Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

Cool and convenient, the slow cooker is perfect for preparing warm-weather meals.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Is your slow cooker gathering dust this summer? While many slow cooker recipes - soups, stews, and so forth - seem more appropriate for cold weather, the slow cooker is actually a great choice for summer meals. Not only do they save money and time, slow cookers save energy. They don't give off much heat beyond the actual pot, thus helping to keep your kitchen (and you) cool.

Armed with some summer-friendly slow cooker recipes, you can enjoy convenient slow cooker meals all season long. Here are four reasons to use your slow cooker this summer:

  • You Name It, It Cooks It. Slow cookers don't just cook up entrees; you can make appetizers, side dishes, and desserts with surprising success. You'll find a variety of recipes below to add to your slow cooker recipe collection.
  • It Turns Lean Meat Tender. The slow cooker cooks food slowly at a low temperature -- generally between 170 and 280 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Donna Falconnier, MS, RD, with the University of Illinois Extension. Because of this, leaner cuts of meat become more tender -- and shrink less.
  • It's Great for Parties. It's so convenient to bring your dish right in the slow cooker to parties and barbecues. The slow cooker keeps the food at the right temperature, and you can serve it straight from the pot. Just plug it in, and your dish is ready to serve when everyone is ready to eat.
  • It's Cost-Effective and Energy Efficient.The slow cooker is a small but mighty appliance. "Cooking with a small appliance, such as a Crock-Pot slow cooker, saves energy without compromising taste," says Merideth McNally, spokesperson for the Crock-Pot brand of slow cookers. According to 2006 data from the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, using a slow cooker at 200 degrees for 7 hours costs about 9 cents, while using an electric oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour costs some 25 cents and a convection oven at 325-degrees for 45 minutes costs at least 18 cents.

Healthy Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

Ready to try some summer slow cooking? Here are five slow cooker recipes to get you started.

Lime Cilantro Chicken
This recipe works great for chicken that you use for quesadillas or nachos, or you can simply serve the chicken with cooked brown rice and vegetables. If you only have two hours, cut each chicken breast into about 4 pieces and cook on HIGH in slow cooker. The chicken should be cooked throughout in about two hours.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup nonalcoholic or light beer
1 teaspoon minced or chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Coat the chicken breasts with olive oil and place in the slow cooker.
  2. In small bowl, combine lime juice, beer, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper. Spoon mixture evenly over the chicken breasts.
  3. Cook chicken on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours. Slice or shred chicken as desired and use as filling for quesadillas or nachos.

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 163 calories, 25 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 685 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
If you like pulled pork sandwiches, you'll love this recipe, which yields BBQ sauce-soaked pork that's ready when you step in the door after work.

2 pork tenderloins (about 1.5 pounds)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic seasoning blend like Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large sweet or yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup bottled barbecue sauce (your choice)
1/2 cup non-alcoholic amber beer or light beer


  1. Coat the inside of the slow cooker with canola cooking spray. Place the pork tenderloins in bottom of slow cooker and sprinkle garlic, salt and pepper evenly over the top.
  2. Sprinkle chopped onions over pork and top that with barbecue sauce and beer. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Shred pork with a fork and stir to combine all ingredients.
  3. Serve the pork filling on a whole grain bun or roll.

Yield: Makes about 6 servings
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 150 calories, 23 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 0.5 g fiber, 780 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.