The Beginner's Guide to Slow-Cookin' Everything From Drinks to Dessert

Imagine coming home to a fully prepared meal that requires nothing more than dishing it out and digging in. No, we're not suggesting you get a live-in chef (although that sounds pretty great too). Slow cookers (yes, just like your grandma had) are like the fairy cookmother you never had. All you need to do is toss in the ingredients, set the temp, and let the device bubble away throughout day. A few hours later, you come home to an aromatic kitchen and a delicious dinner served.

But if you're totally new to the low-and-slow appliance, our guide below dives into this timeless trend with zero stress. We'll teach you everything you need to know to get started — from how to buy the perfect slow cooker and use it safely to how to simmer just about everything. So what are you waiting for? Plug in yours, and let's do this thing.

Shopping & Safety
Shopping + Safety

Thanks to This Is Us, safety has been on everyone’s mind since the Super Bowl. Will a Crock-Pot catch on fire? Will it burn your house down? Will it implode?! While manufacturers claim modern versions aren't as prone to dangerous accidents, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take extra precautions. Shop our top picks and follow our tips, so the only thing you’ll have to worry about is which recipe to make, be it pasta (like mac and cheese or stroganoff), or homemade take-out.

Meat Recipe Ideas

Beef, chicken, and pork are the most popular types of meat to throw in your trusty slow cooker, but if you're squeamish about where to begin (raw meat can be a little suspect for us all), it's all good. Our articles below run through the best cuts of meat for slow-cooking, the necessary times and temps for mouth-watering results, and basic recipe formulas to follow.

Veggie Recipe Ideas

Don't overlook veggies. With the help of your Crock-Pot, the produce highlighted below will make even the most devout carnivore want seconds. Slow-cooking veggies is more hands-off than roasting in a sheet pan, and yet it yields tasty results every time. They can hold up to hours of steamy action, so never fear accidentally turning them into a mushy, brown overcooked mess (unless you're going for mashed potatoes or caramelized onions). Discover everything you need to know to slow-cook veggies right here.

Drink Recipe Ideas

The humble slow cooker's a welcome friend at parties too. Alongside hot dips served straight from your Crock-Pot, whop up big batches of cozy drinks like hot chocolate, apple cider, and mulled wine for a welcoming treat. Here are basic recipes (both boozy and not) to warm up a crowd.

Dessert Recipe Ideas

Most think a Crock-Pot can only handle savory needs, but, truth is, you can slow-cook candy, cake, brownies, pie, and even bread pudding. See the deliciously decadent proof in these recipes. We're particularly fond of the chocolate candy drops, which you can customize with go-to add-ins like chopped Reese's peanut butter cups, marshmallows, and M&M's.

Hungry for more? Check out more of Brit + Co's fave slow-cooker recipes on Pinterest.

Reporting by Anna Monette Roberts, Rachel Bshero, and Justina Huddleston

Illustrations via San Trieu and Yising Chou / Brit + Co