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Slow-Cooker Tips and Recipes for Parties and Potlucks

Created January 10, 2017
Whether you’re hosting a casual get-together with friends or a festive celebration with family, your slow cooker is the secret to easy recipes.
Slow Cooker Pulled Jerk Pork Sandwiches

In search of party food for your upcoming gathering? Whether you’re hosting a casual get-together with friends or a festive celebration with family, your slow cooker is the secret to easy recipes. 

It’s a timesaving, low-tech appliance that’s ideal for simple cooking. Use your slow cooker to prepare part of the menu ahead of time, so you’ll have plenty of time to get ready for your guests. 

Party Planning Pointers 

  • Let your slow cooker work its magic while you prepare other dishes; arrange plates, napkins and silverware; or do last-minute cleaning or decorating. 
  • When serving sandwiches, place the basket of buns or bread within easy reach of the slow cooker. 
  • Using more than one slow cooker? Avoid cord confusion by grouping all of them together near an outlet. 
  • If you need to keep foods, such as a dip, warm during the party, transfer the hot food to your slow cooker and set on low heat. 
  • Boost the color of slow cooker side dishes and appetizers with simple finishing touches such as chopped fresh parsley, basil or other herbs, bell pepper, green onion, zucchini or carrot. Chopped green onions complement our recipe for nachos, while a mix of chopped green, yellow and red bell peppers looks pretty on our hot and saucy cocktail meatballs. 
  • Arrange pineapple slices around a tray of sweet-and-sour chicken or Hawaiian pizza. 
  • Serve sandwiches on hearty whole-grain buns, breads or crusty rolls. 
  • Spoon a dollop of sour cream, guacamole or salsa on slow cooker chilis and soups. Or sprinkle on broken colored tortilla chips, corn chips, seasoned croutons or nuts. Try our slow cooker recipes for chipotle black bean dip or cheddar cheese and broccoli soup. 

Tips For Traveling With Your Slow Cooker 

  • Keep the lid in place by stretching rubber bands around the handles and across the lid. 
  • Wrap the slow cooker in a towel or newspaper to insulate it, then place it in a box to keep it steady. Or, if you transport it often, consider purchasing an insulated tote. 
  • Once you arrive at your party, plug in the slow cooker and set on low. Serve food within 2 hours of toting it. 
  • Carry along an extension cord just in case there are no nearby outlets. 

Food Safety Tips 

Slow cooking is a safe cooking method, but it’s also a good idea to follow these guidelines to make sure food stays safe. 


  • Refrigerate perishable ingredients that you’ve prepared ahead of time (such as meat and vegetables) in separate containers to avoid cross-contamination. 
  • Defrost meat or poultry before adding it to the slow cooker. 
  • Heat or microwave leftovers until thoroughly heated before placing in a preheated slow cooker to keep hot. 
  • Refrigerate leftovers in covered shallow containers within 2 hours after cooking is complete. 


  • Put raw ground meat in your slow cooker. It must be cooked first. 
  • Slow cook whole chickens or meat loaf because they’d cook too slowly and remain in the harmful bacteria zone too long. 
  • Fully or partially cook meat and then refrigerate it before adding it to the slow cooker. 
  • Use your slow cooker to reheat leftovers straight from the fridge. 

Party Menu Ideas 

Party planning should be easy and relaxed with the help of a slow cooker and purchased food to round out the menu. 

Sports Game Watching Party: 
Slow Cooker Pulled Jerk Pork Sandwiches
Deli coleslaw
Assorted snack mixes 
Stadium Brownies or Touchdown Brownies
Assorted beverages 

Casual Lunch: 
Slow Cooker Turkey, Bacon and Avocado Wraps
Cut-up fresh fruit
Assorted pastries from the bakery
Coffee, tea, orange juice 

Winter Blast Party: 
Slow Cooker Red and White Turkey Chili
Mixed Greens Salad
Cornbread Muffins 
Chocolate-Caramel Bars
Mexican Coffee 

Dessert and Board Game Party: 
Slow Cooker Caramel Rice Pudding 
Cut-up fresh fruit 
Chocolate Hazelnut Corners
Slow Cooker Spiced Cranberry-Apple Cider