Whether you set it and forget it for dinner, or use it to make party planning more pleasant, your slow cooker will soon be a go-to kitchen appliance. This collection of slow cooker recipes for beginners helps you learn how to use the machine and explores the many ways it can make your life easier.

A favorite appliance for tailgates, Sunday suppers, and convenient weeknight meals, it's no wonder that slow cookers are a staple in many kitchens. If you've just been gifted one, then you're in luck! Slow cookers are perfect for setting and forgetting, then arriving home from work or school to a hot and ready meal. Once you master the tricks to using to a slow cooker, like resisting peeking inside or learning what ingredients to save for the end, you're sure to whip out delicious dishes every time.

If you're just getting introduced to the world of slow cookers, then this recipe round-up is a great guide to some of the unique uses this appliance has. From cooking whole chickens to magically making dulce de leche from condensed milk, the slow cooker will soon be your staple cooking tool.

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Ribs
Credit: Allrecipes Magazine

Barbecue Ribs

Create irresistibly tender and flavorful Barbecue Ribs without ever having to pull out the grill or smoker. In this recipe by SUZANNE2802, the ribs are briefly browned in the oven before being tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce to slow cook for hours. By the time the six to eight hours have passed, the meat will be falling off the bone and have a nice coating of caramelized sauce.

All-Day Apple Butter
Credit: abapplez

All-Day Apple Butter

Nothing makes a house smell like fall quite like whipping up a batch of All-Day Apple Butter. Letting apples roast down low and slow allows them to release all of their natural sweetness while being infused with the chosen spices. The amount of added sugar in Terri's recipe is adjustable, so do a taste test of your apple variety before you add the recipe's full measurement.

Grape Jelly Meatballs
Credit: Ann Cassidy

Grape Jelly Meatballs

Does it even count as a potluck if someone doesn't bring a slow cooker filled with Grape Jelly Meatballs? A classic choice for everything from tailgates to family reunions, whatsup12399's recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Bite-sized meatballs cook down in a grape jelly and chili sauce combination that's the perfect example of sweet and spicy balance.

Caramel in a Can (Dulce De Leche)
Credit: Chef Bradly

Caramel in a Can (Dulce De Leche)

Transform sweetened condensed milk from a basic ingredient to a can't-be-beat dessert thanks to the slow cooker. By placing unopened cans in a water bath for several hours, the sweetened condensed milk slowly caramelizes to create Caramel in a Can (Dulce De Leche). This recipe by Chef Bradly can be used as a cake filling, for fruit dipping, or even eating by the spoonful (we won't judge).

Baked Slow Cooker Chicken
Credit: Bibi

Baked Chicken

You'll never settle for a store-bought rotisserie chicken again after making this recipe by 'Cotton' Couch. "Baking" a whole chicken in the slow cooker makes for a juicy end result and a lot less fussing over it potentially drying out in the oven. Customize this recipe for Slow Cooker Baked Chicken with your favorite spice blends, and even make it a full meal by adding chopped veggies to the bottom instead of balls of foil.

mulled wine in a glass with an orange garnish, cinnamon stick, and anise
Credit: SeaMeCook

Cozy Mulled Wine

Skip the extra party hosting step of worrying about keeping your drinks cool. Instead, plug in a slow cooker and serve up this Cozy Mulled Wine by brittmichelle. Your favorite variety of red wine is slowly infused with tangy orange peel, syrupy honey, and heady spices to create an unbeatable beverage. To avoid loose spices, bundle them up in a piece of cheesecloth before mixing up the other ingredients.

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