Easy Five-Ingredient Crock-Pot Recipes for Every Meal
Crock-Pot cooking is a great option when you want to prepare a dish hours in advance, cutting down or even eliminating your workload leading up to mealtime. When you're already short on time, don't undermine the Crock-Pot's valuable benefits by choosing complicated recipes with lots of ingredients. Because it's a sealed vessel (aside from a few peeks and stirs), a Crock-Pot preserves and concentrates the natural flavors of whatever you cook in it. This means you don't need to add multiple ingredients and a whole pantry of seasonings to the main components of a dish to get delicious results. Here are five great Crock-Pot recipes that call for only five ingredients, but don't compromise on taste.
1. Breakfast: Overnight Apple-Cinnamon-Raisin Oats
Imagine waking in the morning to the sweet scent of cinnamon and apples wafting from your kitchen and a warm, nourishing breakfast ready and waiting for you. It takes just a few minutes before bed and five basic ingredients to make it happen. To your Crock-Pot, add steel-cut oats (other types of oats are not suitable), water or a mixture of water and milk, sliced or diced apples, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and a handful of raisins. Use 4 to 5 cups of liquid for each cup of oats. Stir the mixture and cook overnight on low.
2. Lunch: Butternut Squash Soup
A delicious, slow-cooked butternut squash soup is easy to make with only five ingredients: cubed squash, diced onion, apples for sweetness and enough vegetable or chicken broth to just cover everything. Pre-cut fresh or frozen squash cubes make preparation easy, and you can substitute canned pumpkin puree. Use whatever seasonings you desire—perhaps curry powder, Italian seasoning or garlic and ginger. In the morning, set the cooker to high for 3 to 4 hours, and the soup will be ready by lunchtime. Blend with a stick blender or food processor if you prefer a smooth soup.
3. Appetizer or Snack: Spinach Artichoke Dip
Everyone's favorite oozy, cheesy dip comes together easily in the Crock-Pot. The artichoke hearts and spinach can be fresh or frozen, but if frozen, thaw and squeeze out excess liquid before putting the vegetables into the pot. Chop them fine or leave them chunky, depending on your preference. The other ingredients are cream cheese, sour cream and grated cheese, or a blend of cheeses of your choice. Cheddar, Parmesan and Gruyere work well, and pepper jack gives the dip some heat. Cook the mixture on low until everything's hot and the cheese has melted, then dig in.
4. Dinner: Coq au Vin
Classic French cuisine meets five-ingredient Crock-Pot cooking in an easy version of coq au vin. Use any bone-in chicken pieces you like, from a whole chicken to drumsticks, plus tomato paste, diced or sliced onions, mushrooms and red wine. Crock-Pot adaptations call for less liquid than traditional coq au vin recipes, so use only about 3/4 cup red wine for a whole chicken or the equivalent. Cook everything on high for 5-plus hours, until the chicken is very tender. If you want a thicker sauce, remove the chicken and reduce the liquid in a saucepan before serving.
5. Dessert: Chocolate Brownie Pudding
Chocolate lovers in your household will go crazy over the sweet smells that fill the kitchen for hours while your Crock-Pot "bakes" a brownie pudding. Stir together a box of brownie mix, the added ingredients called for on the package (usually eggs, oil and water), plus 2 cups of milk and a package of instant chocolate pudding mix. Cook it on high for 2 to 3 hours. When the pudding's done, the edges should have a crust, the sides will be somewhat set and the middle will be soft and gooey. If you care to bring in a sixth ingredient, add whipped cream or ice cream on top.
A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.