From the category archives:

Slow Cooker Recipes

Slow Cooker Recipe: Easy Peach Crisp. Works with any summer fruit!   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Images and styling by Lindsey Rose Johnson.

Are you ready for another super easy, super yummy recipe in my Slow Cooker Series? It’s peach season and one of my favorite ways to enjoy this glorious fruit is in a bowl of warm peach crisp topped with a big dollop of whipped cream — or a scoop of vanilla ice cream! I adore fruit pies and crisps — if I’m in a restaurant, and a fruity dessert is on the menu, it’s always the one I pick. A warm fruit crisp is my ultimate comfort food.

Happily, making a crisp at home couldn’t be easier. It comes together in just a few minutes and doesn’t require much attention after that. You literally toss everything into the slow cooker, set it, and forget it, as the saying goes.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Easy Peach Crisp. Works with any summer fruit!   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

This recipe uses peaches, but you can also use nectarines, plums, berries, or any other favorite summertime fruit.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Yay! It’s time for another recipe in my slow-cooker series. I know. It’s summer and the last thing you’re probably wanting is a hot bowl of anything. But don’t let that stop you from entertaining the idea of French Onion Soup. It’s such a classic thing to eat. And it was made to be cooked in a slow cooker!

Is there anything better than a piece of cheesy toast dipped into a flavorful soup? I think not. So when you’re busy running the kids to swimming lessons or all of the other millions of things we all do during the summer, don’t worry about dinner. Just slice up a bunch of onions, pop them into the slow cooker, and when you get back add the stock and dinner’s ready that fast. The Gruyere toasts are ready in a flash too.

Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

As I mentioned, for this recipe, the onions are cooked alone first, then the stock is added. This gives the onions ample time to cook down and get soft without melting away and disappearing into the broth. If you’d rather not go that route, just add everything to the slow cooker all at once and it will still be really good.

It’s great served with fruit and a very simple green salad like the French might make — torn Romaine with a flavorful basic herb vinaigrette. It’s a great summer meal and you’ll be surprised how even in the hot summer how a bowl of soup hits the spot. And yes, it’s also fantastic when it’s cold outside. : )

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Taco Salad   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

It’s almost been a year since we moved to The Treehouse, and now that we have such a wonderful gathering space, we’ve really upped the frequency of get-togethers. We have a few standby menus that we like to serve to guests, and Taco Salad sits right at the top of that list — taco salad is like the easiest thing to serve ever!

Just lay all the toppings out on the table and let guests build their own. This is particularly great if you’re accommodating special diets. Vegetarians skip the chicken. Dairy-free eaters skip the cheese. Everything is naturally gluten-free. Everyone finds something they can eat. : )

Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Taco Salad   |   Design Mom  #crockpot Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Taco Salad   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

For this recipe we’ve used chicken thighs, which are really great for long, slow cooking because they are more flavorful and tender. It’s a snap to put together too. Just put everything into the slow cooker (or Dutch oven — that’s what we use!) and forget about it for a few hours.

Beyond that, the only other prep work is shredding the lettuce and getting the other toppings ready. It may not be a true 30-minute meal in that it cooks for several hours, but it sure comes together in a flash. I love those kinds of meals!

Let’s get cooking.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Greek Gyros   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Greek food! Our family loves Greek food. None of our kids have ever actually visited Greece, but somehow they still feel connected, knowing that Ben Blair and I have spent time there. Or maybe it has nothing to do with that, and they just love the food! Which would make sense, because it’s so dang good. When I’m thinking of Greek food, I imagine lemon and oregano, strong feta cheese, light, summery, cucumbers and tomatoes and yogurt. Then I imagine all those foods combined. It’s magic, I tell you.

