13 Surprising Foods You Can Make In A Slow Cooker

Slow cooker soups and chilis are great, but there's a world of other recipes out there.

Soup, stew, and chili have all had their moment to shine, and just about everyone knows these as the quintessential slow cooker recipes. The culinary world, in all its creativity, has found plenty of other uses for the slow cooker by now that'll give you all the more reason to justify this space-hogging kitchen appliance. Whether you'd like some assistance with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, the slow cooker can be your secret weapon. Here are 13 surprising ways you can put your slow cooker to work, recipes included.

Hot chocolate 

If you like hot chocolate extra creamy, then slow cooker hot chocolate might be the answer. Preparing this warm, cozy weather drink in a slow cooker means more time to simmer and get those rich, decadent chocolate notes. Using real chocolate bars and a little powder to support it, this allows for the star ingredient to melt slowly and evenly in texture and taste. It also helps the drink stay warm for longer. Go ahead and give slow cooker hot chocolate a try.

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Cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls often feel intimidating to make because of the need to get the dough just right and nail the bake, but don't be deterred. Unlike other doughs that must rise before baking, most cinnamon rolls made in the slow cooker will rise as they bake. The individual rolls will hug each other in the slow cooker, but they're easy to pull apart when serving. This also leaves the oven available for other cooking needs. You can make the dough ahead (or not) for these slow cooker cinnamon rolls.

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Overnight oats

This method truly lives up to its name—if you haven't already, you'll soon be slow-cooking oats in your sleep. A benefit of cooking oats this way is that you can use the more flavor-packed steel-cut oats, which tend to be thicker and have better texture but are too dense to prepare quickly. Since they'll be steeping and cooking overnight, the flavoring of your choice will soak into the oats and render them a delightful breakfast, which you can top with cinnamon, spices, fruit, nuts, jams, nut butters, or virtually anything else. Get the recipe for slow cooker overnight oats here.

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Brownies

Brownies are a great party treat, a bake sale favorite, and even a solo dessert to liven your mood, and while they're typically baked in a conventional oven, they can also be prepared via slow cooker. This baking method lends them them a fudgy, gooey texture, so you'll want to grease the bottom of the slow cooker beforehand to ensure easy extraction. Don't miss out on these slow cooker brownies.

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Pie fillings

Picture this: It's a holiday, and your stove top and oven space are working very hard to bring your culinary creations to life. What about dessert? Simply bust out your slow cooker so those pie fillings don't need to wait their turn. Preparing a sweet or savory pie filling in a slow cooker allows for the flavors to simmer together for longer, and it won't be necessary to keep an eye on it at all times. Did we mention the delicious smells you'll be filling your house with? Try slow cooker apple pie (or for a main course, try slow cooker steak pie).

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French toast bread pudding

You can picture it, can't you? The warmth of bread pudding with all the vanilla and caramel notes of French toast? This twist on a breakfast staple is made all the more convenient by its ability to be batch-prepped for a large party and scooped directly from the slow cooker, rather than preparing individual slices of toast for everyone. Placing the ingredients in a bowl to refrigerate overnight will save precious energy the following morning, where it will be left to slow cook. Here's your sign to make slow cooker French toast bread pudding.

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Poached pears

Looking for a fresh-tasting dessert? Search no further, because sophisticated-looking poached pears can be prepared in your slow cooker. With only a few ingredients, these are unique not only for their presentation, but for their easy production. Ingredients can vary based on preference, but cinnamon and apple juice are a tasty way to go. Cook up some slow cooker poached pears for dessert tonight.

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Bread

Yup, bread can be made in a slow cooker. This is a good tactic if you don't have an oven to use, or simply want to keep a close eye on your homemade bread as it develops into the delicious carb it will be. After assembling the ingredients and making the dough, it can be placed in a loaf pan and then deposited into the slow cooker, pan and all. Bread takes a bit more time when baked this way, and will make for a darker loaf with a crunchy exterior and an airy crumb. Go ahead and try slow cooker baked bread to see what your device is capable of.

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Quiche

Slow cooker quiche couldn't be easier, and it's the perfect meal to serve a family or small gathering. The crust, which can be store-bought or homemade, is simply layered into the pot with the eggs, dairy, sauteed veggies, and any other mix-ins you choose. Slow cooker quiche usually results in a thicker and deeper crust, so it'll make for a heartier version of this delicious classic. Here's a slow cooker quiche to try.

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Applesauce

Over the years, applesauce has found its way into the leisurely method that is slow cooking. Only a handful of ingredients are needed to bring this childhood comfort food to life, all of which are placed into the slow cooker directly (all you really have to do is to chop the apples first). What's sweeter than the treat itself? It can be placed in jars and tucked away into the fridge so you can enjoy it on repeat. Store-bought applesauce is great and all, but there's no chance it has as much depth of flavor as this recipe, which encourages the use of spices like ginger and clove.

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Lasagna

Need to make dinner on a busy day? The answer is slow cooker lasagna, a family-friendly meal that comes together over the course of a few hours while you do just about anything else. You won't have to boil the noodles; they can be placed fully uncooked into the slow cooker as you build your lasagna layers. You can also assemble the lasagna the night before, refrigerate it, and slow cook it in the morning to be ready by lunch. Convinced yet? We can smell the thyme and red wine already. Try your hand at slow cooker lasagna.

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“Rotisserie” chicken

Cooking a whole chicken can be a breeze, whether you opt for an air fryer or a slow cooker. The latter creates a tender and juicy chicken that you won't have to keep an eye on all afternoon, and with the right seasonings, it'll have all the flavor of a rotisserie chicken—it just won't have the crispy skin, which you can achieve by finishing it off in the oven if so desired. Try this recipe and see how many different ways you can repurpose the leftovers.

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Spaghetti

Clumsy cooks, rejoice: You can place uncooked pasta in a slow cooker and skip the boiling and draining process altogether. Slow cooker spaghetti is created in stages, with meatballs and sauce getting prepped first and noodles joining the party later on, broken in half to fit in the pot. Melded all together, this is nearly an all-in-one way to satiate your pasta craving with fewer dishes to clean. Try slow cooker pasta for dinner tonight.

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