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Ask the Readers: Do you use your crock pot?

Crockpot

Patti emailed in:

I would like to buy a new crock pot, especially since there is a terrific
coupon in the October All You magazine, but I have not been successful
in finding recipes that my family enjoys and I hate to make such large amounts
of food only to discover they hate it. Do you or any of your readers have
other uses for their slow cookers such as cooking up meats or beans for use in
other meals? Or recipes that are not so full of fat and carbs?  Any
ideas would be greatly appreciated as I ponder this purchase.

When I'm not in the middle of morning sickness and pretty much avoiding the kitchen (!), I'm an avid fan of the crock pot. Since I'm more of an "experimental cook", I love to make up a pot of soup in it by just throwing in some veggies, cooked beans, potatoes, onions, spices, salt, pepper, garlic, and cover with water and cook on low all day long. Or we often make beef sausage, onions, potatoes, and carrots in it. Another favorite use for our crockpot is making applesauce in it. So easy and so good!

I've also made Mexican dishes, lasagna, oatmeal, breakfast casseroles, and even cake in my crockpot! There are thousands of recipes out there and many of your family favorite can be adapted to be made in the crock pot. I'd encourage you to check out the Fix-It and Forget-It recipe book series or other similar crock pot recipe books from your library for some inspiration.

I also highly recommend the blog: A Year of Crockpotting. The blog's author is using her crock pot everyday in 2008 and her recipes and ideas are mouth-watering. If you weren't a fan of the crock pot before reading her blog, you'll likely be motivated to pull it out and try using it after a visit there!

What about the rest of you? Do you use your crock pot on a regular basis? If so, what are some of your favorite ways to use it? Any scrumptious recipes to pass along? (If you've posted them on your blog, feel free to leave your links in the comments section.)

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136 Comments

  • Patti says:

    Wow! Thank you for all the ideas!! This is the best blog I’ve found because of all the great readers comments. These recipe ideas should keep me busy all winter. Think I’ll start looking for a crock pot tomorrow.

  • Amy says:

    Another great crockpot cookbook is Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. It is vegan with options to make things vegetarian. Even if you aren’t vegetarian you could easily add small amounts of meat to the recipes. I really like that none of them call for cans of creamed soup and other processed food.

  • Nicole--to die for Taco Soup says:

    I make this at least once a month . . . and it makes enough for supper, lunch leftovers, and some to freeze.

    1 lb. meat (depending on your likes: chicken (can be frozen), ground turkey, or ground beef.
    1 can rotel
    1 28 oz can diced or whole tomatos
    1 can corn (including juice)
    2 cans beans including liquid (pinto, chili, or kidney)
    1 packet taco seasoning
    1 packet ranch dressing mix
    Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6 hours.
    My family eats it topped with sour cream or cheddar cheese, and fritos. It is always a Sunday football watching dinner winner!!!

  • Tovah Certain says:

    One recipe that I do in the crock pot is a yummy cheesy ham and potatoes meal.

    Layer in crockpot:
    slices of ham
    slices of peeled potatoes
    shredded cheese
    sliced onion

    Then dump a can of cream of mushroom soup and 1/2 can water on top. I usually cook mine for 6-8 on low…or until potatoes are tender. The cheese mixes in with the soup and makes a SO delicous cheesy gravy.

  • jill a. says:

    I LOVE my crockpot & use it a few time each week. I cook dried beans, stews, meat (yummy pot roast) and all kinds of meals in it. Today I threw in the carcass of a rotisserie chicken (after I picked it and made chicken salad with the meat left over from last night’s meal), covered with water, added an onion and a few carrots and let it go all day on low — voila! Delicious chicken stock for future use.

  • Jennifer says:

    My all-time favorite, never-fails crock pot recipe is for Teriyaki Pork Roast. My whole family loves it! You can get the recipe on my blog: http://savingandgiving.blogspot.com/2008/10/crock-pot-recipe-teriyaki-pork-roast.html

  • Dawn says:

    When chicken breasts go on sale (BOGO) I fill the crockpot with frozen chicken breasts and sprinkle with seasonings cook on low and wehn it is cooked through I cut it up and freeze in 1 cup portions to use in recipes that call for cooked chicken.

