Using a slow cooker is a passion for many food lovers as evidenced by the thousands of recipes online, the devoted Pinterest pages and the fact that the brand name Crock-Pot has become synonymous with an entire way of cooking. And the category continues to evolve. Witness the Paleolithic diet trend, which has spawned dozens of slow cooker cookbooks.

The reason for all that attention? Using a slow cooker is quite easy. But if you haven’t tried it before, be sure to read the directions that came with the appliance and check out some of the books and online discussions on the subject. You should also read “A Few Slow Cooker Tips,” which includes suggestions we came up with while creating these recipes.

To find international ingredients, such as harissa, tamarind concentrate, chipotle chile in adobo, hoisin sauce and Chinese five-spice powder, first look in the ethnic foods aisle of your grocery store: You’ll  likely find everything you need there. But if not, these ingredients are available in specialty food stores or online grocers.

Moroccan Turkey and Vegetables Slow Cooker Recipe

Photography by Ashley Callahan

Moroccan Turkey with Vegetables

One of the classic combinations of flavors in Moroccan cooking is green olives and preserved lemons. In this hearty dish, turkey legs are slowly braised in liquid with an aromatic blend of spices and a basketful of vegetables. The sauce is meant to be quite soupy and is delicious over couscous. Moroccan food is full of flavor, but it’s not especially spicy . For an authentic hit of heat, stir in a little harissa, which is Moroccan chile sauce. Click here for the full recipe.

Mexican Short Ribs

Serves 4 to 6

In Mexico, Coca-Cola is often used in braised meat dishes to impart a rich caramel flavor. In these succulent short ribs, the soda is combined with orange juice and traditional Mexican seasonings like oregano, cinnamon and tamarind concentrate. (You can substitute balsamic vinegar for the tamarind concentrate if you prefer.) A smoky chipotle chile in adobo sauce adds a nice touch of heat. Serve as is, over rice, or with salsa and warm tortillas. For the recipe click here.

Coca-Cola Slow Cooker Chinese Pork

Photography by Jay Moye

Chinese Pork

Sweet and tangy Asian flavors permeate this colorful pork shoulder roast that is gently simmered in Coca-Cola, pineapple juice, hoisin sauce and soy sauce until it is so tender it separates it into shreds. With hints of ginger, Chinese five-spice powder and red pepper flakes, this is a succulent main course for a fiesta. You might add baby corn and sugar snap peas as well. Serve over Chinese noodles or steamed rice. For the recipe to make this tangy treat, click here.

Joanna Pruess is an award-winning author, whose articles and recipes have regularly appeared in PBS' online magazine: NextAvenue.orgthe New York Times, the Washington Post, Fine Cooking, Food ArtsSaveurFood & Wine, and the Associated Press syndicate. Her ten cookbooks include the Cast Iron Cookbook, Dos Caminos' Mexican Street Food, and Seduced by Bacon.