20 Budget-Friendly Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes

It's Chili by George!!
Photo: lutzflcat

Slow cookers can turn inexpensive cuts of meat into tender, delicious dinners, which is precisely why it's a must-have appliance for people looking to keep their grocery budget in check. But beef isn't the only protein that makes for family-pleasing, cheap slow cooker recipes. Chicken, pork, turkey, even beans can be made fantastic with this beloved low and slow cooking method. These 20 budget-friendly slow cooker recipes save you lots of time and big bucks but don't skimp on flavor.

01 of 20

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas
Tammy Lynn

Fajitas are a favorite for weeknight meals because they cook quickly and allow for topping personalization, but if you'd rather let a slow cooker do the work, this recipe will be a regular go-to. "Made this recipe last night, followed the recipe exactly and it was delicious! My entire family loved it. We will be making this again soon," writes community cook Miller5.

02 of 20

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Combine wallet-friendly ground beef with a few pantry staple ingredients like canned kidney beans, corn, and peeled and diced tomatoes for an easy, hands-off soup dinner. "Best taco soup I've ever made! I made it a day early and took it to an office lunch (oh, was much better the second day), and it got raves," writers cooker VALIERRAN.

Budget Tip: Stock up on canned beans, tomatoes, and vegetables when they're on sale. They last years and can be used in a variety of recipes, so all cooks should have a stock on hand.

03 of 20

BBQ Pork for Sandwiches

BBQ Pork for Sandwiches
cookin'mama

Three ingredients are all you need to whip out this slow-cooked pork dish, which can be used for sandwiches, salads, and more. Buy the boneless pork ribs when they're on sale, and this whole dish will cost less than a meal from your favorite barbeque restaurant.

Budget Tip: This recipe makes lots of servings, so you can split the recipe once it's cooked and freeze it for a future meal.

04 of 20

Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup

Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup
TTV78

If you don't have 11 hours to spare for cooking dinner, reviewers say they speed up this recipe by cooking this inexpensive slow cooker soup on high for four hours. "This was delicious! The only thing I did different was I added a can of stewed tomatoes instead of the tomato sauce. Very, very good," writes Hannen.

05 of 20

Easy Slow Cooker French Dip

Easy Slow Cooker French Dip
Jennifer Brandstrom

More than 2800 home cooks rate this cheap slow cooker dinner a solid five stars. "Excellent. Simple & quick to prepare," writes five-star reviewer Chris. "Used a can of Beef Consomme instead of broth and also added some fresh sliced onions (just because!)."

06 of 20

Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut

Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut
Meghan

Pork tenderloin is a popular protein for weeknight dinners because it cooks quickly and is highly adaptable to your meal's theme. It's also frequently on sale. Stock up on a few when you catch it marked down. Add a few jars of sauerkraut to your pantry staples list, and you're almost ready to cook this dinner any time you need an effortless meal.

07 of 20

Slow Cooker Bulgogi

Slow Cooker Bulgogi
Rock_lobster

Big-flavor ingredients like soy sauce and garlic come together with nutty, toasty sesame seed oil for a sauce that turns even cheap cuts of beef into flavor-packed dinner. Serve over rice with a side of steamed veggies to keep it simple and inexpensive.

08 of 20

Frank's Favorite Slow-Cooker Thai Chicken

Cheap slow cooker dinners don't have to be stew meat and potatoes, as evidenced by this incredible Thai-inspired dinner. "Tender, tasty and just like takeout...without having to go out!" wrote reviewer Kellye. Some reviewers suggest increasing the peanut butter and decreasing salsa for more delicate palates.

Budget Tip: Freeze leftover fresh ginger. It grates well when frozen for soups, salad dressings, and more.

09 of 20

Sour Cream Pork Chops

Sour Cream Pork Chops
Melissa Hipp

"Delicious! Great comfort food. We had it in a bowl over wide egg noodles and poured the sauce over it," writes Brad Dunkle.

10 of 20

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
Allrecipes Magazine

If you prefer taco soup with chicken instead of ground beef, this soup is for you. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts combine with loads of canned ingredients (chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes), plus taco seasoning for a fantastic slow cooker meal. You can serve with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips, as suggested, or just top it the way you want.

11 of 20

Beef Barley Vegetable Soup

Beef Barley Vegetable Soup
Dianne

"Amazing soup. Follow the recipe to a T and it came out so delicious my whole family loves this soup. Super simple to make. This will be a long time favorite in our family," writes kathyjohnston. Other reviewers suggest adding a bit more beef stock so you have plenty of broth for sopping with crusty bread.

12 of 20

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Roast Turkey Breast

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Roast Turkey Breast
Allrecipes Magazine

Turkey isn't just for sandwiches and Thanksgiving. In fact, turkey can be a really inexpensive chicken alternative. Combine it with bold ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes and olives for an unforgettable meal that's great for company.

Budget Tip: Look for post-Thanksgiving turkey deals, when grocery stores break down leftover birds into easy-to-use cuts like legs and breasts.

13 of 20

Savory Slow Cooker Beef Tips

Savory Slow Cooker Beef Tips
Laguna Lala

"I have made this recipe a couple of times now and my whole family loves it! My husband says it is the most flavorful roast beef he has ever had. My two young daughters gobble it up." — dorybrookbanks

14 of 20

Grandma's Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage, Slow Cooker Variation

Grandma's Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage, Slow Cooker Variation
Anne Marie Hodges

Grandmothers know how to squeeze filling, delicious meals out of just pennies. This stuffed cabbage is a fine example of that. For more flavor, some reviewers suggest using vegetable juice instead of tomato juice.

15 of 20

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Ham Bone Stock

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Ham Bone Stock
Soup Loving Nicole

"Delicious and better than a restaurant! Like Grandma used to do!" — Mamo

16 of 20

It's Chili by George!!

It's Chili by George!!
lutzflcat

This highly-rated recipe is written for stovetop cooking, but you can make it in the slow cooker. (Follow the instructions for that appliance.) Besides the beef, most of the ingredients are likely in your pantry and spice cabinet now, which means this comes together for just a few bucks and any night you need an effortless dinner.

17 of 20

Slow Cooker Pinto Bean Bonanza

Slow Cooker Pinto Bean Bonanza
Soup Loving Nicole

"Very very good! This was a huge hit with the family. My teenage boy had a friend over and I heard plenty of 'mmmmmmmm's' coming from that side of the table," writes cook Lyn.

18 of 20

Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken

a chicken breast served on a bed of spaghetti, garnished with chopped parsley
Dianne

Ready in three hours, this recipe would be great to make on a weekend evening when you can be home to enjoy it as soon as it's cooked. Serve this simple but elegant chicken dinner over pasta or rice to make it a complete meal.

19 of 20

Slow Cooker Autumn Delight

Slow Cooker Autumn Delight
Ray W Riehemann

"I did everything exactly as the recipe said except we served it over mashed potatoes. We aren't big egg noodle fans in this house. Only complaint from my hubby was that I didn't make more!" — Mandy Bullington Swink

20 of 20

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

a bowl of Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup with a spoon
cmorales

"This was amazing! Absolutely delicious! It was much more spicy than I would have imagined, but so so good! I added grated cheese and fresh avocado before serving. YUM!" — Marcied

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