Classic dishes are comprised of those perfect plates of food that manage to weigh heavily in both their cultural and personal significance. While some classics are simply undeniable, there is definitely some room for interpretation when it comes to selecting these milestone meals. Your idea of a classic dish, for instance, might be different than the classic dinners that your parents enjoyed growing up, and your kids will probably be raving about classic dinners that haven’t even been invented yet!
One thing we know is for certain: real classics are the ones that have stood the test of time. We have certainly been through a lot of great food eras—and generations throughout the years have been left smiling over some truly unforgettable bites. Use our list below to slow cook your way through the decades with these timeless American classics.
1950s - OLD FASHIONED MEATLOAF
First popularized during the great depression in the 1930s, meatloaf made its comeback in the middle of the 20th century and has held its place as an American classic ever since. Not only is meatloaf laden with American pride and nostalgia, it also happens to be one of the most budget-friendly meals for the whole family—offering an easy way to bulk up your meaty dinner portions with the addition simple breadcrumbs, oats, or other starches.
This slow cooker recipe is quick and easy to prepare (just 15 mins tops), while still managing to come out packed with flavor!
1960s - CHICKEN WITH WINE SAUCE (COQ AU VIN)
The 1960s was the era in which Julia Child first brought French cuisine to mainstream America—thereby revolutionizing America's approach to cooking. While we witnessed a new cultural interest in hearty beef stews, quivering meat jellies and creamy chicken dinners; it was the spectacular dish known as Coq au Vin, (or chicken with wine) that really stole our hearts with its seductive flavors and surprising simplicity.
This slow cooker 'coq au vin' recipe is sure to conjure up some warming food memories.
Get the recipe here.
1970s - SLOW COOKER PINEAPPLE CHICKEN
The 1970s was a significant era for the slow cooker community—as our most beloved kitchen appliance (you guessed it) made its debut in 1971! This decade also saw the rise in fascination for all things Hawaiian, which is one of the reasons why pineapples are very much associated with this time in American history.
Some pineapple recipes can feel pretty outdated— (when was the last time you dived into a pineapple turnover?) –but we think that this fabulous slow cooker pineapple chicken and rice is enough to elicit a whole new age of obsession!
1980s - SLOPPY JOES
Although their origin can be traced back to as early as the 1930s, Sloppy Joes started to gain more popularity than ever throughout the 1980s. In their most basic form, traditional Sloppy Joes are sandwiches comprised of minced beef and tomato sauce, almost always served on a hamburger bun with a side of fries and potato chips. But these classic sandwiches have definitely withstood the test of time, and still hold a prominent place both on our dinner tables and in our hearts.
This fantastic recipe for homemade slow cooker Sloppy Joes is one to take note of. You can find many of the base ingredients in your kitchen pantry, making this a cheap, hassle-free dinner, perfect for a low-key weekday meal.
1990s - STEAK FAJITAS
While the 90s didn’t play host to their debut, it was in this decade that fajitas began showing up more and more on fast food menus all across the country—giving way to a whole new era of Mexican-American cuisine.
This brilliant steak fajita recipe shows you how to make these beautiful and tangy steak fajitas, requiring just 5 minutes of prep time only 5 ingredients!
2000s - HOMEMADE MAC AND CHEESE
When has mac and cheese not been considered a classic? While we all hold that familiar blue box near and dear to our hearts, sometimes there really is no beating a creamy homemade mac and cheese dinner. The 2000s saw a rise in popularity for this classic family meal—and there was no way that this timeless dish wasn't going to make it onto our ‘classics’ list.
Be sure to check out the following recipe -- It's proven in our test kitchen, and the result is so creamy, you'll be surprised it came from a slow cooker.
2010s - SLOW COOKER APPLE CRISP
How does one define a decade that we still have yet to see the end of? Simple—we have decided to tip our hats to one of the most beloved and everlasting American desserts: the apple pie. We have managed to bring this iconic pastry to the 21st century with this recipe for apple crisp.
We just could not help but pay our respects to one of the most traditional America treats—and what better way to finish up than with an outstanding dessert? Classic ending.