Practical cooking has never tasted so delicious. 

By Sarah DiGregorio
Updated June 27, 2017
© John Kernick

We know what you’re thinking: While it’s inarguably practical, there’s nothing remotely sexy about a slow cooker. Think again. That bulky contraption you only break out for Chili Night is one of the most powerful and versatile tools in your kitchen. Because of its supergentle, supereven heat, it makes stews, braises and beans more flavorful than the stove or oven ever could. Chefs love them: Grant Achatz employs a fleet of slow cookers at Next, and Christina Tosi bakes buttermilk cakes in hers. Now it’s your turn to plug in and expand your repertoire beyond pulled pork and beef stew. With these recipes, we’re upping your slow cooker game with a few smart tricks. Your weeknights just got way more exciting.

1. From the Top

Give farro-and-sausage stew (above) the Parmigiano treatment: Add mozzarella and broil until bubbly.

Get the full recipe for Farro-and-Sausage Parmigiano.

2. Slow & Low

© Abby Hocking

Poach chicken in seasoned olive oil to make it rich and tender, then use the oil for a delicious aioli.

Get the full recipe for Perfect Slow Cooker Chicken Breasts.

3. Layer It On

The slow cooker turns out the absolute best comfort food. Cookbook author Sarah DiGregorio adds depth and heat to her hearty white bean stew by adding harissa twice: first for the long simmer in the slow cooker, then at the end, to finish the dish with some bright heat.
© John Kernick

The slow cooker turns out the absolute best comfort food. Cookbook author Sarah DiGregorio adds depth and heat to her hearty white bean stew by adding harissa twice: first for the long simmer in the slow cooker, then at the end, to finish the dish with some bright heat.

© John Kernick © John Kernick

Instead of adding harissa all at once, stir it in at the beginning to build a base, then at the end for a bright pop of heat.

Get the full recipe for Harissa White Bean Stew with Turmeric Yogurt.

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