October 20, 2021

Acqua NYC

Fit And Go Forward

Easy, cozy slow cooker recipes from buffalo chicken to lasagna to enjoy all winter

What better time of year is there than winter to prep warm, hearty and even healthy ingredients to create simple, satisfying meals that cook low and slow until ready to serve.

Grab an Instant Pot or Crock-Pot and recreate these dishes all winter for a cozy meal any night of the week.

The Suburban Soapbox food blogger Kellie Hemmerly shared two simple slow cooker recipes with “Good Morning America” that are perfect for any night of the week. Check out the full recipes for French dip and meatloaf below, plus more tips and tricks on her blog here.

Easy Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

This recipe takes just 15 minutes to prep and once it cooks low and slow for a few hours it’s time to assemble your sandwich and enjoy!

Serves: 8


3 pounds chuck roast

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 sweet onion, peeled and sliced thin

3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled

3 cups beef stock

1/4 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspooon kosher salt

1 teaspooon black pepper

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

8 long rolls

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Trim the excess fat from the chuck roast. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.
Add the chuck roast to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes until brown. Flip the roast over and brown on the opposite side, approximately 4-5 minutes. Continue to flip and cook the roast until all sides are browned.
Transfer the roast to the slow cooker. Place the onions and garlic on top of the roast.
Whisk together the stock, wine, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Pour the stock mixture over the beef. Add the thyme and bay leaf.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. When the roast is fork tender, transfer to a serving platter.
Skim the excess fat from the top of the stock mixture with a spoon.
Arrange the beef in long rolls and top with cheese. Serve the sandwiches with bowls filled with stock (au jus).

Easy Crockpot Meatloaf Recipe

Serves: 8

1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage, casing removed
1 cup diced sweet onion
1 garlic clove minced
1 egg
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
Meatloaf Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard

Line the slow cooker with aluminum foil and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, sausage, onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper until well blended. Do not over mix.
Place the meatloaf mixture in the slow cooker and shape into an oval loaf shape (or round if your crockpot is round).
In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard. Spoon half the glaze over the meatloaf to coat.
Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low. Check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer. The meatloaf is done when it registers 160 degrees.
Using the foil, lift the meatloaf out of the slow cooker and place on a baking sheet.
Transfer the meatloaf to the oven and broil on high for 3 to 4 minutes until the glaze begins to caramelize.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Serve the meatloaf with the remaining glaze.

The Skinnyish Dish blogger and recipe developer Star shared her recipe for a slow cooker lasagna that takes the hassle out of the traditionally baked pasta dish.

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Serves: 8

1 medium yellow onion , chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage with the casings removed
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 16-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
8 ounce lasagna noodles
2 cups 1% cottage cheese
2 cups part skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Cooking spray


In a large pot, add ground turkey, ground Italian turkey sausage, and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. When the meat is mostly browned, add onions and garlic, cook until slightly softened.
Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Stir together and simmer for about 10 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, add Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, and 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella (reserve 1/2 cup of the mozzarella) into a bowl, and mix together thoroughly.
Take your slow cooker and spray lightly with cooking spray. Add 1 1/2 cups sauce to the bottom, lay the broken lasagna noodles on top, then about 1/3 the mixture of cheeses, followed by about 1 cup of sauce.
Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining sauce, and sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese on top!
Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken

Star also offered a classic take on barbecue pulled chicken that’s sweet, spicy, smoky and savory and can be made into sandwiches or eaten with a side of coleslaw. Check out the full blog post with tips and sides here.

2 pounds chicken breast, raw
1 medium yellow onion cut into thin slices
1 cup pineapple chopped into small pieces
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on spice preference).


In a bowl add tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir together well.
Lightly spray a Crock-Pot with cooking spray and add chicken breast, onions, pineapple, and barbecue sauce mixture. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. When the chicken is done cooking, remove from Crock-Pot and shred apart with two forks. Place back into the Crock-Pot and continue to cook on low for 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
If you’re making barbecue chicken sandwiches with coleslaw, grab your favorite hamburger bun or roll, add 1/2 cup chicken and 1/2 cup coleslaw. Enjoy!

Jessica Beacom and Stacie Hassing, dietitians and co-founders of The Real Food Dietitians, told “Good Morning America” they enjoy slow cooking because it “can be prepped ahead, cooked all day and ready when you are making them — perfect for those living a busy lifestyle.”

The pair, who both learned to cook from their family members, have over 400 healthy comfort food recipes on their site for other home cooks to learn “how to cook simple, healthy meals using real food ingredients.”

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This tangy, spicy slow cooked chicken is perfect to stuff baked sweet potatoes, but check out The Real Food Dietitians’ tips for freezing and reheating and other uses for the buffalo braised poultry on their blog here.

