15 Healthy Slow-Cooker Dinner Recipes to Make on Chilly Winter Nights

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
Stephen Kent Johnson

The slow-cooker is one of our favorite kitchen appliances because it makes preparing dinner in one pot a breeze. Even better, while it's busy cooking everything low and slow, we can forget about it for five or six hours. Many quintessential slow-cooker recipes are hearty comfort foods (think braised meats and stews, like the Slow-Cooker Ropa Vieja that you see right here), which are perfect for winter. But a slow-cooker isn't just for preparing meat. Case in point? We're sharing recipes for our Slow-Cooker Indian-Style Fish Curry and even a few vegetarian entrées, such as Slow-Cooker White Bean Soup, to prove just how versatile this appliance is.

Though you can certainly use it for other meals, there's no denying that the slow-cooker is particularly adept at cooking large, tough pieces of meat. As they marinate with stock, herbs, vegetables, and other aromatics, cuts like pot roast, brisket, and short ribs transform into succulent and tender pieces of meat. Slow-Cooker Persian Lamb Stew is a prime example of this process—it breaks down lamb shoulder into a juicy, earthy bite.

Maybe one of the most classic slow-cooker recipes is chili. This Spicy Turkey Chili is lighter than the traditional beef version but packed with plenty of heat and body. Somewhere in between a stew and chili is this Tex-Mex-inspired Chicken and Beans recipe; using store-bought salsa saves time, so all you need to do is arrange the ingredients in the cooker and set it to low heat for eight hours. Top with tortilla strips, sour cream, and jalapeño slices for a stellar finishing touch.

When you want a healthy, comforting meal, break out the slow-cooker and make these nurturing, crowd-friendly recipes.

01 of 14

Slow-Cooker Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic

chicken with garlic
Stephen Kent Johnson

Here's a milder version of the traditional French chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. Chicken legs cook with olive oil, garlic, lemon slices, and fresh thyme for five hours on low. Serve it with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the aromatic liquid.

02 of 14

Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

tex mex beans
Stephen Kent Johnson

This stew is packed with nourishing ingredients. Pinto beans and chicken thighs add protein to the pot while peppers and chipotle chiles bring on the heat.

03 of 14

Slow-Cooker Persian Lamb Stew

slow cooker persian lamb stew
Stephen Kent Johnson

Carb-free and topped with nutrient-rich vegetables and flavorful herbs, this hearty stew is exactly what you need on a chilly night. Serve slow-cooked lamb shoulder over quinoa and top with fragrant dill, tart pomegranate seeds, and pistachios for color and crunch.

04 of 14

Slow-Cooker Ribollita

slow cooker ribollita
Stephen Kent Johnson

Upgrade your vegetable soup with this Italian-inspired recipe, it's a hearty bread and vegetable potage, featuring lacinato kale, zucchini, tomatoes, and cranberry beans.

05 of 14

Slow-Cooker Indian-Style Fish Curry

slow cooker indian style fish curry
Stephen Kent Johnson

Choose a firm white fish, such as cod or halibut, for this dish. Coconut milk adds creaminess and a hint of sweetness.

06 of 14

Slow-Cooker White-Bean Soup

Lennart Weibull

Beans, leeks, butternut squash, and spinach each add delicious texture to this soup. It cooks low and slow for six hours, until the vegetables are tender and the broth is rich and flavorful.

07 of 14

Garlic Chicken with Barley in the Slow Cooker

Christina Holmes

Hearty and healthy and all made in one pot, there's a lot to like about this slow cooker dinner that starts with a cut-up chicken. Pearl barley and peas transform the dish into a true one-plate meal.

08 of 14

Slow-Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew


Ward off the winter frost with a warm bowl of beef-and-tomato stew. Chopped beef chuck provides lean protein, while brown rice supplies a hearty dose of hunger-quelling fiber.

09 of 14

Lamb with Olives and Potatoes

lamb olives potatoes
Romulo Yanes

Lamb shanks cook long and slow along with small potatoes, and green olives in this one-pot meal. Lemon juice, shallots, rosemary, and pinot grigio enhance the recipe's complex flavor.

10 of 14

Slow-Cooker Garlic Chicken with Couscous

Romulo Yanes

Enriched with garlic, thyme, and dry white wine, this slow-cooker recipe doesn't skimp on flavor. Serve atop couscous or brown rice, with your favorite green vegetable for a healthy dinner.

11 of 14

Loaded Slow-Cooker Baked Potatoes

Romulo Yanes

Craving a loaded baked potato? Switch up the toppings and go with crunchy, fiber-filled broccoli, nutty cremini mushrooms, and protein-rich plain yogurt rather than bacon crumbles and sour cream to create a well-rounded, mouthwatering meal.

12 of 14

Soy-Ginger Chicken


An anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent, ginger plays a defining role in this chicken dish. Fresh ginger, ground coriander, and garlic are combined with soy sauce, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar to provide an aromatic foundation for cooking chicken drumsticks.

13 of 14

Chicken Cacciatore with Cremini Mushrooms


Selenium, potassium, antioxidants, and B-vitamins are in full-force in this slow cooker chicken dish. Sauvignon blanc and rosemary amplify the rich, woodsy flavors of the mushrooms and vegetables.

14 of 14

Slow-Cooker Cajun Stew


Succulent shrimp, spicy andouille sausage, chopped bell peppers, sliced okra, diced tomatoes, and celery simmer low and slow with garlic and cayenne pepper to produce this flavor-packed dish.

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