  • niki says:

    BHG makes a cookbook with low carb recipes that is excellent! Even when we have guests who aren’t watching their waistlines, these recipes are well-received and yummy!

    🙂

  • kim says:

    I love, Love, LOVE our crockpot and as a working mother of three I use it as often as possible. I am always looking for “layering” recipies. ie: chicken on the botton with foil wrapped corn on the cob layered above. Nothing like coming home and the majority of the meal is already cooked!
    When I have no specific plan in mind or are low on groceries and time, I foil wrap large baking potatoes and set the crock pot on low. I know, you can them quicker in the microwave but I usually have veggies going while we are stuffing our potatoes with our favorite toppings.
    Another easy one is the whole chicken, skinned ( I struggled with the skinning part while I was expecting) stuff the cavity with quartered onions and sprinkle top with seasonings .. . yum!

    Kim

  • Katie says:

    I’m not a great cook, but I can pull of some fantastic things with the crock pot. It’s my magic kitchen tool. 🙂 Meats come out so tender and juicy! This weekend we had chicken drumsticks in the crock pot. We got a bunch of them for around $5. I took off the skin, and put them in the crock pot with some italian seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper, and about 1/2 cup of water. I left them on low for 6 or so hours and they came out quite tasty, and the house smelled wonderful too.

  • Kristel says:

    I learned a new crockpot trick recently at http://www.dianadyer.blogspot.com. She recommended saving clean parts of veggies that we usually throw in the compost, things like onion and garlic skins, green pepper innerds, squash: skin, seeds and the stringy stuff, etc. Save it all in the freezer bag until it is full (bones can be added too). Then when you have a full bag dump it in the crockpot, cover with water and cook several hours. When it is cool enough to handle scoop out the vegetable parts with a slotted spoon and put them in your compost bucket. Pour the rest through a strainer or coffee filter and you end up with a really flavorful vegetable broth for a soup base. I’ve done this twice now and used the broth to make tortilla soup and chili. Both were very good. She has creative, healthy recipes on her blog.

  • I use it to save us $$$

    It takes inexpensive cuts of meat and makes them melt in your mouth tender.

    I’ll share one of my super easy, but super duper tasty crock pot staples. And if you’re in FL you can take advantage of this week’s sale on the two ingredients:

    Chicken Leg Quarters
    Lawrys 30 Minute Marinade – Teriyaki w/ Pineapple

    Marinate the chicken in the marinade over night in the fridge. I use a plastic bag so I don’t need to use much of the marinade which helps me stretch it over several uses. In the AM just pull chicken leg quarters out of the bag and put into crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours.

    Delicious.

    Chicken leg quarters are on sale for .59/lb at Publix, and Lawrys is on sale buy 1 get 1 at Publix as well.

    I also make it with chicken thighs when those are on sale.

    The crockpot is a must have in my kitchen :).

  • Katherine Liddle says:

    I recommend “Healthy Crockery Cookery”, by Mable Hoffman. My family enjoys many of the recipes, including several vegetarian ones. I also cook lentil soup or split pea soup in the crock pot at least once a week during the cooler months. I use my regular recipes but add a bit less liquid. Herbs and spices may need to be adjusted a bit, too – ground herbs tend to loose their flavor over long cooking periods, so either add them later on or use more. Whole herbs can intensify in flavor, though, so you may need a bit less of them.

  • Amy West says:

    I made vegetable beed stew in mine today! LOL

    I also made soup beans with ham last week.
    and Chicken Tortilla soup ( if you know Don Pablo’s mine is VERY similar. I have worked hard on it! DH’s favorite recipe! )

    I like using it occasionally.

    One of my concerns ( and i am surprised it hasnt been mentioned yet) is the possible lead content in the pot.
    So I dont use it more than once a week.

