3 Crazy-Good Comfort Food Recipes That Prove You Need a Crockpot in Your Life

To the uninitiated, a crockpot might seem like yet another device that'll gather dust on your kitchen counter, but as former Food & Wine editor Sarah DiGregorio discovered, it's one of the most underutilized items in your home. The author of Adventures in Slow Cooking says an interview with chef Grant Achatz spurred her to use the device for more than just braised meats.

"I was surprised at how genuinely excited he seemed to tell me about all these different uses for the slow cooker—use it as a bain-marie, use it to steam fish, use it to make British puddings," she says. "So I went home and tried a few things, and I was hooked."

Trading the oven or stovetop for a slow cooker does more than save you time; it also alters the flavors. "Long, gentle cooking tends to mellow flavors," explains DiGregorio, who cooks everything from creamy oats to duck confit using this method. "An easy way to think of this is roast garlic versus raw garlic—one is mellow, soft and sweet; the other is sharp and pungent."

Ahead, DiGregorio shares three recipes from her new cookbook, which hits stores today. From rich shakshuka to creamy risotto, try these crockpot ideas for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

In search of more ways to use your crockpot? Start with this recipe that's been shared 500,000 times on Pinterest (it's pure comfort food).