It’s hard enough to make healthy, hearty stews and chilis on the stovetop, where you have the benefit of browning and reduction to develop big, bold flavors, not to mention complete control of temperature to ensure that everything is cooked properly. But in the slow cooker, achieving this is even harder.
Sure, the moist, gentle heat of the slow cooker helps cook lean proteins without much additional fat, but it took some test kitchen creativity to develop slow-cooker stews and chilis that were both healthy and worthy of the dinner table. Here is what we have learned. (For more information, see our guide on chicken and vegetable broths and their sodium contents.)