The six best slow cooker recipes for a cosy night in

Let the oven – or slow cooker – do all the work with these easy, delicious one-pot recipe.

From smoky ox-cheek nachos to sticky toffee pudding, these slow-cooker dishes are perfect for cold evenings 

Slow cooking is not only the best method for transforming basic ingredients into something special, but there is a warm feeling that develops inside knowing that the work is done and the magic is happening in the pot.

Cooking basic ingredients slowly can be spectacular. Something as simple as a beef stew, using inexpensive ingredients and cuts of meat, can become a delicious hearty meal for the whole family.

But slow cooking is by no means confined to meat; vegetables benefit from the process too. Onions melt away, root vegetables become tender and sweet – the possibilities are endless.

Don’t panic if you don’t have a slow cooker, or you don’t have hours to wait. I’ve offered conventional and slow-cooker methods for all these recipes, so both bases are covered. Even so, slow cookers are back with a bang, and it’s a form of cooking that suits all sorts, from professionals to families to students.

This easy stew uses spices from Morocco – harissa paste and smoked paprika – for warmth and depth of flavour, while the dumplings add texture while at the same time absorbing the delicious flavours of the sauce. 

Smoky ox-cheek and chilli nachos 

I’ve taken this comfort food classic to another level with the addition of the slow-cooked chilli beef, using ox cheek. It’s so underused but the flavour is incredible

Cheat’s Mexican chicken lasagne

I’ve replaced traditional beef with chicken in this pasta dish packed with peppers and juicy tomatoes; if you don’t like the chilli kick of Mexicana cheese, replace it with crumbly mature cheddar. 

Roasted butternut squash tagine 

Using naturally sweet butternut squash or even sweet potatoes instead of meat makes this recipe not only economical, but delicious too. I serve this with herby couscous and some natural yogurt with some harissa stirred through.

Shepherd’s pie

I’ve used lamb breast instead of mince here, as it is an inexpensive cut of meat that’s perfect for slow cooking. Just pop the pie into the oven and forget about it for a few hours until golden. Easy! 

Slow-cooker sticky toffee pudding

Yes, you can make sticky toffee pudding in the slow cooker. My version uses dates for sweetness and a thick dark muscovado sugar toffee sauce for drizzling. 

© MarkMeets Media Group Limited 2021

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Dan Dunn
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Editor and Admin at MarkMeets since Nov 2012. Columnist, reviewer and entertainment writer and oversees all of the section's news, features and interviews. During his career, he has written for numerous magazines.

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