3 Dishes You Didn't Know You Could Make in a Slow Cooker

As temperatures drop and wool tights come out of hiding, the slow cooker once again emerges from the darkest corners of kitchen cabinets. Winter swaps summer salads for stews, grilled beef for braised and slow-cooked meats, and gazpacho for warming soups.

Luckily, Emeril Lagasse's latest cookbook brings out the best of the slow-cooked recipes. "Slow cookers make wonderful kitchen helpers in that you can 'set in and forget it' and return hours later to a slowly cooked meal just waiting to be served up," Lagasse writes in Cooking with Power. "The problem is that everyone know how to do a pot roast in a slow cooker, but what about Pot Roast Dianne? Or Artichokes a la Barigoule? Even risotto!"

We paged through his upcoming book, on sale Oct. 22, which also helpfully covers multi-cookers, pressure cookers, and deep-fryers. But the ones we'll be going back to over and over again? These innovative slow cooker dishes.

Start with the basics: a chicken stock, with its flavors melded together thanks to the low, slow cooking process. Then try a risotto out for a family meal (and save your arms from the stirring). Finally, finish with white chocolate pots de crème, as the slow cooker assuages worries about curdling the custard.

Check out the recipes here:

Chicken Stock: "The slow cooker is the perfect vessel for making chicken stock because it cooks low and slow, allowing the flavors to meld together gently. The stock doesn’t need to be tended to at all."

Risotto Milanese: "Though this is delicious even in its simplicity, I give it distinction with a sprinkling of truffle salt... You can also use this basic technique to try all varieties of risotto in your slow cooker."

White Chocolate Pots de Crème: "Pot de crème is a French dessert, literally translated as 'pot of cream.' Pots de crème are small custards that are not usually as firm as a flan or a crème caramel, and for this reason they are cooked in individual pot de crème pots or ramekins."

15 cozy comfort food dishes you can make in a slow cooker, according to chefs

When planning for a snow day or cozy night in, sometimes it's easiest to throw ingredients into a slow cooker and walk away.

Not only do slow cookers make cooking at home easy, but you can also make delicious, comforting meals that you'll want to make time and time again.

Insider spoke to Hugh Acheson and Kim Laidlaw about their go-to slow cooker recipes for a cozy night in. Acheson is "Top Chef" judge and Iron Chef Canada competitor as well as the author of "The Chef and the Slow Cooker," while Laidlaw is the author of multiple cookbooks and a professional baker.

"Our palettes have changed so much since slow cookers were all the rage 40 or 50 years ago," Acheson told Insider. "We want big flavors, and we can add those to slow cooker recipes fairly easily. We thought slow cookers were limited, but it's really limitless what you can do with it."

Here are 15 cozy comfort food dishes you can make in a slow cooker, according to chefs.

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Chocolate Cake

This is essentially a standard chocolate cake recipe, complete with sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, milk, water, etc., but dumped into a properly greased slow cooker instead of a traditional cake plate or baking pan. From there, it’s a simple three-hour stint in the slow cooker (or until there are no wet spots and the cake begins to pull away from the walls), and you’re good to go. This is another one of those recipes that takes a little longer to make because of the nature of Crock-Pots, but yields exceptional results. Link

“Mashed potatoes can be made the night before,” chef and founder of The Epicurean Connection Sheana Davis previously told Insider. “Place them in the Crock-Pot, turn on low in the morning and keep warm until serving. It frees up your stove top. You can also thin the mixture with milk or cream if they get too thick from the heat.”

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Desserts aren’t something you’d expect be made in a slow cooker, but they’re actually not difficult at all. The even, relatively low heating of a slow cooker makes for a moist and creamy cheesecake that you can cook for a while without worrying about it drying out. Plus, it takes much less effort than making one in the oven would. The recipe that really got us thinking about this is the one in America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution: Volume 2 (where some of the other recipes we’ve highlighted here can also be found.) There’s an amazing recipe inside for chocolate cheesecake that I’ve tried, works as advertised, and tastes fantastic.

If you don’t have the book, this recipe from Mummy’s Kitchen is a great one start with. It cooks in a few hours, and uses ingredients you may already have. If you want an alternative, check out this sour cream cheesecake from Food and Wine that will step things up a little bit. It will take a little practising to get quite right, but we can think of worse things to do than practise making delicious cheesecake.

According to Martha Stewart's recipe for slow cooker cinnamon buns, the kitchen tool actually helps to make the recipe even better than if they were made in the oven.

"The machine seals in moisture, making these breakfast treats even more gooey and delicious," Stewart writes.

For these cinnamon buns, you'll be making your own dough, but never fear — the recipe only calls for a few ingredients you probably already have lying around your kitchen, save for activated dry yeast.

6 Breads You Can Make In Your Slow Cooker

From frittatas to granola, your slow cooker can churn out almost anything. Except bread. Nope, you can't possibly make bread in a slow cooker&hellipexcept you can. And it's just as delicious as a loaf that you'd pull hot from the oven. (Well, if you ever actually had the time to do that sort of thing.)

