Slow Cooker Meals That Don't Taste like "Slow Cooker" Meals :)

Updated on February 23, 2011
J.E. asks from Plainfield, IN
11 answers

Hello everyone! I am calling on your suggestions to help me find meals that can be prepared in the slow cooker, but don't end up heavily sauced and mushy, like many slow cooker meals do. My family isn't a huge fan of meals in the slow cooker for that reason, but I would love to be able to use it more! I work from noon to 5:00 during the week, and it would be GREAT to be able to prepare dinner before I go to work so it is ready when I get home. We all know what it is like to walk in the door to a house full of hungry kids - can't even get your coat off before everyone is hanging on you to get them fed - NOW! With four kiddos, it is quite a reception when I walk in the door. They do have snacks after school, but they are ready to eat when I get home. Any other ideas you have to offer, slow cooker or otherwise, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

More info - I don't use the frozen store bought slow cooker meal starters. My family will eat soups and stews in the slow cooker, but roasts with vegetables always seem too mushy when I slow cook them - much different that oven baked. I know adding the veggies halfway through can help, but the flavors are just not the same as in the oven. I know - picky, picky, picky, but I've tossed too many leftovers from these types of meals. My husband is able to start meals for me sometimes before I get home from work, but it is not always possible depending on activities, schedules, etc. Keep your great ideas coming! Thanks!

Featured Answers



answers from San Francisco on

I've found that certain things work better in a slow cooker than others. Things that work well:

beans - chili, baked beans
soups - split pea soup works really well in a crockpot IMO
pasta sauce
bbq spareribs

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answers from Grand Rapids on

Invest in the Fix it and Forget it cookbook; with soups or noodle dishes they have you make the noodles just a few minutes prior to adding it to the crockpot dish. They have many recipes; it's what I use and my family loves the variety!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Here's a fun thread to peruse :

I often just cook with my laptop open in the kitchen, ie this great website:

My favorite thing I make in my Crock pot is the pork chop recipe in the little book that came with it:
1/2 cup brown rice, 2/3 cup white rice (or just whatever)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 chopped onion
just about any mild flavored chopped or sliced veggie tastes good in there (ie mushroom), can toss in some broccoli or carrot when there's an hour or so to go
1 tsp thyme (divided)
1/2 tsp sage
some salt and pepper (1/4 - 1/2 tsp)
4-6 or whatever boneless pork chops
1 can beef consomme or bullion
2 TB worcestershire
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp paprika

nonstick coating in crock pot (if you want)
toss butter in pan, brown the rice
stir in onion, any of the mild veggies, 1/2 of the thyme, and all the sage and salt and pepper
put into slow cooker
put chops on rice
combine consomme and Worcestershire sauce and pour on chops
sprinkle remaining thyme, paprika and nutmeg on chops
cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I got this recipe from another message board that I read. It has been a huge it on that board. I am not much of a beef eater but I really like this recipe. I have made it twice in the last month.


1 (1.25 oz.) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 large clove garlic, smashed
3/4 cup water
3 lbs chuck roast

Mix first 7 ingredients in crockpot. Place roast on top. Cook on high all day or until meat is tender. Turn it over every now and then if you can. Shred the meat, let simmer in its own juice for awhile and serve on buns or hard Italian rolls.


answers from Rochester on

Chili is good in a crock, and almost any recipe will work...just find one you like. Also, we like to do pot roast in the slow cooker, with your carrots and potatoes (and add water!), and then all you have to do is make the gravy.

Other than that, I don't like slow cookers. I don't think it's worth the "saved" time to sacrifice taste and texture, and I hate to clean it out (seems much harder than a whole stovetop full of pots and pans, probably because it's so heavy.)

Are you the last one to get home? If you planned ahead, could some of the older children or your husband start the prep work for a real meal? You didn't mention how old the children are and if they get home before you.
If you only work noon to five, you have plenty of time to do up a casserole, which you could cook ahead of time and then reheat or just put together and pop in the oven when you get home. I have lots of good casserole recipes than have both flavor and texture, in both the breakfast and dinner variety (in case you like eggy stuff for supper...we do!) Mail me if you'd like them.



answers from Toledo on

One of our favorite non-saucy and non-veggie meals is Kalua Pig (and I normally don't even like pork!!).

