Oh, slow cooker, how we love you.

First, you’re a time saver. Minimal preparation of ingredients before they go into your one-pot ceramic insert, along with a “set it and forget it” mantra, means that we can carry on with the hustle of work, family, and entertaining without being bound to the oven.

Second, you’re like a second oven, year round! Whether it’s occupied with the main course roast or a sheet pan of sides, or we just don’t want to heat the kitchen in the sweltering summer months, we turn to you, our queen of braises, comforting soups, chili, and stews — and, yes, even desserts!

And, finally, your low temperature and extended cook time mean that you create an environment for infusing deep flavor and palate-pleasing textures, such as creamy beans, moist cakes, and tender, shredded meat.

And speaking of meat, you’re the best at making inexpensive cuts of chicken, pork, and beef shine, allowing us to stretch out our weekly food budget. We could go on, but we’ll let our nine favorite slow cooker recipes further sing your praises.

Harry & David Fine Meats

Theresa Gambacorta is a freelance food writer, a veteran of New York City restaurants, and cookbook co-author to chef Joey Campanaro's Big Love Cooking (Chronicle) and James Beard-nominated chef Nasim Alikhani's Sofreh: A Contemporary Approach to Classic Persian Cuisine (Knopf). She is currently working on a forthcoming vegan cookbook to be published by Simon Element.

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