I love using my slow cooker as often as I can, making anything from slow cooker breakfasts to large batches of Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions. It’s especially helpful during the holidays for cooking dishes that would traditionally go on the stovetop or in the oven.

The slow cooker helps make the number of dishes you have going at any one time more manageable and it helps get everything to the table at the same time at the right temperature.

Main dishes

  • Slow Cooker Turkey Breast and Gravy – If you’re cooking a large turkey, it probably won’t fit in a slow cooker. If you’re only cooking a turkey breast, however, a slow cooker will do just fine. The liquid from this recipe can be turned into gravy after the breast cooks.
  • Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna – Many families serve lasagna along with turkey on Thanksgiving. This slow cooker version is meatless, so if there are any vegetarians at the dinner, they have a satisfying main dish choice, too.

applesauce largeApplesauce can be made in the slow cooker or on the stove top. (Photo: Marie C Fields/Shutterstock)

Side dishes

  • Applesauce – Use varieties of apples that are naturally sweet and you won’t need to add any sugar to this applesauce that’s so good my kids call it awesomesauce.
  • Slow Cooker Cranberry Chutney – Not only can this be made in the slow cooker, it can be made days ahead of time. In fact, it needs time in the refrigerator to set up. Fresh cranberries, raisins, apples, onions and more are in this classic side dish.
  • Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole – You cook the sweet potatoes right in the slow cooker, drain the water, mash them in the crock and then continue on to create the side dish that’s so yummy it could be dessert.
  • Slow Cooker Creamy Mashed Potatoes – Getting everything to the table at once is tricky on Thanksgiving. Making mashed potatoes a few hours ahead of time and heating them in the slow cooker will make the last-minute step of mashing the potatoes unnecessary.
  • Slow Cooker Fresh Garlic Green Beans – This ingenious recipe cooks the beans in an oven safe dish that will fit inside the slow cooker. When it’s done cooking, take the dish out and serve directly from it.
  • Slow Cooker Pumpkin Rice Pudding – I would never suggest not having the traditional pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner, but perhaps this could be in addition to the pumpkin pie.
  • Slow Cooker Spiced Poached Pears – This would be a wonderful dessert if you’re having a small group for the holiday. The pears cook in wine and orange juice for several hours and when they’re done the juices are reduced on the stove top, poured over the cooked pears, and dessert is done.
  • Walnut Stuffed Apples – This is even easier than the pears above because there’s no need to reduce the sauce. Just spoon it over the cooked apples and serve.
Do you turn to your slow cooker to help make Thanksgiving dinner more manageable? What do you cook in it?

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

10 Thanksgiving slow cooker recipes
Free up some space in the oven with these slow cooker recipes for Thanksgiving.