Consider Making These 4 Meats In The Slow Cooker For Your Next Barbecue

Instead of standing in front of a hot grill during your next backyard barbecue, why not let a slow cooker cook the meat for you? Sure, grilling delivers delicious smoky flavor, but using a slow cooker is an easy way to cook meat at any time of year. After you add the ingredients, you can essentially leave it unattended for the 4 to 8 hours or so it takes to cook (although some people like to flip the meat halfway through). It can also easily be transported to a friend's or family member's house, and you can keep it plugged in to keep the food warm.

Not only is a slow cooker great for a "set it and forget it" cooking method, but cooking at a low temperature for an extended time is also the best way to tenderize meat — fatty, tougher meats cook well in the moist heat of the slow cooker. (If you miss the crust or sear that the grill delivers, you can always brown the meat before putting it in the slow cooker.) So if you'd rather spend your next barbecue relaxing instead of having to keep a constant watch on the grill — because nobody likes dry, overcooked meat — plan ahead and try preparing one of these cookout favorites in the slow cooker: sausages, wings, barbecue ribs, or even brisket. You might even find that the slow cooker recipe becomes your new go-to favorite!


Brats are the quintessential meat everyone is dying for by summertime — especially in the Midwest. They're also great for feeding larger groups and are perfect for making in the slow cooker. A variation of a Milwaukee favorite, slow cooker beer brats are easy to make and will keep your party guests coming back for more. To make this flavorful dish from recipe developer Michelle McGlinn, you'll need beer — ideally a German-style beer, but any lager or ale will do — pork brats, sauerkraut (depending on your preference), gold potatoes, yellow onions, bay leaves, garlic, mustard seed, and caraway seed.

Start by browning your brats to give them a nice sear before they go into the slow cooker. This step is optional but adds flavor and color to the otherwise dull-looking brats; you can sear them in a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Next, load the slow cooker with your ingredients — place the brats on the vegetables and pour the beer on top, making sure the brats are fully submerged. Finally, put the lid on and set it to low, which will give you a cooking time of about 8 hours.


Chicken wings are another party dish that's perfect for the slow cooker. Not only will the flavor be amazing, but you'll also avoid the messiness of trying to cook wings on the grill. No more worrying about burning sauces or the meat drying out — slow cooking is one of the best ways to deliver tender, falling-off-the-bone wings that everyone loves. Of course, you want the chicken to melt in your mouth and not while it's cooking in the slow cooker, so to prevent slow cooker chicken wings from falling apart, you can simply pre-broil the wings in the oven slightly. This will also create a nice, crispy browning that adds color and flavor to your chicken wings.

Otherwise, the process is simple — start by coating them in a dry rub of seasonings such as paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. After putting your wings in the slow cooker, you can pour whatever sauce suits your taste buds (buffalo, barbecue, parmesan garlic butter, etc.) over them and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or low for 4 to 5 hours.

Barbecue ribs

Speaking of meat falling off the bone, pork ribs are another option that benefits from the slow, low-heat cooking of the slow cooker. For tender, juicy ribs that melt in your mouth, begin by rubbing the pork ribs (baby back for the most tender cut) with a mixture of spices such as brown sugar, paprika, onion or garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Next, lay half the rack in the bottom of the slow cooker and cover it with barbecue sauce. Layer the next rack on top and cover with more sauce.

Alternatively, if the ribs don't fit in your slow cooker this way, you can cut them into sections — this will also make it easier to serve guests straight from the slow cooker. Heat the ribs on low for 6 to 7 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. If you want to add a slight crunch to the top layer of your ribs, you can cook them on a baking sheet in the oven for just a few minutes after they're done in the slow cooker. This step is completely optional, but it does add great flavor and texture to the meat if you're missing that crispiness from the grill.


The thought of preparing brisket in the slow cooker might be intimidating, but it's a tough cut of meat — even the fattier cut, which is what you want for barbecue brisket — which makes it ideal for slow cooking. A Southern favorite, barbecue brisket tastes great sliced and served on its own, or it can be put on bread for a tasty brisket sandwich. (Don't forget your sides, such as fries, coleslaw, baked beans, and potato salads.) Perhaps the best part of throwing it in the slow cooker? You won't have to spend hours carefully tending to the heat levels of your smoker or grill.

To make a delicious slow cooker barbecue brisket, you'll need a 4-pound brisket, olive oil, fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke — a flavoring agent that will give your brisket a smoky taste without having to actually smoke it. Begin by searing the brisket in a large skillet on medium-high heat (approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side) and seasoning with salt and pepper. After transferring the brisket to the slow cooker, add the remaining ingredients to the skillet, stir, then pour the mixture over the brisket. Slow cook on high for about 6 hours.