I think it’s safe to say that gyros are the most famous of Greek meals — a classic sandwich, with meat cut from a spit, wrapped in a pita, and topped with tzatziki (yogurt sauce). Happily, gyros are easy to make at home. True, they will not be as authentic as the kind you’d get from a sandwich cart in Athens, but they sure hit the spot when I have a craving!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Greek Gyros   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

It’s nice to be able to toss everything into a pot, forget it, and let it cook slowly for a few hours until it’s time to eat. While the chicken is delicious on its own inside a soft pita bread, adding tzatziki makes it that much better. We like to serve our gyros with a simple Greek salad on the side. We use mixed baby greens and add some sliced cucumber, tomatoes, kalamata olives, crumbled feta, and a basic balsamic vinaigrette. For an additional side, roasted potato wedges cooked with lemon and oregano, or even potato chips, are great. If you’re serving a large group, you could also add a chickpea salad, fresh veggies and fruit.

And that’s it. A super easy summer meal that you can take with you to a park or eat it out on the patio.

Ready to get cooking?

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Memorial Day has come and gone and that means it’s officially summer! Our family loves a good barbecue — Ben Blair makes the best burgers ever. But every so often it’s nice to switch things up a bit, so next up in the Slow Cooker Series is pulled pork sandwiches. You could use any kind of sauce you want, but for this one, we’ve used a homemade bbq sauce of sorts with two secret ingredients!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot

Let’s talk about these secret ingredients. Have you ever had bourbon bbq sauce? It has a nice smoky, sweet flavor. And true, you could add bourbon to the sauce recipe if you wanted, but this one uses liquid smoke and vanilla extract. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end up tasting like cupcakes or anything. It’s really good. (Trust me!)

Plus, you can’t have pulled pork sammies without a pile of coleslaw, right? I’ve got a good homemade recipe for that too, and it’s as easy as can be to put together. The coleslaw in the pictures is made with a new coleslaw mix from Trader Joe’s that has shredded kale and Brussels sprouts too. You can use any kind of slaw mix you can find or like best.

Ready to get cooking?

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Yay! Another installment in my Slow-Cooker recipe series. And I know you’ll love it. Ready for one of the easiest meals ever? Seriously. It’s almost as easy as picking up a rotisserie chicken from the store. : )

A good rotisserie chicken is probably our favorite quick dinner — just grab a baguette, some fruit and cheese, and maybe a few fun drinks, and you’ve got yourself an easy meal. Bonus: it’s also one you can take on the road for a picnic or to eat while you watch your child’s soccer game from the sidelines. And it’s so much better than hitting up the drive-thru.

Something about this meal always festive — casual + sophisticated at the same time. And it pleases everyone in the family!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

The great thing about slow cooking a chicken this way is that it ends up very juicy and flavorful. True, you don’t get the golden brown skin, but you get just as much flavor as you would with traditional roasting methods. The parchment paper is a little trick that will help keep the chicken from drying out. This same trick can be used for cooking pot roast or pork loin in the slow cooker too, so file that away for later!

No liquid is added to the slow cooker because we don’t want the chicken to get mushy. It will release a lot of liquid as it cooks, and the slow cooker is lined with a sliced onion, which will also provide liquid as it cooks. This is a much shorter cooking time, but makes for a really juicy chicken that isn’t under- or over-cooked. No one likes over-cooked chicken!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

The juices are really good, so be sure not to throw those away. Just like with Thanksgiving turkey, you can make a brilliant broth after all the meat has been removed. Just pop it back into the slow cooker and fill it up with water and you’ll have some amazing stock for soup or gravy.

Hungry yet? Let’s get started.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

[ Update: Grilled Cheese with Pesto recipe added. ]

When I lived in New York, my friend Sara invited me to lunch at her house, and while we chatted she made grilled cheese sandwiches and warmed up a yummy box of tomato soup from Trader Joes. I adore this meal. It’s on my list of comfort meals for sure. But until Sara served it to me, I had considered it too plebian or boring for guests.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

I had a lovely shift in thinking that day. Why wouldn’t I serve this comforting, beloved meal? And why stress out about a fancy meal, when I can be relaxed and enjoy my company — and serve a known crowd-pleaser at the same time? All of sudden, I could invite people over for lunch and it didn’t have to be a big deal. Which means I was more likely to invite someone over in the first place!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

