If you’re trying to throw a dinner party without stressing yourself out, a slow cooker may become your new best friend. These easy Crock-Pot dinner party recipes are all worthy of company and feed a crowd without costing a lot, in effort or money. (Which also makes them great for any given weeknight dinner when you need to feed the whole family.)
If you just make a few key decisions ahead of time, you can have a meal ready to go as soon as you walk in the door—or as soon as your guests arrive (while you can spend the time you’re not actively cooking sprucing up the place or putting together an easy dessert, or helping the kids with homework, as the case may be).
Check out these 12 budget friendly slow cooker meals that are perfect for a dinner party but casual enough for any day, and you’ll be able to turn out consistently crowd-pleasing meals without ever breaking a sweat—or the bank.
Pro-tip: For parties, if you have more than one Crock-Pot (it happens), you can use the spare to make a Crock-Pot chocolate cake for dessert, or warm up Crock-Pot drinks to ward off the chill once fall arrives.
The Pioneer Woman Floral 6-Quart Slow Cooker, $24.96 at Walmart
You can serve straight from the slow cooker when it's as pretty as this.
This is a delicious fall soup that’s easy to make vegetarian if you need to by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable or mushroom stock. Cumin, cayenne, saffron, and black pepper add a kick. Get our Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew recipe.
This soup stretches one chicken breast to feed six people but doesn’t feel stingy at all, thanks to the ton of other delicious but thrifty additions (like fire roasted tomatoes from a can, diced tomatoes with green chiles, black beans, and frozen corn kernels). Bake your own tortilla strips and set out additional toppings of diced avocado, shredded cheese, cilantro, sour cream, limes, and fresh or pickled jalapeños and you have a feast. Get the Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe.
Cinnamon, dark brown sugar, chili powder, and cumin combine for a deliciously sweet-smoky flavor and the tender, juicy pork shreds apart like a dream. Serve in pulled pork sandwiches, enchiladas, rice bowls, or whatever else you like. Get our Crock-Pot Pulled Pork recipe.
This Burmese chicken slow cooker dish is enhanced with coconut milk, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, fresh ginger, and garlic. Top with hard boiled egg slices and diced green onion for extra authentic flavor. Get the Slow Cooker Burmese Chicken and Noodles recipe.
This slow cooker soup is great for serving a crowd, or storing a few portions in the freezer for a last-minute meal. You can use whatever type of pasta you want and substitute any kind of beans that you have on hand. Get the Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup recipe.
Barbecue beef brisket is worth the wait (not to mention you’ll have sandwiches for days). The barbecue sauce is made with ketchup, dark brown sugar, chipotle peppers, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and cumin and is absolutely fantastic. Get our Crock-Pot BBQ Beef Brisket recipe.
Related Reading: What to Do with Leftover Brisket
The flavor of this chili develops slowly as it cooks—you can make this recipe overnight and it only gets better the longer you let the flavors meld. Make this in advance for a dinner party (or Monday night) and serve with cornbread or even Cincinnati-style, over pasta. Get our Easy Crock-Pot Chili recipe.
Rich beef short ribs flavored with sweet paprika, caraway, and coriander plus tender chunks of carrots and onion…this dish smells almost as good as it tastes. Serve over egg noodles with sour cream on the side for an unexpectedly captivating party centerpiece that’s also homey enough for any Tuesday dinner around the family table (or TV). Get our Crock-Pot Beef Goulash recipe.
Using the slow cooker to make breakfast? A perfect plan. This easy, cheesy casserole is studded with sage-spiced breakfast sausage and is the perfect make-ahead brunch dish. Drizzle with maple syrup if you like the sweet-salty-savory combo. Get our Crock-Pot Breakfast Casserole recipe.
Bacon makes these beans better than the rest (though if you need to make them vegetarian or vegan, just leave it out and add a few drops of liquid smoke instead). With ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, cloves, and pepper, these are complex and creamy and perfect for serving with anything grilled. Get our Crock-Pot Baked Beans recipe.
This Asian-inspired pork is super tender after hours in the slow cooker and packed with flavor thanks to ginger, garlic, honey, soy sauce, and mirin. Stirring in some kale an hour before it’s finished means the vegetable is taken care of too, and this is a complete meal with rice or noodles (or cauliflower rice if you’re cutting carbs). Serve with Sriracha or chili oil for those who like extra spice. Get the Crock-Pot Honey-Ginger Pork recipe.
Fresh fennel, orange juice and zest, whole-grain mustard, and Niçoise olives give humble chicken thighs a fancy French flair and make them taste delicious. Serve with egg noodles or rice pilaf for an affordable but showstopping dinner party dish that’s so easy you definitely don’t need to reserve it just for guests. Get our Crock-Pot Provencal Chicken Thighs recipe.