In this post, I share the best Healthy Crockpot Recipes that will make it easy for you to eat healthy all week. I’ll also share my favorite tips for preparing a crockpot recipe ahead of time that’s juicy and full of flavor!
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Every busy person should have a list of tried and true slow cooker recipes to choose from every week! Not only does it make life easier, but a slow cooker is one of the best ways to stick with healthy eating habits.
Reasons You’ll Love These Healthy Crockpot Recipes
- Hands-off cooking. Don’t let preparing healthy recipes get in the way of a busy lifestyle. With these crockpot recipes, just set it and forget it.
- Works for all eating styles. Many crockpot recipes fit into the paleo, keto, gluten-free, and Whole30 eating styles. Even if it doesn’t, all you need to do is swap or leave out certain ingredients to make it compliant.
- Perfect for meal prep. My crockpot is my #1 meal prep tool! I use it every weekend to prep meals or meal starters for the week.
- Easy to assemble and clean up. It doesn’t take long to assemble ingredients for a slow cooker recipe, even if it requires additional prep. A slow cooker is easy to use and clean!
Yes, it’s worth it to purchase a slow cooker.
First, it’s an excellent tool to help busy people prepare a healthy dinner while they work. Many slow cooker recipes can cook all day and still taste delicious.
Second, you can make large batches of shredded meat, soups, stews, oatmeal, or other recipes to eat all week or freeze to enjoy later on.
I use my slow cooker at least once a week. Between the convenience, the wide variety of recipes one can make, and affordability, everyone should have a slow cooker in their kitchen.
If you’re cooking for 1 or 2 people, then a 3-4 quart slow cooker will work fine. Keep in mind; you might need to adjust some recipes to fit this size.
However, if you’re planning on using a slow cooker for meal prep recipes or cooking for a large family, I suggest purchasing a 5 – 6 quart slow cooker.
I have a 4-quart Crockpot Slow Cooker and a 5 ½ quart Hamilton Beach slow cooker.
I tend to use my 5 ½ quart more because it’s bigger, and it’s easier to cook large cuts of meats and more significant recipes.
It’s essential to purchase a slow cooker that’s going to meet your needs.
Here are the five things to consider.
Size. What are you planning on making most often? Do you need a smaller or larger slow cooker? Also, how much room does the slow cooker need when storing it?
Shape. Slow cookers come in round and oval. Both work the same, so it’s just a matter of preference.
Insert. Some slow cookers have a removable insert, while others are attached. I strongly recommend purchasing a slow cooker with a removable insert; they are so much easier to clean.
A removable insert comes in handy when assembling ingredients the night before.
Cook settings. You want a slow cooker that offers high, low, and warm cook settings. I know this seems standard, but a lot of slow cookers only have high and low.
Also, I recommend purchasing a programmable slow cooker. A programmable slow cooker allows you to set the time and temperature. And it automatically turns to warm when done cooking. These slow cookers are a little more expensive but worth it, in my opinion.
With a basic slow cooker, you need to remember to turn it off, and the recipe is more likely to burn.
I might be in the minority with this opinion, but I prefer using a slow cooker over my instant pot when cooking crockpot recipes.
My slow cooker has a stoneware insert that distributes heat better than the Instant Pot metal insert. So, I think recipes cook better in my slow cooker than using the slow cooker function with the instant pot.
Also, I find it confusing to figure out all of the extra buttons on the Instant Pot. With my slow cooker, I just need to press the button and let it do its magic.
Yes, slow cookers, if being used properly, are entirely safe to leave cooking on the countertop unattended.
3 tips if you’re planning to leave it on all day:
1. Set it to low.
2. Place the slow cooker on a heatproof flat surface away from the wall.
3. Add enough ingredients. You should fill the slow cooker ½ – ¾ the way full. If you don’t fill it enough, you can run the risk of the recipe burning.
Yes, raw meat is safe to put into the slow cooker. Many healthy crockpot recipes call for raw meat.
The only issue with adding raw meat into the slow cooker is that the temperature doesn’t get hot enough to brown or caramelize it.
So if you’re looking for a deeper flavor, you’ll need to brown the meat before adding it into the slow cooker.
Unfortunately, it’s not advisable to put frozen chicken in the crockpot. Slow cookers don’t bring frozen chicken up to temperature fast enough, which creates a high risk for bacteria growth.
Before I jump into my favorite healthy crockpot recipes, I want to share some of my crockpot cooking tips.
I didn’t always cook delicious healthy crockpot recipes. Nope, I went many years preparing dried out leather chicken, stringy chicken, rubbery steak and pork, and tasteless soups and stews.
Fortunately, I discovered a few tips and tricks that result in delicious slow cooker recipes every time.
Unfortunately, not every crockpot recipe is dump and go. Sure, some recipes don’t require any additional work before tossing the ingredients into the slow cooker. However, recipes need extra prep work if you want the result to be an edible meal.
For example, many recipes taste better when you.
Brown or sear the meat first. If you want that deep caramelized flavor, the only way to get that is to seared or brown the meat first.
Adding the beef into the slow cooker without taking that extra step will result in the meat steaming in the liquid resulting in a bland flavor. If you want that seared taste, you need to break out the pans first.
However, bland flavor isn’t a problem for shredded meats that will end up in a sauce anyway.
Sautee garlic and onions. A crockpot is not going to saute your onions and garlic. So, if you’re looking for that distinct garlic and onion flavor found when cooking in olive oil, then you need to cook them before adding them to the slow cooker.