    🙂

  • Laura says:

    This couldn’t have come at a better time! Our oven died yesterday!! We’re not sure what to do, yet. Don’t have the money to replace and we know what’s wrong; it will cost at least $150. Using the Crock Pot while we figure it out is a great idea!

    Thanks for your timeliness!

  • Heather says:

    I just got a crockpot and I really like it. Our 2 family favorites (I have a picky husband and child) are
    -Chicken breasts with broth cooked all day and then -shredded to make soft tacos.
    I also make roasts with it.
    We are actually heading to the apple orchard today to pick apples and I’m going to try and make applesauce in it. Apples – water – brown sugar and cinnamon! It sounds easy enough!

  • Sarah Abbott says:

    Here is a link to a lasagna recipe I posted on our blog that I love!
    http://jon-sarah.blogspot.com/2008/09/quick-lasagna.html

    I also love just throwing veggies and meat in mine for a soup. Another easy thing to do is put in a few chicken breasts, a packet of onion soup mix, and a can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. Put it on low for a few hours–really yummy!

  • Joanna says:

    I love my crockpot! I don’t use it a whole lot (maybe 2 or 3 times a month), but I usually stick with making roasts (pork or beef) or chicken. As mentioned, the roasts make great sandwhiches when shredded. My DH loves the beef roast (a little water and onion soup mix is all I put in). Bonless, skinless chicken breast (can be frozen) with a packet of ranch or italian dressing mix and some water makes a great main course and yummy chicken salad with leftovers. I also make chili a lot for potlucks in the fall/winter.
    For those who don’t use their crockpot a lot or need to transport their crockpot I highly recommend Reynolds Slow Cooker liners. You can use a twist tie and seal off(to some extent) the crock before traveling. Not having a mess to scrub out at the end of dinner is wonderful too. =o)

  • Jennifer Alexander says:

    I love using my crock pot and use it often. I am always on the look out for new crock pot recipes. Recently I discovered this blog http://www.crockpot365.blogspot.com. She is using her crock pot everyday as part of a new year resolution and posting them on her blog. Check it out.

  • Jenny says:

    Let me preface with the fact that I hated “crock-pot-ish” tasting recipes with overcooked, dry, soggy, or fatty results. But I’ve had some great luck with these recipes lately:

    *Whole chicken “rotisserie” chicken is fantastic–cheap, easy, delicious, versatile. Rave reviews from people who formerly hated crock-pot meals. To save on foil, use very small heat-proof ramekins or some other method of raising the chicken out of the collecting juices.

    *BEST EVER recipe: French Dip. Cheap cut of meat (trimmed), 3 cups of water and an Au Jus packet (I’m still looking for a non-packet recipe). Cook all day on low, or even as early as the night before.

    *Everyday Food Recipe for Spicy Pulled Pork — great for tacos, also super easy. http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/spicy-pulled-pork?autonomy_kw=spicy%20pulled%20pork&rsc=header_1

    *Real Simple has a whole series of slow-cooker recipes, my favorites of which are the Bolonaise sauce and the bacon chicken.

    *America’s Test Kitchen has several slow-cooker recipes, though I have yet to try them–but I trust their recipes more than almost any others.

  • PJ says:

    I love my crock pot! If you are a fan of meatloaf (I know some are not) just mix up your loaf as you would for the oven, put it in the crock pot, set it on low, and let it go all day. No need to turn on the oven for meatloaf at dinner time. It’s wonderful if you want meatloaf in the summer without the heat of the oven. Also, I use my crockpot to bake potatoes. I wrap mine in foil, they seem to cook better that way, put them in the crock pot in the morning, set it on low, and come dinner time the potatoes are baked. I also use it, as someone mentioned, for entertaining. I make cheese dip, then put it in the crock pot on low and the dip stays in its liquid form for the duration. However, you do have to keep an eye on it if the event is lenghty. After more than a couple hours it tends to start to scorch.

  • René says:

    I don’t like to cook, and would not call myself a good cook, but the crock pot seems to make everyone happy! It makes frozen meatballs (marinated in spaghetti sauce for 3-4 hours) taste like I made them from scratch! You can make meatball sandwiches or just spaghetti.
    Another favorite is chicken tortilla soup – just throw in the ingredients, let them cook for about 5 hours, shred the chicken, add the tortilla strips and some avocado (if you can find them on sale!), and viola!