2 pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs (recommend 1 lb. of each)
1 cup hot pepper sauce (such as Whole30 diet-compatible Frank’s Red Hot or Sriracha (not Whole30 compatible)
1/3 cup ghee, coconut oil or butter (butter, not Whole30-compatible)
3 tablespoons coconut aminos
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional – adds more heat)
8 small baked sweet potatoes (about 7 ounce each, raw)
Ranch dressing (homemade or store bought)


Place chicken in a slow cooker set on low.
In a small saucepan on medium-high heat, combine the hot sauce, ghee, coconut aminos, garlic powder and optional cayenne. Stir together and heat until ghee is melted.
Pour the sauce into the slow cooker. Cook for 4 to 6 hours on low or until chicken is tender.
Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and toss with sauce.
Turn slow cooker to warm (or remain on low) until ready to serve.
Serve chicken in baked sweet potatoes and drizzle with buffalo sauce and ranch, if desired.

Instant Pot directions

Place chicken in a single layer in your Instant Pot.
In a small saucepan on medium-high heat, combine the hot sauce, ghee, coconut aminos, garlic powder, and optional cayenne. Stir together and heat until ghee is melted. Alternatively, use a pre-made buffalo sauce.
Pour sauce into the Instant Pot, covering the chicken.
Lock the lid into place and make sure the valve is set to seal.
Set the Instant Pot for 15 minutes on high pressure.
When the time is up, naturally release for 10 minutes before unlocking the lid and shredding.

Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

2 teaspoons cooking fat of choice such as olive oil or avocado oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cubed
1 medium-large sweet potato, cubed (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, sliced or diced
2/3 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups frozen green beans
Cashews, cilantro, lime wedges and cauliflower rice, or rice of choice for serving (omit cashews for nut-free)


Set your Instant Pot to the sauté setting. Add the ghee, onion, and garlic and saute until onions are translucent.
Then turn to high pressure. Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, red pepper, broth, curry, cumin, turmeric, cayenne and sea salt. Seal the Instant Pot and set time for 10 minutes.
Once the time is up, release the pressure by switching from “seal” to “vent.” Once pressure is released, remove the lid and turn the Instant Pot to the sauté setting. Stir in the coconut milk and frozen green beans and let cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the green beans are heated through.
Serve over cauliflower rice, regular rice, or greens and top with cashews, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro.
Note: For a thicker curry — mix together 2 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch or arrowroot powder. While the Instant Pot is on the saute setting, stir into curry after the coconut milk is heated through and let set for a few minutes to thicken.

Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chowder

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed
1 tablespoon butter, ghee, or cooking oil of choice (for Instant Pot version only)
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade bone broth)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons potato starch to thicken, optional (may substitute corn starch or arrowroot starch)
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 strips crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled
Fresh thyme and-or parsley for garnish, optional

Place the chicken, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and corn in the slow cooker.
Add broth, thyme, parsley, pepper and salt. Stir well.
Place lid on the slow cooker and cook on low setting for 7-8 hours (or 4 hours on high).
Just before serving, remove the lid. Mix potato starch with ⅓ cup water. Stir into hot soup until thickened slightly.
Turn off the heat. Stir in cream and bacon. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Garnish with fresh thyme and parsley, if desired.

Instant Pot Directions
Select the “saute” function. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot. When the pot is hot, add onions, celery, and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until onions just start to soften. Stir in garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
Add chicken, potatoes, corn, broth, thyme, parsley, pepper and salt. Stir well.
Lock lid into place and set the vent valve to the “sealing” position.
Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow 5 minutes of natural pressure release before flipping the vent valve to the “venting” position to release residual steam.
Mix potato starch with 1/3 cup water. Stir into hot soup until thickened slightly.
Turn off the heat. Stir in cream and bacon. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Check out the full blog post here for more tips for this recipe.

Slow Cooker Healthy Hamburger Soup

2 teaspoons avocado oil or olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces sweet potato, peeled and cubed
10 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
2 medium carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 14-ounce cans fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
6-ounce can tomato paste
1 quart beef broth, plus additional if needed
1 1/2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (can also use frozen green beans)
2 cups packed kale, chopped and tough stems removed


In a large skillet over medium heat add the oil. Once hot, add the ground beef, onion, green pepper and garlic cloves. Sauté until ground beef is no longer pink.
Next, add everything to the slow cooker except for the green beans and kale.
Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
With about one hour of cooking time left, add the green beans and kale. If you prefer your soup to be thinner, feel free to add additional broth at this time. Cook until the green beans are tender.
Taste and season as needed before serving.

Instant Pot Directions:
Select “sauté” on the Instant Pot and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add ground beef, garlic, onions, and bell pepper, sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until meat is cooked and no longer pink.
Add the rest of the ingredients except for the kale and green beans if using frozen. Note: add 2 cups of broth versus 1 quart. Lock the lid into place and flip valve to sealing position.
Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow for 5-7 minutes of natural pressure release before flipping value to venting position to release any remaining pressure.
Remove lid. Turn the Instant Pot to “sauté” and stir in the kale and frozen green beans. Continue to cook until kale is tender.

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