I’ll even add the spices I’m using in as sautee the garlic and onions to bring out the flavors.
Saute vegetables. Some vegetables are fine to throw into the slow cooker without any prep.
For example, heartier vegetables like potatoes and carrots are perfect for adding to the slow cooker without extra steps.
So, this is dependent on the recipe. It’s all about the flavor. If you want that sauteed deep flavor, then you’ll need to cook before adding to the slow cooker.
Not every recipe can slow cook for 8-10 hours. I know this is sad to read, but it’s true. Recipes that include fattier meats, heartier vegetables, and beans can cook for long periods and be fine.
However, many slow cooker recipes will turn into dry, flavorless meals from cooking that long.
Also, some slow cookers cook hotter than others so, pay attention as the ingredients cook the first time you make the recipe.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts shouldn’t cook longer than 6 hours on low. I’m putting this one separate because I think it’s one of the biggest mistakes home cooks make using a slow cooker. But, it’s not their fault because many websites call for slow cooker chicken recipes to cook for over 8 hours.
In my experience, cooking lean chicken breast in the slow cooker all day results in dried out or stringy chicken. Some stews, chilis, and curries could cook longer than 6 hours because there’s plenty of liquid to keep the chicken moist.
A simple shredded chicken recipe shouldn’t cook longer than 6 hours on low.
Fattier cuts of beef and pork will have better than leaner cuts. I know when trying to eat healthier, it natural to reach for leaner cuts of meat. And while those cuts are great substitutes for other recipes, they don’t yield the best results cooking long in a slow cooker, in my experience.
They end up dry, tough, and stringy. Fattier cuts like chuck roast or pork butt will be juicy, moist, and flavorful after cooking all day in the slow cooker.
Carrots, potatoes, and heartier vegetables should be at the bottom of the slow cooker. A common complaint with some vegetables is they take longer to cook and can cook unevenly. The solution to this is to put them closest to the slow cooker’s bottom, where it’s a hotter temperature.
Don’t add pasta. Pasta swells up and gets mushy when it sits in liquid for an extended period. I make the pasta on the side.
Salt at the end of a recipe. Most recipes lose flavor when cooked in a crockpot for long periods. Adding salt after the recipe is done cooking brings all the flavors to life. This tips is actually my favorite.
Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen was the resource that taught me how to cook delicious slow cooker meals. It has so many great recipes and amazing tips. I highly recommend it.
How to Meal Prep Healthy Crockpot Recipes
Crockpot recipes are my favorite to meal prep because they are so easy to prepare ahead of time.
Here are the methods I use.
Make the crockpot recipe entirely ahead of time. I do this method most often. For example, I’ll make a batch of plain shredded chicken or slow cooker marinara sauce to use in recipes throughout the week or slow cooker steel cut oats to keep in the fridge for breakfast.
To store the recipes, I’ll use glass storage containers to keep everything fresh. To freeze cooked crockpot recipes, I’ll either store them in freezer bags or portion out use these silicone Souper Cube Trays.
Assemble the crockpot ingredients the night before. Another favorite method is preparing a slow cooker meal ahead of time, especially if I plan to make a crockpot recipe that will cook all day.
You can assemble the ingredients up to 2 days before and then store the insert in the fridge. This is another reason why I recommend purchasing a slow cooker that has a removable insert.
In the morning, put the insert back into the slow cooker, and continue with the recipe. I use this method when preparing classic chili, pot roast, and shredded Mexican beef on the menu.
Assemble the ingredients into a freezer kit. When I want to stock my freezer with healthy crockpot recipes, I choose this method.
Prepare the ingredients according to the recipe. This can include: browning meat, chopping vegetables, preparing the sauce, etc. Then place those ingredients into a labeled gallon-sized freezer bag.
Thaw the kits entirely before continuing with the recipe, especially if it’s chicken.
Thawing options include:
- In the refrigerator. This usually takes 1-2 days.
- On the countertop for a few hours
- in the microwave on the defrost setting.
Crockpot freezer meals last up to 3 months.
Related: Four chicken freezer meals for your slow cooker.
Healthy Crockpot Recipes
Now it’s time to share my favorite healthy slow cooker recipes. I’ve included slow cooker breakfast recipes and recipe you can enjoy for lunch or dinner! And, I’ve included my favorite crockpot recipe I use all the time for weekly meal prep!
You’ll find a variety of easy healthy crockpot recipes that includes something for everyone!
Healthy Crockpot Breakfast Recipes
- Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
- Slow Cooker Blueberry Banana Steel Cut Oats with Quinoa
- Slow Cooker Apple Harvest Steel Cut Oats
Each of these oatmeal recipes makes enough to enjoy for the week and freeze for later.
Healthy Crockpot Beef Recipes
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Onion Soup Mix
- Slow Cooker Classic Chili
- Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs and Veggies
- Crockpot Stuffed Peppers
Healthy Crockpot Chicken Recipes
- Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki
- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Chili
- Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken
- Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Chicken
Healthy Crockpot Turkey Recipes
- Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage and Poblano Chili
- Slow Cooker Italian Turkey Sausage Ragu
- Slow Cooker Chipotle Taco Filling
Here are more tips for using a slow cooker to meal prep for the week.
Whether you want to prepare shredded chicken to use during the week or have a chili simmering all day while you work, using a crockpot is an excellent way to fit easy healthy meals into your weekly meal plan.