    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
    1/2 cup chopped onion,
    4oz can chopped green chilies, drained (or 1 fresh)
    2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
    1 can chicken broth
    1 tsp ground cumin
    Salt & pepper to taste
    cilantro as a garnish, if desired

    If you’re a big fan of cheese, like me, you can garnish with that too! A big hit in my house!

  • Lori says:

    There were a lot of comments that I didn’t read, so I hope this is not a repeat.

    I have used the “Fix It and Forget It” crock pot cookbook for a few favorite recipes. I will admit that many of the recipes didn’t sound too good because of all the fat and processed foods that were required for them. But I know that a newer “Light” edition of the book was published, so you might look for that at the library.

    Crock pots are very versatile. I know someone who wraps potatoes in foil and throws them in the crock pot. Baked potatoes are done at dinner time. Soups, stews, lasagnas, beans, even desserts. So much you can do. And I recommend the “year of crockpotting” blog too. She is so creative!

  • I thought I knew a lot about crockpots, but reading these comments has given me many new ideas.

    I’m a working mom, and I use all 3 of my crockpots several times a week to save time and money. You just can’t put a price on walking in the door at night and having a hot meal ready to eat.

    Someone mentioned white chicken chili. This is one of my favorites and in fact, what I have cooking away in my crockpot today. It is SO easy and delicious. Here’s my recipe:

    1 large jar of salsa
    8 oz shredded Monterrey jack cheese
    2 lbs cooked, shredded chicken (or turkey)
    2 cans Great Northern beans – do not drain
    Chili powder, garlic, spices to your taste

    Mix everything together in crockpot, and cook on high for 3 – 4 hours

  • Morgan says:

    I can’t find the coupon in the All You magazine.
    Does anybody know what page?

    Morgan
    mvalencia@astoneagency.com

  • Jessi says:

    I love, love, love my crockpot. For the original question, instead of trying out all these new recipes she’s not sure her family will like, she should stick with their favorites first. So many can be converted into crockpot dishes with half the effort. For example, beef stroganoff….throw in all the ingredients (minus the noodles) and let it cook to its heart content. When it’s time for dinner, cook the noodles and it’s ready. Or sweet and sour chicken, casseroles, or pretty much any recipe out there that can be cooked for a while without losing its yummy parts. I love cooking roasts in it, too. Mmm.

  • Kris says:

    Someone told me they keep their crockpot on and filled with water to warm up baby bottles. Not a bad idea!

  • Calidaho says:

    I use mine at least once a month. I don’t eat meat but hubby does so it is an easy way for me to make him something yummy without having to get to involved in preparing the meat. Dump the roast in the pan, throw on some seasoning and maybe some veggies and he has something to hit his meat loving spot.

    One easy meal I like to make involves freezer ravioli (from costco) spaghetti sauce and cheese. I layer all this in the crock pot and cook for a few hours and I have crock pot lasagna.

    I am not a fancy crock pot cooker. It is solely used when I really don’t want to take too many steps to make something that tastes like I have spent time making it. Except chili, I go crazy prepping for chili and then let it cook all day. Soooo good!

  • Bonnie says:

    I have to say that I thought I would use my crockpot more for stews and such…one pot meals I could cook all day in cool weather…but I found that we didn’t like these meals very much. If you do soups or stews starting out with raw meat you are cooking in the fat that will be stirred up into your dish instead of drained off. I do like roasts in the crock because you can drain off the fat. I do not like chicken in the crock. It has a very mushy taste to me that I don’t care for. I have done chicken noodle soup that I liked using bits of leftover chicken and it was good…it doesn’t matter if the chicken is mushy in soups. But I don’t like whole pieces of chicken in the crock. My b-i-l does a whole chicken in the crock with a bottle of BBQ sauce poured over and it is disgusting to me. All in all I do not use the crockpot as much as I thought I would when I bought it.

