There's nothing quite as comforting as a hearty crockpot meal during the long winter months. From savory soups to main course dishes to lighter, vegetarian fare, we've rounded up some of the best slow cooker recipe ideas the winter season has to offer.

1. Chili

A warm bowl of chili — with just the right amount of spice — makes the perfect end to a "chilly" day. Try Crockpot Taco Chili or Slow Cooker Chicken Chili for a tasty twist on your favorite traditional recipe, and serve leftovers on top of spaghetti for another night's quick and hearty winter meal.

2. Pot Roast

Pot roast is a classic cold weather meal, and one that lends itself well to slow cooking. Sear a well-seasoned chuck roast and toss it in your crockpot with beef broth, dark beer, and assorted veggies, or kick things up a notch with this Espresso Braised Beef which pairs with mashed sweet potatoes.

3. Roast Chicken

OK, you can't techincally roast a chicken in a slow cooker, but it is a great alternative to buying a rotisserie chicken at the store. Serve your chicken with your family's favorite sides, use the meat in tacos or chicken salad, and be sure to keep the bones because you can make chicken stock in your slow cooker too.

4. Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is one of my favorite winter meals, but I hate standing over the stove whisking away for what seems like an eternity to make the filling. Little did I know that you can actually cook the filling — chicken breasts and all — in the crockpot, and then all you need to do is fill your pie crusts and bake to perfection.

5. Meaty Italian Spaghetti Sauce

Sure, you can open a jar of Ragu, but the aroma of a meaty Italian spaghetti sauce, simmered to perfection, should convince you that the real thing is worth the extra effort — especially since the crockpot makes it so simple to pull together.

Add a side of garlic bread and you have a hearty winter crowd-pleaser that's easy enough for a weeknight meal and fancy enough to serve to guests.

6. Baked Potato Soup

There's something about a thick and creamy baked potato soup that makes it the perfect cold weather meal. Top it liberally with melted cheese and crisp bacon and the kids will devour it too.

7. Macaroni and Cheese

Homemade macaroni and cheese is comfort food at its finest. Skip the stovetop and let your slow cooker do all the work instead.

8. Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast for dinner is a favorite at my house, and preparing it in the slow cooker means I get to completely avoid the six o'clock scramble. This sausage breakfast casserole pairs well with fresh fruit, and makes enough that we always have leftovers for the morning.

9. Lentils

Lentils are an inexpensive source of both protein and nutrition, and for many, a staple in vegetarian cooking. Expand your family's horizons with Crockpot Red Lentil Curry or play it safe with family-friendly Crockpot Vegetable Lentil Soup.

What's your favorite winter meal to prepare in the slow cooker?