Best Slow Cooker Tailgating Recipes
Habanero-Apricot Chicken Sandwiches
For slow-simmered flavor without the hassle, reach for your handy slow cooker. Habaneros contain more capsaisin (the compound that contributes spicy heat) than jalapeños, but removing the seeds and membranes lessens that heat considerably.
Slow Cooker Bourbon-Peach Baked Beans
Skip the canned baked beans in favor of our fuss-free version, which saves up to 300mg sodium per serving. Adobo sauce and bacon build a smoky backbone, while peak-season peaches offer sweet contrast. Bonus: The beans will stay warm in a covered slow cooker for up to 2 hours after being unplugged.
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Brisket
Traditional Mexican barbacoa involves wrapping meat in banana or avocado leaves and slowly cooking it over hot coals, partially steaming the meat to tender perfection. This slow cooker version replicates the flavors and a bit of that traditional method: Chipotle chiles, ground cumin, and oregano offer bold, smoky flavor, and the beef brisket steams to tenderness as it cooks gently in the slow cooker. For tacos, serve the saucy barbacoa in tortillas with green and red onion, cilantro leaves, jalapeño slices, and fresh lime wedges. Or build yourself one awesome burrito bowl with those same components by putting them over brown rice or quinoa instead of in tortillas.
Italian Beef Sandwiches
If you can't find Italian rolls, substitute a sturdy bread that will soak up the juices in this moist, delightfully messy sandwich.
Smoky "Baked" Beans
This global mash-up of a summer classic borrows the ideas of red lentils and maple syrup from celebrated Montreal restaurant Joe Beef and replaces the standard chili sauce of Korean gochujang for a bit of "what is that flavor?" flair.
Before there were nachos, there were chilaquiles. Tomatoes and spices simmer with any kind of meat to make the ideal topping for tortilla chips. Here, chipotle, chicken and cilantro meld in this filling Mexican favorite.
Buffalo-Style Drummettes with Blue Cheese Dip
Heating the chicken drummettes in the oven helps to brown them. You can also brown them, in batches, in a skillet on the cooktop.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Bourbon-Peach Barbecue Sauce
Smoked paprika comes from a centuries-old tradition in which chile peppers are slowly dried over low-burning fires of Spanish oak and then ground into powder. In the slow cooker, this earthy, aromatic spice adds outdoor smoked barbecue flavor.
Pork and Slaw Sandwiches
Pulled pork is an instant classic and slow-cooking it is simply genius. Use packaged cabbage and carrot coleslaw to shave off prep time.
Smoky Slow Cooker Chili
This is one of our all-time favorite chili recipes, and for good reason. It’s made with ground pork, cubed pork shoulder, and a smoked ham hock, giving it incredible richness. And the Mexican hot-style tomato sauce infuses the whole crock with an irresistible smoky-spicy flavor. Look for El Pato brand, in a yellow can with a painting of a duck on it, in the Latin foods area in your supermarket. If you can't find it, substitute an 8-ounce can of regular tomato sauce, plus 1 to 2 teaspoons Mexican hot sauce (such as Cholula. Don’t have any beer to pour into the chili? That’s OK—just use water, chicken stock, or beef stock.
Loaded Twice-Baked Potato
For a main dish, split the potatoes from the top, and open slightly; pile on more toppings, and enjoy the entire potato.
Rosemary Pork Sliders with Horseradish Aioli
Make these popular pork sliders into appetizers by putting them on dinner rolls.
Cheesy-Spinach Crab Dip
This cheesy crab dip makes a savory party appetizer with minimal preparation time. Serve warm with pita chips or whole-grain crackers.
Bourbon-Peach Barbecue Pulled Pork Sliders
These sliders are a saucy mess, in the best way possible—leaving you sweet-tangy drips to lick off your hands. The recipe demonstrates one tasty way to use our recipe. Go for a standard, soft bun here—it's best for barbecue.
Spiced Caramel Cider
Snuggle up to a cozy fireplace with this warm, flavorful, and savory cider. If you'd prefer a beverage with less spice, try substituting apple juice for the apple cider. It's fantastic either way.
