Warm up your home with these five winter slow-cooker recipes for family meals. Delicious comfort foods cut the cold and bring the whole family together. Crock-Pot™ dinners also make ample portions for leftovers—perfect for school or work lunches. These family dinner ideas have you covered for weeks to come. The best part about a slow cooker? Just dump your ingredients, turn on your appliance, and carry on with your day as your meal cooks itself! Perfect for busy families, these family meals will have your kids scrambling to the table and asking for more.
Hearty Family Meal: Slow-Cooker American Goulash
This hearty meal is a perfect savory dinner for kids. Ground beef, onions, mushrooms and pasta are smothered in a tomato-based broth. Serve with biscuits or thick slices of a hearty bread for dunking. It’s even more delicious when reheated, as all the flavors meld together!
- 2 lbs. ground beef
- 1 1/2 medium onions, diced
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 6 oz. tomato paste
- 1/2 cup water
- 24 oz. jar or can of pasta sauce
- 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
- 2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
- 8 oz. can of mushrooms (do not drain)
- 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt, or to taste
- 3 cups uncooked pasta shells
In a pan, brown the ground beef together with the onions and garlic until the meat is no longer pink. Drain away the fat. Add the ground beef mixture into your slow cooker and add all remaining ingredients except the pasta shells. Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4-5 hours. Just before the time is up, boil your pasta shells until al dente. Drain the pasta and stir into the meat mixture. Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes until heated through. Tip: for a thinner goulash, add more water. Serve your yummy meal in bowls, wrapped up in blankets by the fire!
Gluten Free Family Dinner: Thai Chicken Curry
Ginger, coconut, and a little spice make this a warm and zesty winter treat for family dinner! This dish is especially delicious served over rice or quinoa. It’s also a versatile recipe. Add any kinds of vegetables you like, including broccoli or red pepper, to make this an even healthier meal for kids.
- 1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
- 1 3/4 cup of water
- 1-4 tbsp. Thai red curry paste, to taste
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce, gluten free
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. minced ginger
- 2 tsp. fish sauce
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 small butternut squash, cut into cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cups of kale (tear kale into pieces, roughly pack)
*Optional to add: cilantro, chili peppers for more spice, and lime
Place all ingredients, except the kale, into your slow cooker and stir well. Cook on high for 4 hours. Then stir in the kale and let it sit, leaving you time to prepare the rice or work on an appetizer salad. Top with additional ingredients such as cilantro, chili peppers (for a spicy kick), and lime. Enjoy this meal and keep the cold at bay!
Lighter Fare: Veggie Burrito Bowls
Looking for something that isn’t so heavy and won’t stick in your stomach? Skip the carbs and go meatless for a healthy family dinner recipe. Easy to eat with a spoon and oh-so-filling on cold winter nights.
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice
- 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp. dried oregano
- 3/4 tsp. ground coriander
- 3/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 smoked paprika
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes (not drained)
- 1 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then sliced crosswise
- 1 cup diced red or orange bell pepper
- 3/4 cup poblano pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen, but must be cooked)
*Optional: Top with sour cream, lime, cheese, cilantro, and diced avocado
Combine the rice, kosher salt, oregano, coriander, chili powder, and paprika in a small bowl. Layer the bottom of your slow-cooker with sweet potatoes, then pour the rice and spice mixture on top. Pour in the can of tomatoes and vegetable broth. Over the top, sprinkle your pinto beans, zucchini, bell pepper, and poblano pepper—do not stir. Cook on low for 5 hours. Make sure there is no excess liquid in the rice and stir a little at the end, to make sure the rice is cooked. Add the corn and stir the entire mixture to combine. Add as many toppings as you like! Every mouthful is packed with flavor and heaping with vegetables.
Super Easy Dump and Go Recipe: BBQ Pineapple Chicken
Whether you don’t have the time or prefer the lowest difficulty level of cooking, this chicken recipe takes only minutes to make and serves up flavors everyone loves!
- 3-5 Chicken Breasts
- 1 bottle of BBQ sauce
- 1 can of crushed pineapple
*Optional: Add crushed red pepper flakes or chili powder for a spicy kick.
(When we say easy, we mean it! These are the only ingredients you need!)
Put the chicken, BBQ sauce, and crushed pineapple into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-8 hours—check occasionally after the 4-hour mark to see if your chicken is tender and pulls apart. Eat as-is, serve over rice, or make a sandwich! This family meal also pairs well with corn on the cob or mac and cheese.
Kid Favorite: Bacon Ranch Chicken
Everything is better with ranch! Kids will love this simple yet satisfying family meal they can eat plain, with rice, in a taco, as a sandwich, or served over mashed potatoes.
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 package of ranch dressing mix
- 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
- 1 cup sour cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
*Optional: chives for garnish and extra bacon bits on top
Place the sliced onions in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the chicken on top of the onions. Then add the bacon bits, garlic, ranch dressing mix, and cream of chicken soup over the top and mix well. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Remove chicken from the slow cooker. Add sour cream to the sauce mixture and mix well. Shred the chicken and stir it back into the sauce, adding salt and pepper to taste. This kid-friendly family meal is perfect to eat with rice, potatoes, noodles, bread, and anything else you like! Bacon and ranch make a perfect combo for your next winter meal idea.