Kitchn Love Letters

This Tiny Appliance Is an Unsung Holiday Hero — And I’m Using Mine All Winter Long

published Dec 8, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh

I’ll be honest: My slow cooker is no longer a frequently-reached-for item. Between the acquisition of my beloved air fryer and constantly being at home over the last two years, I just haven’t had much need for a “set it and forget it” cooking device. These days, my wee little Crock-Pot tends to languish within the recesses of a deep kitchen drawer — but I have big plans to dust if off this week. 

Why? Because the holidays are upon us yet again. While I won’t be hosting any huge feasts, it’s hard to argue with the convenience of a device that is basically purpose-built for seasonal delights like mulled cider, apple butter, and butternut squash soup. Never mind the slow cooker’s ability to gently coax nearly any cut of meat into a deliciously tender dish without taking up space in the oven for six to eight hours — a year-round perk to be sure, but especially useful when cooking for an occasion. (Yes, you’ll likely need a larger slow cooker if you’re looking for one to cook a big roast! But you can make smaller cuts in this little guy.)

Credit: Summer Rylander

Although my husband and I usually travel during major holidays, I am the type of person who regularly hosts friends for festive gatherings when I can. During the winter months, I greet my guests with a mug of something jovial and encourage them to refresh their drink as needed. Perhaps a ladle of Glühwein kept warm by my trusty little Crock-Pot? We sip, we laugh, we reminisce about the year’s absurdities. “I have a Crock-Pot, too, but I haven’t used it in years,” someone almost always remarks, gazing upon my red vessel with fond admiration as they murmur something about pulling theirs out of storage.

So, this season, let us agree to lift our disused slow cookers out of their dusty corners and put these workhorses back in their rightful place: On the countertop, quietly bubbling away, demanding nothing of us aside from a good wash when all is said and done. Now is the slow cooker’s time to shine.