Posts

Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas

By Polly Conner

This is the type of recipe our readers go ga-ga over. Slow Cooker Carnitas are a dump-and-go crock pot meal that’s easy to make, freezes well before or after cooking, and everyone loves them!

Slow cooker crispy carnitas

Why You Must Make Carnitas in the Slow Cooker

Pork shoulders are one of my favorite cuts of meat to cook in the slow cooker. Coming from someone who has tested hundreds (yes, hundreds) of slow cooker recipes, that means a lot. I have probably made this slow cooker recipe more than any other one for groups of people.

Pork shoulder shredded and broiled on a foil lined baking sheet

The seasoning and marinade, plus the slow cooking method, pack some serious tangy-smoky-citrusy flavor into the meat. After being cooked all day and shredded, you’ll pop the meat under the broiler and broil until it begins to crisp up on the edges. You’ll find yourself going back to this recipe again and again!

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make These?

Like most of our recipes, the ingredients are fairly simple. To make Slow Cooker Carnitas, you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 (3-4 pound) pork shoulder (also known as pork butt or Boston butt), trimmed of excess fat 
  • Seasonings: oregano, cumin, chili powder, Salt & pepper
  • Lime juice
  • Orange juice
  • Hot Sauce
Ingredients for slow cooker carnitas

How Long Do I Cook Pork Shoulder in the Slow Cooker?

After testing hundreds of recipes for our slow cooker cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we found that cooking one (3-4 pound) pork shoulder should take 7-9 hours depending on your slow cooker.

Oftentimes, people take the pork out too early because it appears to be tough and dry. However, the pork needs lots of time to break down the fibers holding the meat together. When cooked correctly, pork shoulder in the slow cooker should be tender, juicy, and shred easily.

Cooked pork carnitas on a wooden spoon coming out of the slow cooker

Get our Slow Cooker Times Chart

After years of testing slow cooker recipes for our website and cookbooks, we’ve developed a reliable cooking times chart for all different types of recipes. Never overcook or undercook a recipe in the slow cooker again!

Can I Cook Carnitas in a Dutch Oven?

While we love our crock pot, you for sure can make this in your dutch oven, too.

pork shoulder in a dutch oven

Simply follow the instructions in the recipe below, but instead of putting it all into a slow cooker, place the pork into a roasting pan or Dutch oven. Add 1 cup of water or broth. Cover tightly with the lid and roast the pork at 300ºF for about 4 1/2 hours, turning once at the half way point. Follow the broiling instructions after that!

Can I Make Carnitas in the Instant Pot?

Absolutely! When using the Instant Pot, you can have these done in almost an hour!

We have instructions for Instant Pot Carnitas here. Enjoy!

Make It Into a Freezer Meal

As if our Carnitas weren’t good enough, I have even better news. They work really well as a make ahead freezer meal.

Simply double the recipe and freeze an uncooked batch. This won’t take much more time at all and will set you up for an incredibly easy dinner down the road!

When you’re ready to prepare the frozen meal, thaw it using one of these safe methods. Then slow cook on low for 7-9 hours.

Pork carnitas in a freezer meal bag

Here are some great tips on making freezer meals, if you want to learn more about freezer cooking (our speciality!).

How to Serve Pork Carnitas

One of the beauties of this meal is that it can be customized and served in so many different ways. That’s why I love making carnitas for large groups. Here are some ideas of how to serve them:

  • Change up taco night by using this filling instead of ground beef.
  • Top a leafy green salad with it and other toppings like roasted fresh corn shaved off the cob, diced bell peppers, red onion, and crunched up tortilla chips.
  • Throw this shredded pork in a quesadilla or on top of a “burrito bowl” with brown rice, beans, and your favorite Mexican toppings.

So many options! I personally almost always serve it with our Avocado Lime Salsa.

Slow cooker pork carnitas on tortillas
Print

Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas

  • Author: Polly Conner
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 9 hours
  • Total Time: 9 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 810 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

The seasoning and marinade, plus the slow cooking method, pack some serious tangy-smoky-citrusy flavor into the meat. After being cooked all day and shredded, you’ll pop the meat under the broiler and broil until it begins to crisp up on the edges. You’ll find yourself going back to this recipe again and again!


Ingredients

  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (3-4 pound) pork shoulder (also known as pork butt or Boston butt), trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup lime juice* (juice of about 4 limes)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice* (juice of about 3 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • chopped cilantro (optional for garnishing)

*Freshly squeezed is the best!


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Over medium-high heat, saute the onion just until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while it cooks. Stir in the garlic during the last 30-60 seconds. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and then rub the seasoning all over each piece. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Add the seasoned meat, onion/garlic mixture, lime juice, orange juice, and hot sauce into the slow cooker.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours.
  6. Remove the pork to a wooden cutting board, and shred with two forks.
  7. Preheat the broiler. Broil the meat on a rimmed baking sheet for 3 minutes. (Tip: Cover the pan with foil for easy clean up.) Using tongs, turn the meat over and spoon about ¼ cup of the juices from the slow cooker over the meat. Broil another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the edges of the meat start to crisp up and turn brown. Remove from the oven and spoon another ¼ cup of the juices over the cooked pork.
  8. Serve immediately in tacos, burritos, or salads, or enjoy a la carte. If serving in a corn tortilla, we suggest topping with diced avocado, pico de gallo, Cojita cheese crumbles, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. If serving on a salad, use those same toppings and try our Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette as the dressing.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3. Place the onion/garlic mixture, seasoned pork, lime juice, orange juice, hot sauce into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw 24-48 hours. Follow steps 5-8.