  • Viki says:

    I have 5 crock pots in assorted sizes from small to 7qts. I like to make roasts, BBQ, soup, chili, melt chocolate and cheese dip. True some recipes turn out so so but if you are going to be gone all day it is a wonderful appliance. I personally don’t like the kind with attached timers they are to limiting for me, I use a timer that you would plug a lamp into for vacations and that lets me turn on/off so my recipes don’t get overdone.

    Some really great uses for a crock pot is keeping mashed potatoes hot and refried beans hot also a great bun/roll warmer. We have eaten meetings at church once a month and it really helps to keep the food warm.

  • Viki says:

    I wanted to follow up with my last post. Crock pots are the very best for baking potatoes and yams, just scrub and place in the pot and bake for 2 1/2- 3 hrs on high or 4-6 hours on low. When cooking yam/sweet potatoes add 1/4 c water. Sure beats the cost of heating an oven and you can fill the crock pot with a lot of potatoes which freeze well by the way.

  • Jill says:

    I practically do ALL my cooking with my crockpot. As a mom of three, I have found making meals to be easy, cost-effective, healthy and delicious. I actually never really “cooked” before I started crock-potting. I only use recipes that have about 5 ingredients (Fix It and Forget It Lightly and Fix It and Forget It 5 Ingredient recipes are my crockpot bibles) or less (to save time), and only recipes for which I know the nutrition info. to be sure they are healthy and low-fat. I have a 6 yr. old and twin 4 yr. olds and they love crock pot food more than chicken nuggets, pb & j and mac and cheese! Here’s my fave, go to recipe:

    6 chicken breast halves OR 3-5 pieces pork loin (frozen is okay)
    1 can diet soda (any kind-I’ve even used diet dr. pepper once)
    1 med. onion chopped (OR onion powder to taste)
    1 cup BBQ sauce (OR ANY kind of sauce or marinade–I have used teriyaki; ginger marinade; raspberry chipotle; etc… anything works)
    Cook on high 4-6 hours. With 1 hour to go, take out meat, shred and put back into crock pot. Serve on buns, over rice, over potatoes, in burritos, etc.. Enjoy!!!

  • Amy says:

    I love to make chicken or turkey stock in my crock pot. I even use it on Thanksgiving day! I just put it on the counter while I am pulling off the rest of the turkey to put in the fridge. I throw in the bones and a carrot, onion, celery – whatever I have. I turn it on and forget about it. The longer it cooks, the richer it is. When I have the time a few hours later, I strain and then put in the fridge to let the fat rise to the top. Easy!

  • Justina says:

    The slow cooker is an amazing invention! Here’s my fav. recipe for a whole chicken:

    Carrots, peeled and cut
    Whole chicken
    4 T butter
    2 tsp. parsley
    2 tsp. basil
    2 tsp. paprika
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    Salt to taste
    Pepper to taste
    1 cup water

    Put carrots on the bottom of the slow cooker. These are my husbands favorite carrots in the world…=)

    Rinse thawed whole chicken in cold water; pat dry. I cut slits in the skin throughout the chicken and stick butter in there along with all of the other ingredients listed, except the carrots. I also stick some of the ingredients in the cavity. Add water around the chicken.

    Cook on high for 1 hour, then cook on low for 8-10 hours. (If you can’t cook for 1 hour first, then just cook on low for 10-12 hours). I put mine on for this recipe last night at midnight, and we enjoyed this for lunch after church today around noon.

    Have a side salad with this, and YUM!!!

  • Patti says:

    Hi, Crystal,

    Just a note to let your readers know that I bought my new slow cooker -the Hamilton Beach 3 in 1 Cooker –at Target for $24.99!!! It lists for $62.99 on the HB web site and was at Sears on sale for $53.99 (the only other store I could find that stocked it here). I asked why it was on sale and was told it was because a new model might be coming in. All I know is that in all the research I did, this one was a favorite because it has the 2 qt., 4qt. and 6 qt. stoneware inserts making it quite versatile. Thought your readers might want to know!!

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