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Try serving this crowd-pleaser at your next movie night, book club, or other casual get-together. It’s a lighter take on a barbecue sandwich—made with chicken breasts instead of pork shoulder. The homemade barbecue sauce is simple to pull together, using mostly staple pantry ingredients. It’s delicious, and much lower in sugar and sodium than many bottled sauces. We use molasses for authentic BBQ flavor, but you can sub an equal amount of honey or brown sugar for a slightly different taste. When shopping for molasses, steer clear of blackstrap—it has a strong bitter flavor that will overpower the sauce.
Gruyère Bacon Dip
Serve this dip with assorted vegetable dippers for a great appetizer at your holiday party or your dinner spread. Spread it on a sandwich made of leftover meat the next day for a simple and delicious lunch.
Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili
This soup has a mild chile flavor. If you want more heat, increase the amount of chili powder and don't seed the jalapeños.
Cheesy Spinach-Artichoke Dip
This slow-cooker spinach-artichoke dip is so rich and satisfying, you won't even know that it's low in fat and calories, too!
Soft tortillas wrap savory pork, fresh tomatoes, garlic cloves, and citrus juices blending to make the perfect slow-cooker delicacy. Serve with black beans and rice, if desired.
Roasted Garlic-White Bean Dip
Don’t just think of the slow cooker for all-day stews and braises. Here it offers you hands-off convenience by gently warming and melding the flavors of a white bean dip for a couple of hours—a great help for your next dinner party. While you’re tending to the rest of the meal, the appetizer can cook itself without needing your attention. Cannellini beans are the bulk of the dip, and their mild taste gets a flavor perk from toasted garlic, piney fresh rosemary, and meaty kalamata olives. You can also use navy beans or Great Northern beans if cannellini are hard to find.
Tangy Italian Beef Sandwiches
Here's an example where the slow cooker excels: The beef slowly braises until it practically falls to shreds. We like the mixture on sandwiches, but it's also delicious over a baked potato and topped with sour cream.
Berry Lemonade Tea
Here's a refreshingly fruity mix of tea and lemonade that is delicious hot or cold. Serve it cold with dinner or hot for an after-dinner treat. You can even spike it and serve it during cocktail hour.
Blue Cheese-Artichoke Dip
Blue cheese amps up the flavor for a little twist on the traditional artichoke appetizer. The dip holds up well for about two hours after the cook time. Serve with pita chips or toasted baguette slices. Be smart: While the blue cheese gives the dip a big flavor boost, it's partnered with many other ingredients here, so there's no need to use a premium Stilton that's $30 a pound. Save the star cheeses for your party cheese board where people can savor their flavor unadorned. Follow the same rule as you would when cooking with wine: Choose a wine that you would drink, but not one that you would showcase at a special event. Blue cheeses in the supermarket cheese section, even those sold already crumbled, are perfect for a dish like this.
Lemon zest adds a nice bright lift to the spicy sauce and complements the Greek-inspired flavors of these meatballs. The dish makes a fantastic nibbler for cocktail parties or potlucks: they come together in a snap, and hold in a warm pot or chafing dish without suffering. If you don't care for the taste of lamb, use all ground turkey. Egg serves as the binder here. Warm spices like cinnamon and allspice bring toasty notes to the meat, while lemon and red pepper sauce add bright top notes. Currants add a hint of sweetness for balance. If you can't find currants, raisins will also work in this dish.
Ginger-Lemon Hot Toddies
Ginger infuses this lemony hot toddy with a spicy kick—the perfect antidote to chilly winter weather. After you add the alcohol, turn the slow cooker to low to prevent the spirits from burning off and allow guests to help themselves. Use the edge of a small teaspoon to scrape off and discard the ginger skin; it's much easier than trying to do so with a knife or vegetable peeler, both of which will cut away too much of the ginger flesh. Golden rum keeps this cocktail a lemony color, but if you prefer the burnt-sugar notes of dark rum, use that. This drink will also taste delicious cold: After cooking and infusing the ingredients in step 1, stir in the rum and brandy and cool the mixture to room temperature. Pour into a pitcher and chill. When you are ready to serve, pour the lemon-brandy mixture into glasses filled with ice and top off with club soda.
Chickpeas give an unexpected twist to classic chili. On second thought, nearly all of the flavors in this recipe give an entirely different flavor to the typical Tex-Mex staple, but it will soon become a classic.