Want more slow cooker recipes?

Hop over to our round up of 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes for Groups of People.

slow cooker and crock pot Recipes for groups of people

Top 3 Dump and Go Crock Pot Meals (+ Shopping List)

By Rachel Tiemeyer

We’ve rounded up 3 amazing dump and go crock pot meals. Bonus: You can make them ahead and freeze for later, too. Freezing instructions and shopping list included!

dump and go crock pot freezer meals

This post was created in partnership with Hy-Vee (Columbia).

Dump and Go Crock Pot Meals: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Let’s start with the bad and ugly. After researching, testing, and writing a cookbook all about slow cooker meals, one of the big takeaways for us was that most “dump and go” crockpot meals just aren’t very good. Most delicious slow cooker meals require a few extra steps to get the texture and flavor just right.

But…but, but, but…there are a few exceptions to this rule. We’ve pulled together three of our very best drop and go crock pot meals: Honey Bourbon Chicken, French Dip Sandwiches, and Vegetarian Tortilla Soup.

dump and go crock pot freezer meals

No extra–or very few extra–steps are required of these dishes. You’ll simply throw all your ingredients in the slow cooker for a hands-free dinner OR in a freezer bag for later. The combo of ingredients only get tastier as they slow cook!

Double and Freeze All 3 Recipes

A smart way to use your time efficiently is to double each of the recipes below and freeze them for later. Polly and I both do this regularly and call it the “freezer cooking lifestyle.” Believe us when we say, your future self will thank you!

6 dump and go crock pot freezer meals

Simply, set aside about an hour to make 2 batches of all 3 recipes. After doubling all these recipes, you’ll stock your freezer with 6 meals! You’ll have dinner ready to go for weeks.

To make it super easy for you, we’ve made you a shopping list with enough ingredients to double each of the 3 recipes.

shopping list for dump and go crock pot meals

Ultimate Time Saver: Use Aisles Online!

We recommend doing your shopping at Hy-Vee where ingredients are well stocked, it’s easy to keep kids entertained, and the store is clean and well staffed.

If you’re an online shopper, just hop to Aisles Online and fill up your cart with the ingredient list. It’s even easier to shop for sales this way in my opinion!

Their website is incredibly easy to navigate and their pick-up process is flawless…

Or, you can even have your groceries delivered…

I can think of no easier way to make this cooking session happen than having someone drop the groceries right to your doorstep.

You can do this!

Download and Print the Shopping List

As a reminder, this list is for the go-getters who want to double all three of these recipes. If you only want to make one or two, simply print off the recipe card(s) below.

Top 3 Dump and Go Crock Pot Meals

Alright, you know where to shop for the ingredients (Hy-Vee), you know the easiest way to get them to your home (Aisles Online), and you’ve heard our plea to double the recipes to save yourself time in the long run. Now it’s time to get cooking!

Every recipe that we link to below has instructions for how to freeze it ahead and how to prepare it from frozen.

1. Honey Bourbon Chicken

A little sweet and a little spicy, this easy chicken recipe is BIG on flavor and takes just minutes to throw in the slow cooker. Stir fry some veggies while it cooks and then serve it all over rice. A reader favorite!

honey bourbon chicken freezer meal

MAKE IT AHEAD: Add the sauce ingredients and chicken to a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal, toss to combine, and freeze.

TO PREPARE: Thaw and place the meal in the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Shred or chop and serve over rice and stir-fried veggies.

A similar recipe to this one is our Teriyaki Chicken Thighs. You might like that one as well!

Print
gluten-free Honey Bourbon Chicken and Stir Fry Vegetables on a large white platter

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Total Time: 3 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Asian

Description

A little sweet and a little spicy, this chicken dish is big on flavor and takes just minutes to throw in the slow cooker.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (For Gluten-Free: use coconut aminos or GF tamari soy sauce.)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup organic or all-natural ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon or other whiskey (For Gluten-Free: Omit or use chicken stock/broth instead.)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (decrease to 1/8 teaspoon, if sensitive to heat)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/22 pounds boneless, skinless medium chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Cooked basmati rice or brown rice, for serving
  • Stir-fried vegetables, for serving

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, bourbon, oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and green onions. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the sauce. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the chicken and sauce in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until cooked through. (The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.) Carefully transfer the chicken to a wooden cutting board, dice or shred the meat, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Carefully pour the juices from the slow cooker into a medium saucepan. Add in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Return the chicken and sauce to the slow cooker. Stir gently to combine. Serve over rice. Garnish with green onions and serve with stir-fried vegetables, if desired.

Freeze For Later:  Follow step 1. Pour the sauce and chicken into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen:  Note: Have cooked rice, cornstarch, and (optional) stir-fried veggies on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Follow steps 2 through 4.


Notes

One of our readers tested this recipe without the bourbon and reported that their family thought it was still delicious. 

2. French Dip Sandwiches

My kids cheer when they see this drop-and-go crock pot meal on the menu plan. It slow cooks all day long and is fall-apart tender by dinnertime. Simply shred the meat, put together the sandwiches (a quick broil toasts up the rolls and melts the cheese), and dip them in the leftover au jus. Or…turn them into grilled cheese sandwiches to take them over the top!

french dip sandwich freezer meal

MAKE IT AHEAD: Pour the sauce ingredients into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Season the roast lightly with salt and black pepper and add to the bag/container with the sauce. Seal and freeze. Place the bread and cheese in separate freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze alongside the roast.

