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Ready for your new favourite time saving dinner shortcut? Meet these Slow Cooker Dump Bags.

These are recipes that can be prepped in minutes and then frozen, uncooked, until you need them.

Collage of dump bag recipe photos.

You know I am a HUGE fan of slow cooker recipes that can be just popped straight into the slow cooker with NO browning first, but what if we prepped these in advance too for convenience that’s on another level?

Yes it’s possible! Here are some of my favourite recipes – made into… DUMP BAGS!

What is a ‘dump bag’?

I know, I know. The name is not my favourite word 😬 BUT it does describe what these do on the tin.

A dump bag is where you prepare all (or most) of the ingredients for a slow cooker meal, then:

  • Put it into a freezer container. 
  • Label and freeze until you want to cook it.
  • Defrost thoroughly, dump in the slow cooker (get it?) and cook according to the usual instructions.

That’s it. Dinner is done!

What’s the benefit of meal prepping like this?

⭐️ Use days when you do have a tiny bit of spare time to help you on days that you don’t.

⭐️ Helps with bulk-buying ingredients (meat, for example, is often cheaper in bulk).

⭐️ Doubling up your prep means double dinners, in less than double the time. (I usually make at least x2 of each recipe.)

Do you have to defrost the food before cooking it in the slow cooker?

The short answer is yes. It is always recommended for dishes containing meat.

There’s a really useful article of tips here in the Guardian: Defrost and Dump.

  1. Allow the bags to defrost totally before adding to the slow cooker.
  2. Be sure to defrost them in the fridge. This will be slower but is the food safety recommendation.
  3. The time they take to defrost will depend a lot on the shape of the container you are using to freeze. If you can freeze in thin bags (see my notes re: bags further down) they will defrost much quicker.
  4. As a rule, my reusable bags take over 24 hours to defrost in the fridge. So if I want it for dinner on Tuesday night, I’d need to take it out of the freezer on Sunday night to be sure, and then cook it in the slow cooker on Tuesday morning. So about 36 hours.

    Again, these timings will depend highly on what shape of container you use. Flatter bags will defrost MUCH quicker.

Which bags or containers are the best to use?

OK, I’m going to share the re-usable bags I’ve used recently because so many people asked BUT… I do NOT love them.

Out of 8, one split on me after a couple of weeks and also as they are SO wide they take a very long time to defrost and are tricky to fit into the freezer. 

Without doubt, for convenience, single-use plastic bags are the best option. You can lay them flat in the freezer and they freeze in a thin shape so they defrost quickly. But who wants to be buying single-use plastic these days? 

Honestly, I don’t have an answer right now, so I’m sharing the options below so you can decide for yourself:

UPDATE (20 Feb 2023)
I’ve been using the single use plastic bags linked below and recycling them a few times, washing them out, and they are still going strong! Would recommend.

➡️ Bag Holder (SO useful for easy, mess free filling!)

This is the bag holder that you may have seen me using in recent videos. I LOVE this. It’s so so helpful if you’re planning on making Dump Bags, or freezing cooked leftovers in bags.

➡️ 8 Pack of Reusable Bags

Again, please read my disclaimer above for these, but until I find a better alternative, I will keep using them.

➡️ Premium Quality Freezer Labels

These labels are 100% the best I have found. They are the only ones I’ve used that don’t fall off in the freezer. Just make sure that the bag is totally dry before you stick them on.

➡️ Premium 4.55l Plastic Bags Heavy Duty

If I hadn’t invested in the sturdy bags above, these are the bags I would be buying and then laying flat in the freezer.

They say they are reusable too. So perhaps they are an alternative and not quite single use? Please let me know if anyone tests them!

UPDATE (20 Feb 2023)

I have tried these recently and am a fan! They can be squashed very flat so:

  • They lay neatly in the freezer
  • They freeze quickly
  • Most importantly, they defrost quickly

➡️ Morphy Richards Sear and Stew 3.5l Slow Cooker

This is the slow cooker I always use and I cannot recommend enough.

It’s so light and easy to handle, the pot can also be used on the hob AND it’s great value. 

Some final tips

⭐️ Before you set aside time to prepare your dump bags, make sure you have freezer space!

⭐️ Have bags and labels ready.

⭐️ If you need a shopping list, you can adjust the recipe ingredients needed for portion sizes on every recipe here:

Screenshot to show how to adjust the recipe card on my site for more servings.

