Just because the weather is getting a little warmer doesn't mean we can't indulge in some yummy spring crockpot recipes! Let's celebrate the upcoming change in seasons with easy-to-prepare meals that are light and tasty. Although we usually associate crockpot meals with thick chili, stews and other heavy foods, I'm going to show you some spring crockpot recipes that are light, delicious and perfect for the new season!
1. Slow Cooker Chicken Black Bean Tacos
One of the healthiest and most delicious spring crockpot recipes I've tried to date is this easy taco recipe. If you're new to Skinny Taste, this website is full of light and healthy meals that are absolutely mouth-watering good. This is the ideal recipe to make if you're looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal that everyone will enjoy!
12 oz raw skinless chicken tenders or breast
15 oz can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed (Goya)
10 oz can tomatoes with mild green chiles (I used Rotel)
1 1/8 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp plus 1/8th tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1 medium scallion, diced
1 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
For the Slaw:
1 1/3 cups shredded red cabbage
1 tsp red wine vinegar (or lime juice)
salt and black pepper, to taste
For the Taco:
12 crisp corn taco shells
Optional toppings: (not calculated)
pico de gallo
1 medium haas avocado, sliced (+ add 2 pts per serving)
Season chicken with pinch of salt, garlic powder, oregano, 1/8 tsp of the chili powder and 1/8th tsp cumin. Add the beans and tomatoes to the crock pot and season with the remaining chili powder and cumin. Place chicken in the crock pot and cover. Cook on HIGH 2 hours. Meanwhile, combine shredded cabbage with vinegar (add more to taste), season with salt to taste; set aside.
Remove chicken from the crock pot and shred with two forks. Drain beans and transfer to a platter, or back to the crock pot to keep warm. Top with shredded chicken, scallions and cilantro.
To serve, warm the taco shells according to package directions. Fill with equal amounts of bean and chicken mixture. Top with cabbage and your favorite toppings.
2. Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna
I've never tried making lasagna in a slow cooker before but I'm all for trying new and easy meals! This spring recipe is perfect to make for a weekend meal and also take for lunch to work the next day. If you've wanted to try a simple meatless recipe you literally just layer and go, definitely try this out!
1 large egg
1 15- to 16-ounce container part-skim ricotta
1 5-ounce package baby spinach, coarsely chopped
3 large or 4 small portobello mushroom caps, gills removed (see Tip), halved and thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
15 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 12 ounces), uncooked
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
Combine egg, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms and zucchini in a large bowl.
Combine crushed and diced tomatoes and their juice, garlic and crushed red pepper (if using) in a medium bowl.
Generously coat a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture in the slow cooker. Arrange 5 noodles over the sauce, overlapping them slightly and breaking into pieces to cover as much of the sauce as possible. Spread half of the ricotta-vegetable mixture over the noodles and firmly pat down, then spoon on 1 1/2 cups sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat the layering one more time, starting with noodles. Top with a third layer of noodles. Evenly spread the remaining tomato sauce over the noodles. Set aside the remaining 1 cup mozzarella in the refrigerator.
Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on High for 2 hours or on Low for 4 hours. Turn off the slow cooker, sprinkle the reserved mozzarella on the lasagna, cover and let stand for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.
3. Healthy Slow Cooker Chili
This next crockpot recipe is for all the chili lovers out there who are looking for a lighter version of the classic dish! This recipe contains lots of lean protein, beans for fiber and tons of veggies for essential vitamins and minerals. The best thing about this meal is that you can easily prepare the ingredients, set it and forget it!
8 ounces cage-free boneless chicken breasts, cubed
8 ounces ground lean turkey
3/4 cup canned small black beans
3/4 cup canned great Northern white beans
4 cups no-sodium/MSG chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups canned organic low-sodium tomato sauce
1 cup canned no-sodium stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup lime juice
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup corn (frozen, canned or fresh)
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 fresh jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Place the chicken and turkey in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook until slightly browned. Add to a 4-quart slow cooker along with the beans, broth, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, lime juice, celery, corn, bell peppers, jalapeno, onions, cilantro, garlic, chili powder and cumin. You can cook on high for a faster chili that will be ready in 3 hours. Or you cook on low for 6 hours. Set the dial, enjoy your day and come home to a healthy meal.
4. Crockpot Poached Salmon
A lesser known but delicious way to prepare nutrient-rich salmon is with this simple crockpot recipe! Forgo using the hot oven and use your slow cooker to make this moist, flaky and flavorful fish dish. Perfect for a busy weeknight or an easy weekend meal, this healthy meal is sure to please even the pickiest palates!
