3 Summer Slow Cooker Recipes That Will Make Your Life Easier

If you're a city-dweller, grilling during the summer is pretty much impossible. Unless you have a friend with a barbecue or you decide to be ambitious and lug all the necessary ingredients to a park. If we're really being honest, we're still working on mastering the kitchen equipment that we actually have access to. So the thought of charring something to perfection on an open flame is a little daunting.

That's okay, though, because we can still cook our favorite summer fare with one of the simplest tools in our kitchen — the slow cooker. Believe it or not, we can set and forget chicken, pulled pork, and even shrimp for an equally delicious result. Then, just pick up some staple sides from the store like watermelon, corn bread, and coleslaw, and we're well on our way to the perfect summertime feast. No actual grill required. In fact, these recipes are so easy you could even prep in the morning and come home to a weeknight dinner that's ready to go. Now all we need is a frozen, warm-weather cocktail.

Ahead, find three no-fail cheater BBQ recipes that you can make all summer long.

Photographed by Sam Kaplan at Sarah Laird & Good Company; Food Styling by Brett Kurzweil at Art Department; Prop Styling by Chloe Daley.
Classic BBQ Chicken
Serves 4

Ingredients
2-3 cups store-bought or homemade BBQ sauce
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

Homemade BBQ Sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup water
3 heaping tsp brown sugar
4 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 1/2 tsp soy sauce
3 heaping tsps smoked paprika (regular is fine if you don’t have smoked)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
Chili flakes
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Instructions
1. To make the sauce: combine all ingredients, except chicken, chili flakes, salt and pepper in a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Whisk thoroughly to combine. Cook on high for 30 minutes.

2. Add salt, pepper, and chili flakes, to taste. Add chicken.

3. If the BBQ sauce doesn’t coat the chicken completely, add another half-cup water. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours.
Photographed by Sam Kaplan at Sarah Laird & Good Company; Food Styling by Brett Kurzweil at Art Department; Prop Styling by Chloe Daley.
Serve with cornbread and watermelon slices.
Photographed by Sam Kaplan at Sarah Laird & Good Company; Food Styling by Brett Kurzweil at Art Department; Prop Styling by Chloe Daley.
Pulled Pork
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
4-6 pounds pork shoulder, bone-in or boneless
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbsps paprika — sweet, hot or smoked

Instructions
1. In a 4-6 quart slow cooker combine the ketchup and vinegar. Pat meat dry, rub with the salt, pepper, paprika and place in the slow cooker.

2. Cover and cook on high for 5-7 hours or on low for 10 hours or until tender. (You’ll know it’s done when the meat is falling apart or off the bone.

3. Drain the liquid. Pull meat apart with forks, removing any bones. Top with BBQ sauce to serve.
Photographed by Sam Kaplan at Sarah Laird & Good Company; Food Styling by Brett Kurzweil at Art Department; Prop Styling by Chloe Daley.
Serve on hamburger buns with extra BBQ sauce, buttered corn, and store-bought coleslaw.
Photographed by Sam Kaplan at Sarah Laird & Good Company; Food Styling by Brett Kurzweil at Art Department; Prop Styling by Chloe Daley.
Louisiana-Style BBQ Shrimp
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 slices
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tsp Louisiana style hot sauce such as Tabasco or Crystal
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
1 pound raw deveined shrimp, (tails on or off), 16 to 20 or 21 to 25 per pound

Instructions
1. Combine the butter, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, Cajun seasoning and lemon juice in the slow cooker. Add the washed but shell-on shrimp and stir to coat.

2. Cook covered for 35-50 minutes on high, just until pink and cooked through.
Photographed by Sam Kaplan at Sarah Laird & Good Company; Food Styling by Brett Kurzweil at Art Department; Prop Styling by Chloe Daley.
Serve with grilled or roasted zucchini slices and potato wedges, with a slice of lemon on the side for that citrusy flair.