Earlier today, I shared my Slow Cooker Chicken Salad recipe with you. Inspired by a conversation I had with a couple of friends yesterday at a party, I decided to hunt down some more slow cooker recipes that work well for summer.

No one likes to heat up the oven or the stovetop when it’s hot outside. Your house gets hotter, your air conditioning kicks up a notch, and your energy usage spikes. Grilling is one answer to keeping your kitchen cool in the summer, but another great option is using the slow cooker. You may call it a Crock Pot, but that’s kind of like calling all bandages Band-Aids. We all do it, but technically it's not correct. Crock Pot is one maker of slow cookers.

Whether you use a slow cooker or a Crock Pot, you’re sure to find a couple of recipes here that you’ll want to make this summer.

Sandwich fillings

  • BBQ Pork for Sandwiches – It doesn’t get easier than three ingredients and a slow cooker. Check out the organic aisle for a BBQ sauce with ingredients you can trust or if you want to put a little extra work into it.
  • Slow Cooker Southern Pulled Pork with Cole Slaw – This is one of my own recipes that I posted on my South Jersey Locavore blog. Instead of BBQ sauce, the shredded pork is topped with cole slaw. This is a favorite summer recipe around my house.
  • Sloppy Chicken Joes – Chicken is substituted for beef in this sloppy recipe with a homemade sauce in which you can control the ingredients. I’d opt for fresh peppers and onions in the summer from the garden or farmers market instead of the frozen ones in the recipe.
From your garden
  • Ratatouille in the Crock Pot – Eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers fresh from the garden (or the farmers market or grocery store) are combined with other traditional ratatouille ingredients and simmered slowly all day.
  • Fresh Tomato Sauce – Four cups of chopped tomatoes right from your garden go into this easy slow cooker recipes.
Side dishes
  • Boston Baked Beans – Baked beans are a great side dish for burgers and dogs. This recipe slow cooks for 10 hours, so start it the night before if you’re having an early afternoon BBQ.
  • Slow-Cooked Collard Greens – This recipe calls for frozen greens, but you can use fresh along with fresh green onion and bell pepper for this Southern side dish.
Main dishes
  • Cantonese Dinner – A sweet and sour pork recipe that kids love and that can be doubled so you can freeze half. Check out the suggestions that the reviewers added to change the recipe up a bit.
  • Melt-in-Your-Mouth Barbequed Ribs – Sure ribs done on the grill are one of summer’s treats, but on a weeknight, there isn’t always time to do it that way. These ribs will be done the minute you walk in from work.
  • Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken – A whole chicken is browned before putting it in the slow cooker then cooked on high for four hours.

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.