30 Best 4-Hour Slow-Cooker Recipes (For A Quick, Slow Meal That Tastes Amazing)

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best slow cooker recipes
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Making dinner doesn't have to happen in a mad rush. We've all been there, trying to figure out how to make something vaguely healthy and hopefully tasty at the last minute. You know, just before you give up and have microwave popcorn for dinner again.

That's where your slow cooker comes in. With about 10 minutes of prep in the afternoon, you can have a hot and delicious meal ready to go right when you need it. These no-fuss slow cooker recipes come together fast, with zero time spent stressing out over the stove.

So slow down and relax — dinner's already taken care of with 30 of the best slow cooker recipes that are ready in four hours or less.

1. Sweet Fire Chicken

This healthier-than-takeout Asian-inspired dish is a little bit sweet with a little bit of heat. It's got big chunks of pineapple and chicken mixed in a sticky, delicious sauce. What's not to love?


RELATED: 30 Best Comfort Crockpot Recipes For Two People (Who Love Leftovers)


2. Slow Cooker Asian Beef

This is an incredibly versatile beef dish made with soy and hoisin sauces (you can usually find hoisin sauce right next to the soy sauce at your grocery store). Throw in whatever vegetables you have to cook with the meat, and then serve over rice, noodles, or fresh rolls.

3. 4-Hour Juicy Chicken

Make a whole Sunday roast without actually turning on the oven! This recipe is a game-changer, turning out perfectly juicy chicken, potatoes, and vegetables using your slow cooker.

4. Hamburger Wild Rice Casserole

When I think crock pot, this is the kind of recipe I think of: a creamy casserole made with budget-friendly ingredients that tastes like comfort. This one's ready to eat after just four hours in the slow cooker, and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

5. Beef and Carrot Ragu

If you're craving Italian but don't want to babysit a sauce on the stove all day, this ragu is for you. The ribs come out tender and moist, there's plenty of garlic to wake up your senses, and the red wine gives adds a deep flavor overall.

6. Crock Pot Tater Tot Casserole

This recipe is just fun. Can anyone resist a tater tot? And even if they could, when you add in all the meaty, cheesy goodness of this recipe, there's no chance anyone can turn this dish down.

7. Crock Pot General Tso's Chicken

Everyone loves General Tso's when they go out, and this is an easy way to recreate the dish at home. Plus, you can adjust the spice to the perfect level of heat for your tastes.

8. Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

Making ziti in the crock pot is nothing short of genius. Everything goes in, and in just three hours, you get a delicious, hearty dish without the risk of dried-out pasta that baking often leaves.

9. Slow-Cooker Swedish Meatballs

Skip the crowds, the confusing directions claiming all you'll need is an Allen wrench, and the fights with your significant other. Just make Swedish meatballs at home. This version delivers all the goodness in only three hours.

10. Crock Pot Taco Meat

It’s not like making taco meat is especially hard to begin with, but using the slow cooker takes it to a whole new level of easy. You don't even have to defrost your meat — just throw a frozen brick in there with some spices and spend your time thinking up delicious topping combinations.

11. Honey Garlic Chicken and Vegetables

This is the epitome of easy. There's no need to even prep the vegetables — they all just go in. Skip the parsley if you really don't want to chop anything, and dinner will still be delicious and ready to eat when you are.

12. Crock-Pot Baked Potatoes

Making baked potatoes in the crock pot just makes more sense to me. But if you toss them in the slow cooker, they're just unassuming spuds waiting for you to douse them with cheese and sour cream.

13. Italian Chicken and Potatoes

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This is such a great weeknight staple. It uses simple flavors that are tried-and-true, so you know you'll be in the mood for it no matter what happened between when you loaded up the slow cooker and when you're ready to eat.

14. Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Whip this three-ingredient chicken dish up for yourself as a dinner over sliders with some blue cheese, or take it with you to a tailgate or game night.

15. Bacon-Wrapped Maple Glazed Pork

As Alyssa from The Recipe Critic points out, have you ever heard of anything more glorious than bacon-wrapped pork? Give your pork loin a little bacon blanket to keep moisture in as it slow cooks. Then, add the maple-mustard glaze to make the dish truly epic.

16. Barbecue Pork Ribs

In just four hours, you can have tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs ready to rock. This recipe uses a dry rub using spices you most likely already have, and a good helping of apple juice (because nothing goes better with pork than apples) to give it a really rich flavor.


RELATED: These 10 Ingredients Are All You Need In Your Kitchen Pantry


17. Italian Lamb Stew

This is a rich and delicious stew the produces lamb that seriously melts in your mouth. It's one of those amazing dishes that takes a cheap cut of meat and turns it into something truly special.

18. Beef and Broccoli

If beef and broccoli is your go-to Chinese takeout order, try this slow cooker version. It's about as easy as ordering takeout — no sauteeing, stirring, or frying required — and will probably end up saving you some money as well.

19. Buffalo Chicken Wings

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The slow cooker is the perfect place to make chicken wings. The meat turns out tender and packed with flavor, and you eliminate the mess (and fear of splatter burns) that come with frying them.

20. Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

This is everything you want a casserole to be: comforting and delicious and ready to feed a crowd. Plus, it doesn't need any pre-cooking or adding in ingredients separately. You just sprinkle on the cheese at the end. 

21. Butter Chicken

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This is a classic yet unexpected way to use up chicken breasts. The flavors are so good you should make a double batch so you can have leftovers for lunch.

22. Chicken and Dumplings

Using your slow cooker and a few other little shortcuts make it quick and easy to make chicken and dumplings without skimping on flavor. You'll get the creamy, comforting goodness without having to do a million steps.

23. Slow Cooker Jambalaya

If you're craving some Big Easy flavor, this Jambalaya is for you. Packed with chicken and shrimp and andouille sausage, it's hearty and delicious and perfectly suited for slow cooking.

24. Slow Cooker Goulash

Goulash is like your Hungarian grandmother’s much more tasty Hamburger Helper. It's hearty and warming, stick-to-your-bones deliciousness, and if that's not reason enough to make it, how much fun is it to say goulash over and over?

25. Chicken Pho

If you want to up your slow cooker game, try making Vietnamese pho. It's still relatively easy to put together, but it uses a mix of flavors and spices you probably don't taste every day, like star anise, cloves, and ginger.

26. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Just when you thought mac and cheese couldn't get any better, The Pioneer Woman added butternut squash and sage to it. It's an effortless mix of sweet, salty, and savory that will become a family favorite.

27. Vegan Chili

I know it's cliche to say, but even meat eaters will dig this chili. It clocks in at under 200 calories a serving, but packs plenty of flavor with multiple kinds of beans, tomatoes, corn, bell peppers and more.

28. Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are melt-in-your mouth good, and it's easy to make them even more tasty in a slow cooker. This recipe calls for ground chuck, but you can switch that out for turkey or chicken or even just make them vegetarian.

29. Double Berry Cobbler

Cobblers are a messy, fun, delectable sign that it's summer, and using your slow cooker to make it means you're not heating up the house with your oven. This version uses blueberries and blackberries, but you can make use of whatever berries look good at the market. 

30. Peanut Butter Brownies

Once you've made brownies in a slow cooker, you'll never go back to the oven. It turns them into an incredibly moist, insanely decadent dessert. Cook them for 30 minutes less if you like your brownies gooey, or 30 minutes more for a cakey version.


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Catherine LeFebvre is a writer and editor living in LA with her goldendoodle, Grover Cleveland. Her husband and son live with them too. She’s done time with Martha Stewart (here, not here), Food Network, and Nickelodeon. You can follow her on Instagram @discolefebvre.