After making a melty mess with your famous mac and cheese recipe, you’ve probably told yourself, “The insert just needs to soak overnight.” But thanks to a simple hack, you no longer have to donate counter space for an entire day before you can scrub everything clean.
Are you all about your slow-cooker? If not, you should be! Slow-cooked meals are not only affordable but will also cut your energy bill. Check out our favorite slow-cooker recipes in this slideshow!
Slow-Cooker Stout & Kitchen Stew
Chicken thighs can take plenty of cooking without getting tough or drying out, which makes them perfect for the slow cooker. Here we braise them in Guinness stout along with hearty vegetables, with just the right amount of bacon for added savoriness.
By cooking your own dried beans, you save money, reduce sodium and get better flavor along with, surprisingly, more vitamins and minerals. If you can't use the whole batch, freeze surplus cooked beans for later use in soups, salads and dips.
In France, this classic stew made with beef, vegetables and red wine would be known as a daube. Slow-cooking the surprisingly lean beef shanks melts and softens the connective tissue, producing succulent results. If you prefer, use nonalcoholic wine.
This wholesome sweet-and-sour soup combines beef, caraway seeds, sweet paprika and cabbage—ingredients that star in a number of German dishes. For an even heartier soup, add diced cooked potatoes along with the cabbage. Recipe by Nancy Baggett for EatingWell.
Earthy mushrooms, tomatillos and a subtle layering of spices combine to give this full-bodied vegetarian chili a deep complexity of flavor. Note that dried beans need to be soaked before going into the slow cooker. Once that's done, the chili can gently bubble for hours.
This brothy stew is boldly flavored with a blend of characteristic Middle Eastern spices and finished with fresh spinach and fiber-rich chickpeas. Economical lamb shoulder tenderizes beautifully when leisurely cooked in a slow cooker. If you can't find boneless shoulder stew meat, do not substitute more-expensive lamb leg. It tends to dry out during slow cooking. Instead, purchase lamb shoulder chops and debone them. Serve over bulgur and accompany with a salad.
These not-so-ordinary plastic bags could ultimately change the way you cook forever. By using slow cooker liners, you’ll turn cleanup into a 5-second process. Picture this: After your next party, you’re just about ready to head up to bed when you turn to see a slow cooker with the remnants of that delicious cheddar bacon dip. Well, boo. Instead of bringing out the big guns to scrape off every bit of dried cheese, you can simply remove the liner, throw it away, and hit the sack. That’s it!
But isn’t cooking with plastic bad for you?
You’re in the clear: The Food and Drug Administration has approved slow cooker liners, they’re BPA-free, and they don’t affect the flavor of your food. Made of heavy-duty plastic, these liners are designed to withstand the hot temperatures and long cook times of your slow cooker, so please don’t reach for any plastic bag!
How much do they cost?
There’s one downside: These liners can be quite expensive. Each liner will set you back about $1! But we recommend trying before you scoff. After all, how much do you value your time? This may be the time-saving game changer you’ve waiting for.
Will you try one?
If you’re willing to pony up the cash for this cooking hack, you’ll be able to make no-hassle dishes morning, noon and night. So we say, try a liner and spend less time over the sink scrubbing. After all, the whole point of using your slow cooker is to save time and relax!