The season for slow cooker everything is upon us! There’s nothing better than coming home on a cold winter day to the smell of homemade soup or a cinnamon soaked dessert dancing through the kitchen. As soon as the first leaf falls, I begin the hunt through all my favorite online groups and Pinterest pages for ideas on how to start the slow cooker season off right! Winter Slow Cooker Ideas keep me motivated in the kitchen.
Of course the food is comforting, filling and tasty but a lot of meals made in a slow cooker are economical too, (as well as the slow cooker itself) and my favorite part is the minimal clean up involved for our dishwasher-less household! From dips to desserts, breakfast to dinner one pot wonders, warm spiced cider to pear butter…here are some mouth watering ideas to help you kick off cold weather in all the right ways and flavors in your home!
Spiced Hot Cider or Spiced Wine
The Old Mill and General Store in Pigeon Forge is a quaint restaurant and store with a working grist mill, still making (and mastering) delicious items to sell at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains since 1830. One of my absolute favorites is their Mulling Spice! A sweet, fresh and flavorful mix of spices. In a slow cooker or kettle you can add either red wine, apple juice or apple cider and the mulling spice mix, simple yet so flavorful. Although it’s a great reason to head down to the Smokies, you can also shop their selections here! Their blueberry pancake mix topped with their blueberry syrup is also a family favorite and definitely worth a try!
Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries & Pecans
Add 3 C of rice, uncooked. 3 Tbsp butter, ½ tsp salt. ¼ tsp pepper, 1/2 onion, 1-2 cloves of garlic, ⅓ C parsley, 16 oz chicken stock and 16 oz of apple cider. Add some juice from a freshly squeezed orange for some flavor, to make this dish more of a meal you can always add chicken or turkey too! Cook the above on low for 4-5 hours. Then brown 1 ½ C of pecans in a saucepan (about 4-5 minutes on medium heat, stir frequently). Add the pecans, 1 cup of dried cranberries, 1 chopped apple and ½ C of maple syrup and let cook another 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Another of my favorite winter seasonal slow cooker ideas is that yummy staple, potatoes. Specifically garlic mashed potatoes.
Add 3 lbs chopped potatoes,4 tbsp butter, ¼ C water, 3 minced garlic cloves, kosher salt and fresh pepper. Cook on high heat for 3-4 hours. Then add ½ C of sour cream, ⅓ C parmesan, 2 Tbsp of milk, (you can always add more if you like creamier potatoes), add thyme, basil and oregano to taste… I usually top with some fresh green onion, then enjoy!
Overnight Slow Cooker Blueberry Oatmeal
Warm breakfast that’s ready as soon as you wake up? Count me in! This next winter slow cooker recipe allows you to prepare it before bed and let the slow cooker work its magic overnight!
Add 6 ½ cups water, 1 ½ C oats. 4 Tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp butter, ⅛ tsp salt. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. You could also add 1-3 ripe bananas. Add blueberries when you wake up and let cook for another 15 minutes.
I love how versatile the breakfast staple is! You can get super creative with flavors and curate your breakfast to what you’re craving, whether it be the sweetness of peaches or strawberries, raisins, pumpkin, cinnamon, cherry, vanilla, cranberry or coconut, I could keep going but I think you get it. Tamilee Tips even had this slow cooker eggnog oatmeal recipe that I’m dying to try!
Nothing shouts cold weather perfection more than a pumpkin or apple dessert. Here, you can have both! Our winter slow cooker ideas must include a pumpkin apple dessert! Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Now you can make this recipe easy by scooping 1 can of apple pie filling into the cooker but I like to use fresh cut apples with 1 Tbsp lemon juice, spices with corn starch for thickness and make my own if I have the time, then, In a large bowl, mix 2 C flour, 1 ¼ C brown sugar, 1 cup canned pumpkin ¾ C fat free egg product, ⅓ C vegetable oil, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg and ¼ tsp baking soda. I usually add some allspice too. Cover and cook on high heat for 1.5 to 2 hours. Add ice cream or drizzle in maple syrup for an extra special treat!
Peel and cut 10 pears, place in a slow cooker with 1 C of orange juice. Cover and cook for 10-12 hours and drain liquid. Mash pears. Add 1 C sugar, 1 Tsp ground cinnamon and 1 Tsp pumpkin pie spice. Cover and cook for 1 hour and enjoy.
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
When I sat down to start writing this post, I originally decided I wasn’t going to add any soup, chili, or mac and cheese recipes because well, they’ve been done before. Most families have perfected them after trial and error and my goal was to show our readers the versatility of my favorite kitchen appliance. Crockpot mac and cheese is just so delicious and creamy, I just had to. This post just didn’t feel complete without it.
I think mac and cheese is a lot like oatmeal too. You can personalize it in so many different ways. We like to add tuna, chicken or broccoli to ours to make it more of a meal, or sometimes plain as a side dish. Ok, I’m starting to blab, just like the online recipes I love to hate, and am so thankful the “print recipe/jump to recipe” buttons exist, so, let’s get to it!
1-16oz box of elbow macaroni, 4 tbsp butter, 1-12 oz can of evaporated milk, 4 oz of cream cheese,3 cups shredded cheddar cheese ¾ of a block of white American cheese, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp garlic powder and ¼ tsp pepper. Now you can cook the macaroni first, and then add everything to the slow cooker and cook for 1-2 hours, that’s the safe way, but one of the main reasons I love my slow cooker is how it cuts down on the amount of dishes we use so I just pour the uncooked macaroni into the slow cooker and cook the ingredients all together! Just be careful not to overcook the macaroni, sometimes I have to add some milk or a bit more cream cheese depending on how it turns out, I usually add some chopped green onion to the top of mine as well for a splash of color and flavor, you can also experiment with different types of cheeses for different flavors!
I hope the above helps bring some warm, delicious and maybe new flavors into your kitchen this winter!