When you think of making a Crock Pot © / slow cooker appetizer for the holiday, the usual default is some kind of meatball in sauce. And while Sweet n’ Sour, Barbecue or Swedish Meatballs are great, there are so many other delicious recipes and ideas that are also perfectly suited for a slow cooker.
Perhaps the second most popular appetizer idea for a slow cooker is a hot dip of some kind, spinach and artichoke being the go-to choice for many. When it comes to this classic choice, I often glam mine up with some additional ingredients like broccoli florettes, chopped roasted garlic cloves, and occasionally, some lightly smoked cheese like a smoked cheddar or gouda. I’m never surprised when some of my guests practically make a meal of it.
Before I share a few new ideas for you to try, let me offer a couple of tips.
1. Most recipes that are made entirely in a slow cooker (and not where the device is used solely as a warmer) require multiple heat settings, from very hot to barely warm. The larger the range of heat settings you have on your Crock Pot, the more successful these recipes will be.
2. Choose a pot that will allow the finished recipe to fill it at least two thirds to three quarters full. The recipes cook more evenly when there is a good amount of product in the pot.
3. While slow cookers are indeed that, many recipes require occasional stirring, especially during their initial assembly. Be mindful of that.
Before I go on to some actual recipes, there are some great slow cooker appetizers that only require you to open a prepared product and add cheese and/or sour cream to make it into a delicious, meltly, gooey dip for toast rounds, crackers or cubed bread. Here are 2 easy ideas:
Take 1 pint of either Nino’s Firehouse Sirloin Beef or White Bean & Chicken Chili, and add ½ lb of Shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar Cheese, ½ cup of sour cream and a slash of beer to make a fabulous chili dip.
Likewise, a cup of shredded cheese and 1/4 cup of cream cheese added to 2 lbs of Nino’s Pulled BBQ Pork makes a great topping for crackers or even a mini-bun sandwich!
Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Makes 2 Cups
Want to try something different—one the ladies especially love? Lettuce wraps are a very popular (and healthy) appetizer. You can use either Iceberg or Boston Bibb Lettuce.
Raw, Boneless Chicken Breast, Finely Chopped
Peanut or Vegetable Oil
Water Chestnuts, Drained and Chopped
Medium/Large White Mushrooms, Chopped
Shittake Mushrooms, Remove & Discard Stem, Then Chop
Green Onion, Chopped
Fresh Garlic, Finely Chopped
Teriyaki Sauce (Soy Vey brand if available)
Dark Brown Sugar
Rice Wine Vinegar
Liquid Smoke, Hickory
1 Head Iceberg Lettuce
- In preheated slow cooker on HIGH setting, cook chopped raw chicken in peanut oil until fully cooked.
- Add all remaining ingredients, and cook on medium for 1 hour, uncovered, until most of the excess liquid has reduced. Stir every 15 minutes.
- Cut core from iceberg lettuce, and then cut head in half through the core. Separate leaves into cups and stack.
- Serve approximately ¼ cup of chicken lettuce wrap mixture in a lettuce leaf.
Spicy Crock Pot Pecans Makes about 6 cups:
Nuts are a VERY popular party snack, especially when they are spiced up a bit. Try this delicious recipe. It’s made in a slow cooker and can be returned to a slow cooker (set on very low heat) to serve.
Salted Butter, Cut in Pieces
Light Brown Sugar
- Place cut-up butter in slow cooker; heat, uncovered, on HIGH until melted, about 15 minutes. Add pecans and Worcestershire sauce and stir to coat.
- Cover and cook on HIGH 30 minutes. Uncover and cook on HIGH 2 1/2 hours longer, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the cooked pecans from the pot and place, while still hot, into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the seasonings and toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks.
Hoisin ‘n Honey Chicken Wings
1 ½ Dozen
Fresh Ginger, Minced or Grated
- Sesame Seeds, Toasted
- Sliced Green Onions
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking pan with foil. Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer in prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Drain off fat.
- In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine hoisin sauce, honey, ginger, sesame oil, and garlic. Add chicken pieces, stirring to coat with sauce.
- Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
- To serve, sprinkle wings with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve immediately or keep warm, covered and on warm setting or low-heat setting for up to 2 hours.
My last recipe is one that uses one of Nino’s tasty Rotisserie Chickens, which makes this recipe very simple to make.
Chicken Enchilada Crock Pot Dip with Tortilla Chips: Serves about 8 to 10 persons
Rotisserie Chicken, Meat Pulled
2 – 10 ounce cans
Red Enchilada Sauce
Monterey Jack / Cheddar Cheese (Shredded)
Green Onions, Cut ¼” on Bias
Black Beans, Drained
Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
Sweet Onion, Chopped
Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
Nino’s Tortilla Chips
- Tear pulled chicken into 1” pieces and place in a Crock Pot set on medium-low heat.
- Sauté green peppers and onions in 1 TBSP vegetable oil until soft, and add to the chicken.
- Add all remaining ingredients, except tortilla chips, and cook 1 hour.
- Serve with tortilla chips.