3-5 lb pork shoulder/pork butt
3T salt
3T pepper
3-4 T Liquid Smoke

I put plastic bags over my hands and then massage the 3 ingredients into the meat for 5-10 minutes -- the longer the better. Then cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Shred meat with two forks and serve on buns with any side of your choice!



answers from Chicago on

Here is our favorite lasagna. It's not mushy or saucy, it's lasagna just like from the oven!

1 lb uncooked ground turkey
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 carton (15-oz) ricotta cheese (I use part-skim)
1 pkg (10-oz) frozen chopped spinich, thawed and squeezed dry
1 pkg (8-oz) shredded Italian-blend cheese (2 cups)
1 jar (26-oz) chunky pasta sauce with green peppers (I use Del Monty’s canned sauce)
1/2 cup water
Grated Parmesian Cheese (optional)

1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook turkey over medium heat until cooked thorough, stirring to break into bite-sized pieces. Season with oregano, salt and red pepper flakes. Remove from heat.
2. In medium-sized bowl, combine ricotta cheese, spinach and cheese blend.
3. In slow cooker, arrange half of the lasagna noodles, overlapping and/or breaking as necessary (I use one straight one, and a broken one on each side). Spoon half the turkey mixture evenly over the noodles. Evenly pour 1/2 the pasta sauce and half the water. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture. Repeat layering, finishing with the cheese mixture. (No noodles on top.)
4. Cover and cook on low for 4.5 hours.
5. Cut and serve, if desired, sprinkle with parmesian cheese.


answers from Detroit on

You can buy a whole chicken from the grocery store and plop it in there. Make sure you use a Slow Cooker bag...amkes clean up super easy. I seaon with salt and pepper and fill a 1/4 of the pot or more with water (to make the bird juicy). Set it and forget it ;) You can toss some veggies in there too like carrots or potatoes.

We also cook pork loin in ours. Same concept, toss it in, put some water in in to keep it juicy and top with some BBQ sauce and salt and pepper. Yummy.

You can do other meat like Eye of the Round or even a turkey breast.


answers from Chicago on

lasagna ... you can layer the ingredients just the way you would in the baking pan and let that bad boy cook and to cut some of the calories mix cottage and ricotta cheese.

The main thing with the crock pot is that you do need some liquid for most meats. You can put a whole chicken (slightly frozen) add seasonings and let that cook all day then when you get home roast some root veggies tossed in olive oil, sea salt and pepper and you are good to go.

Mac n cheese is another good one in this you can choose your cheese and add meats I like to use cubed swiss, pepperjack and sharp cheddar (stong flavored cheeses equals less cheese needed) and I add chicken sausage with complimentary flavors (whole foods/sam's club) and let that cook with a little bit of heavy cream and noodles straight from the box. You can add broccoli or carrots to this as well, I typically steam them and have them on the side ...oh and top with crushed goldfish/cheese it crackers for some crunch!

Another pork n rice variation ... white/brown rice add proper liquid for rice top with lipton onion soup mix (1packet for 2cups) layer the pork on top of the rice and let it cook with a bit of the soup mix on top of the pork chops.



answers from Dallas on

I'm not sure what you are fixing in yours that is mushy and heavily sauced. I do make pot roast, carnitas, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken and dumplings, chicken tortilla soup, etc... If any of this sounds good to you, give me a shout. :-)



answers from San Diego on

Hi J., the reason a lot of slow cooker meals are mushy is because the start from being frozen, I cook regular food in mine I have 4 different ones, I put ribs, chicken, pot roast, stews, soups, beans, My husband loves my crock pot chicken You can put your mat and your vegetables in together, use packaged salad, put some rolls in the oven and dinner is done. I don't the store bought slow cooker meals, I don't like the way they come out. J.

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