Although the slow cooker craze has become wildly popular in recent years—thanks to how easy the device makes preparing entire meals—it's still often associated with hearty, meat-based dishes like pulled pork and chicken chili. However, the kitchen gadget is also great for preparing easy and delicious vegetarian fare.
Yes, even those who prefer to omit meat from their diet can enjoy the luxury of slow cooking. The set-it-and-forget-it mentality works just as well when it comes to whipping up vegetable soups, comforting pasta dishes, and meat-substitutes. With the handy kitchen tool, you can make meals like vegetarian lasagna, lentil tacos, curried coconut eggplant, and vegan sweet and sour tempeh with ease.
If this sounds too good to be true, think again. Keep scrolling to discover 10 vegetarian slow cooker recipes that will turn you into budding gourmand in no time.
Vegan Sweet Potato Soup
The Hero Ingredient: Sweet potatoes act as the base of this creamy, vegan soup, earning them the title of hero ingredient.
Pro Tip: You don't even have to worry about peeling the chopped apples before tossing them into the slow cooker, according to Taylor Kiser of Food Faith Fitness.
Why We Love It: It's a gluten-free, paleo, vegan dish that's healthy, filling, and easy to pull off, thanks to the slow cooker. The soup is brimming with fall flavors like sweet potato, cinnamon, ginger, apple, and maple syrup.
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Ravioli Lasagna
The Hero Ingredient: Frozen cheese ravioli is what makes this vegetarian slow cooker recipe so simple to make with hardly any prep work required.
Pro Tip: "For you meat-lovers, you can saute one pound Italian sausage in a pan/skillet on the stove until browned, then stir in marinara sauce along with the garlic and basil," Tiffany Edwards of Creme de la Crumb points out.
Why We Love It: With only five ingredients, this Italian slow cooker creation couldn't be easier to make—it calls for just five minutes of prep work (yes, really). All you have to do is create a few layers of marinara sauce, cheese, and ravioli in the slow cooker and let the gadget do its thing.
Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Butter Roasted Mushrooms
The Hero Ingredient: The star of this creamy soup is definitely the butter roasted mushrooms. They give the dish a boost of flavor and texture.
Pro Tip: The extra step of roasting mushrooms in the oven with butter may be a departure from other recipes that simply require dumping all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, but it's completely worth it, according to Teighan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest.
Why We Love It: It's a fun take of the traditional comfort food. While you could easily pick up a can of wild rice soup at the market, this homemade recipe tastes so much better and isn't too difficult to pull off thanks to the slow cooker.
Lentil and Brown Rice Tacos
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Lentil and Brown Rice Tacos
The Hero Ingredient: Lentils make this vegetarian-friendly dish just as filling and hearty as any meat option.
Pro Tip: "This versatile and budget-friendly taco filling is also great as a topping for nachos, on a bed of lettuce for a taco salad, and as a filling for quesadillas or burritos," writes Melanie Bauer of Melanie Makes.
Why We Love It: A true "set it and forget it" recipe, you can toss all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, set a timer, and walk away until you're ready to eat. You'll return to a tasty taco filling that you can top as you please.
Vegan Sweet and Sour Tempeh
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Vegan Sweet and Sour Tempeh
The Hero Ingredient: Tempeh is a plant-based protein that's full of nutrients and works as a meat substitute in this Chinese-inspired slow cooker recipe.
Pro Tip: "I chose to incorporate green bell peppers into this sweet and sour recipe because they work great and they’re typically cheaper than the other colors, but you can use any color bell pepper you prefer," the author of Eating Bird Food, Brittany Mullins, points out.
Why We Love It: This veggie-packed dish is just as tasty as any Chinese takeout you could order—only it's so much better for you. Tempeh replaces the usual chicken or pork element and veggies add even more nutrients and flavor to this dish. It's all coated in a healthier, homemade sweet and sour sauce.
Mushroom Mac and Cheese
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Mushroom Mac and Cheese
The Hero Ingredient: A variety of cheeses take center stage in this slow-cooker mac and cheese recipe.
Pro Tip: "In order to infuse the mac and cheese with the nutty, earthy flavor we all love so much about mushrooms we’ve flipped the caps, filled them with butter and placed them along the top of the dish in the last hour of cooking," Natalie Mortimer of The Modern Proper explains.
Why We Love It: The only thing better than mac and cheese for dinner is mac and cheese made in a slow cooker. Think gruyere, cheddar, and parmesan cheese all melted together with cream cheese, butter, milk, and cremini mushrooms coating tender pasta noodles.
Lentil Soup with Coconut, Spinach, and Lime
The Recipe: Lentil Soup with Coconut, Spinach, and Lime
The Hero Ingredient: Although lentils are the main ingredient in this vegetarian soup, it's the coconut milk that gives it such a creamy texture and tasty flavor.
Pro Tip: "Once you measure up your spices and grab a few pantry staples, this soup is pretty much in the bag," writes Laura Wright of The First Mess. "It’s a big batch that will feed you well for a while," she continues.
Why We Love It: After grating a few sweet potatoes and onions and rinsing your red lentils, all that's left to do is toss all of the ingredients straight into the slow cooker for a few hours. The final product is a creamy soup that's bursting with flavors.
Vegetable Quinoa with Golden Milk
The Hero Ingredient: Turmeric, obviously. It boasts anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, along with a distinct flavor.
Pro Tip: Even if you use pre-made golden milk from the market, you'll still want to add some extra turmeric to the slow cooker for good measure, according to Kiser.
Why We Love It: It's an easy, flavorful vegan meal prepared in the slow cooker with just ten ingredients, making it perfect for busy days when you don't have time to spend hours in the kitchen.
Broccoli Cheddar and Zucchini Soup
The Recipe: Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar and Zucchini Soup
The Hero Ingredient: Zucchini adds a little something extra to this classic broccoli cheddar soup. It breaks down while it cooks, and once it's pureed, the vegetable creates a gorgeous creamy texture.
Pro Tip: "I finished the soup off with a few handfuls of sharp cheddar cheese and plenty of fresh thyme from our summer bounty of herbs," Gerard notes.
Why We Love It: A cozy soup made for chilly fall nights, this vegetarian recipe is everything you love about comfort food combined with the convenience of a slow cooker or instant pot. It's a fresh take on traditional broccoli cheddar soup that everyone will enjoy.
Coconut Curried Eggplant
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Coconut Curried Eggplant
The Hero Ingredient: Coconut milk gives this Indian-inspired dish its ultra creamy texture.
Pro Tip: "For serving, I love pairing the curried eggplant with rice—I used cauliflower rice but basmati rice would work great as well," Mullins adds.
Why We Love It: This vegetarian slow cooker recipe is also vegan and gluten-free when served with cauliflower rice. It's inspired by Baingan Bharta, a traditional Indian dish, and calls for eggplant, zucchini, tomato sauce, and plenty of spices. Plus, it all comes together in the slow cooker for a foolproof dinner.