17 Essential Slow-Cooker Recipes for an Easier Thanksgiving

17 Essential Slow-Cooker Recipes for an Easier Thanksgiving

Kelli Foster
Nov 7, 2016

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is no small feat, as enjoyable as it may be. There is a way to make it easier, though, and it comes in the form of your slow cooker. When you're vying for precious space in the oven, wishing you had another burner on the stovetop (or another pair of hands), or you just want to keep food warm, this appliance is your number-one ally. From the main course to dessert, these are the slow-cooker recipes that make cooking Thanksgiving dinner easier.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

1. How To Make Slow-Cooker Caponata

This mostly hands-off Sicilian eggplant relish made with celery, onion, and tomatoes lets the slow cooker tackle the appetizer so you can focus on the main course. Set out crusty bread and ricotta so guests can assemble crostini themselves.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

2. How To Make Caramelized Onions in a Slow Cooker

Caramelized onions are a Thanksgiving essential. Mix these rich, slow-cooked onions into stuffing, swirl them into the gravy, or use them to fancy up the green bean casserole. While caramelized onions are quite easy to make on the stovetop, they require more time and attention than we can spare around Thanksgiving. Make them in the slow cooker and they'll be the condiment of choice this year.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

3. How To Make Thanksgiving Stuffing in a Slow Cooker

Breaking out the slow cooker makes this version of classic stuffing even easier, and you won't be vying for precious oven space. This is the way to go if you like tender, softer stuffings.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

4. Cheesy Panade with Swiss Chard, Beans & Sausage

This alternative to classic stuffing, filled with sausage, melted cheese, and beans, is best prepped in the slow cooker since it has quite a lengthy cook time. Start it the night before to get a head start on the meal while you sleep.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

5. How To Make Mashed Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

Think of your slow cooker and mashed potatoes as BFF. Not only does it take some of the work out of this must-have side, but it's also the perfect way to keep potatoes warm until they hit the table.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

6. How To Bake a Potato in the Slow Cooker

Whether you're baking up Russets or sweet potatoes, there is no easier way to make it happen than with the slow cooker. Serve the cooked baked potatoes with a big pat of butter, or mash into a classic meringue-topped wonder.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

7. How To Make Creamed Corn in the Slow Cooker

Making this hands-off crowd-pleaser in the slow cooker lets you keep the stovetop free for other sides that require more attention.

(Image credit: Diana Yen)

8. Slow-Cooker Corn Pudding

This is the best recipe to go with when you finally decide to pull that summer corn from the freezer. When oven and stovetop space are in short supply, lean on the slow cooker to bring this bright side to the table.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

9. How To Cook Collard Greens in the Slow Cooker

Hearty collards benefit from a long, slow, and gentle braise to bring them to the point of melty and tender. Tuck them away in the slow cooker early in the morning and station it in a far corner of the counter to keep your workspaces free for other tasks.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

10. Collard Greens Stew with Chorizo & Garlic

If you want to riff on classic collard greens, go with this spicy version bathed in a broth flavored with lots of garlic and spicy chorizo. Just like the classic recipe, these collards are best when treated to a long, slow braise, and there's no place better for that than the slow cooker.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

11. How To Make Mac and Cheese in the Slow Cooker

If mac and cheese isn't a part of your Thanksgiving spread, let this be the year you add it. Making it in the slow cooker is a nice choice if you're short on oven space.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

12. How To Cook a Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Skipping the big turkey in favor of a whole chicken this Thanksgiving? With minimal work and no extra ingredients, cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker and watch how easily the meat falls off the bones.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

13. How To Make Bread in the Slow Cooker

If you want to bring fresh, homemade bread to the table this Thanksgiving, your slow cooker is the easiest way to make it happen.

(Image credit: Maria Midoes)

14. How To Make Mulled Cider in the Slow Cooker

Not only will your slow cooker mull this non-alcoholic cider and keep it warm all day, but it will also make your house smell amazing. Guest will love to serve themselves while enjoying their first or even second slice of pumpkin pie.

(Image credit: Diana Yen)

15. Slow-Cooker Spiked Mulled Cider

Make a boozy version of the classic mulled cider and let the slow cooker man the drinks station so you can manage dinner.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

16. Slow-Cooker Apple Crisp

If you're in need of a fuss-free dessert, trade the apple pie for a much easier slow-cooker apple crisp. Keep the ice cream handy because the only thing better than making it in the slow cooker is serving it a la mode.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

17. How To Make a Sausage and Egg Breakfast Casserole in the Slow Cooker

We're including this in our collection of essential recipes because breakfast — whether it's what you make the day of or the day after — is often a forgotten part of the Thanksgiving day plan. Make it in the slow cooker so you're covered with a delicious meal that can feed a house full of guests.

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