Cool and convenient, the slow cooker is perfect for preparing warm-weather meals.
Is your slow cooker gathering dust this summer? While many slow cooker recipes – soups, stews, and so forth – seem more appropriate for cold weather, the slow cooker is actually a great choice for summer meals. Not only do they save money and time, slow cookers save energy. They don't give off much heat beyond the actual pot, thus helping to keep your kitchen (and you) cool.
Armed with some summer-friendly slow cooker recipes, you can enjoy convenient slow cooker meals all season long. Here are four reasons to use your slow cooker this summer:
- You Name It, It Cooks It. Slow cookers don’t just cook up entrees; you can make appetizers, side dishes, and desserts with surprising success. You’ll find a variety of recipes below to add to your slow cooker recipe collection.
- It Turns Lean Meat Tender. The slow cooker cooks food slowly at a low temperature -- generally between 170 and 280 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Donna Falconnier, MS, RD, with the University of Illinois Extension. Because of this, leaner cuts of meat become more tender -- and shrink less.
- It's Great for Parties. It’s so convenient to bring your dish right in the slow cooker to parties and barbecues. The slow cooker keeps the food at the right temperature, and you can serve it straight from the pot. Just plug it in, and your dish is ready to serve when everyone is ready to eat.
- It's Cost-Effective and Energy Efficient. The slow cooker is a small but mighty appliance. "Cooking with a small appliance, such as a Crock-Pot slow cooker, saves energy without compromising taste," says Merideth McNally, spokesperson for the Crock-Pot brand of slow cookers. According to 2006 data from the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, using a slow cooker at 200 degrees for 7 hours costs about 9 cents, while using an electric oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour costs some 25 cents and a convection oven at 325-degrees for 45 minutes costs at least 18 cents.
Healthy Summer Slow Cooker Recipes
Ready to try some summer slow cooking? Here are five slow cooker recipes to get you started.