Take 5: Summer Slow Cooker Dinners

Slow cooked meals with quick prep times will save your summer weeknight dinner rut.
By: Julie Hines

A workhorse during winter months for stews, chili and hot cider, slow cookers are often forgotten during the warmer months in favor of outdoor meals cooked on the grill. But then reality kicks and you realize that grilling on a Tuesday night is not as much fun as you planned because you’ve got a packed evening and an even busier rest of the week that you need to prepare for. Enter your slow cooker, back in action and ready to save the day. The best part? No stovetops or ovens involved, so your kitchen will stay cool even though the meal is hot.

Take back your weeknights and with some classic slow cooker meals that are perfect for summer nights. All of these recipes can be prepped in less than 40 minutes and practically cook themselves in the slow cooker. Stay one step ahead and prep the ingredients in the bowl of the slow cooker the night before, then store in the fridge and place into the slow cooker housing in the morning before you leave.

Turkey Mole Tacos (pictured above)

Moles are traditional Mexican sauces made with chiles and chocolate, and about 20 other ingredients and a fair amount of patience to make. Achieve the authentic flavor with just 15 minutes of prep work and let the slow cooker do the heavy lifting in this shortcut meal.

PULLED_PORK_SAND_089.tif

PULLED_PORK_SAND_089.tif

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

This fantastically messy meal is perfect for eating outdoors on a summer night and only takes 15 minutes to put together. Feeling ambitious? Skip store-bought coleslaw and top your sandwiches with this 5-star recipe.

PERFECT BABY BACK RIBS Melissa d’Arabian Cooking Channel Smoked Paprika, Sweet Paprika, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Ground Cumin, Kosher Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Baby Back Ribs, White or Cider Vinegar, Beer, BBQ Sauce

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

You might be feeling skeptical right now, but trust us on this one. Let baby back ribs cook low and slow all day on the counter and then, when you’re ready to eat, pop them on the grill or under a broiler to achieve a smoky char. If you’ve already got the grill going, pair your ribs with this quick-cooking side dish.

The whole gang will love these Italian-style shredded beef sandwiches. Valerie blends giardiniera, a spicy Italian relish of pickled vegetables, straight into her homemade aioli. Do yourself a favor and save some to top your sandwiches as well.

Use chicken thighs (full of flavor and often less expensive than chicken breasts) to make these easy barbecue sandwiches. A stop in the skillet before serving caramelizes the sauce and gives the tender shredded chicken a crispy crust.

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