Everywhere we turn there is another back to school piece of mail, open house, shopping lists, and fall festivals knocking on our door. But at the same time temperatures are rising, air conditioners or fans blasting (well sometimes), and ice cream is consistently being consumed. It’s around this time of year that we give up on using the oven and tend to lean almost too often on the grill for family dinners or get-togethers. But what happens on those nights when grilling takes a bit too much time or you have an important event that you need to get too (like all those open houses that are just around the corner). Or what if you are just too busy during the day to prepare dinner during dinnertime and you get caught up in the dreaded MY KIDS ARE HANGRY phase?
In plugs the slow cooker.
Now I know you’re possibly reading this thinking SAY WHAT. That thing is for the winter! Slow cookers are most known for their wonderful ability to make stews, soups, and all things comforting. It’s no question; in the winter I am best friends with my slow cooker. Seriously. I use the thing probably 4 or 5 times a week. The days I don’t use the slow cooker I tend to fall out of schedule and dinner is weak, unplanned, late, or we end up spending money going out to eat. The slow cooker is honestly the best thing that happened to me when it comes to parenting and eating well. So I decided this year that we shouldn’t have to suffer the summer months without this wonderful cooking dream machine continuing to help aid our bellies. Just make the meals summer friendly!
Here are my top 4 summer slow cooker recipes for your cooking enjoyment! Each of these require 5 ingredients or less and are bound to please your family or friends!
1} PULLED CHICKEN
This is one of my all time favorites. Soooo easy and so good. It also serves enough for a big party or for plenty of leftovers. Either way it’s a win win. We have even cooked up this pulled chicken, packed it into the car, and headed over to our favorite local beach at Lake Iroquois for a dinner picnic outing.
- 6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 1 (12 ounce) bottle barbecue sauce (any kind but this BBQ sauce is my favorite)
- 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Throw all of it in the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours and voila! In the last hour you can pull your chicken and let it soak up the rest of the BBQ sauce while cooking.
2} WHOLE CHICKEN
This is my go-to slow cooker recipe that never fails to impress. You can choose to eat this for dinner or save the chicken for mixing into another meal later in the week. Either way you will end up with moist and delicious chicken that leaves the family asking for more. I have tried to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker many different ways and this one is by far my favorite (though it does call for a little more than 5 ingredients)!
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 onion
- 1 large chicken
Place the chicken in the slow cooker and the onion inside the chicken. Mix up all of the herbs and run them under the skin of the chicken as well as on the skin. I also like to place lemon slices in between the breast and skin and it gives the chicken a really nice citrus-y taste. Also, of you don’t have a lot of spices handy I have also been known to throw some bells seasoning and call it a day. Cook for 4-5 hours on high and NO longer (or your chicken will become overdone). Enjoy! The full recipe can be found here.
3} SALSA VERDE TACOS
This may be the easiest recipe you will ever cook. And a really delicious one at that. You can choose to dress up or down these tacos as much as you want too so here it is as bare bones as it gets! This can also be made with beef, chicken, or pork so the meat option is up to you! I listed 2 below, note they are NOT meant to be cooked together!
- 1 3-pound boneless chuck roast OR 6 chicken breasts
- 1 jar of salsa verde
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 package of cheddar cheese
Throw the chuck roast or chicken in the slow cooker along with the full jar of salsa verde. Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours (I recommend low if you are using the beef). Pull the meat during the last hour so that it can soak up all of the excess juice. You can also choose to grill the tortillas up so they are nice and crisp when ready to be served. Top with cheese and anything else you like (I love throwing in some cilantro, tomatoes, and avocado). Yum! I don’t have a recipe here since I stole it from my neighbors (thanks guys)!
4} PINEAPPLE COCONUT TAPIOCA PUDDING
OK I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried this. But it looks amazing and I figured a blog about summer slow cooker recipes without a dessert would be just crazy pants. This sounds so good I almost want to try it right now, but I guess waiting until the day time is probably a smart idea…
- Cooking spray
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup regular small pearl tapioca
- 2 (13.5-ounce) cans light coconut milk
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
Cover your slow cooker with cooking spray and throw in the sugar, tapioca, and coconut milk while stirring with a whisk. Cook on low for 2 hours until tapioca runs clear. Whisk an egg and stir ½ cup of the tapioca until it mixes in full. Poor the mixture into the slow cooker and cook on low another 30 minutes. Turn off the slow cooker, mix in the pineapple, and let stand for 30 minutes. You can decide to chill at this point or serve it warm (top with toasted coconut if you have some handy)!