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We Made And Ate The Most Popular Slow Cooker Dinners On Pinterest

Here's which ones delivered on their promises.

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Craving a new slow cooker recipe? You probably know that Pinterest is a go-to goldmine.

But because there are thousands and thousands of different options, we asked our friends at Pinterest to share the slow cooker recipes that had been pinned ~more than any others~.

We picked seven of those recipes to actually cook at home in our own tiny apartment kitchens. Here was our lineup:

And our rules:

• The budget had to be reasonable — no $200 meal plans here, thank you.

• Prep and cook time had to be quick and easy.

• At least one of the recipes had to be kid-friendly.

• At least one of the recipes had to be vegetarian or vegan, or both.

Were these recipes actually worthy of their bazillion repins and honored spot on the Popular tab? We decided to find out!

Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

Who tried it: Marie, a food writer and editor, and her boyfriend.

This recipe made a ton of food and fed both my boyfriend (who's become obsessed with this dish) and me for three whole days. We had it it on its own a couple of times, but it really needed a grain to truly shine — we liked it with brown rice and with quinoa.You don't really need any toppings, but I'm a sucker for cheddar, sour cream, and cilantro.

Cooking was easy and straightforward, but the one thing that surprised me was the complete absence of salt in any of the steps. When I tasted the food after a few hours in the slow cooker the lack of salt was jarring, and since neither of us eat a low-sodium diet, I salted to taste and enjoyed it much more. If you make this, just remember to season everything from the start.

2. Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork, a kid-pleasing four-ingredient recipe that definitely doesn't taste like soda.

Heather Spohr / BuzzFeed

Who tried it: Mike, the BuzzFeed Parents editor, his wife, and their two kids (7 and 3).

When I told my kids we were going to be cooking with Dr. Pepper they were very excited. I heard stuff like, “Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?” and “Can we cook all of our meals with Dr. Pepper?” I suggested we could try making Dr. Pepper broccoli, but they didn’t seem to like that idea very much.

As our food cooked, my kids kept asking, “Do you think it’s going to taste like Dr. Pepper?” To be honest, I was pretty curious too. So did it? Well, when the meat was ready I tried a piece and the answer was… not really. It was, however, tender, and when I added the barbecue sauce it made for a really tasty (albeit not totally Dr. Pepper-flavored) pulled pork sandwich. For extra sweetness, we served it on Hawaiian sandwich rolls. My kids didn’t seem to mind it only “kinda” tasted like Dr. Pepper, especially since I let them drink a small cup of the good stuff with the meal.

Overall, this turned out to be a really tasty, affordable way to cook a meal for a family (ingredients cost us about $16, although we ate fruit we had at home for our side — if you buy coleslaw, like the recipe suggests, you’ll need to add a few more dollars to the cost). Prep time took only a few minutes, which means you can definitely throw it in the slow cooker in the morning before dropping the kids off to school.

My daughter liked it so much she brought it up at breakfast the next day, asking if we could make it again. My 3-year-old son liked it too — so much, in fact, that he had to be cut from the photos on account of all the barbecue sauce he got on his face and shirt!

3. Super Easy Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna, a filling pasta dish that will satisfy vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Sabrina Majeed / BuzzFeed

Who tried it: Sabrina and her boyfriend, neither of whom are vegetarian.

I never would've thought to cook lasagna this way — putting the noodles in raw, and letting them cook low and slow in the tomato sauce — but it really works! My boyfriend and I, who are both voracious meat eaters, were so surprised at how full we felt. I had plenty of leftovers to heat up throughout the week, and the longer the lasagna sat, the better it held its shape, just like the original recipe said it would.

I was pleased at how little prep work this meal took. All I had to do was roughly chop up the kale, which took all of literally one minute. After layering in the ingredients, which was kind of fun, I just let the slow cooker do its thing for the next three hours, and then let it rest for one hour before serving.

I will definitely make this recipe again, and experiment with different pasta sauces, like a meat sauce or a spicier sauce. I also wouldn't go out of my way to buy parmesan cheese (I don't usually keep it in my fridge) next time. It was the most expensive ingredient, and only used as a garnish for the already cheesy pasta.

4. Forgotten Once Jambalaya, an easy take on a Cajun classic that tastes better than it looks.

Who tried it: Michelle, a food writer, and her roommate.

