Crock-Pots bring to mind rich, comforting dishes like creamy casseroles and hearty meat stews. But this method of cooking—in which ingredients are cooked over a low, constant heat for hours—works just as well for healthy recipes. Our recipe collection shows you how to employ a few key tricks to avoid excess fat, salt, and sugar without sacrificing flavor.
Add spices: It’s important to be aggressive with seasonings in a slow cooker, which can mute flavors during the long cooking time. Look for bold, aromatic spices like the garlic, curry powder, cumin, and turmeric that flavor our Slow Cooker Coconut Pork Curry. Thanks to the tenderizing effect of the Crock-Pot, the spices will penetrate even tough cuts of meat. We follow the same principle with vegetarian dishes like our Indian-Spiced Red Lentil Soup. In this recipe, a mix of cinnamon, cumin, and coriander add dimension and warmth to an earthy pot of lentils and Swiss chard. If you have time, grind fresh spices in a mortar and pestle so that they release their flavor as the dish cooks.
Brine: The luscious stews of Southern Europe and North Africa are proof that nothing adds punch to a long-simmered dish like a little brine. Heart-healthy olives are a good choice because they maintain their shape during cooking; you can try them in our sweet-and-savory Moroccan Chicken with Apricots, Olives, and Almonds. Small, salty capers are another way to add pops of flavor. We scatter them throughout our rustic Chicken Cacciatore with tomatoes and linguine.
Put the soup on: Everyone is talking about the health benefits of homemade broth. Get in on the action by making classics like chicken soup in your Crock-Pot. Use bone-in cuts of meat for the most benefits and best flavor.
Skip the oil: Slow cooker dishes are self-saucing, which means you don’t have to rely on oil to make them moist. Take our Crock-Pot version on the Cuban stew Ropa Vieja. It calls for zero oil while our more traditional stovetop recipe calls for over 1/4 cup.
Finishing Touches: After your dish has finished cooking in the Crock-Pot, use a handful of freshly chopped herbs or a squeeze of citrus to brighten its flavors without using extra salt. For spicy dishes, try adding a dollop of cooling yogurt.