Most of know that slow cookers are great for soups, stews, chili and roasts, but they can do so much more. Take a look at this list of appetizers, main dishes, desserts and beverages that can all be made in a slow cooker. With the holidays coming up, cooking some foods in the slow cooker will come in handy because it frees up oven and burner space for other items you’ll need to prepare.

  1. Individual Spiced Pear Bread Puddings – These serving-sized desserts are built in one-cup mason jars and the mason jars are put into the slow cooker to cook. Bonus – you can keep them warm in the slow cooker and pull them out hot and ready to serve for dessert.
  2. Apple Butter Yeast Rolls – As one commenter on this recipe said, “Whoa! You can make rolls in a slow cooker?” Yes, you can.
  3. Applesauce – Cut up apples, peels, core and all, cook down in a slow cooker to make naturally sweet applesauce, or as my boys call it when I made it this way, awesomesauce.
  4. Lasagna – I hear there are some families that serve both turkey and lasagna for Christmas. This recipe could solve the problem of how to manage cooking them both at the same time.
  5. Spinach Artichoke Dip – This dip is easy to throw together a few hours before entertaining and then you can forget about it. It cooks while you’re preparing everything else.
  6. Caramelized Onions – I shared this method for caramelizing a bunch of onions at once in the slow cooker with you last year. My best tip, plug the slow cooker in on an outside porch if possible. It works really well, but it also stinks up the house. Don't know what to do with all those onions? I also did a round up of five holiday appetizers that use caramelized onions.
  7. Slow Cooker Sour Cream Cheese Cake – The steam that stays in the slow cooker the entire baking time creates a creamy, silky cheesecake.
  8. Scarlet Wine Punch – This warm punch both cooks and is served from the slow cooker. The warm setting keeps it just the right temperature and you don’t have to worry about keeping it on the stove unattended.
  9. Hot Buttered Rum – Another warm drink that stays warm in the slow cooker. The rum gets added after everything else cooks so the alcohol doesn’t cook away.
  10. Natural Room Scents – If you need to freshen the air up a bit in your home, try one of these combinations of natural ingredients that are heated in an open slow cooker. There’s one combination that uses pine needles, bay leaves and a few other ingredients that is perfect for the holiday season.

Do you have a holiday dish that you cook in your slow cooker?

Other slow cooker recipes on MNN:

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

10 surprising slow cooker holiday dishes
Individual desserts, rolls, warm punch, cheese cake and more can be made in your slow cooker this holiday season, freeing up your stove for other dishes — and