Look, I know this stew is not much to look at — but this recipe made me a slow cooker convert. It's filled with chicken, sausage, rice, and green vegetables like celery and bell peppers that I've literally never liked until this very moment.

The hardest part of this recipe was shopping for the ingredients. Like, first of all, what is a celery rib? (It's a single stalk of celery. Thanks, Google.) Also, I couldn't for the life of me find "Rotel tomatoes with chiles, undrained" at my local grocery stores, so I opted for diced tomatoes. They worked, but next time I might add some jalapeño slices to make up for the missing chile flavor.

When prepping ingredients, I made the awful mistake of throwing in whole garlic cloves in the slow cooker. The recipe didn't say anything about chopping them up, so I thought it was a weird slow cooker strategy of letting the cloves slowly disintegrate into the stew. It's not. You're supposed to mince them first, and I swear I am a food writer.

I fed this to my super picky roommate who has been ordering takeout from the same Thai spot for the last two years, and she loved it. She even asked for seconds. I have a huge (there's got to be at least 6 bowlfuls in there) pot of leftovers waiting for me in the fridge, and I'll admit I've been thinking about digging into it since I left home this morning.

5. Pineapple Salsa Chicken, a quick-to-assemble dinner generous with the veggies and protein.

Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

Who tried it: Natalie, a lifestyle writer and editor, and her two twentysomething friends.

Dump dinners, y'all: If you're not making them already, start today. I can't get over the simplicity of of throwing dinner together in less than 5 minutes in the morning — and then only having the slow cooker and bowls to wash at night.

Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

I did stray away from the original recipe just a little bit. My New York grocery store didn't carry crushed pineapple, so I used chunks instead (I meant to crush them before adding them, whoops). I also only used 2 chicken breasts, about half a pound less than the original recipe. That, plus the specific salsas I used, is probably why after cooking for 5 hours on high, the meal had enough liquid to pass for chicken tortilla soup — if I had added strips of corn tortilla. Taking the lid off for about 45 minutes quickly brought it to taco-filling-texture, though.

The final verdict? My friends and I agreed that it could have been a little less sweet, but that was our only complaint. It's packed with vegetables and protein, makes more than enough to freeze for leftovers, and is incredibly easy to modify with vegetables and salsas that you like best. Personally, I'll skip the fruit next time, and instead add some pickled jalapeños, a fresh bell pepper, and a packet of taco seasoning to make it taste more like the Tex Mex I grew up with.

6. Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew, a secretly vegan soup that will keep you warm on a cold day, or just in cold air-conditioning.

Who tried it: Emily, a DIY intern, and her roommate.

I was pretty impressed by how easy it was to make something so yummy, although it doesn't qualify as a "dump dinner" — there is lots of chopping and measuring to do ahead of time, and you do have to sauté some of veggies. But that's all in the service of layers of flavor. The only thing I would've done differently is serve it with some pearled couscous or naan to make it a bit more filling, and get a palate-cleansing break from the flavors.

My roommate came home and started shoveling spoonfuls right out of the pot and, through a mouth full of curry, said, "I feel like I ordered this at a restaurant!" Usually her manners are better when we leave the apartment, but maybe all that cayenne pepper and coconut milk got in the way.

7. Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup, a simple but slow-cooker-ready play on chicken noodle soup.

Who tried it: Melissa, the editor of BuzzFeed Food, and her husband.

Ever since becoming a new mom a few months ago, I’ve started using my slow cooker at least once a week — because easy drop-and-go dinners have become a total lifesaver. But since I tend to stick to my favorite dozen or so dishes, I was excited to add a new recipe to the mix.

This tortellini soup is about as easy as it gets: Prep takes less than 10 minutes, and the pasta goes in just before serving, so it doesn't overcook. I did make a few modifications along the way, though: At the suggestion of commenters, I added a bouillon cube to amp up the broth. I also realized I didn't have any Italian seasoning, so I DIY'ed a mix of oregano, thyme, and rosemary instead.

The end result is simple and pretty light. (Almost too light: the broth still needed a generous hit of salt, pepper, and Parmesan to round things out.) But it was also filling, fairly healthy, affordable — and it basically made itself. We also had enough for leftovers the next night. So, all-in-all? A win.

Do you have a favorite go-to slow cooker dinner? Tell us about it!

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