TO PREPARE: Thaw. Place meat/sauce in the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. Shred the meat and serve on toasted buns with Provolone (or turn them into grilled cheese sandwiches). 

A similar recipe to this one is our Balsamic Shredded Beef. It’s a reader favorite!

Print

Slow Cooker French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 Sandwiches 1x
  • Category: Slow Cooker
  • Method: Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 34 lbs boneless beef chuck roast (1 large roast or 2 smaller ones), trimmed of excess fat
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 16 large slices of sourdough bread
  • 16 slices provolone, cheddar, or pepper Jack cheese

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, soy sauce, minced onion, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the roast in the cooker and season lightly with salt and black pepper on all sides. Pour the sauce over the top.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours, until the meat easily shreds. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return the meat to the cooker and stir it into the sauce.
  4. Spread a thin layer of butter over one side of each slice of bread. Place a slice of cheese on the unbuttered side of half the slices of bread. Using a slotted spoon, add a layer of the shredded meat (be sure to drain the liquid first). Top with another slice of cheese and a second slice of bread, buttered-side up.
  5. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Cook the sandwiches for a few minutes on each side, until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted.
  6. Serve the sandwiches warm, with the warmed juices from the cooker in small bowls alongside for dipping.

FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow step 1. Pour the sauce into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Season the roast lightly with salt and black pepper and add to the bag/container with the sauce. Seal and freeze. Place the bread and cheese in separate freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze alongside the roast.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Note: You will need to have butter on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Place in the slow cooker. Follow steps 3 through 6.

3. Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

This pantry staple Vegetarian Tortilla Soup recipe is a meatless “one pot wonder” that I’ve been making and freezing for years for my family. Filled with beans, tomatoes, chilis, corn, and more, it only gets better the longer it sits in the fridge (or freezer).

vegetarian tortilla soup freezer meal and finished dish

MAKE IT AHEAD: Place all the ingredients except the rice in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

TO PREPARE: Thaw and place the soup in the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

Print

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

This one-pot wonder is packed with flavor but is also vegetarian! This winning combination of ingredients and flavors is sure to impress your family and friends.


Ingredients

  • 1 (32 ounce) box vegetable stock (Sub: chicken stock or broth)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can vegetarian refried beans* (Sub: drained pinto beans that have been smashed with a fork)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (Sub: kidney or pinto beans)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained (Sub: 2 cups frozen corn)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes (juice and all) (Tip: Fire-roasted diced tomatoes are delicious!)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles (Sub: 1/2 cup salsa)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural taco seasoning mix
  • 12 cups cooked brown rice (Sub: cooked quinoa)
  • Optional Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeños, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, crushed tortilla chips, lime wedges, diced avocado

Instructions

Make It Now:

Stovetop Method: In a large pot, combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Bring to a boil and quickly reduce to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally while it cooks. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Slow Cooker Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Instant Pot Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Freeze For Later:

Method 1 (Uncooked): Combine all ingredients in a pot/bowl, except rice and optional toppings. (Don’t worry if the refried beans aren’t completely integrated.) Carefully ladle the soup into gallon-sized freezer bags or containers and seal. Package the cooked rice in a small freezer bag and freeze alongside the soup.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked): Fully cook the soup according to instructions. Stir in the rice. Let cool. Freeze in freezer bags or containers, as individual servings or one full meal. Freeze until ready to use.

Prepare From Frozen: 

Method 1 (Uncooked): Fully thaw the soup. Cook according to instructions.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked):

Stove or Slow Cooker: Warm over low heat on the stove or in the slow cooker.

Instant Pot: Turn on Saute button and warm over low, stirring frequently.*


Notes

*If you want to cook the soup from frozen in the Instant Pot, you’ll need to freeze it in a round container that is smaller than the diameter of the pot. When ready to cook, turn on the “Saute” function and saute the frozen block of soup for 5-10 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel”. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 12-17 minutes with a quick release.

Gluten-Free: If using a taco seasoning packet from the store, be sure to buy one that is gluten-free.

Dairy-Free: Omit using any cheese or sour cream on top.

For more make ahead freezer meal ideas, check out our Top 3 Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas (with shopping list)!

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole with Bacon and Gruyere

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Friends and family will oooh and ahhhh over this gourmet Crockpot Breakfast Casserole, whether you serve it for a weekend brunch, a weeknight dinner, or at your next holiday gathering. Its depth of flavor and beautiful color come from the Burgers’ Smokehouse bacon, onions, garlic, kale, roasted red peppers, and Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses.

Crockpot breakfast casserole

Created in partnership with Burgers’ Smokehouse.

Why You Need to Make This Casserole NOW

I cannot impress this upon you enough: MAKE.THIS.CASSEROLE. Our team and families here at Thriving Home couldn’t get enough of it!

