Susan Friedman
slow cooker

If your wintertime meal-prep style is to use a no-hassle slow cooker for comfort food, don't store it away for the summer. When it's just too hot outside to even think about turning on the oven, keep your slow cooker humming for pool parties and backyard fun.

We've scoured the internet for the best recipes that you can savor for yummy summer dining. Let your slow cooker do all the work, while you happily lounge poolside or enjoy toes-in-the-sand bliss.

1. Beans and barley tacos with avocado chipotle cream

Beans and barley tacos with avocado chipotle cream
Photo and recipe courtesy of Cook Nourish Bliss
Filling ingredients:
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 oz.) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 2 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • juice of ½ a lime
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder

Avocado chipotle cream ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1.5 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of half and half
  • 1 teaspoon of minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon of salt, to taste


  1. Add all of the filling ingredients to the slow cooker.
  2. Stir, then cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Most of the liquid will be absorbed, and the barley should be tender and chewy.
  3. Remove the pit from the avocado and scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Mash well with a fork.
  4. Add in the Greek yogurt, half and half, minced chipotle and salt. Mix until well combined.
  5. To serve, spoon filling onto a tortilla. Top with avocado cream, cilantro and crumbled feta.

2. Slow-cooked peach salsa

Slow-cooked peach salsa

Photo and recipe courtesy of Taste of Home


  • 4 lbs. of tomatoes (about 12 medium), chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (Note: wear disposable gloves so peppers do not burn skin. Avoid touching your eyes.)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of minced fresh cilantro
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 cups of chopped peeled fresh peaches (about 4 medium), divided
  • 1 (6 oz.) can of tomato paste


  1. In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine the first seven ingredients and stir in 2 cups of peaches.
  2. Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours, or until the onion is tender.
  3. Stir tomato paste and remaining peaches into the slow cooker and let it cool.
  4. To serve, use as a dip with your favorite tortilla chips or put a dollop on peach pie and frozen yogurt.
  5. Refrigerate leftovers in covered containers for up to one week or freeze up to 12 months.

3. Summertime chowder

Summertime chowder

Photo and recipe courtesy of Foodtastic Mom


  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of corn fresh off the cob
  • 2 cups of russet potato peeled and cubed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, thinly sliced


  1. Set your slow cooker to low.
  2. Add the vegetable stock, corn, potatoes, carrot, onion, salt and thyme.
  3. Cook on low for 6–8 hours.
  4. Once cooked, stir in the sour cream and blend the soup with an immersion blender right in the pot.
  5. Serve the soup topped with fresh chopped tomato and basil. Pair with a BLT.

4. Lemon cookie bars

Lemon cookie bars

Photo and recipe courtesy of Slow Cooker Gourmet


  • 12 tablespoons of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 (10 oz.) jar of lemon curd
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar (to taste)


  1. Spray your slow cooker with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, vanilla and salt.
  3. Add in egg and mix until combined.
  4. Slowly add flour and mix until dough is formed.
  5. Press the dough evenly in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  6. Spread lemon curd evenly over the top.
  7. Cover and bake on high 2-4 hours. Let cool in crock then cut into squares and remove. Note: Cookie bars are done when the edges are lightly browned and the middle is just starting to set. They will cook a little more as they cool still in the slow cooker, so be careful not to wait too long to turn off the heat.
  8. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar using a sifter or fine mesh strainer

5. Skinny chocolate chip cookie bars

Skinny chocolate chip cookie bars

Photo and recipe courtesy of Amy's Healthy Baking


  • 1.5 cups of white whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour
  • 1.25 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1.25 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • ¼ tablespoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup of coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons of miniature chocolate chips


  1. Line a 5-quart slower cooker with foil. Lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cornstarch and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, egg white and vanilla.
  4. Stir in the coconut sugar, mixing until completely dissolved.
  5. Add to the flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated.
  6. Fold in the dark chocolate chips and 1.5 tablespoons of miniature chocolate chips.
  7. Spread the cookie dough into the slow cooker. Press the remaining miniature chocolate chips on top.
  8. Place the slow cooker lid on top. Cook on low for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes, or until the sides look firm and set while the center still looks slightly underdone.
  9. Turn slow cooker off. Remove the lid, and let the bars cool completely to room temperature in the slow cooker. Once at room temperature, you can remove them, but let them sit for at least 2 more hours for the best texture.

6. Breakfast casserole

Breakfast casserole

Photo and recipe courtesy of Apple of my Eye


  • 8 eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoon of stone ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 (30 oz.) bag of frozen hash browns
  • 4 strips cooked bacon (optional)
  • ½ an onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 small head of broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 6 oz. of cheddar cheese


  1. Lightly grease the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg whites, milk, mustard, garlic salt and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Place half the hash browns on the bottom of the slow cooker.
  4. Layer with half the bacon, chopped onion, bell peppers, broccoli and cheese.
  5. Add on the last half of the hash browns, then top with the rest of the veggies, bacon and cheese.
  6. Pour all of the egg mixture on top. Cover and cook for 4 hours on low.
  7. Serve hot and season to taste.

7. Sausage and peppers

Sausage and peppers

Photo and recipe courtesy of Delish


  • 1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, sliced into half moons
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon basil, thinly sliced
  • 6 hoagie rolls, toasted


  1. In the slow cooker, combine crushed tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes and olive oil.
  2. Stir in onion, bell peppers and Italian sausage.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  5. Stir basil into the cooked sausage and peppers.
  6. Serve warm on toasted hoagie rolls.

8. Bandito chili dogs

Bandito chili dogs

Photo and recipe courtesy of Taste of Home


  • 1 package (1 pound) of hot dogs
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans of chili without beans
  • 1 can (10.75 oz.) of condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
  • 1 can (4 oz.) of chopped green chiles
  • 10 hot dog buns, split
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups of corn chips, coarsely crushed
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Place hot dogs in a 3-quart slow cooker.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chili, soup and green chiles and pour over the hot dogs.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
  4. Serve hot dogs in buns, then top with chili mixture, onion, corn chips and cheese.

9. Dry rub slow-cooked ribs

Dry rub slow-cooked ribs

Photo and recipe courtesy of Dinner then Dessert


  • 1 rack of ribs
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated onion
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Remove the membrane from the ribs and rub the mixture over the meat on both sides.
  3. Cook ribs in a slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours.
  4. Serve with coleslaw.

10. Barbecue chicken

Barbecue chicken

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Spruce Eats


  • 1.5 lb. boneless chicken breasts (3 to 4 chicken breast halves)
  • 1.5 cups of spicy barbecue sauce (plus more for serving)
  • 1 medium onion (sliced or chopped)
  • 6 toasted buns
  • Dill pickle slices (optional, for serving)


  1. Wash the chicken breasts and pat dry.
  2. Put in a slow cooker with 1.5 cups of barbecue sauce and the onion. Stir to coat the chicken.
  3. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or on high for about 3 hours, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  4. Remove the chicken breasts to a plate and shred or chop.
  5. Return the shredded chicken to the sauce in the slow cooker and stir to blend. Cover and cook for 10 minutes longer.
  6. Serve the shredded chicken on toasted buns with potato salad and extra barbecue sauce to taste.



About The Author

Susan Friedman

Susan Friedman is a lifestyle journalist with a background that includes real estate, interior design, architecture and kitchen and bath design. The former senior editor of Florida Travel + Life magazine, Susan resides in sunny south Florida and loves exploring the next great place to live, local culture and neighborhoods with cool vibes. Whether it’s in her own backyard or beyond, she has the pulse on what’s trending now in apartment dwelling and more.