The Dump Bag Recipes

A big slow cooker pot filled with cooked Spanish-style chicken and chorizo stew, with olives and peppers.
5 from 93 votes

Slow Cooker Chicken and Chorizo Stew

This Chicken and Chorizo Stew is the ideal midweek meal. Throw everything into the Slow Cooker in the morning, and a Spanish style casserole is waiting when you get home.
View Recipe
Bit slow cooker pan full of creamy vegetable soup.
5 from 49 votes

Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

As far as soup recipes go, this one is as easy as it is delicious. It's also hearty and healthy, creamy and low cost. Bonus!
To prepare this as a dump bag:
Put all of the peeled and chopped vegetables in a bag and freeze. Add water and stock and finish as per the recipe.
It's worth noting, as this is vegetarian, you DO NOT need to defrost before adding to your slow cooker – win!
Click here for the full recipe.
The end product of a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.
5 from 183 votes

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

This is a classic fakeaway.
To prepare this as a dump bag:
Add all ingredients apart from the garam masala, mango chutney and crème fraîche. Defrost and cook as per the rest of the instructions.
Note: You may find that some water come out of this as it defrosts. Be sure to defrost the bag in a big bowl in the fridge and add the contents of the bag INCLUDING THE WATER to the slow cooker. Give everything a good mix to recombine as it cooks.
Click here for the full recipe
Slow cooker Chilli Con Carne topped with cheese and chillis, without the lid on.
5 from 164 votes

Slow Cooker Chilli Con Carne

This Slow Cooker Chilli allows us to make this homemade favourite easily and without needing to brown the meat first.
How to prepare this as a dump bag:
Add all the ingredients apart from the chocolate, kidney beans and green pepper to the bag. Defrost and cook as per the rest of the instructions, adding the additional ingredients.
Click here for the full recipe
A slow cooker pan filled with a delicious Honey Garlic Chicken sauce, with spring onions sprinkled on top.
5 from 326 votes

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

This recipe cooks up a sticky, Asian-style sauce and tender meat.
To prepare this as a dump bag:
Add all ingredients apart from the cornflour to the bag. Defrost and cook as per instructions.
Click here for the full recipe
Sweet potato and peanut butter vegan stew in a slow cooker, garnished with peanuts and parsley.
4.99 from 136 votes

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Peanut Butter Stew

This Sweet Potato & Peanut Butter Vegan Stew is comforting, creamy and totally delicious.
To prepare this as a dump bag:
Add all ingredients to the bag. Defrost and cook as per instructions.
Click here for the full recipe
Beef curry in a slow cooker.
4.95 from 504 votes

Slow Cooker Beef Curry

This Slow Cooker Beef Curry is mixed up in just 5 minutes. A tasty ‘fakeaway’, light and healthy.
To prepare this as a dump bag:
Add all ingredients apart from the spinach, mango chutney and garam masala to the bag. Defrost and cook as per the rest of the instructions.
Click here for the full recipe
4.94 from 751 votes

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

This healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Curry is SO incredibly easy. No browning, no preparation. Just leave it to bubble away.
To prepare this as a dump bag:
Add all ingredients apart from the Garam Masala to the bag. Defrost and cook as per instructions.
Click here for the full recipe
Bolognese with spaghetti in the slow cooker.
5 from 223 votes

Slow Cooker Bolognese

This Slow Cooker Bolognese recipe is so easy, no browning needed. Perfect to top spaghetti or use in lasagne.
To prepare this as a dump bag:
Add all ingredients apart from the Worcester sauce and basil to the bag. Defrost and cook as per the rest of the instructions.
Click here for the full recipe
Close up of a pan filled with slow cooked beef goulash.
5 from 44 votes

Beef Goulash {Slow Cooker or Oven Recipe}

Simple to prep ahead of time, this Beef Goulash is rich, hearty and comforting – perfect for an easy midweek meal for the whole family.
View Recipe
Easy slow cooker vegan and vegetarian curry recipe
5 from 23 votes

Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry {SO Easy!}

This super easy, nutrient rich and flavour packed Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry takes just a few minutes to prepare and you have a delicious vegan dish a few hours later that’s perfect for the whole family.
View Recipe

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

new cookbook!

Featuring 100 delicious recipes that can be cooked in one pot, you can open any page in this book and find something that will give you not only a meal that the whole family will eat and enjoy, but also one that makes your life a little simpler in the process.

More Recipes

Sarah Rossi founder of and author of 'What's for Dinner?' books.


Hi, I'm Sarah. I help busy people decide 'What's for Dinner?' Find hundreds of recipes here, and also in my bestselling recipe book. Hope my recipes make your life easier ❤️

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  1. I am new to this, even to freezing and I don’t like cooking in a slow cooker. I like to slow cook in the oven or on the stove top. I like the idea of the dump bag freezing. I would like to buy a cook book on this method. Can you tell me where I can buy one. thank you. Ann Chamberlain

  2. Don’t know if you’ve found an alternative bag yet, but if not, look at Stasher bags. They are expensive, but I got a small one as a free sample and I love it. Dishwasher safe and come in all sorts of sizes, I fully intend to buy myself a few full sets when I win the lottery 😀

  3. I’m wondering if these could be even more amazing in an electric pressure cooker, seeing as you can skip the defrosting stage with those. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Louise, I haven’t tested them, but let me know if you do. I have an instant pot so maybe I’ll try them in there and report back?