— -- It can be hard to find time to cook during the summer; days spent swimming in the pool and day-tripping to the amusement park don’t leave much time for elaborate meal preparation. If you’re looking for easy recipes that go beyond the grill, consider dusting off your slow cooker! Though the crock pot is often used to make hearty cold-weather stews and roasts, it actually works well for a variety of recipes.
One of the easiest ways to use your slow cooker in the summer is to make appetizers in it . If you’re hosting a barbecue or outdoor party try using it for dips; spinach dip and seven-layer dip work well. Not only does the slow cooker do most of the work for you, but it keeps the dip warm until you’re ready to serve it.
Another easy way to slow cook in the summer is to make roasts that can be shredded for a variety of purposes. Brisket, pulled pork, and shredded chicken can easily be used to make tacos and sliders. Plus, they top grilled pizzas and salads perfectly.
Don’t forget about dessert! The crock pot can be a great way to prepare fresh fruit from the farmers market; slow-cooked fruit makes for great cobblers and crisps. Puddings, cakes, and cheesecakes are easy to bake in a crock pot as well.
Whoever said slow cookers are only for cold-weather cooking obviously didn’t know about these recipes!
Crock Pot Jalapeño Spinach Dip
Everyone loves cheesy spinach dip. This version (which is perfect for easy, outdoor entertaining) gets a spicy kick from the addition of chopped jalapeño peppers and hot pepper sauce.
Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
Tacos are a great way to use lots of fresh summer produce. Making the chicken in a slow cooker will leave you plenty of time to visit your local farmers market for toppings like lettuce, tomato, and peppers.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.