14 Crowd-Pleasing Family Meals from the Slow Cooker

Even if you’re the world’s most avid home cook, let’s be honest: Between work, family commitments, and now, holiday shopping, sometimes you just need to get dinner done. For those days, turn to one-pot pleasers that are packed with flavor and sure to make everyone—from your pea-averse five-year-old to your persnickety significant other—happy. Here are 14 that never leave our crockpot rotation.

1. Chicken Adobo

Chowhound

At this crockpot dish’s core is meat or poultry braised in a vinegary sauce. This easy, mild version cooks onions, chicken, soy sauce, and vinegar in a slow cooker, and takes advantage of bone-in chicken thighs’ extra flavor from the bones. The onions absorb the savory sauce, and all that’s needed to complete the meal is a pile of steamed rice to soak everything up. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo recipe.

2. Pork Ramen

Eva Kolenko

Here is a simplified, yet still delicious, version of ramen that boasts plenty of succulent braised pork. If you can’t find high-quality fresh ramen noodles, use fresh thin Chinese egg noodles or fresh linguine. Serve the soup with your favorite ramen embellishments. Get Kim Laidlaw’s Slow Cooker Pork Ramen recipe.

3. Pulled Pork Enchiladas

Chowhound

Pork shoulder, dried chiles, and tomatoes slowly turn luscious over as many as 10 hours in the slow cooker, then get turned into a memorable filling, rolled into sauce-dipped tortillas and baked under a blanket of cheese. Serve these on a Sunday afternoon with a refreshing tangle of jicama and orange salad and a pitcher of agua de Jamaica or beer. Get our Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Enchiladas recipe.

4. Chipotle Chili

Chowhound

Made with chicken thighs, canned cannellini beans, and a handful of other ingredients, this crockpot chili tastes way more complicated than it is. It’s a a rich, smoky-tasting one-bowl dinner, perfect for laid-back Sundays. Get our Slow Cooker Chipotle Chili recipe.

5. Slow Cooker Chicken Mole

Chowhound

With an entire can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, along with ancho chiles and almonds, this mole is nicely spicy without being overbearing. Prep is a breeze: Just sblend everything up, put it in the slow cooker with some chicken, and forget about it for 4 to 8 hours. The recipe yields lots of extra sauce, so put some out with tortilla chips before serving it for dinner. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Mole recipe.

6. Root Vegetable Stew

Chowhound

When slowly cooked, root vegetables morph into sweet deliciousness. Use vegetable (or mushroom) broth here, and you’ve got a hearty, vegan, and gluten-free dinner. Yukon gold potatoes, carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, sweet potatoes—they’re delicious, and healthy. Get our Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew recipe.

7. Chicken Thighs with Olives and Fennel

Chowhound

Skinless, bone-in chicken thighs pick up tenderness and deep flavor in this pretty much effortless slow cooker recipe with French flavors. Fresh fennel bulbs, orange zest and juice, black olives, and whole-grain mustard simmer with the chicken, in a one-crock dish that needs only buttered noodles or rice pilaf. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Olives and Fennel recipe.

8. Spaghetti Bolognese

Chowhound

Don’t expect this slow cooker version of Bolognese, which calls for atypical ingredients like porcini mushrooms and ground cinnamon, to be traditional, but do expect your family to go back for seconds anyway. Get our Spaghetti Bolognese recipe.

9. Jambalaya

Alaska From Scratch

Spicy andouille sausage is traditional to jambalaya, but if the kids don’t have a high tolerance for heat, substitute regular smoked sausage and pass around Cajun seasoning and Tabasco for the adults at the table. Get Alaska From Scratch'sJambalaya recipe.

10. Beef Stroganoff

Fresh Slowcooking

There’s a reason beef stroganoff is a classic not just in Russia but all around the world: The dish exudes a sense of luxuriousness while still managing to be one of the most affordable entrées on the block. Get Fresh Slowcooking's Beef Stroganoff recipe.

11. Vegetable Lasagna

Weelicious

This veggie lasagna is a win all around. Your spouse will be excited the kids are eating vegetables; the kids’ll be excited they’re eating pasta and melted cheese; you’ll be excited you’re coming home to a ready-made dinner. Get Weelicious's Vegetable Lasagna recipe.

12. Latin-Caribbean Beans and Rice

The Perfect Pantry

In Puerto Rico, black beans and rice are cooked with recaíto, a mix of onions, garlic, green peppers, and cilantro; Cuban-style beans and rice are similar, but infused with the scent of sofrito, a medley of onions, garlic, green peppers, and tomatoes. This recipe takes inspiration from both, and manages to be flavorful without winding up too spicy. Get The Perfect Pantry's Latin-Caribbean Beans and Rice recipe.

13. Japanese Curry

Just Hungry

Because it’s not too pungent, Japanese-style curry makes a lovely candidate for a family dinner, even if you have spice-averse eaters to please. Opt for a mild curry mix to keep everyone happy. Get Filing Away Cupcakes' Japanese Curry recipe.

14. Healthier Eggplant Parmesan

A Sunshiny Day

Eggplant parmesan usually calls for frying slices of breaded eggplant before topping them with cheese, then serving with a generous heap of spaghetti in red sauce. This lightened-up rendition—a deconstructed version with eggplant, melted mozzarella, and homemade breadcrumbs—cuts out all the oil without making any flavor concessions. Get A Sunshiny Day's Healthier Eggplant Parmesan recipe.

Susannah Chen is a San Francisco–based freelance writer. When she's not cooking or writing, she's on the hunt to find the world's best chilaquiles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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