. Whisk together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 4 tablespoons of water. Add 1/2 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker to a pan and mix in the cornstarch mixture. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbly. Pour the thickened sauce back into the slow cooker and mix. Serve the shredded beef over rice with a spoonful of sauce and garnish with fresh green onions.

Spiced Mulled Cider

Set the holiday mood with a warm, spiced cider. Ingredients: 1 gallon unfiltered apple cider, 1 medium orange (sliced), 1.5-inch piece fresh ginger, 5 cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon cloves, 3-4 cardamom pods. Directions: Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours or until the flavors meld. Optional: serve with a shot of rum or bourbon on the side. Top with a slice of orange.

Spinach + Artichoke Dip

It's never been easier to whip up this crowd favorite. Ingredients: 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 6 oz Neufchatel cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 jar artichoke hearts (chopped), 8 oz fresh spinach, salt and pepper to taste. Directions: Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours or until hot and bubbly. Serve with bread or tortilla chips.

Spiced Cranberry Chutney

Fruity, spicy and a tad savory, this cranberry chutney is a delicious addition to your holiday spread. Ingredients: 3 cups fresh cranberries, 1-1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tart apples (peeled, cored and chopped), 1/2 small onion (diced), 3/4 cup golden raisins, 1 cinnamon stick, 5 whole cloves. Directions: Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature. This chutney tastes great with brie or on a turkey sandwich.

Pork Carnitas

This easy and flavorful Mexican-inspired dish is an instant crowd pleaser. Ingredients: 4 pounds pork roast, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 5 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 onion diced, juice from one lime, 1/2 cup of orange juice. Directions: Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Shred the meat and serve on corn or flour tortillas with sour cream and cilantro.

Black Bean + Tomato Soup

With just a touch of spice, this black bean soup is hearty enough to keep a crowd full. Ingredients: (4) 15 oz cans of black beans, 2 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, 1 large onion (chopped), 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, 1 vegetable bouillon cube, 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt. Directions: Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with sour cream, green onions or shredded cheddar cheese.

Chicken Pot Pie

Savory and filling, this crowd favorite is the perfect comfort food on a cold day. Ingredients: 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 cup water, 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 chicken bouillon cubes, 4 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons flour, 1 cup milk. Directions: Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add water, frozen mixed vegetables, garlic, spices and bouillon. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Shred the chicken. In a sauce pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter on medium. Whisk in the flour until blended. Add the milk and cook until thickened into gravy. Pour the gravy into the slow cooker and mix. Cook for additional 30 minutes. Serve with biscuits on the side.

Kale + Quinoa Soup

Yes, you can make a nourishing, healthy and delicious soup in a slow cooker! Ingredients: 1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinsed), (2) 14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes, 15 oz can great northern beans (drained and rinsed), 1 onion (diced), 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1.5 tablespoons Italian seasoning, 4 cups of vegetable broth, 1 bunch of fresh kale (stems removed and chopped), salt and pepper to taste. Directions: Place all the ingredients in a slow cooker EXCEPT for the kale. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Stir in kale until wilted.