Slow-Cooker Recipes to Swear by This Fall

Enjoy these 3 featured recipes from Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy-Prep Edition. With this latest collection of slow-cooker recipes from America's Test Kitchen, you can take the fast lane to great slow food.

Slow-Cooker Chicken and Vegetable "Stir-Fry"

Serves 4
Cooking Time 2 to 3 hours on Low
Slow Cooker Size 5 1/2 to 7 Quarts

Why This Recipe Works: Making a stir-fry usually means quick, last-minute cooking in a skillet that's splattering hot oil. Surprisingly, we found a way to replicate this dish in the slow cooker for an easy, make-ahead, and mess-free dinner. First we poached boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a flavorful cooking liquid, which later doubled as a sauce. A combination of chicken broth, soy sauce, and ginger was a good start. Hot pepper jelly helped to thicken the sauce and contributed a great sweet and spicy flavor. To get perfectly crisp-tender vegetables from the slow cooker, the key was using a steamer basket. Placing the steamer basket on top of the chicken allowed the vegetables to steam gently throughout the cooking time. We finished the dish with fresh ginger to give it a nice spicy bite and stirred in water chestnuts at the end for appealing freshness and crunch. Serve with rice.

1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup hot pepper jelly
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 tablespoons instant tapioca
4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
Salt and pepper
2 red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 (15-ounce) can baby corn, rinsed
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed
3 scallions, sliced thin

1. Combine broth, pepper jelly, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon ginger, and tapioca in slow cooker. Season chicken with five-spice powder, salt, and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Place steamer basket on top of chicken and place bell peppers and baby corn in basket. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 2 to 3 hours on low.

2. Remove steamer basket and transfer vegetables to bowl. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, and slice into bite-size pieces.

3. Whisk braising liquid to recombine. Stir in vegetables, sliced chicken, water chestnuts, and remaining 1 tablespoon ginger. Let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Slow-Cooker Poached Salmon

Serves 2
Cooking Time 1 to 2 hours on Low
Slow Cooker Size 3 1/2 to 7 Quarts

Why This Recipe Works: Poaching is a gentle cooking method that promises to deliver tender, delicately flavored salmon, thanks to a longer stint in a moist, gentle cooking environment. Rather than poach our salmon on the stovetop, where we'd have to carefully monitor the heat level, we decided to move this dish to the slow cooker to take advantage of its walk-away convenience. We started with two salmon fillets and kept the flavor profile simple, pairing our fish with lemon and dill for subtle flavor. To prevent the bottom of our salmon from overcooking, we rested our fillets on lemon slices and dill stems, then added a small amount of water to the slow cooker to create a moist cooking environment. A foil sling made it easy to remove the delicate salmon from the slow cooker without the fillets breaking apart. For a simple serving sauce, we combined sour cream and Dijon mustard with more lemon and dill. To ensure even cooking, be sure to buy salmon fillets of equal size and thickness. Because delicate fish can easily overcook in the slow cooker, it requires some monitoring (at least the first time you make it). Check the temperature of the salmon after 1 hour of cooking and continue to monitor until it registers 135 degrees.

1 lemon, sliced 1/4 inch thick, plus 1 tablespoon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill, stems reserved
2 (6‐ to 8‐ounce) skin‐on salmon fillets, about 1 1/2 inches thick
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1. Fold sheet of aluminum foil into 12 by 9-inch sling and press widthwise into slow cooker. Arrange lemon slices in tight single layer in bottom of prepared slow cooker. Scatter dill stems over lemon slices. Pour water into slow cooker until it is even with lemon slices (about 1/2 cup water). Season fillets with salt and pepper and place skin side down on top of lemon slices. Cover and cook until salmon is opaque throughout when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 135 degrees, 1 to 2 hours on low.

2. Combine sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, and minced dill in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using sling, transfer fillets to baking sheet. Gently lift and tilt fillets with spatula to remove dill stems and lemon slices and transfer fillets to individual plates; discard dill stems, lemon slices, and poaching liquid. Serve with sauce.

Slow-Cooker Carrot Cake

Serves 6
Cooking Time 3 to 4 hours on High
Slow Cooker Size 5 1/2 to 7 Quarts

Why This Recipe Works: This humble cake really shines when the balance of sweet shredded carrots and vegetable oil is just right, ensuring a moist, tender crumb. All too often, however, this cake dries out in the oven, unless you use a lot of oil. It turns out the slow cooker makes it far easier to produce a moist carrot cake without using all that oil. For a flavorful carrot cake with a moist, but not wet, texture, we tested different amounts of grated carrots and oil, both of which can weigh down the batter. In the end, 3/4 cup of shredded carrots and 7 tablespoons of oil provided enough flavor and richness without making the cake soggy or greasy. As for the spices, we found that a small amount of cinnamon and a pinch of cloves offered ample spice notes. Finally, the combination of baking powder and baking soda gave our cake the right amount of lift. You will need a 6-inch springform pan for this recipe, or you can substitute a 6-inch round cake pan. This cake is great dusted with confectioners' sugar, or it can be topped with our Cream Cheese Frosting before serving.

Note: To make an aluminum foil rack to elevate your baking pan so water doesn't seep in, loosely roll a 24 by 12-inch piece of foil into a 1-inch cylinder. then bend the sides in to form an oval ring that measures 8 inches long by 5 inches wide. After adding water to the slow cooker, place the foil rack in the center, then place the pan on top.

3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch salt
1/2 cup packed (31/2 ounces) brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
7 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup shredded carrots
Confectioners' sugar (optional)

1. Fill slow cooker with 1/2 inch water (about 2 cups water) and place aluminum foil rack in bottom. Grease 6-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in bowl. In large bowl, whisk sugar and egg together until smooth, then slowly whisk in oil. Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Gently fold in carrots.

3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. Set cake on prepared rack, cover, and cook until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 3 to 4 hours on high.

4. Let cake cool completely in pan on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Run small knife around edge of cake, then remove sides of pan. Remove cake from pan bottom, discarding parchment, and transfer to serving dish. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if using. Serve.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: Using electric mixer set at medium-high speed, beat 4 ounces softened cream cheese, 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and pinch salt until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, slowly add 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, and beat until smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. Makes about 3/4 cup.

In America's Test Kitchen's new cookbook, Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy-Prep Edition, we expand our slow-cooker recipe canon with 200 more foolproof recipes that maximize the convenience of the slow cooker by limiting the prep time to no more than 15 minutes. This well-rounded collection of recipes spans appetizers, soups, stews and chilis, roasts, pasta, casseroles, sides, recipes scaled to serve just two, and desserts. We leave nothing to chance, spelling out time ranges, slow-cooker sizes and shapes, and more to ensure that your slow-cooker recipes work the first time and every time.