Ah, the mighty Crock-Pot (or whichever slow cooker brand you prefer). Maker of delicious breakfasts, paleo stews, savory meals that will last all week, and crowd-pleasing cocktails. Is there anything it can’t do?
This list of incredibly simple yet tasty desserts proves the answer is no. From lava cakes and bread pudding to lemon bars and cobblers, these recipes use lots of nutrient-dense ingredients and take less than 20 minutes to prep. And most are lighter or more nutritious than what you might normally be noshing on to satisfy your sweet tooth.
There are a few exceptions, but at first glance, you’ll understand why leaving them off this list was out of the question.
1. Baked apples
This recipe is so simple — just five ingredients, including optional (or is it?) ice cream. Use a homemade or store-bought granola that is high in fiber and protein and low in added sugars. Feel free to spice it up with some cinnamon and cloves.
Bonus: You can eat these baked apples for breakfast as well!
2. Chai spiced poached pears
Sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, this dessert is packed with fruit, flavor, and nutrition. Plus, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and paleo!
3. Winter fruit compote
This may have been created to go over oatmeal in the morning, but why not scoop it over ice cream for dessert?
We love that you can opt to use less sugar without sacrificing taste. You’ll not only keep it a bit healthier but also get a touch more tartness from the dried fruit.
4. Classic bananas Foster
If you have extra bananas lying around the house, this dessert is a great way to use them. It also doesn’t hurt that this classic takes just 10 minutes to prep. Serve it over ice cream or a slice of pound cake.
You can leave out the rum, but we love the extra dimension it adds to the flavor.
5. Slow cooker applesauce
Use up your bag o’ leftover apples in this easy applesauce that will make your house smell like cinnamon spice magic for hours. Plus, apple nutrition rocks, especially with the skin. You can make this in a slow cooker OR an Instant Pot.
6. Pumpkin pecan bread pudding
A delicious way to get rid of day-old bread, this slow cooker combo will make your whole house smell like pumpkin spice (i.e., dreamy). (Tip: If you don’t have old bread, just cut fresh bread into cubes and toss ’em in the oven for a few minutes to dry out a bit.)
7. Chocolate fondue
Talk about quick: This chocolaty goodness takes 5 minutes to whip up and throw in the slow cooker! It may not be the most nutritious dessert on the list, but it’s an incredibly scrumptious way to enjoy seasonal fruit.
Plus, it’s a perfect recipe for large get-togethers. Grab some strawberries and bananas and get dipping!
8. Orange and almond steamed pudding with toffee sauce
This pudding is slightly more time-intensive than the rest, but the end result is absolutely stunning (just look at that picture) and oh-so-good. The mixture of orange and ginger delivers a delightful zing in every bite.
If you can’t find golden caster sugar, white works too! (Crunched for time? Just omit the orange slices.)
9. Chocolate and Nutella bread pudding
Who doesn’t love Nutella? If you’re watching calories, fear not — this recipe keeps the hazelnut chocolate spread to a minimum without sacrificing flavor. Put this indulgence on the calendar: Valentine’s Day and your birthday are both fair game.
10. Cranberry walnut bread pudding with caramel sauce
When it comes to bread pudding, this recipe is on the healthier side, especially if you use whole-wheat bread. The maple syrup, walnuts, and dried cranberries provide a nice wintry flavor that will make you want to curl up in front of a fire.
11. Pumpkin pie cake
We love how simple this recipe is, and cooking it in a Crock-Pot makes it extra moist and delicious. Just be sure to line the slow cooker so the cake is easy to remove.
Don’t forget to use pure pumpkin (which is chock-full of nutrients and vitamins like vitamin A, potassium, and fiber) rather than premade pumpkin pie filling.
12. Molten lava cake
This cake is every chocolate lover’s dream — and well worth the 2 hours it takes to whip up in your slow cooker. Calling all gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate fiends: This recipe can be adapted just for you.
13. Hot fudge peanut butter pudding cake
All the things we love most — peanut butter, chocolate, and a Crock-Pot — in one perfect recipe. Sublimely decadent and simple to make, this dessert is the stuff of sweet dreams.
14. Raspberry cake
If you’re not a big chocolate fan (it happens, people) but still want to dig into a gooey, lava-textured cake, this recipe is for you. Use fresh raspberries and top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
15. Apple pudding cake
When it comes to apple desserts, this recipe takes the cake. The blend of apples and citrus is incredible and adds a nice twist to the traditional apple dish. The recipe feeds 10, so it’s ideal for a medium-size dinner party.
16. Paleo chocolate chip cookie bars
These gluten-free, paleo cookies take just 5 minutes to prep and are incredibly tasty.
You’ll start wondering if there’s any reason to ever make regular cookies again when you can just throw these in the slow cooker and go about finishing some chores (or that latest Netflix show you’re watching).
17. Lemon cookie bars
Have you ever made lemon bars in a Crock-Pot? You’ll never go back. These are pretty rich, thanks to the butter content, but the recipe makes 12 bars.
Solidify your friendships by giving some away, or store them in the freezer and pull one out when you want a summery treat.
18. Quinoa energy bars
Sure, you can have them for breakfast or a snack, but don’t deny that these bars — packed with apples, almond butter, and maple syrup, oh my — are just as able to satisfy sweet cravings.
19. Apple fritter bread
This bread has the mouthwatering apple-cinnamon flavor of the doughnut it’s named for. But with honey as its sweetener and whole-wheat flour and flaxseed (which is full of protein and fiber) in the mix, it’s about as nutritious as a doughnut-like dessert can get.
This lower-carb recipe keeps gingerbread on the sweet and spicy side with cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and more.
21. Banana bread
Our pandemic-induced habit of making banana bread just got way easier. Toss these simple ingredients together, throw it all in a slow cooker, and 4 hours later you’ll have a delicious treat.
Plus, it’s a great way to use up overripe bananas and add a little extra potassium and fiber to your diet.
22. Lemon poppy seed bread
Equally tasty on a winter or summer day, this lemon poppy seed bread has the perfect pop of citrus (and is a welcome shake-up from other breads you’ve been making all season). Opt for Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to add some extra protein.
23. Chocolate chip zucchini bread
This zucchini bread is so fast and easy to mix up that you’ll make it all the time. Plus, it helps fill you with a little green goodness while you’re enjoying dessert. If you prefer a little less sugar, you can leave the chocolate chips out. It’ll still taste like heaven.