If you try to hold a dinner party without stressing yourself out, a slow cooker can become your new best friend. These easy Crock-Pot dinner recipes are all worthy of company and feed a crowd without costing much, neither in effort nor money. (Which also makes them great for any evening dinner when you need to feed the whole family.)
If you just make a few important decisions in advance, you can have a meal ready to go as soon as you walk in the door – or as soon as your guests arrive (while you can spend the time you are not actively making spruce up) instead or put together an easy dessert, or help the kids with homework, as the case may be).
Check out these 12 budget-friendly slow cooker meals that are perfect for a dinner party, but casual enough for any day, and you’ll be able to make consistently crowd-pleasing meals without ever sweating – or the bank.
Pro tip: For parties, if you have more than one Crock-Pot (it happens), you can use the spare part to make a Crock-Pot chocolate cake for dessert or warm up Crock-Pot drinks to ward off the cold.
This soup stretches a chicken breast to feed six people, but does not feel stingy at all thanks to tons of other delicious but sparse additives (like toasted tomatoes from a can, diced tomatoes with green chili, black beans and frozen corn kernels). Bake your own tortilla strips and dice further avocado toppings, grated cheese, cilantro, sour cream, limes and fresh or pickled jalapeños and you have a feast. Get the recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup.
This slow cooker soup is great for serving an audience or storing a few servings in the freezer for a last minute meal. You can use any type of pasta you want and substitute any kind of beans you have on hand. Get the recipe for Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup.
Barbecue beef brisket is worth the wait (not to mention you have sandwiches for days). The barbecue sauce is made with ketchup, dark brown sugar, chipotle pepper, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and cumin and is absolutely amazing. Get our Crock-Pot BBQ beef breast recipe.
The taste of this chili develops slowly while it is being cooked – you can make this recipe overnight, and it only gets better the longer you let the flavors melt together. Make this in advance for a dinner party (or Monday night) and serve with cornbread or even Cincinnati style over pasta. Get our easy Crock-Pot Chili recipe.
Rich beef ribs flavored with sweet peppers, cumin and cilantro plus tender chunks of carrots and onions … this dish smells almost as good as it tastes. Serve over egg noodles with sour cream next door for an unexpectedly captivating centerpiece of the party that is also homely enough for any Tuesday dinner around the family table (or TV). Get our Crock-Pot Beef Goulash recipe.
Do you use slow cooker to make breakfast? A perfect plan. This easy, cheesy casserole is packed with sage-spiced breakfast sausage and is the perfect make-ahead brunch dish. Drizzle with maple syrup if you like the sweet-salty-spicy combination. Get our Crock-Pot breakfast casserole recipe.
Bacon makes these beans better than the rest (but if you need to make them vegetarian or vegan, just omit it and add a few drops of liquid smoke instead). With ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, cloves and pepper, these are complex and creamy and perfect for serving with anything grilled. Get our Crock-Pot Baked Beans recipe.
This Asian-inspired pork is super tender after hours in the slow cooker and filled with flavor thanks to ginger, garlic, honey, soy sauce and mirin. If you stir a little kale for an hour before it is done, it means that the vegetables are also taken care of and this is a complete meal with rice or noodles (or cauliflower rice if you cut carbs). Serve with Sriracha or chili oil for those who like extra spice. Get the recipe for Crock-Pot Honey-Ginger Pork.
Fresh fennel, orange juice and peel, wholemeal mustard and Niçoise olives give humble chicken thighs a fancy French flair and make them taste delicious. Serve with egg noodles or rice pilaf for an affordable but impressive dinner dish that is so easy that you certainly do not have to reserve it only for guests. Get our Crock-Pot Provencal Chicken Thighs Recipe.