Summer and cooking don't really go together—heat on heat, ugh. Well, unless you're barbecuing. Okay, so what we're really trying to say is summer and indoor cooking don't really go together, given the trapped heat and all. When you can't even think about turning on the oven while it's sweltering out, there are some go-to summer crockpot recipes you should have on hand.
As for what to dish up, we rounded up 14 recipes spanning veggie-forward to unapologetic meat options, like Mexican chili lime chicken, and a vegetarian quinoa dish packed with beans, peppers and corn. Each recipe is refreshing and light (enough) or requires minimal kitchen prep. Just throw in your ingredients, set your timer, and go. When you get home, you'll be so lucky you took a few minutes to whip up one of these easy summer slow cooker recipes.
Here are our picks for the best summer crockpot recipes to try this year.
Mexican Chili Lime Chicken
Burrito bowls, like this prime example from Half Baked Harvest are quite possibly one of the best meals ever created. In this recipe, Mexican chili lime chicken gets injected with all the flavors in the Crock-Pot: Honey and brown sugar balance out chiles, and paprika, cumin, and oregano add aromatic spice.
Pro Tip: Leftovers can be turned into tacos or salads all week long.
Cooking Time: 4–6 hours on high, or 6–7 hours on low
Easy Crock-Pot Carnitas
Carnitas, like this recipe from Pinch of Yum, is a great way to feed a backyard BBQ gathering, or for an easy night in. All you need is pork shoulder, and all of the spices: Cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, oregano, cayenne, and more. You'll also need beer (for the pork!), orange juice, and lots of lime.
Pro Tip: After shredding the meat, you'll pop it in the broiler for a bit; that's how you'll get some crispy parts for varied texture.
Cooking Time: 8 hours on low
Crock-Pot Teriyaki Chicken
Pro Tip: Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions, and serve over brown rice or other whole grain.
Cooking Time: 2 hours on high, or 4 hours on low
Mexican Quinoa Casserole in the Crock-Pot
Calling all vegetarians and veggie lovers. This quinoa salad from Food Faith Fitness is hearty and oh so good. A mix of grain, corn, tomatoes, black beans, peppers, and chickpeas cooks up in a matter of hours.
Pro Tip: There are two ways to serve it: Warm with melted cheddar on top or chilled as a cold salad (perfect for summer lunches.)
Cooking Time: 3–4 hours on high
Slow-Cooker Carne Adobada
Carne adobada is basically magic—it's the most delectable combination of braised beef, onions, and peppers. The sauce comprises chipotle paste, tomatillo husks, chicken broth, lime juice, and jalapeños. This recipe's mixture, courtesy of Hola Jalapeño, can work for tacos, enchilada filling, or even the base of a quinoa bowl.
Pro Tip: This recipe keeps well in the freezer. "Cover beef with the cooking liquid and keep for up to a month in the freezer," writes Hola Jalapeño.
Cooking Time: 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low
Curried Thai Short Rib Lettuce Wraps
We love lettuce wraps for tacos because they add contrasting crunch—and they happen to be ideal vessels for short ribs. Add mango, a homemade peanut sauce, and a squeeze of lime the way Half Baked Harvest does in this recipe, and you're good to go.
Pro Tip: "Searing the short ribs is not necessary, but it does add an extra layer of flavor," writes Half Baked Harvest. And heads up: Things may get messy.
Cooking Time: 5–6 hours on high, or 8 hours on low
Slow Cooker Beef Ragu With Pappardelle
Pinch of Yum calls this recipe for slow cooker beef ragu with pappardelle, inspired by the Skinnytaste cookbook, "luscious and comforting." To make it, round up some flank steak, tomatoes, broth, thyme, bay leaf, pasta, and cheese.
Pro Tip: This recipe serves eight, so it's great for leftovers or to feed a hungry group.
Cooking Time: 6 hours on high, or 8–10 hours on low
Slow Cooker Chana Masala
Pickled Plum's slow cooker chana masala recipe is smoky and savory, and stars chickpeas, tomatoes, ginger, garam masala, and curry paste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
Pro Tip: Serve over rice for a complete, plant-forward meal.
Cooking Time: 4–6 hours on low
Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Curry
Hello Glow's recipe for Thai peanut curry means throwing every ingredient into the slow cooker, except broccoli (to start): Chicken thighs, vegetables, curry paste, peanut butter, ginger, coconut milk, a bit of sugar. Serve over rice, quinoa, or noodles.
Pro Tip: You can totally sub almond or cashew butter for peanut butter, opt for regular over light coconut milk, and use tofu instead of animal protein (just cube and lightly fry in a pan before adding to slow cooker.)
Cooking Time: 3 hours on high, or 6 hours on low
Slow Cooker Peach and Pepper Pork Chops
Summer is stone fruit season, and Melanie Makes has a pork chop recipe that takes advantage of fresh, seasonal peaches. And it's all too easy: Just place pork and sliced peaches into the slow cooker, add garlic, salt and pepper.
Pro Tip: Take Melanie Make's recommendation for a glaze using leftover juices. "Transfer cooking liquid to saucepan and heat over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water," she writes. Whisk to thicken.
Cooking Time: 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low
Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa
Two Peas & Their Pod's enchilada quinoa recipe delivers comforting, protein-packed flavors. Quinoa and beans are simmered with enchilada sauce, then topped with cheese and accessorized with avocado, lime, cilantro, and sour cream.
Pro Tip: This versatile dish can be served with tortilla chips, as a side to a main course, or devoured on its own, recommends Two Peas & Their Pod.
Cooking Time: 3 hours on high, or 6 hours on low (or until liquid has absorbed, and quinoa has cooked through)
Red Lentil Curry With Sweet Potatoes
For those who prefer or need their meals free from particular ingredients and food groups, Well Plated's lentil curry is naturally vegan, gluten, dairy, and nut-free. In a slow cooker, red lentils and sweet potatoes cook languidly in red curry paste, garam masala, and coconut milk.
Pro Tip: Like a bow on a present, add a finishing touch with lemon or lime wedges, and chopped fresh cilantro.
Cooking Time: 3–4 hours on high, or 6–7 hours on low
Slow Cooker Vegan Sweet Potato Chili
Two Peas and Their Pod's vegan chili recipe is full of filling beans and sweet potato, and requires little more than chopping up vegetables and adding spices while the slow cooker does the rest. Scan your spice rack for cumin, paprika, and chili powder, and your kitchen counter for onion and garlic.
Pro Tip: This recipe freezes well, so make a double-batch to keep for a time when you'd rather not spend much effort cooking.
Cooking Time: 5–6 hours on high, or 8–9 hours on low
Lentil Soup With Coconut, Spinach, and Lime
In this lentil soup recipe from The First Mess, a slow cooker simmers coconut milk, lentils, grated sweet potato, and spices like cumin, cayenne, turmeric, and mustard seeds. Juice from a whole lime brightens this dish up.
Pro Tip: Serve with chopped cilantro for garnish.
Cooking Time: 4 hours on high