Best one-pot soup, stew, or casserole recipes for crockpots?
November 4, 2013 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Looking for soup, stew, or casserole recipes where I can spend ten minutes dumping stuff in the crockpot in the morning and have a full meal ready when I get home. Something like this is ideal; the only prep is chopping an onion before setting it and forgetting it until dinnertime. No dietary preferences or restrictions, but some vegetables would probably be good. I'm seeing a lot of recipes online, but am having a hard time weeding out which ones are worthwhile, and would appreciate any favorites you care to share.
posted by stellaluna to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 214 users marked this as a favorite
I do a stew-like thingy about once a week. Total prep is about 30 minutes. The ingredient list varies every time based on what I have in the fridge and pantry, and make about 4-6 servings. Here are two versions:

Chicken and Chickpea Stew:
3 big carrots, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can of garbonzos, drained and rinsed
1 can of diced tomatoes including the liquid
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 smoked sausages (I like portuguese or andouille), sliced
2 chicken breasts, cut up
8oz of kale, cut up (i just use half a bag of pre-cut, pre-washed from Trader Joes)
Couple handfuls of fresh greenbeans, cut
1 sprig of rosemary
4-5 sprigs of thyme
4 good squirts from a tube of tomato paste (or about 1/3 of a small can)
garlic salt and black pepper to taste (don't skimp!)
About half a cup of water

Throw everything into the slow cooker and mix it up with your clean hands. Cook on low at least 5 hours. Stir it all up once during cooking if you can. No biggie if you can't. Eat with crusty bread.

Beef, Mushrooms, and Greens Stew
3 big carrots, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes including the liquid
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 smoked sausages, sliced
8oz mushrooms, sliced
About 1.25 lb skirt steak (cut up)
8oz kale, cut up
6oz collard greens, cut up
1 sprig of rosemary
4-5 sprigs of thyme
4 good squirts from a tube of tomato paste (or about 1/3 of a small can)
garlic salt and black pepper to taste (don't skimp!)
About half a cup of water

Throw everything into the slow cooker and mix it up with your clean hands. Cook on low at least 5 hours. Stir it all up once during cooking if you can. No biggie if you can't. Eat with cheese toast. Salt and vinegar potato chips also work amazingly well with this.
posted by bluejayway at 3:48 PM on November 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

As luck would have it, I'm finishing a crockpot of "stoop" (stew~soup) right now. Very quick to throw together and simple as a worm: two or three (depends on size) white rose potatoes in chunks, an equal volume of sliced carrots, a lb. or so of stew meat (could be chicken), 2 cans of beef broth (could be chicken), a packet (or more) of onion soup mix and cracked black pepper plus other prefered seasonings (salt is rarely needed because of the soup mix). Any extra needed liquid to cover could be water or wine (red for beef, white for chicken). Hell, even beer if you're feeling Belgian. When the potatoes are done so is the stoop...
posted by jim in austin at 3:51 PM on November 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: My latest favorite is basically the filling for Chicken Pot Pie, which I usually just eat as a stew. For me, this makes 6-8 servings. It freezes pretty well too.

2 chicken breasts, cubed
5 medium red potatoes, quartered
1/2 bag baby carrots
1/2 c chopped celery
26 oz condensed cream of chicken soup
1 small can of chicken broth
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp pepper
Whatever else you have on hand: garlic, basil, rosemary and thyme all work well.

6 hours on high or 9-10 on low. I usually dump 1/2 a bag of frozen veggies in an hour before it's done.
posted by JannaK at 4:01 PM on November 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Just did stew last night!

Dump the following in the pot:

beef broth (I made it but you can just buy it)
chopped carrots (I used three, whatever)
chopped potatoes (same, used three)


chopped onions and garlic (like an onion's worth, and however many cloves you want)
beef chunks (a package worth? idk) (remove the onions and garlic first)

Dump those in the pot too. Then deglaze your browning pan with some wine or vinegar, plus some tomato paste. Add that liquid to the pot. You just need enough liquid to cover all your chunks, add more broth or wine if needed.

That's literally it. Cook on high for maybe like 5 hours, or low for however long you're at work. Salt and pepper to taste.

The browning is really pretty necessary, but you could do it the night before I guess! Add chopped herbs at the end if you want, put whatever other root vegetables you prefer, use lamb or goat if you find some on sale...
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:14 PM on November 4, 2013

Best answer: I just made this yesterday, and it turns out pretty good, although I did in fact need to add a bit of water at the end. I'm planning on making this later in the week, but haven't tried it yet.

Generally, that site (Budget Bytes) has recipes that turn out really well, are cheap, and quick, even for non-crockpot things.
posted by LionIndex at 4:18 PM on November 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Split pea soup is great as it's very filling, requires minimal effort, and it's easy to have all the ingredients on hand. I also refer to it as broke soup, as the total ingredients for a pot full cost less than five bucks.