I hope it’s safe to say, most people love tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s definitely a favorite around our house. I can tell you I truly don’t raise my eyebrows at boxed soup, but in an effort to eat more whole foods, we have been trying to make more things from scratch. So for today’s recipe in my Slow Cooker Series, it’s all about Homemade Tomato Soup. That said, this soup is made with canned tomatoes. : ) Once summertime arrives, you can switch out fresh-from-the garden tomatoes. But for now this works. It’s pretty much one of those put everything into the slow cooker kinds of recipes, set it and forget it.

I’m always feeding a crowd, so I included a recipe to feed 10-12. If you have a smaller family, don’t worry, just halve all of the ingredients. However, I will say the leftovers don’t go to waste! They are great to send in a lunch box or pull out for a quick meal the next day.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oats   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Images by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

It’s time for another recipe in my Slow Cooker Series — and this time it’s a breakfast option. Did you know how easy it is to make steel cut oats in a slow cooker? So easy!

Put them in before bed and when you wake, they’re warm and ready to dish up. Normally steel cut oats take nearly an hour to cook, which can be tough on a school morning. Using a slow cooker bypasses that hour on the stove, so there’s no active cooking time and it’s ready to go when everyone is getting up and going. It feels good to send the kids off to school with a wholesome warm breakfast in their tummies, and anything that frees up time on busy mornings is a plus!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oats   |   Design Mom

This recipe makes quite a bit — 8 servings or so depending on how big the servings (or the appetites) are. And one of the best parts is that you can add your choice of toppings, so you can vary the options endlessly. You could even host a family oatmeal buffet!

Have you ever tried steel cut oats? If you’ve been meaning to, try this recipe first.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Ridiculously Easy Shredded Ham  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Images by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Are you ready for the easiest slow cooker recipe ever? You only need two ingredients for this ultra-simple recipe, but don’t underestimate how amazing it is. This is something our family loves, loves, loves. We learned this recipe from our friend, Emily, when we were brand new newlyweds (that seems like ages ago!), and it is so good and reliable, that the recipe has since been adopted by dozens of friends and by pretty much every one of my siblings. It’s also become part of our holiday tradition — we make it every Christmas Eve.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Super Easy Shredded Ham  |  Design Mom   #crockpot

The bonus is that it’s the recipe that keeps on giving. The first night, you might serve this yummy slow cooker shredded ham as a main course, with a side of yams or carrots. The next day, it’s the perfect lunch served on bagels with cream cheese. Put the rest in the freezer, and pull it out the following week for creamy pesto, ham, and pasta. And you get all of that from one bone-in ham plus a little bit of water and a day of slow cooking!

It’s delicious in every season, and we make it throughout the year. Friends, I’m so happy to share this recipe with you! I hope you’ll love it as much as our family does. If you make it, I’d love to hear what you think!

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today! Perhaps you’re cooking up a batch of Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage? Well, speaking of slow cooker meals, I have another recipe in my slow-cooker series to share today and it’s a classic: Clam Chowder!

Do you have a chowder-loving family? We seem to like every variation — potato chowder, corn chowder, and especially clam chowder. If we’re at a restaurant and clam chowder is on the menu, there’s a very high chance that I’ll order at least a cup of it. So it’s a no brainer that we would like to make it at home as well.

One new take on it now that we live in the Bay Area is serving it in sourdough bread bowls — it’s a San Francisco tradition! Since sourdough bread bowls are so easy to come by here, they’re a happy addition to our menu, but it’s certainly not a necessity. When we didn’t live here, we ate our clam chowder from bowls served with oyster crackers, crusty baguette, or even soda crackers on the side.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

Making clam chowder in the slow cooker takes a little longer, but allows the flavors to meld nicely — and there’s that bonus of prepping it in the morning and not having to think about it again till dinner. It’s super easy to put together. The only fancy ingredient is the clam juice, which isn’t 100% necessary, but adds more flavor. The bacon adds a little smokiness that goes well with the clams. Make sure to check out the notes below for variations and other tips for our very favorite clam chowder.