4 salmon steaks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
Grease the bottom of a 3-4 quart slow cooker and stack the salmon fillets in the appliance. In heavy saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, then pour over salmon in crockpot, cover, and cook on low for 3-1/2 hours or until salmon flakes when tested with a fork. Serves 4
5. Wine & Tomato Braised Chicken
A heartier yet still healthful dish is this savory herb-infused wine and tomato braised chicken. With this versatile recipe, you can easily substitute the wine for chicken broth if you wish and it'll still taste just as delicious. Just a few hours in the slow cooker and you've got a flavorful, lean meal that the entire family will enjoy!
4 slices bacon
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine (see Tip)
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
10 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 3/4 pounds), skin removed, trimmed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Crumble when cool.
Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan. Add onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, fennel seeds, pepper and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Add tomatoes and their juice and salt; stir well.
Place chicken thighs in a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker. Sprinkle the bacon over the chicken. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook until the chicken is very tender, about 3 hours on High or 6 hours on Low. Remove the bay leaf. Serve sprinkled with parsley.
Variation: Turn 2 cups each of leftover chicken and sauce into Braised Chicken Gumbo. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 diced medium red or green bell pepper and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and cook, stirring, until the pepper is beginning to soften and the flour is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups shredded chicken, 2 cups sauce, 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, 1 cup sliced okra (fresh or frozen, thawed), 3/4 cup instant brown rice (see Tip) and 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the flavors meld and the okra is tender, about 10 minutes.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare Steps 1 & 2, cover and refrigerate bacon and sauce separately for up to 1 day. To finish, bring the sauce to a simmer and continue with Step 3. The cooked chicken and sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. | Equipment: 4-quart or larger slow cooker
6. BBQ Beef Crockpot Sandwiches
This next crockpot recipe is perfect for those long days that you want a quick and tasty meal. All you need is salt and pepper, beef, coleslaw mix, BBQ sauce and buns, and you're set! What a great way to end the day and warm up your belly!
2 lbs. boneless beef round steak
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 cups purchased coleslaw mix, divided
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
Trim beef and cut into 1" pieces; sprinkle with salt and pepper. In medium bowl, combine half of the coleslaw mix and barbecue sauce and mix to combine. Layer beef and coleslaw mixture in crockpot. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 7-9 hours until beef is tender. Stir well with fork so beef falls apart. Serve the cooked mixture in crusty sandwich buns, topped with the uncooked coleslaw mix.
7. Spanish Chicken with Spicy Lemon Rice
Here's another incredibly affordable and easy spring recipe courtesy of Sandra Lee! Her crockpot recipe for Spanish chicken and rice makes for a simple and savory weeknight meal that will taste like you spent hours in the kitchen!
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup canola oil
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 green bell peppers, diced into 2-inch pieces
1 onion, sliced into thick pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup rice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup pitted green olives (with pimientos)
Special equipment: slow cooker
In a large zip-top bag, mix together the flour, paprika, garlic powder and some salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat completely.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the canola oil. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. While the chicken is cooking, to a slow cooker add the tomatoes, peppers and onions. Top with the chicken thighs.
In same skillet used to brown the chicken, add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Pour over top of the chicken in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours, or until the chicken is extremely tender.
In a medium pot, combine 2 cups water, the rice, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, juice of half the lemon and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid.
To serve, spoon the rice onto a deep-sided platter and ladle the Spanish chicken and vegetables over top. Garnish with the olives and squeeze over the remaining lemon juice. Reserve 2 chicken thighs and 1 cup of the vegetables for Round 2 Recipe - Pita Pile on with Spicy Yogurt Sauce.
8. Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Casserole
How about trying a lean, healthy dish that's easy to make and different from your average crockpot recipe?! Slow cooker cabbage roll casserole combines lean ground turkey, tomatoes, peppers and onions for a flavorful mix of protein, veggies and spices.
1 -1 1/2 lb lean ground turkey or 1 -1 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 small head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce, can add another 8- 15 oz if you like more sauce
Spray crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Crumble the raw ground turkey (or beef) and spread along bottom of crock pot. Add the onions, green pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and cabbage.Pour the diced tomatoes over top. Mix the sugar into the tomato sauce and pour over everything. If you like more sauce, add another 8-oz or 15-oz can of tomato sauce. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for about 4 hours. When done, remove lid and stir to mix well.
I hope these spring crockpot recipes inspired you to break out your crockpot and try making one of these super easy and tasty dishes! I think the slow cooker is a busy gal's best friend! I always love discovering new ways to use the convenient cooking appliance.What's your favorite dish to make in the crockpot?