Split Pea Soup

1 lb. bag of split peas
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 lb. smoked ham hocks (bone and all)

In the morning, put everything in the crockpot and fill with water to about an inch below the rim. Set it to low and let it cook all day. Right before serving, fish out the ham hocks and separate the meat from everything else (two forks work well for this). Put the meat in the pot, stir up the soup, and serve.

Optional when serving:

splash of cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
posted by Gneisskate at 4:26 PM on November 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Curry! Cubed chicken, veggies cut to around the same size as the chicken (I like onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, carrots, butternut squash if I have it), a can of coconut milk, a couple tablespoons or more of Thai curry paste, a couple sprinkles of fish sauce if you're adventurous (it really adds IMHO). If you like a bit of spice, some chopped jalepeno or other pepper. Dump it all in the slow cooker, mix it up, and cook it on low for about 5 hours.
posted by ms_rasclark at 5:29 PM on November 4, 2013 [10 favorites]

Best answer: This book is tailored specifically to people who want to put food in the crockpot in the morning so that a meal is ready when you come home from work. Each recipe tells you what to prep the night before and what to do in the morning (i.e. put everything in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hrs). Caveat: it's a vegan cookbook, but I'm sure you can come up with some ways to meatify the recipes.
posted by foxjacket at 6:00 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here is a Lenard Lopate interview one of the authors of the slow cooker revolution
posted by shothotbot at 6:24 PM on November 4, 2013

Sausage casserole is my favourite crock pot meal. The slow cooking totally tranforms the sausages.

Here is a good recipe, and my secret ingerdient is a spoonful of sweet chutney (perhaps replace the sugar with chutney).

Oh and I add carrots and potato or whatever I have on hand.
posted by Youremyworld at 6:26 PM on November 4, 2013

Best answer: I'm having this for supper: Chicken parts into crockpot with chopped onion, ginger, garlic, hot pepper, and lemongrass if you have it. Cook on low all day. When you come home, add frozen spinach and snow peas. Twenty minutes or so before serving, put in some rice noodles. (You'll need more than 20 minutes if they're not vermicelli, but that's all I ever buy, so I have no idea how long.) Garnish with chopped cilantro, sriracha, and/or sesame oil.

Also: Black beans (dry), chopped onion, garlic, cubed sweet potatoes, cumin, and a jar of salsa or crushed tomatoes. Low, all day. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and/or add a blob of sour cream before serving.
posted by MeghanC at 6:53 PM on November 4, 2013 [8 favorites]

I just made this last night. I added a half-cup of homemade pear butter (yum!!) to the recipe. OMG. Pork was fall-apart tender. Took 15-20 mins to prep.
posted by jrchaplin at 7:24 PM on November 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Chicken burritos: chicken breasts, lime juice (optional), seasonings you'd put in tacos, jar of salsa. Cook in crock pot until no longer pink and murderous. Shred with a big fork. Drain excess liquids (also optional. If you don't, your burritos will be a bit..wet). Add a can of black beans or corn (or both) at the end. Serve on whole wheat tortillas with cheese, sour cream, whatever else. Or serve over rice.

Barbecue chicken: chicken breasts. Barbecue sauce. Cook until done. Shred. Serve on buns with salad and baked beans.

I just made crock pot beef barley soup. It was awesome. Beef chunks, vegetables, beef and veggie broths, 1 cup of barley, squirt of tomato paste, and Worchestershire sauce, salt, pepper, bay leaf. (I browned the beef first, though.) Cook for 6-8 hours. SO GOOD.
posted by Aquifer at 7:30 PM on November 4, 2013

I do a beef stew and add dry lentils. AWESOME.
posted by jbenben at 8:08 PM on November 4, 2013

I have two modular recipes. My room-mates call them "smooth" and "chunky".

Smooth recipe:
- legumes (split peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas), soaked overnight if necessary
- a greasy, gelatinous broth of skin and bones (e.g., from a pork shoulder, a chicken, a couple of fish heads) simmered overnight, strained, and with any meaty bits chopped up and put back
- leaves (kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens) chopped coarsely

Put the legumes into the broth in the morning and turn down low. Stir leaves in a minute or two before serving. Note that leftovers will set up firmly due to the gelatin content of the broth. If the broth is insufficiently greasy, I add a piece of butter in the last minute and stir until it melts.

Chunky recipe:
- sturdy root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, yams, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, etc.) all washed, peeled, and chopped
- a big piece of meat (a chicken, a pork shoulder, a big beef roast, a piece of goat or lamb), seasoned or marinated overnight (e.g., crushed coriander + tumeric + cumin + cayenne for a curry-ish flavor or salt + pepper for a New England boiled dinner flavor)

Put everything in with just enough water to cover the bottom, because the root vegetables will exude a lot of water while cooking. If I go easy on the seasoning (in particular, no salt on the meat!) the chunky recipe produces a cup or two of wonderfully rich broth that I drink like beef tea.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:11 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cut up sweet Italian sausage (make sure it has anise and fennel or add those items to the stew), chop onion, garlic, celery, potato, tomato, add water (but chicken stock is sooooo much better) and a big bunch of chopped Swiss Chard. Salt & pepper.

