11 game-day foods you can make in a slow cooker

  • slow cooker or Crock-Pot can be one of the most valuable yet underutilized tools in your kitchen.

  • From dips to ribs and spicy wings, game-day appetizers can easily be made in a slow cooker.

  • Chili is another easy and hearty slow-cooker recipe to make before you watch the game.

Fall means football, and that also means game-day cooking.

However, you don't have to spend the day sweating over a hot stove in order to serve up game-day favorites like Buffalo-chicken dip, ribs, or hot wings.

Insider spoke with Sarah Olson, the author of "The Magical Slow Cooker," about her go-to game-day recipes that you can make in a slow cooker, allowing you to throw everything into your Crock-Pot and get back to the game.

Here are 11 game-day foods you can make in a slow cooker.

Meatballs are a filling game-day appetizer you can make in a slow cooker.

grape jelly meatballs
Grape-jelly meatballs.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker

Olson recommends her recipe for slow-cooker meatballs on game day.

"I love grape-jelly meatballs, which only have three ingredients," she said. "They're so good everyone will ask you for the recipe."

Place your seasoned, raw meatballs into the slow cooker, top with sauce, and let the slow cooker finish them off, says another recipe by Spend With Pennies.

Beer brats can also be made in a slow cooker.

beer and garlic brats
Beer and garlic brats.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker

Brats with onions, peppers, and garlic simmered in the slow cooker along with beer are another one of Olson's favorite game-day recipes.

"When the guests arrive they get to choose when they want to eat since the slow cooker keeps these brats nice and warm during the game," she wrote on her website, The Magical Slow Cooker.

Plus, you can even choose peppers to reflect the colors of your favorite team.

Brisket is perfect for feeding a larger family.

beef brisket
Brisket.iStock / Getty Images Plus

"Brisket is a natural partner for the slow cooker, as a gentle braise renders it meltingly tender," Kim Laidlaw wrote in her cookbook, "Everyday Slow Cooking: Modern Recipes for Delicious Meals."

Laidlaw's recipe for slow-cooked braised brisket includes garlic, onion, dry red wine, carrot, and chicken or beef stock, with a chimichurri sauce.

Pork shoulder is a slow-cooker staple you can use to make game-day sliders.

pulled pork sandwiches
Pulled pork sliders.John Kernick/Williams Sonoma

"One dish I think is so versatile is pork shoulder in a slow cooker with broth and a little salt and pepper," Laidlaw told Insider. "I just braise that and then you can turn into so many different things."

One of the best ways to utilize slow-cooked pork shoulder is to make pulled-pork sliders with all that tender meat. Then, top with barbecue sauce and slaw.

You can even make Buffalo chicken wings using a slow cooker.

slow cooker buffalo wings
Slow cooker Buffalo chicken wings.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker

Nothing screams "game day" more than finger-licking Buffalo chicken wings, and you might be surprised to learn you can make wings in a slow cooker.

Olson's recipe for slow-cooked Buffalo chicken wings calls for thawed chicken wings, hot sauce, and unsalted butter. To get the wings super crispy, make sure to remember to remove them from the sauce after 2.5 hours of cooking and broil them in the oven before adding them back to the slow cooker.

Pulled chicken with barbecue or Buffalo sauce is another great way to use your Crock-Pot.

barbecue chicken slow cooker
Barbecue chicken in a slow cooker.Rosamar/Shutterstock

One of the benefits of using a slow cooker is starting with a basic protein and jazzing it up.

From Mexican-food-inspired spices to Indian simmer sauces, there are tons of ways to transform shredded-chicken dishes into something show-stopping by adding it to tacos, sandwiches, or salads.

Mac and cheese can also easily be made in a slow cooker.

mac and cheese
Slow cooker mac and cheese.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker

If you want to add some carbs to your game-day menu, look no further than a piping hot pot of macaroni and cheese. Olson's recipe uses cream cheese, milk, sharp cheddar, and white sharp cheddar.

Celebrity chef Martha Stewart's recipe for slow-cooker macaroni and cheese is also easy to make.

"It is important to use pungent cheeses, such as sharp cheddar, mixed with a little Gruyere or pecorino Romano for extra bite, since the white sauce and pasta will absorb a lot of flavor," Stewart writes.

Buffalo-chicken dip is another quick and easy favorite.

buffalo ranch dip
Buffalo-ranch dip.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker

One of the benefits of making a slow-cooker Buffalo-chicken dip — or any other side dish in a slow cooker — is that it can be prepared well ahead of time and reheated when you're ready to eat.

"There are so many different dips that can be made in the slow cooker, you can make Buffalo-chicken dip, bacon-cheeseburger dip, cheesy bean dip, Rotel and Velveeta Dip, and even artichoke dip," Olson said. "I like to serve all these dips with tortilla chips. Can't choose one dip? Make two or more for a variety for your guests."

Queso is a go-to game day food that can easily be made in a Crock-Pot.

queso verde
Queso verde.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker

"I often make a queso verde dip in my slow cooker for game days," Olson told Insider.

Her recipe for queso verde uses white Velveeta cheese, salsa verde, milk, and sour cream.

Chili is another popular recipe to make on game days.

hot chili
Spicy chili.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker

Spicy chili and chipotle turkey chili is another recipe you can leave simmering all day until you're ready to dig in. Paired with some cornbread, you've got a hearty meal that will last until the final whistle blows.

Slow cookers work perfectly to create an impressive — and tasty – nacho bar.

nacho bar
Nacho bar.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker

"I use three slow cookers for a nacho bar, which is a great way to utilize those smaller slow cookers," Olson said. "I use one slow cooker for nacho cheese (store-bought), one for seasoned ground beef, and one for refried beans. I also make a toppings bar that has salsa, sour cream, guac, olives, onions, and tomatoes."

Read the original article on Insider