When it comes to the stereotypical Halloween-themed menu, most of the details come down to candy. But since this is a holiday marked by the changing of seasons—where temperatures cool and the leaves begin to turn colors—it’s also an opportunity to re-introduce more savory options into your repertoire. Guests of a Halloween dinner party will gravitate toward rich dishes like chili and stroganoff soup, and more casual nights at home will feel even cozier with desserts like apple crisp and caramel fondue. What do all of these recipes have in common, by the way? Well, they can be made in a crock-pot.
Do your best to eat as little candy as possible as you wait for these 10 delicious recipes to come together in this trusty (and often underused) kitchen staple. They deliver maximum satisfaction with minimal effort, and may just be the highlight of your Halloween season.
Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff Soup
Ingredients: At some point, whether you like it or not, you’re going to grow tired of eating sweets for the entire month of October. Use this recipe from Tiffany Azure at Creme de la Crumb as a palette cleanser since its savory combination of stew meat, beef broth, Italian seasoning, short noodles, and mushrooms will be a welcome departure from candy.
Quick Tip: “Garnish with cracked black pepper, fresh thyme or parsley, and grated parmesan cheese, and serve,” notes Azure.
Crock-Pot Paleo Chili
Ingredients: When the weather cools and the night comes on quick, a steaming bowl of chili is the type of dinner that makes the changing of seasons feel cozy rather than creepy. Natalie Mortimer of The Modern Proper mixes in ground beef and chuck roast as a base, and then adds minced garlic, chopped mushrooms, green chilis, and avocado for more flavor. Don’t forget to add cilantro and jalapenos, too.
Quick Tip: “Brown all sides of the meat by working in small batches and then setting aside,“ Mortimer says. “This step can be omitted, but we feel it contributes to the wonderful texture of the meat.”
Crock-Pot Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bolognese
Ingredients: This hearty option from Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest is the type of meal you’d want to eat before a night of trick-or-treating. Its lean ground beef and its mixture of diced sweet onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, and oregano are layered over golden forkfuls of spaghetti squash. It’s filling, but you’ll still be able to eat a few pieces of candy, too.
Quick Tip: “The crock-pot cooks the spaghetti squash perfectly,” Gerard says. “I let mine slow cook for about six hours and it was perfect. Not mushy (which I was worried it would be) but tender and buttery and so good!”
Asian Crock-Pot Meatballs
Ingredients: When you’re throwing a Halloween party, it can be tough to come up with meals that can serve a crowd. That’s why we’re fans of this meatball recipe from Krista Rollins of Joyful Healthy Eats, which includes rice wine vinegar, ground ginger, and raspberry jam.
Quick Tip: “The sauce totally makes this dish: It's sweet, salty, and a little spicy,” says Krista. “You’ll be trying to get as much sauce as you can on those meatballs!”
Crock-Pot Chex Mix With Honey Mustard
Ingredients: This simple snack recipe from Food Faith Fitness's Taylor Kiser is the type of recipe you’d want to have on hand before a night of watching scary movies. It features pretzels, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, Cheerios, and peanuts that have been layered with honey, mustard, and sea salt.
Quick Tip: “You must put a kitchen towel under the lid, across the top of the slow cooker," Kiser says. "This absorbs any condensation that would lead to—gasp—soggy Chex mix."
Slow Cooker Caramel Fondue
Ingredients: For those of us who will never tire of sweets, here’s another Creme de la Crumb recipe that will be an exciting fix in the weeks leading up to Halloween. This caramel fondue has just three ingredients—caramel, heavy cream, and mini marshmallows—for a sweet layer atop your favorite snacks or candies.
Quick Tip: "The slow cooker is nice for serving larger groups and keeping the fondue warm for a longer time," Tiffany notes.
Crock-Pot Chocolate Peanut Clusters
Ingredients: If you’re looking for an easy dessert to whip up for a Halloween-themed dinner party, this recipe from Jen Sattley at Carlsbad Cravings is it. It features semi-sweet chocolate chips and a German baking chocolate bar, which are mixed with peanuts and garnished with sea salt for a rich finish.
Quick Tip: “If you are sprinkling with sea salt, be sure to not wait until the very end, or the first few peanut clusters will already have hardened and the salt won’t stick,” Sattley says.
Slow Cooker Apple Crisp
Ingredients: Fall is the season for all things apple, and if you’re not bobbing for them at a Halloween party, then you should be eating them in the form of a crisp courtesy of this recipe from Kate Kordsmeier at Root + Revel. It features sliced apples covered in ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, which is all topped with nuts, oats, and coconut sugar.
Quick Tip: “You want the topping to be crumbly and well-mixed, but not too fine,” Kate Kordsmeier says. “Cover the apple mixture with the crumb topping.”
Slow Cooker Brownies
Ingredients: We couldn’t step away from Creme de la Crumb without also mentioning this last recipe for decadent brownies, which can be surprisingly baked in a slow cooker. All it takes is flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate chips, sugar, eggs, and butter.
Quick Tip: “The key to getting the edges nice and chewy—but not overdone—and the middle super fudgy is to use a super high-tech device called an aluminum collar,” Tiffany says. “Ha! Gotcha. It’s literally the opposite of high-tech. Take a few big sheets of tin foil from your drawer, fold them and press them against the sides of your slow cooker to make a ring.”
Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate
Ingredients: What’s better on a cool fall night than a warm mug of hot chocolate? Perhaps this metabolism-boosting recipe for it from Stephanie Gerber at Hello Glow, which can be made in a slow cooker. Unsweetened almond milk, cinnamon, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, coconut cream, and coconut sugar are just a few of the ingredients in every cup.
Quick Tip: “Coconut cream is high in saturated fat, which makes it excellent at curbing hunger and boosting metabolism,” Gerber notes.