Whether you’re hosting the festivities, or carefully balancing your side dishes in the car on the way, for those who like to entertain, holiday dinners (think Christmas, Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving) require effort. For holidays during which we eat and celebrate, cooking up the perfect dish can be a little stressful, especially when you’re short on time or cooking know-how. Even if your sweet potato casserole looks exactly like your mom’s, who’s to say the marshmallows will still hold their form and not turn into a layer of fluff on the way to the table?
Fortunately, for those who either lack skills or need the convenience, there are plenty of Crock-Pot recipes you can whip up for your holiday meal. While it may feel like cheating, don’t stress. Whether you’re tasked with bringing a classic mashed potato or cranberry sauce, or would like to show some flair with a mushroom mac and cheese or butternut squash soup, the answer is probably in your slow cooker.
Instead of using your oven this season, try these 12 slow cooker Thanksgiving recipes.
Mushroom Mac and Cheese
The Recipe: Mushroom Mac and Cheese
Why We Love It: While mac and cheese might be a comfort food staple, this recipe from The Modern Proper throws in mushrooms, too. The creamy gruyere, sharp cheddar, and parmesan cheese complement the mushrooms. We love it because it feels like mac and cheese for adults: It's sophisticated in all the right ways.
Pro Tip: To ensure nutty mushroom flavor permeates the entire pot, "We've flipped the caps, filled them with butter and placed them along the top of the dish in the last hour of cooking," writes The Modern Proper team. "The butter melts, the drippings soak into that cheesy goodness."
Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce
Why We Love It: This easy recipe from Making Thyme for Health only requires three ingredients! In a slow cooker, combine cranberries, orange juice, and maple syrup. Cook on high for three or four hours. We're suckers for a super simple recipe like this one.
Pro Tip: "You can also cook it up to two days in advance if you want to free up time on Thanksgiving day," suggests Sarah, of Making Thyme for Health.
Keto Beef Stew
The Recipe: Keto Beef Stew
Why We Love It: Fall is soup season, and the holidays are a great time to break out the bowls. This beef potato stew recipe from Root + Revel is full of healthy vegetables (carrots, green beans, potatoes, wild mushrooms) and hearty, grass-fed beef. With only 15 minutes of prep involved, you’ll basically be rewarded for not trying as hard.
Pro Tip: Cook on low for eight hours, or on high for four hours.
Butternut Squash Soup
The Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup
Why We Love It: Maple roasted chickpeas give Two Peas & Their Pod's butternut squash slow cooker recipe added crunch. "Chickpeas are the perfect garnish for the creamy butternut squash soup since it has a touch of maple syrup," writes Maria, of Two Peas & Their Pod. The combination of butternut squash, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup (in addition to other ingredients), give this dish a delightfully sweet taste we can't resist.
Pro Tip: Cook on low setting for 6 hours, or on high for 3–4 hours.
Crock-Pot Mashed Potatoes
The Recipe: Crock-Pot Mashed Potatoes
Why We Love It: Salt & Lavender's mashed potato recipe is no-boil, no-drain, so it's practically no work at all. Like we said, simple is better, and this meal is no exception.
Pro Tip: "I recommend either using Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes," writes Natasha, of Salt & Lavender. "You can use red potatoes; just be sure not to over-mash them or they may end up gluey."
Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
The Recipe: Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
Why We Love It: While we tend to throw caution to the wind when it comes to holiday nutrition (or lack thereof), this gluten-free apple crisp from Root + Revel is a healthier alternative to traditional apple pie. While the apples deliver several vitamins and nutrients, the crisp brings healthy fats and fiber. After a multi-course holiday dinner, we’ll take all the healthy food we can get.
Pro Tip: In addition to being gluten-free, this dessert is "refined sugar free, vegetarian, dairy free and even Paleo friendly, with one little swap," writes Kate Kordsmeier, of Root + Revel.
Slow Cooker Apple Cider
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Apple Cider
Why We Love It: A seasonal spread calls for a seasonal beverage to match, like Orchids + Sweet Tea's apple cider, made in a slow cooker. This sweet sip may give your usual hot chocolate a run for its money.
Pro Tip: Garnish with an orange slice and cinnamon stick.
If you plan on saving the cider for another day, let it cool to room temperature before sticking it in the refrigerator.
5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
The Recipe: 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
Why We Love It: Foodie Crush's slow cooker creamed corn recipe is as comforting as it is super simple to make. All you need is frozen corn, half and half, salt, sugar, cream cheese, and butter. Yes, please!
Pro Tip: Cook on your slow cooker's high setting for an hour and a half, or on low for three to four hours. Garnish with fresh chives as an option.
Slow Cooker Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
Why We Love It: Cornbread gives Melanie Makes's slow cooker stuffing recipe a sweet hint to complement sausage, onions, and sage. We love this dish because it's completely different than any other stuffing we've ever had, but it still offers the same comfort of traditional stuffing.
Pro Tip: "Gently stir to combine as to not completely break up all of the cornbread cubes," advises Melanie, of Melanie Makes.
Butternut Squash Slow Cooker Stuffing (Vegan)
The Recipe: Butternut Squash Slow Cooker Stuffing
Why We Love It: For a vegan stuffing option that's savory and a little sweet, make Sweet Potato Soul's butternut squash stuffing. It's so good that even the non-vegetarians will take a helping or two.
Pro Tip: Let stuffing cool and firm slightly before serving.
Slow Cooker Loaded Vegan Veggie Soup
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Loaded Vegan Veggie Soup
Why We Love It: A hearty bowl of soup is a great vessel to pack in a serving of veggies to balance out the rest of a holiday spread. Orchids + Sweet Tea's slow cooker recipe is so good that you'll want to enjoy it the next day too.
Pro Tip: Cook for two to three hours, stirring occasionally. "If preferred, you can always substitute kale with spinach, collard greens, or bok choy," writes Shanika, of Orchids + Sweet Tea.
Slow Cooker Stuffing With Mushrooms
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Stuffing With Mushrooms
Why We Love It: This easy stuffing recipe from How Sweet Eats is chockfull of meaty cremini mushrooms infused with aromatics like rosemary, thyme, and sage. It smells as good as it tastes, so prepare for your whole kitchen to become your new favorite room in the house.
Pro Tip: "If you’re using fresh bread, cut it into cubes and heat your oven to 250 degrees F," writes How Sweet Eats. "Place the bread on the baking sheet (or two) and toast it until slightly golden and crunchy, about 1 hour."