Of course, you still have to mix up your dough and knead it for a few minutes. We're not performing magic here, people. But once you get those simple steps out of the way, it's straight into the slow cooker for 2 to 4 hours, depending on your bread recipe. All told, you end up with a fresh, flavorful loaf for about 15 minutes of work and cleanup time. Definitely worth it, right? (Repeat after us: No more dieting. Ever. Instead, learn how to eat clean&mdashwith zero deprivation!&mdashand watch the pounds drop off with Your Metabolism Makeover.)

Slow-cooker bread, folks. It's a thing, and you need to get on board now. Here are 6 tasty ways to do it.

Chewy and crunchy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside. This delicious, bakery-style bread can be yours for just 7 minutes of hands-on work. Draping a paper towel over the dough and leaving the slow cooker lid slightly ajar prevents excess moisture from building up, keeping your crust crisp, says Eazy Peazy Meals. Smart! (When choosing store-bought bread, use these tips from nutritionists.)

Using rapid yeast means that you don't have to spend hours waiting for the dough for this rosemary-scented loaf to rise, says Brown Sugar. For an extra-crispy crust, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes right before you're ready to eat. Sure, it's an extra step&mdashbut it's one that's definitely worth it.

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You could spend $7 on a fancy loaf of Parmesan- and garlic-flavored bread flecked with juicy, salty olives. Or you could make this one from Dizzy Busy and Hungry. It's fresher and cheaper, and the 4 hours it takes to prepare are almost entirely hands off. (Try whipping up one of these fancy hummus dips to accompany your slow cooker bread.)

Good news: You don't have to be Martha Stewart to bake buttery dinner rolls from scratch. And making them is almost as easy as making a full-size loaf. Just shape your bread dough into smaller, roll-size balls and tuck them in your slow cooker. Extra points if you brush the finished rolls with melted butter, like Living Sweet Moments does.

Making cornbread in your slow cooker is a lot like making cake&mdashjust make the batter, pour it in, and let your crock-pot do the rest, says Fuss Free Flavours. Throw together a loaf when you've got a pot of chili or black bean soup on the menu.

Did you save room for dessert? Good, because you're definitely going to want to make The Gourmet RD's buttery, whole-wheat apple cinnamon bread. It's studded with big pieces of apple and walnuts, and topped with a buttery brown sugar and spice drizzle. In other words, it's truly a thing of beauty.

The Delicious Breakfast You Had No Idea You Could Make In Your Slow Cooker

But there's one use for your slow cooker you definitely haven't thought of, and that's making granola.

It doesn't sound like it should work. After all, the inside of your crockpot is a lot like a sauna. Wouldn't all that extra moisture turn your granola into a soggy mess? Nope, not if you leave the lid slightly uncovered, which allows the steam to escape. As long as all that vapor has somewhere to go, your granola will end up crunchy and crispy. No standing around the stove required.

Ready to give it a try? Here are 7 delicious recipes to get you started. (Lose up to 15 pounds WITHOUT dieting with Eat Clean to Get Lean, our 21-day clean-eating meal plan.)

Sometimes, simple is best. This recipe from Amy's Healthy Baking is just oats, brown rice cereal, and honey, plus your choice of fruit and nut add-ins. Beaten egg whites stand in for the oil, which adds a welcome shot of protein and helps keep the calorie count down.

Well Plated's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink granola gets extra nuttiness from ground flaxseeds and warm, toasty flavor from ground cinnamon. Her pro tip for making maximally crispy granola in the crockpot? Let it cool on a baking sheet instead of inside the slow cooker.

Dried blueberries, maple syrup, and unsweetened coconut flakes form the base for this nut-free granola from Foodie With Family. Since there's not much liquid, be sure to grease the bottom and sides of your slow cooker thoroughly. That'll prevent the granola from sticking.

The Seasoned Homemaker tosses gluten-free oats, sliced almonds, and raisins in a mixture of coconut oil, maple syrup, and peanut butter. The result? A granola that's extra rich and even more addictive. Make a batch and share it with a friend so you don't "accidentally" eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Just in time for the holidays! Cupcakes and Kale Chips swaps most of the oil for actual eggnog, so you know this granola has to be amazing. Instead of the usual cookie tins, pack up batches in pretty jars to give as gifts.

13 Thanksgiving sides you can make in a slow cooker

Thanksgiving is likely going to look quite different this year.

Many families nationwide might be planning downsized Thanksgiving celebrations or choosing to drop off food at a loved one's home to minimize face-to-face contact amidst surging coronavirus cases.

One tool that can save a lot of time and energy when it comes to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, no matter what you're planning, is a slow cooker.

Insider spoke to Sarah Olson, who runs the blog "The Magical Slow Cooker," about her favorite slow-cooker Thanksgiving recipes, tips for newbies using their slow cookers for the first time this holiday season, and dishes you might not know can be made in a Crock-Pot.

"I fell in love with the slow cooker when I became a new mom and also had to work full time," Olson said. "I was always too tired to make anything after work and we often ate fast food instead of preparing a meal. When I discovered a few of my favorite childhood recipes that I could cook all day while I was at work, that is when I became hooked."