Breakfast Casserole slice on a plate with fruit

Here are just a few reasons why we’re loving this make ahead breakfast casserole…

  • Oh, the flavors and colors in this recipe! Forget the brown, mushy casseroles you’ve been scarred by in the past. This one will win over all your senses with its layers of tender hash browns, crispy Burgers’ Smokehouse bacon, gooey Gruyere cheese, pungent Parmesan, and bright red roasted peppers intermixed with sautéed onions and kale. It’s a sight to behold, smell, and devour!
  • It’s easy to make ahead for your next holiday gathering or when you host guests. Simply store it in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer (using our instructions below) for up to 3 months.
  • Makes a BIG batch, serving 10-12 people. Great for serving to a crowd.
  • This recipe offers the perfect cook time for a brunch, like Easter, or a breakfast-for-dinner option. More on that below.
  • Reheats well. It’s delicious as leftovers! Our family ate on this casserole for days, and I was able to take some to our neighbors, too. Like I mentioned, it feeds an army!
  • Gluten-free. If you’re trying to avoid gluten, this casserole does so by using hash browns instead of bread.
Slow cooker with hash brown casserole, a ham, salad, fruit salad, and plates on a wooden table

What Ingredients Do I Need?

Don’t be intimidated by this ingredient list! You can find everything you need at Hy-Vee or your local grocery store.

Bacon – This is the #1 most important ingredient because….BACON. We recommend using Burgers’ Smokehouse Bacon, either Uncured Country Bacon or Hickory Smoked.

Burgers' Smokehouse Uncured Bacon package

Once you try Burgers’, you can never go back. The difference is all in their dry cure method…

Find Burgers’ Smokehouse Bacon at your local Hy-Vee or find a store near you that carries it.

Gruyere Cheese – This is perhaps the second most important ingredient, turning what could be a boring casserole into something gourmet! Gruyere is a hard light yellow Swiss that’s known as a mild-tasting melting cheese. It adds savoriness without overshadowing the other ingredients. I bought one 6 ounce block and shredded it by hand. It just took a minute or so.

Note: You can substitute your favorite shredded cheese, if you don’t have Gruyere. Cheddar cheese or Colby jack would work well.

Shredded Parmesan cheese – Provides another layer of flavor.

Roasted red peppers – Adds color and savoriness. Find a jar in the pickle aisle.

Kale – Adds amazing color and nutrition. You can’t really taste it, though. You can substitute baby spinach instead.

Yellow onion

Fresh or frozen hash browns – Make sure they are thawed first.

Milk – Your choice of what kind but I used 2%.

Large eggs

Salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic cloves – Good seasoning along the way is essential to this recipe.

Breakfast Casserole slice on a plate with fruit and a slow cooker in the background

How to Make Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

Watch this short video tutorial to see how easily this casserole comes together!

How Long Should I Cook a Breakfast Casserole in the Crockpot?

We know you want a slow cooker breakfast casserole that takes all night to cook and is waiting for you in the morning. But, I want to let you in on a not-so-fun secret: you’ll end up with an overcooked, burned breakfast casserole if you do. 🙁

Breakfast Casserole in a slow cooker on a wooden cutting board

Here’s the good news. We learned while testing recipe after recipe for From Freezer to Cooker that the perfect cook time for a crockpot breakfast casserole is exactly 4 hours on LOW. That means you can have it done just in time for a brunch or make it as a breakfast-for-dinner option.

This crockpot breakfast casserole also reheats well in the microwave in small portions, so don’t be afraid to cook it ahead of time and eat it later.

How to Make Ahead and Freeze Breakfast Casserole

Reduce stress and free up yourself to enjoy your next gathering by preparing this big batch recipe ahead of time. That way you can simply drop it in the slow cooker a few hours before you want to serve it.

You can either store the prepped, uncooked casserole in the fridge in the crockpot insert for up to 3 days. Or, you can freeze the prepped, uncooked casserole in a freezer bag or container for up for 3 months. When you’re ready to cook it, thaw completely and empty the contents into the crockpot.

Be sure to follow our freezing instructions in the recipe below.

Breakfast Casserole slice on a plate with fruit and a fork

More Recipes for a Crowd

If you’re looking for more delicious recipes that feed a crowd, be sure to check out and save our most popular article, 20+ Meals That Feed Large Groups.

meals for a crowd

Get ready to whip up one of the most memorable make ahead breakfast casseroles you’ve ever had!

Print
Breakfast Casserole in a Crockpot on a wooden cutting board

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 10+ servings 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Guests will oooh and ahhhh over this gourmet breakfast casserole at your next brunch or holiday gathering. Its depth of flavor and beautiful color come from the bacon, onions, garlic, kale, roasted red peppers, and Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. Bonus: It’s naturally gluten-free and makes a very large batch! 


Ingredients

  • 1 pound (16 0unces) Burgers’ Smokehouse Hickory Smoked Bacon (or Uncured Bacon), diced*
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, thoroughly drained and diced (Sub: sautéed, diced red bell peppers)
  • 2 cups finely chopped kale (be sure to remove the tough stems) (Sub: spinach) 
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups (about 15 ounces) refrigerated or frozen shredded hash browns, thawed (it’s important to thaw them first!)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (sub: grated Parmesan cheese)
  • 2 cups (a 6 ounce block) shredded Gruyere cheese (sub: Swiss cheese, Monterey Jack, or your favorite shredded cheese)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (we used 2% milk, but it’s your choice)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy, about 8 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper-toweled lined plate and pour off all about 2 tablespoons of grease. Set aside.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the onions and red pepper flakes. Sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the peppers, kale, and garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes, until the kale has wilted, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper while it cooks. Set aside. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Spray a 6 quart slow cooker insert generously with cooking spray. Layer 1 1/2 cups of the hash browns, 1/2 of the bacon, half of the veggie mixture, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1 cup Gruyere, and then repeat with the remaining hash browns, bacon, veggies and cheeses.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Pour over the other ingredients in the slow cooker. (Note: The casserole can sit in the refrigerator for up to 3 days at this point.)
  6. Cover and cook on Low for 4 hours, or until the center is set. Dab off any moisture from the top with a paper towel.
  7. Taste and season with most salt and pepper, as needed. Serve warm.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3; let the veggie mixture cool. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour the egg mixture into a gallon-sized freezer bag or container. Add in the veggies and bacon, hash browns, 1 cup of Gruyere cheese, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Seal tightly, toss lightly to combine, and freeze. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of Gruyere and 1/4 cup of Parmesan to a small freezer bag or container and freeze along with the egg mixture.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in the refrigerator. (Tip: Place the freezer bag in a dish to prevent leaks.) Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray. Transfer the egg mixture to the slow cooker and stir to make sure ingredients are combined and evenly distributed. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan and 1/2 cup of Gruyere. Follow Steps 6-7.