Probably healthier if you fry the sausage first to get rid of some grease but it's good both ways. You can switch in carrots of just about any other veggie but the key is garlic, fennel, anise, and the chard.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:50 PM on November 4, 2013

This recipe is a weekly ritual in our house. You have to simmer the sausages first (it removes a lot of the grease) but you could totally do that part the night before and it only takes like 10 minutes. The sausages truly do come out tasting so delicious and tender. We really like peppers and onions so sometimes we add an extra jar of sauce and another pepper and onion. Then we have leftover sauce that's delicious (flavored by the sausage and veggies) on pasta the next night.
posted by katyggls at 9:58 PM on November 4, 2013

Best answer: A lot of slow cooker recipes have you pre-cook the aromatics (things like spices, onion, garlic) to improve the flavor, but you can also do that in microwave. Microwave them, along with some oil, for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
posted by amarynth at 5:24 AM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've been making this a lot and love it:

Crockpot Chili

2lbs Stew Meat(or steak cut into pieces)
1 (16oz) can dark red kidney beans
2 (16oz) can pinto beans
1 medium green pepper chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic crushed
3 tablespoon Red Hot
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it hot)

1) Add all ingredients to crock pot.
2) Cook for 5-6 hours on high.

You don't even have to brown the meat first! It's great.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:25 AM on November 5, 2013

Note on the recipes I gave above, as I've had memail about it: in both recipes, add liquid of some sort, and probably more than you'd expect. Beans and sweet potatoes should be covered by at least an inch of water, stock, or broth; chicken and etc should be have even more than that to allow for the addition of veg and noodles later. For the chicken one, the liquid can be almost anything--I use water, stock, or broth, and add miso paste and/or soy sauce to taste.
posted by MeghanC at 9:54 AM on November 5, 2013

I made this Jambalaya (from All Recipes) the other day and it was excellent:

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken
breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound frozen cooked shrimp without

1. Dump in slow cooker
2. Cover, and cook 7 to 8 hours on Low, or 3 to 4 hours on High. Stir in the shrimp during the last 30 minutes of cook time.

It requires a little chopping, and I made mine without the shrimp, but it was excellent. We ate it with precooked rice and it made three meals for two people (six meals total).
posted by cnc at 12:50 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I bookmarked the ones that will help me make use of the massive bag of Costco chicken thighs I need to use up, but will definitely be coming back to this thread during the winter for inspiration! Thank you all for sharing!
posted by stellaluna at 3:46 PM on November 5, 2013

Four free range chicken breasts. Three cans of crushed organic tomatoes. One jar of organic salsa. A can of organic lentils (drained). A can of organic chickpeas (drained). A can of organic kidney beans (drained). Garlic (lots). As much chilli/cayenne/chipotle/jalapenos as you can stand. Enjoy your win.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:03 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you like bbq, this is a good "dump everything in" recipe for pulled chicken, and it will help you use up those chicken thighs. You can freeze the leftovers for up to a month. Just a warning: we made it once at a vacation house and tried to substitute regular paprika and chili powder for the smoked paprika and ground chipotle, and it was nowhere near as good.

EatingWell also has a slideshow (the recipes start on page 6) of what they call "Load and Go" recipes, but a couple of them require an additional step at the end, ranging from adding the more delicate vegetables to making dumplings. We've tried the pho and the red curry pulled pork and would make both recipes again.

If you ever have time for some prep work like browning meat, this stout and chicken stew is so good and uses chicken thighs.
posted by amarynth at 5:22 AM on November 7, 2013

This is the best thing I have ever had that came out of a crockpot, and it uses chicken thighs! It's from America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution.

Tortilla soup:

1 tbsp veggie oil
2 tomatoes (or 1 can)
1 onion
2 jalapeños, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons canned chipotle in dobo
1 tbsp tomato paste
8 cups chicken broth
Bundle of cilantro stems
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chkn thighs

1. Cook the tomatoes, onion, one jalapeño over the stove for 8-10 mins. Add garlic, some of the chipotle, tomato paste, then a cup of broth about a minute later.
2. Add all of this to the slow cooker along with the rest of the broth and the chicken thighs. Cook 4-6 hours on low.
3. Take the chicken out and shred it, then add it back in with the other jalapeño and the rest of the chipotle.
4. Serve and garnish with cheese, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, & lime wedges.

Seriously, SO amazingly good.
posted by queens86 at 3:11 PM on November 7, 2013 [5 favorites]

This mexican style meat recipe is great in tacos and burritos.

Trimming and searing the roast and chopping the onion adds a small amount of prep time, but you can do it the night before. For maximum morning convenience, I load the crock with all the ingredients except the water the night before and keep it in the fridge. Cooking for 10 hours on low works fine, so no need to worry about changing the setting after 6 hours.
posted by superna at 6:10 PM on November 7, 2013

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