3 Slow cooker dinner recipes for busy families

Michele Borboa, MS

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Dust off your slow cooker and set the dinner table with a hearty homemade meal that doesn't require hours of hands-on prep. Here are three scrumptious slow cooker recipes that will keep your family healthfully well-fed at home regardless of the rigors of your schedule.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Orange Pork Chops and Winter Squash

Serves 6 Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash, ends trimmed, sliced, seeded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 pork loin chops, trimmed of fat
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Lay squash on the bottom of the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange pork chops over the top and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, zest and water. Pour over pork chops. Cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 to 6 hours or until pork is cooked through and squash is tender. Serve pork and squash with a side of rice or pasta.

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Pineapple Chicken

Serves 8 Ingredients:

  • 1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine tomato sauce, pineapple, onion, garlic, brown sugar, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in the slow cooker, stirring to combine. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours. Serve with brown basmati or jasmine rice.

Slow Cooker Creole Beans and Sausage

Serves 8 Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spicy chicken sausage
  • 1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 (16-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or HIGH for 4 to 6 hours. Serve over grits or creamy polenta.

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Michele Borboa, MS
Michele Borboa, MS is a contributing editor for SheKnows.com specializing in health, fitness, and all things food. She is a veteran health and fitness professional, personal chef, and mom in Bozeman, Montana. She is also the author of the time-saving cookbook Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy (Fair Winds Press, July 2011). You can contact Michele at michele.borboa@sheknows.com or give her a tweet at http://twitter.com/micheleeborboa.