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Slow-Cooker Milk-Can Supper

Here’s a slow-cooked version of an old campfire classic. Pioneers and cowboys would cook this kind of meal over a milk can on an open fire, letting the flavors and textures blend together beautifully. —Nick Iverson, Denver, Colorado
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. Cook: 6 hours
  • Makes
    8 servings


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 8 uncooked bratwurst links
  • 2 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 small head cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup light beer
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth


  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; add sausages and cook until browned, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
  • Place potatoes in single layer on the bottom of a 6-qt. slow cooker. Top with cabbage, onions, carrots and parsnips. Add thyme, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add sausages; pour beer and chicken broth over top. Cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, 6-8 hours. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Test Kitchen tips
  • Parsnips are a white root vegetable with a creamy texture when cooked. Look for them in the produce section, near the carrots, in your grocery store.
  • Nutrition Facts
    1 serving: 457 calories, 27g fat (9g saturated fat), 63mg cholesterol, 967mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 4g fiber), 15g protein.

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    Average Rating:
    • Suzanne
      Nov 16, 2020

      I have made this recipe for many years now. I got my recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. My recipe is very close to this one. Only I use Smoked Sausage instead of Brats and you can use red or russet potatoes and I use sweet onions and a couple of green peppers I slice up and put on top of the sausage about the last half hour of cooking. My original recipe also called for those small cobs of corn, which I omitted, but you can use frozen sweet corn kernels if you want. It’s a great recipe and a favorite in my family! ????

    • joannewells
      Nov 16, 2020

      It would be helpful if you were to state what you consider a serving. I haven't made this yet, don't have all thays needed.

    • Theresa1260
      Nov 16, 2020

      My family has made this for years. We add corn on tbe cob instead of parsnips, and polish sausage is the meat used. It was originally cooked in layers in a milk can over a campfire , very low and slow cooking. It is also called Hobo Supper. No matter what you call it it smells and tastes delicious.

    • shereeder
      Nov 16, 2020

      To IGM: there is no milk in this recipe because it's done in a MILK CAN. That is a vessel that milk is poured into by some farmers. Milk cans were a way to transport and store milk and when emptied, I'm sure it was the most convenient container to do a large batch for a group of people.

    • rwippel
      Sep 28, 2020

      This is a great slow cooker meal. I do think the dish would have benefited from seasoning salt as

    • IGM
      Jun 14, 2020

      Where is the milk in this recipe?

    • MelodieMac
      Feb 10, 2020

      The only criticism I have is, they need to tell those who may not know that parsnips can taste like varnish smells if not FRESH. The way to tell that is they are to be very firm. If at all bendable do not buy! They are old. But fresh ones are delicious! I cook mine on low, 7 hours and it was perfect, and very delicious. I will definitely make it again.

    • Sue Zappa
      Nov 16, 2019

      Did anyone actually try this recipe as I'd like to know what you thought of it?? The two "reviews" here aren't reviews because neither person tried it! The ingredients sound like something my family would really enjoy, but I'd like to hear from people who've made it, any changes they made, etc.! Thank you! TOH, perhaps you need to have a separate "Comments/Questions" Section so people can reserve the "Reviews" section for real reviews! All of us have questions at times

    • Rahnee64
      Sep 16, 2019

      Patrick, if you happen to read this, I fully understand what you mean. But with the ingredients listed and the amount of time stated, I would say cook on low. I hope this helps.

    • Patrick
      Aug 1, 2019

      Interesting recipe. The only problem I have with this recipe is that the author did not mention whether the Slow Cooker should be on LOW or HIGH. This is a big disappointment and makes the recipe incomplete.