Your slow cooker helps you get dinner on the table during busy weeks, prepare make-ahead meals (and desserts!), stretch your food budget, and eat more healthfully. What I'm trying to say is that your slow cooker is your number-one ally in the kitchen. Which is why it should come as no surprise that it'll make Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving a little easier. Here's how.
1. It is the foolproof solution for juicy turkey breast.
If your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving feast is on the smaller side, say six people or less, skip roasting a whole bird in favor of slow-cooking a turkey breast instead. Not only is this nearly hands-off method easy as can be, but it also treats you to the juiciest, most succulent turkey breast you've ever tasted.
2. It frees up space on the stovetop.
When cooking Thanksgiving dinner, one thing is always certain: Space on the stovetop is at a serious premium. The solution? Use your slow cooker to make any number of sides, from the cranberry sauce to the stuffing to the mashed potatoes.
Our Favorite Thanksgiving Slow Cooker Recipes
3. It keeps side dishes warm.
Perhaps the toughest part of Thanksgiving dinner is the timing and balancing act of getting the turkey and all the sides to the table at the right time so it's all warm. The answer to this conundrum is to treat your slow cooker as a warming device. It doesn't matter if you cooked a dish in the slow cooker or not — load it in, cover it, and set it to the warm setting while you prepare the rest of the meal. This also proves especially handy when dinner is a buffet or potluck.
Bonus: You can even divide your slow cooker using foil and a slow cooker liner, to keep two different dishes warm. This technique works really well for mashed potatoes, stuffing, and other dishes that need to be covered while they're kept warm.
Divide your slow cooker: Tip Test: Does This DIY Slow Cooker Divider Actually Work?
4. It makes it easy to serve warm drinks to a crowd.
Hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, no matter what the size, is a lot of work. Take one more thing off your plate by letting the slow cooker manage the drinks for your guests. Mix up a batch of mulled cider (boozy or not), keep the slow cooker on warm throughout the evening, and let guests help themselves to a warm, festive drink.
Get a recipe: How To Make Mulled Cider in the Slow Cooker
5. It's a set-it-and-forget-it solution for easier turkey stock.
I would argue that the ultimate prize of any Thanksgiving feast is transforming the remnants of the turkey into rich, golden stock. But after cooking (and eating!) such a feast, the very last thing I want to do is tend to a simmering pot of stock. Which is why the only way I now make turkey stock is in my slow cooker! Prep a few extra veggies while making dinner, or take your bag of vegetable scraps and peelings from the freezer, dump it all into your slow cooker with the turkey bones and a good deal of water, and then let it do its thing straight on until morning — no stirring, skimming, or tending necessary.
Make slow cooker stock: How To Make Stock in the Slow Cooker