Notes

*A great short-cut is Burgers’ Smokehouse Diced Bacon. Skip chopping raw bacon and toss it right into the saute pan. 

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

By Rachel Tiemeyer

A little sweet and a little spicy, this easy chicken recipe is BIG on flavor and takes just minutes to throw in the slow cooker.

Honey Bourbon Chicken and Stir Fry Vegetables on a large white platter
Photo credit: Hélène Dujardin

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken is one of only two recipes we’ve been given permission to share with you from our newest cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker (released January 14). And, I’m so glad because it is perhaps my favorite chicken dish in the whole book!

Actually, this recipe is only a partial recipe from the book. That’s because every single recipe in our latest cookbook includes:

  • Slow cooker instructions AND
  • Instant Pot and pressure cooker instructions AND
  • freezer meal instructions.

There is truly nothing else like our cookbook on the market! Like our first cookbook, we rigorously tested every dish, used (mostly) whole food ingredients, and only included ones that our families and recipe testers enjoyed. I think you’ll find it to be incredibly useful no matter what cooker you own.

Why This is My Favorite Chicken Dish

With all of these perks, what’s not to love about easy Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken?

1. It’s super simple to throw together. Simply dump the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it cook on low for a few hours. After it’s done, you can quickly thicken up the sauce using what’s called a cornstarch slurry but that’s optional yet quite easy.

2. It’s complex in flavor thanks to ingredients like fresh ginger (just keep some in my freezer to have on hand), soy sauce (or substitute coconut aminos), honey, green onions, and, of course, bourbon. (More on the bourbon in a minute.)

3. My kids love it! It’s a little spicy, but you can always pull back on the spice if your family has a sensitive palate.

4. It’s been very well-tested by Polly and me, as well as, our 500 person recipe-testing team for this cookbook! In fact, we spent nearly two years developing and refining the recipes in From Freezer to Cooker. It was quite a feat because every single recipe works in the slow cooker, the Instant Pot, and includes freezer meal instructions!

How to Serve Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

I like to round out this spicy-sweet chicken and sauce by serving it on top of some brown rice (or quinoa or cauliflower rice) and stir-fried veggies. There’s a lot of sauce to spare, so whip up a big pot of rice and a pan of stir-fried veggies to help soak up all that delicious sauce. To save time, buy pre-made brown rice at the store and use the frozen stir-fry vegetable mix.

What Should I Know About Cooking with Bourbon?

I personally don’t drink or enjoy the taste of bourbon. However, when used in cooking, I’ve found that the bourbon lends a smoky caramel-like sweetness that’s hard to replicate with another ingredient. If you have kids, don’t worry, the alcohol will almost entirely evaporate when the sauce is simmered at the end. Look for small bottles by the liquor counter, if you don’t have some at home in your cabinet. Update: One of our readers said she used chicken stock as a replacement with decent results.

How to Make Ahead and Freeze This Recipe

Like most of our recipes, this freezer-friendly chicken dish is one you can easily double, eat one for dinner tonight, and freeze the other for later. Here’s how easy it is to make ahead and freeze…

inside freezer

To freeze a batch for later, you’ll combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Pour the sauce and chicken into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze. When you’re ready to eat it, simply thaw the meal using one of these safe thawing methods and then cook according to directions.

Every recipe in From Freezer to Cooker has “make ahead and freeze” instructions, saving you time in the kitchen. Plus, when you’ve got a freezer full of healthy, delicious family meals, you’ll spend less money and eat healthier.

How to Make Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

You’ll love this healthy, delicious chicken meal that goes from slow cooker to table with ease!

Print
gluten-free Honey Bourbon Chicken and Stir Fry Vegetables on a large white platter

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Total Time: 3 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Asian

Description

A little sweet and a little spicy, this chicken dish is big on flavor and takes just minutes to throw in the slow cooker.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (For Gluten-Free: use coconut aminos or GF tamari soy sauce.)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup organic or all-natural ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon or other whiskey (For Gluten-Free: Omit or use chicken stock/broth instead.)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (decrease to 1/8 teaspoon, if sensitive to heat)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/22 pounds boneless, skinless medium chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Cooked basmati rice or brown rice, for serving
  • Stir-fried vegetables, for serving

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, bourbon, oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and green onions. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the sauce. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the chicken and sauce in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until cooked through. (The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.) Carefully transfer the chicken to a wooden cutting board, dice or shred the meat, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Carefully pour the juices from the slow cooker into a medium saucepan. Add in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Return the chicken and sauce to the slow cooker. Stir gently to combine. Serve over rice. Garnish with green onions and serve with stir-fried vegetables, if desired.

