10 Gradual Cooker Recipes You Can Prep in 20 Minutes or Much less

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Few things are better than a warm, healthy home-cooked meal or snack. Unfortunately, the cooking process can be so long and complex that many of us use take-away and pre-cooked meals instead.

Sound familiar? It’s time to re-familiarize yourself with the slow cooker (sometimes called a crock-pot), a device that slowly heats food over a long period of time.

While long cook times may not sound ideal, slow cookers actually make the cooking process pretty easy. “One of the main benefits of using a slow cooker is how little thought it takes,” says Alix Turoff, RDN, a New York City-based nutrition trainer. “You can combine all of your ingredients at once, set for a couple of hours, and come back to a ready-made meal,” she says.

Slow cookers are a particularly good choice for meat lovers. Why? Because the long, slow cooking process traps moisture. This means that meat – especially leaner cuts – doesn’t dry out like other cooking methods, Turoff says.

Slow cookers provide an easy way to cook meat and calming foods like soup and chilli, but are also a convenient option for snacks and desserts.

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To prove how practical and versatile slow cookers really are, we’ve put together 10 recipes for meals, snacks and desserts. You can set them all up in 20 minutes or less and then let the device do the job while you start your day.