It’s no secret that fall is the time of year when cooking becomes more of a welcome endeavor. Once summer’s temperatures have subsided and ovens are no longer contributing to our personal heat waves, we’re ready to return to our kitchens to whip up hearty recipes that match the cozy surroundings. That said, many of us aren’t entirely open to spending hours toiling over ingredients. After all, there are changing leaves to see, apples to pick, and pumpkin patches to roam through instead.
To find a happy medium between cooking and exploring, it’s time to make a crockpot your kitchen’s key appliance. With a few minutes of prep time—and often just one pot to clean when all is said and done—the slow cooker can help you create fall flavors without much of a commitment. We found 12 fall crockpot recipes that are perfect for the upcoming season, including a vegetable-filled chili and a mushroom-topped mac and cheese, so that your time in the kitchen doesn’t have to take away from the season’s many activities.
Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff Soup
What to Fall For: Tiffany Azure Edwards at Creme de la Crumb serves up this tummy-warming stroganoff recipe, which is a great option for those cool nights by a fire. Thanks to a base of beef broth and ingredients like egg noodles, mushrooms, and stew meat, this soup will fill you up fast.
What to Keep in Mind: “Any short noodle works great," she says. "Egg noodles are really common with traditional stroganoff and taste great in this soup. My favorite, though, is cellentani. You could also use penne, rotini, or macaroni elbows.”
Easy Homemade Crockpot Vegetable Soup
What to Fall For: If you’re looking for a light fall dinner, this vegetable soup from Taylor Kiser at Food Faith Fitness is it. Its chicken broth base is loaded with bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, and celery alongside herbs and spices for a meal that’s healthy but filling.
What to Keep in Mind: “Cook on ‘high’ until the vegetables are fork-tender—this took three hours in my slow cooker,” Kiser notes. “It could take anywhere from two to four hours, depending on how hot your slow cooker runs.”
Instant Pot Honey Teriyaki Chicken
What to Fall For: It takes all of 10 minutes to prep this recipe from Creme de la Crumb, which features skinless chicken breasts that have been flavored with soy sauce, honey, garlic, and ground ginger. The chicken is shredded and served with a topping of green onions on a bed of rice.
What to Keep in Mind: “My favorite tip for amping up this recipe is adding more crushed red pepper flakes—it adds a little extra kick of heat without overpowering the sweet and savory tones of the dish,” Azure Edwards says.
Instant Pot Thai Sweet Potatoes With Peanut Drizzle
What to Fall For: Sweet potatoes are an autumn staple, and this recipe from A Couple Cooks makes them the star ingredient with a twist. They’re topped with a Thai slaw of red cabbage, bell peppers, and chopped cilantro, and a peanut drizzle finishes things off.
What to Keep in Mind: “For this Thai sweet potatoes recipe, you can make the Thai slaw and peanut drizzle in the time it takes to cook the sweet potatoes,” Sonja Overhiser notes. “The slaw and peanut sauce are a loose inspiration from the flavors of Thai food: cilantro, lime, soy, a touch of sweet (maple syrup), green onion, and peanut.”
Crockpot Paleo Chili
What to Fall For: When the weather begins to cool, this crockpot chili from The Modern Proper will warm you up with its mix of chuck roast and ground beef, bell peppers, and green chilis, and avocado and cilantro. Don’t be surprised if you eat it two days in a row.
What to Keep in Mind: “Generously season the chuck roast pieces with salt and pepper,” Natalie Mortimer says. “Brown all sides of the meat working in small batches and then set aside.”
Healthy Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
What to Fall For: Opt for this chicken cacciatore recipe from Creme de la Crumb if you have guests coming over for dinner on a weeknight. It has skinless chicken breasts tossed with diced tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, and capers over spaghetti, which is served with freshly ground pepper, thyme, and parmesan. It’s an impressive reveal that’s simple to make behind the scenes.
What to Keep in Mind: “Even the pasta is made right there in the slow cooker—no need to boil separately,” Azure Edwards says. “So this is truly a one-pot meal.”
Slow-Cooker Mexican Beef Stew
What to Fall For: When you’re craving Mexican flavors for dinner, this beef stew from Melanie Makes will fit the bill. Its namesake ingredient is mixed with potatoes, corn, garlic, onions, and fire-roasted tomatoes, making for a flavorful dish that you can scoop up with tortilla chips.
What to Keep in Mind: “I topped my bowl with slices of fresh jalapeño, sour cream, pico de gallo, and my favorite yellow corn tortilla chips,” she explains.
Slow-Cooker Mushroom Mac and Cheese
What to Fall For: When isn’t macaroni and cheese delicious? The Modern Proper makes it even harder to resist with this clever option. Mortimer includes cremini mushrooms in a mix of grated gruyère and sharp cheddar and then tops it all with chives and flat-leaf parsley.
What to Keep in Mind: “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,” she writes.
Slow-Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs
What to Fall For: Classic spaghetti and meatballs are an instant hit no matter what time of year, but they’re especially helpful during those fall nights that feel particularly long. Creme de la Crumb whips up this recipe with meatballs made from ground beef, panko, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder, and she tosses them with spaghetti noodles and a rich marinara sauce. It’s so good you won’t mind having dinner earlier than normal.
What to Keep in Mind: “Truly set it and forget it; even the noodles are cooked right in the crockpot,” she notes. “The key is to pop them into the sauce about 15 to 20 minutes before you’re ready to eat—with your slow cooker set to ‘high’—and they’ll be perfectly tender.”
Slow-Cooker Whole30 Paleo Korean Beef Stew
What to Fall For: For something with a little more depth, Food Faith Fitness serves up this Korean beef stew, which has lean stew beef mixed with sesame and avocado oil, carrots, apple juice, and garlic in a beef broth. The stew is garnished with kimchi, pickled cucumber, bean sprouts, and sliced green onion for a colorful spoonful.
What to Keep in Mind: “You need to use some kind of starch to absorb the juices—we’re using tapioca starch, but you could also use cornstarch,” Kiser explains. “Coating the beef in a little bit of starch prevents it from losing its juices while it cooks, making the stew thinner.”
Crockpot Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Soup
What to Fall For: This recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron can help you say goodbye to the last glimpses of summer since its bright shades of cilantro, sour cream, and lime may make you nostalgic for that season. But because it also includes the heartiness of fire-roasted green chilis, chicken, and black beans, it fits right into your fall lunch routine, too.
What to Keep in Mind: “Our favorite cheese with this soup is pepper jack—it is delicious!” she writes.
Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Beef Stew
What to Fall For: If you’d rather have Mediterranean flavors in your beef stew, Melanie Makes covers that hankering, too. This time she stirs onions, black olives, tomato sauce, garlic, and dried rosemary into a balsamic vinegar broth for an equally satisfying dinner.
What to Keep in Mind: “Each bowl of this rich and hearty stew is then sprinkled with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan, which helps to brighten the flavors and really up the flavor ante,” she says.