Freeze For Later:  Follow step 1. Pour the sauce and chicken into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen:  Note: Have cooked rice, cornstarch, and (optional) stir-fried veggies on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Follow steps 2 through 4.


Notes

One of our readers tested this recipe without the bourbon and reported that their family thought it was still delicious. 

Our Cookbooks

Click here to learn more about how both of our cookbooks can save you time and money and help feed your family healthy, delicious meals.

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

One of our easiest freezer meals: Chicken Parmesan Sliders. Just put a few ingredients into the crockpot and you’ll have one of your favorite meals for a busy night. Great meal idea for large groups too!

Slow cooker chicken parmesan sliders on a cutting board

“I need more recipes like this in my life,” I told my husband, as he and the kids scarfed down slider after slider. When I don’t have to touch raw meat (can I get an amen?), I can just dump a few ingredients in a slow cooker, and a healthy and kid-friendly meal magically appears at dinner time…I’M IN!

Why are Chicken Parmesan Sliders SO Easy?

Look no further for a slow cooker, chicken dump-and-go meal idea. The simplicity of getting dinner done will have you doing victory laps around your house. There isn’t any prep before placing the very few ingredients in the slow cooker either.

Here’s all you really need from the store:

  • chicken breasts, fresh or frozen
  • a jar of your favorite marinara (or make your own)
  • some mini whole wheat buns or rolls (or make your own)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella or Provolone cheese slices

Just dump in your chicken, marinara sauce and a few choice seasonings and press a button. Gotta love that!

Ingredients for slow cooker chicken parmesan sliders

How Long do I Cook Chicken Parmesan Sliders in the Slow Cooker?

After you dump all of your ingredients into the slow cooker, how long do you have to wait until dinner? You might be surprised at the answer. In fact, we wrote an entire post about how long to cook chicken in the slow cooker because so many people are doing it wrong! After loads of recipe testing, we have found that chicken breast is done after 3-4 hours in the slow cooker. This will vary on the type of slow cooker but it’s done quicker than you think!

Chicken parmesan sliders in slow cooker

Can I Make Chicken Parmesan Sliders in the Instant Pot?

Let’s say you aren’t home around the time these Chicken Parmesan Sliders need to go into the slow cooker. You can have Chicken Parmesan Sliders done in minutes using your Instant Pot! In fact, we have done the work and converted the recipe for you. Hop over to our Instant Pot Chicken Parmesan Sliders recipe here.

Slow cooker parmesan sliders on a white plate

How do I make Chicken Parmesan Sliders a Freezer Meal?

As with so many of our recipes, Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders freeze well. (Find all our Freezer Meal recipes here.) You have some options on how to make this a freezer meal too.

Option One: Prepare and freeze it before cooking

To Freeze:

Place raw chicken and marinara (and any optional seasonings) into a freezer-safe container or zip top bag and freeze. You can also wrap up the cheese slices and rolls tightly and freeze. Keep all ingredients in a grocery sack in the freezer, so the meal components are together.

To Prepare:

When ready to cook, thaw everything in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Place chicken & marinara into the slow cooker and follow steps 2-3.

Option Two: Freeze after cooking

To Freeze:

Fully cook and cool the chicken. Place in a freezer-safe container or zip top bag. You can also wrap up the cheese slices and rolls tightly and freeze. Keep all ingredients in a grocery sack in the freezer, so the meal components are together.


To Prepare:

When ready to cook, thaw everything in the fridge for 24-48 hours. If chicken is still partially frozen, use the defrost setting on the microwave. Warm chicken mixture over medium-low on the stove stirring occasionally, in a slow cooker on low setting, or in the microwave. Serve according to the instructions in Step 3 above.

Slow cooker parmesan sliders on a wooden cutting board

Video Tutorial for Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders

Print

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Just put a few ingredients (like chicken and marinara ) in to the crockpot and you’ll have one of your favorite meals for a busy night!


Ingredients

  • 34 chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1 jar (24 ounce) or 3 cups all-natural marinara sauce (or make your own)
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed in hand
  • 12 mini whole wheat buns or 6 large whole wheat buns (or make your own)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 slices of Provolone or Mozzarella cheese, cut into fourths

Instructions

  1. Lightly season all sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken breasts, sauce, garlic, and seasoning to the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on LOW for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Chicken is done when it shreds easily and is white all the way through (or registers 165°F internally). Shred with two forks.
  3. To build a sandwich place some hot shredded chicken on a bun, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, top with two little pieces of Provolone or Mozzarella cheese, and pop the top of the bun in place.* Enjoy!

*If you’d like, place the sliders (open faced) on a sheet pan and broil for a 1 minute to melt the cheese.


Notes

Freeze For Later: Fully cook and cool the chicken. Place in a freezer-safe container or zip top bag. You can also wrap up the cheese slices and rolls tightly and freeze. Keep all ingredients in a grocery sack in the freezer, so the meal components are together.

Prepare From Frozen: When ready to cook, thaw everything in the fridge for 24-48 hours. If chicken is still partially frozen, use the defrost setting on the microwave. Warm chicken mixture over medium-low on the stove stirring occasionally, in a slow cooker on low setting, or in the microwave. Serve according to the instructions in Step 3 above.

A hand holding a Slow cooker parmesan slider

What to Serve with Chicken Parmesan Sliders

Here are some recipe ideas that would go well with this dish:

Want More Easy Slow Cooker Recipes?

