Over the years, I've taught myself to be a more present hostess, but when I first started inviting friends over for get-togethers, I would work myself up beforehand. One of the tricks some of the best hosts swear by is making crockpot appetizers so that instead of prepping all day in the kitchen, you have the freedom to set the table or even pour yourself that hard-earned glass of wine. I'm not going to say this makes my pre-event jitters go away completely, but the slow cooker helps me impress without my having to put in a ton of work.
The truth of the matter is that you can basically throw together anything in a slow cooker, but following a recipe ensures that your crockpot appetizers turn out worthy of second—and even third—helpings. And trust me, with dishes like a salsa verde corn dip, barbecue wings, and homemade tamales, your guests won’t know what to pick on first. Without further ado, here are the top seven crockpot appetizers fitting of any shindig. Tell your guests to come hungry.
Dried corn husk–wrapped tamales become a cinch when you make the rich chicken filling in the crockpot. Trick of the trade: If you make the filling the day before your event, all of the spices will really soak into the meat. A vegetarian option calls for extra salsa for a kick (choose your favorite).
Salsa Verde Corn Dip
There are few apps more satisfying than a warm queso dip. The key ingredient in this recipe? Cream cheese, which makes for the perfect texture. Mix with salsa verde, Monterey jack, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro for maximum tastiness.
Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins
What's better than potato skins? Chili con carne sweet potato skins. And we don't mean itsy-bitsy potato skins—we mean those worthy of dinner if you make enough. A slow-cooker filling comprised of chicken and beer (among other things) gets fancied up with melted cheddar and slices of avocado.
Healthy Mini Turkey Meatballs
How to make turkey meatballs healthier? Fill them with a mixture of lean turkey, quinoa, and a pinch of Romano cheese (no bread crumbs here). Make them mini-size, and stick a toothpick in each one for easy gobbling.
Barbecue Paleo Chicken Wings
Chicken wings may be messy, but this barbecue version is also pretty good for you (they're Paleo). The part-spicy, part-sweet dry rub combines with homemade sauce for an out-of-this-world flavor. Cook them on low for three to four hours (so simple).
Loaded Carnitas Nachos
How to upgrade nachos to make them worthy of any soirée? Use gorgeous purple heirloom potato chips, add avocado, and top with a Paleo-friendly cheese sauce you whip up yourself. Serve it right in the sheet pan for maximum effect.
Honey Buffalo Chicken Taquitos
Fans of spice will love these tangy cream cheese– and chicken-filled taquitos. But don't worry if you think they may be too hot: Apricot preserves add just a hint of sweetness. Plus, all the steps can be done right in the slow cooker, although you will need to fry the tortilla shells at the very end.
Which crockpot appetizer do you want to make first? Tell us in the comments, and then read about three cool ways to cook eggs.