Also, I’m curious as can be: do you prefer Manhattan Clam Chowder (pink) or Boston Clam Chowder (white)?

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Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Today, I’m delighted to share the second recipe in my Slow Cooker Series. This one is especially timed for March, and St. Patrick’s Day!

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Or maybe you have some Irish ancestry? Or perhaps you just love Ireland — its people, culture, and food? Then this recipe is for you! But it’s not just for green-themed holidays. This menu is delicious any time of year you’re craving something hearty and warming.

As for the Blairs, we’ve heard our surname is English, Scottish, or Irish — maybe it’s all three! I know there is a Blair Tartan. In fact, when we were newlyweds, I wove Ben a sturdy wool scarf in the Blair Tartan pattern. I also know there is a Blair Castle in Scotland, so I mostly associate the name as Scottish.

That said, our kids feel much more connected to Ireland. Partly because in both New York and France they happened to make friends with Irish expat families, and partly because of our trip there. It was almost a year ago exactly — we arrived in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day! If you like, you can see images from our trip here.

How about you? Does your family feel any connection to Ireland?

Slow Cooker Corned Beef, Cabbage & Carrots. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

Now back to the menu. It’s a classic combo and it’s easy as can be, I promise! My recommendation? Make a big batch and have friends over for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party, or work this into your monthly recipe rotation. You won’t be disappointed.

And now to the recipe: Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Three Bean Chili Deluxe. This recipe has won chili-cookoffs all over the country!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

We are exactly 7 months into our new life in Oakland, and frustratingly, we are still trying to get a handle on our family schedule. Coming up with dinners continues to be one of our biggest challenges — and I know that’s not unusual for families everywhere. In fact, I get emails almost weekly asking for tips and suggestions about weeknight meals and menu ideas. And I get it. So often at our house, we find ourselves looking at our clock and saying, “Dinnertime already?!” At which point, we cross our fingers that there are spaghetti ingredients in the cupboards, or order out for pizza, or hit the drive-thru.

But the whole family is pretty discouraged with the last-minute meals at this point, so Ben Blair and I have vowed to do better. Over the years we’ve gone through crummy eating phases now and again, so this isn’t the first time we’ve had to regroup. Luckily, at this point we know the big trick that works for us: We decide on the dinner menu before we start work that day.

This works for us because we aren’t caught off guard when meal time rolls around, and we can also note if any early prep needs to be done during the day (like marinating something), and work it into our schedule. It’s also a chance to check that we have the needed ingredients, and if not, we can also plan a stop at the grocery store into our daily errands. I don’t know if this trick works for all families, but for us it’s magic!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Three Bean Chili Deluxe. This recipe has won chili-cookoffs all over the country!   |   Design Mom

In addition to deciding the dinner menu first thing in the morning, we’ve also been making use of slow-cooking techniques. Yes, it’s great to have dinner decisions made when mealtime rolls around, but it’s even better to have dinner cooked and ready to go! So I thought it would be fun to share a series of slow-cooker recipes that our family loves. Most will be longtime family favorites (like today’s recipe), and some will be new-to-us recipes we’re trying out.

I’m super excited about this new series! I hope it will be helpful to you, and I hope you’ll share your own tips and suggestions on every post. As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you in a recipe rut? Any particular foods you hope I’ll cover? Thoughts on the series in general? Let me know!

One more note before we jump into the recipe: I don’t actually use an electric slow cooker! Since we work at home, and aren’t leaving the cooking food unattended, we typically do our slow cooking on the stove top in a heavy pot (as described here). But these recipes will work for any type of slow cooking — crock pots included!

And now, without further ado, the first recipe in this new series: Award Winning Three Bean Chili Deluxe!

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