Check out our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker! Every recipe is easy, drool-worthy, and made with recognizable, whole food ingredients, and what makes the book even more family friendly is its unique two-in-one style. Each recipe provides instructions on how to cook the same meal for both the slow cooker and the Instant Pot!

This is essentially giving home cooks double the recipes. From Freezer to Cooker is the first book of its kind to combine the ease and effectiveness of freezer cooking and hands-free appliances with healthy and delicious recipes.

From Freezer to Cooker Cookbook

Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup

By Rachel Tiemeyer

When the air turns crisp and the leaves start to change, making a comforting batch of Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup is mandatory. Using the slow cooker means your home will smell cozy and delicious, too!

Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup in white bowls with bread.

This post is created in partnership with Burgers’ Smokehouse but opinions are all ours.

Why Is This Soup SOOOO Good?

What makes this soup one of the best we’ve ever developed? It starts with the bacon (as do most good things in life). Not just any bacon, but our favorite Burgers’ Smokehouse brand.

Burgers' Smokehouse Bacon

To save time, we used their new, handy diced bacon. But, you could certainly use their Original Hickory Smoked Bacon instead and dice it yourself. Either way, this bacon is where we start to build flavor for the soup. You can find Burgers’ Smokehouse bacon online here, at your local Hy-Vee store, or at these other locations.

How to Make Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup in the Slow Cooker

Vegetables sauteing in a pan.

You’ll start by sauteing the bacon in a pan until crisp, removing it for topping the soup at the end, and then…wait for it…sauteing your aromatics in the bacon fat. Cooking the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in bacon grease, my friends, is pure soup-making magic. Your entire pot of soup will be infused with the three “S”es of all good bacon: Savoriness, Saltiness, and Smokiness.

Vegetables in a slow cooker

You’ll add your deeply flavored aromatics to your slow cooker, along with the potatoes. To save time, we used baby Yukon gold potatoes in this recipe. This creamy variety of potatoes don’t require peeling, saving you on prep time. Stir in some high quality chicken stock (or broth), fresh thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and salt and pepper.

Potato soup ingredients in a slow cooker with lid off.

Pop on the lid, set it on LOW for 6-8 hours (depending on how hot your cooker runs), and forget about it. After it’s done, you’ll stir in some half and half, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and then give it a little mash-up with a potato masher. We will go on record saying that the half and half makes this soup what it is. It just wasn’t the same when we tested it with milk. Note: it may seem thin at first, but the soup will thicken up significantly as it sits. Trust us.

Potato soup in a slow cooker with lid off.

Now, we know it’s hard to resist eating the soup straight out of the slow cooker, but restrain yourself because there’s more goodness to come. That’s because our star of the show returns at the end…mmm, Burgers’ Smokehouse bacon.

Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup in white bowl.

Generously top each bowl of piping hot soup with some sliced green onions and the bacon bits you cooked up earlier. If you want to get fancy-schmancy, place a sprig or two of thyme on top, as well.

Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup in white bowls with bread.

All you need to complete this veggie-rich soup is a good loaf of bread and a cool fall evening or cold winter’s night. And friends and family. Lots of friends and family.

Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup in white bowls with bread.

Video Tutorial for Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup

Can I Make This Soup Dairy-Free?

We know many of our readers have dietary restrictions. This soup is already gluten-free, but if you’re trying avoid dairy, we have a simple tip. All you have to do is skip the step of adding half and half, sour cream, and cheddar cheese at the end. I tested this dairy-free version during development and can highly recommend it! Because the broth is so flavorful thanks to the aromatics and bacon, this Potato Soup can really stand on it’s own without the dairy. It’s that simple! Be sure to top with green onions and Burgers’ Smokehouse bacon like the recipe calls for.

Can I Freeze Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup?

This soup is absolutely freezer-friendly! We’ve given you instructions for making it ahead of time and freezing it, so you can have Potato Soup on hand any night of the week or for a special gathering in the future. You can either fully cook it and freeze it; or prep the ingredients, freeze, and cook it fresh later. Feel free to double the batch, since doubling is a great use of your time and the bigger batch will cook at the same rate as the recipe indicates.

Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup in white bowl with bread.

Extra Benefit: Sneaky Nutrition for Picky Kids

We have to mention one more surprising advantage of this delicious soup. It’s actually laden with vegetables–onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, green onions, and garlic. My often picky children gobble this soup up and ask for more. So, I’ve found it to be a secret weapon for adding in more nutrition. It really is a kid-favorite and adult-favorite meal.

Hands holding a brown bowl of Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup.

More Favorite Bacon Recipes

If you love bacon as much as we do, then you’ll want to try some of these other favorites in which we used Burgers’ Smokehouse Bacon:

Autumn Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Ultimate Bacon and Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes

twice-baked potatoes

Easy Hash Brown Casserole

hash brown casserole on table

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

We hope you can set aside some time this week to whip up a batch (or two) of Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup and enjoy a bowl on the next cold evening. Stay cozy and long live bacon!

Print

Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This decadent, comforting potato soup makes your home smell amazing after it slow cooks all day. Serve with a warm loaf of bakery bread for a cozy fall or winter dinner!


Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound Burgers’ Smokehouse diced bacon (or 6 slices Hickory Smoked Bacon, diced)
  • 1 ¼ cups diced onions (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (23 carrots)
  • 1 cup diced celery (23 ribs celery)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups ½-inch diced Yukon gold potatoes (about 1.52 pounds; no need to peel)
  • 3 cups chicken stock (or broth)
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (it’s best if you grate your own)
  • Chopped green onions or chives, for serving

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Place bacon in a large skillet, then turn on medium-high heat. Fry the diced bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Saute the onions, celery, and carrots in the bacon grease until tender, about 5 minutes. Lightly season the vegetables with salt and pepper while they cook. Add garlic and cook for about 30-60 seconds more, making sure it doesn’t burn. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Place cooked veggies in a 6 quart slow cooker and add the potatoes, broth, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until potatoes are very tender.
  5. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. If you want, use a potato masher to mash until it is your preferred texture. Doing this will help the soup thicken up.
  6. Stir in the sour cream and half and half. Slowly stir in the cheese a little at a time until it’s melted and well combined. Taste and add more salt and pepper, to your preference.
  7. Serve bowls of soup with the cooked, crumbled bacon and green onions or chives on top.

Freeze for Later:

Method 1 (Uncooked): Place cooked bacon in a quart-sized freezer bag and seal. Place cooked and cooled veggies, broth, thyme, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and potatoes in a gallon-sized freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze. (Note: Make sure the potatoes are completely submerged in the liquid to avoid browning.) Package up the cheese in a quart-sized freezer bag and freeze along with the soup. Do not freeze the half and half, as you will add this as a fresh ingredients at the end.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked): Fully cook the soup through step 6 and let it cool. Place the soup in 1 or 2 gallon-sized freezer bags or containers and seal. Place cooked bacon in a quart-sized freezer bag and seal. Freeze together as a kit.

Prepare From Frozen:

Method 1 (Uncooked): (Note: You will need sour cream, half and half, and green onions to make this recipe.) Thaw. Follow instructions beginning with Step 3.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked): (Note: You will need the sliced green onions on hand.) Thaw using one of these safe methods. Warm over low heat in the slow cooker or on the stove top, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. Follow step 7 for serving. 

Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup in white bowls with bread.

Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte

By Polly Conner

This homemade Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte is EASY to make and is my go-to drink when entertaining in the fall or winter. It’s made with REAL ingredients from your pantry and everyone loves it and is amazed that it’s made in a slow cooker.

Slow cooker pumpkin spice latte

Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte has become a fall staple in my home. I serve it regularly any time we host a group of people and have even taken it to fall parties and Halloween events. My mother-in-law now serves it at every Thanksgiving! It comes together quickly and smells SO delicious.

What is in the Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte?

Overhead shot of ingredients for crock pot pumpkin spice latte

Unlike the Starbucks version of a Pumpkin Spice Latte, our slow cooker version includes all REAL ingredients. No artificial flavoring, no color dyes, no unrecognizable ingredients. Plus, it tastes just as rich and luxurious as their version. Even better in my opinion. To make your batch, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • whole milk
  • strongly brewed coffee
  • pumpkin puree
  • real vanilla extract
  • sugar
  • ground cinnamon
  • cinnamon sticks

Sounds delicious already, doesn’t it?! Serve this with our Snickerdoodle Cookies and you’ll be in heaven!

Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte in a white mug

More reasons to love Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte:

  • It can make your house smell SOOO good. Its scent is a warm-vanilla-cinnamon-pumpkiny aroma. It was better than any fall candle that I have bought!
  • It serves 15+ people. It’s a great recipe for large groups.
  • It was super easy to make and used REAL ingredients. No syrups.
  • I made it 2 hours before the group got there so I wasn’t scrambling to put it together as people arrived.
  • The taste was marvelous. It was warm and sweet with a hint of pumpkin flavor. It really does rival a coffee shop’s pumpkin latte.
  • Who doesn’t love to warm up with a special cozy drink with a bunch of friends?!
Overhead image of crock pot pumpkin spice latte

Watch How to Make our Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte

FAQs about Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte

Do you really use 1/4 cup of vanilla? Yep. Trust us. This recipe has been tested and retested for years. Don’t skimp on the vanilla. And please be sure to use REAL (or pure) vanilla not imitation vanilla extract.

Can I substitute non-dairy milk? Sure, you’re welcome to, but it won’t be nearly as creamy.

Can I make this ahead of time and slow cook it later? We suggest making it fresh and serving within a few hours of it being done.

Does it work to keep leftovers in the refrigerator and rewarm them? You are certainly welcome to try, but our readers have said the pumpkin gets kind of weird the next day.

Print

Crock Pot Pumpkin Spiced Latte

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 5 mins
  • Yield: 1015 1x
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Homemade crock pot pumpkin latte. This recipe is EASY to make and is my go-to drink when entertaining in the fall or winter. Try this delicious version of a coffee shop favorite!


Ingredients

  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 6 cups of strongly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup real (or pure) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

Instructions

  1. In your crock pot, combine the milk and coffee.
  2. Whip together the pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. Pour mixture into the crockpot.
  3. Stir everything together and then toss in 3-4 cinnamon sticks.
  4. Cover the crockpot, and cook on high for 2 hours.

Notes

-If you don’t have a large group, you could easily halve the recipe.
-I’ve been told that heating up the leftovers doesn’t work so well.

pouring slow cooker pumpkin spice latte

A few other fall-inspired recipes and articles you might like:

Want more pumpkin recipes?

With YEARS worth of content and recipes on Thriving Home, it can be easy to forget about some amazing pumpkin recipes that we have shared over the years. Here are our Top 10 Pumpkin Recipes that you simply must try!

collage image of top 10 pumpkin recipes