Cooking for a Thanksgiving crowd can be so intimidating, even if you're a seasoned hostess. Your turkey may be the star of the show, but the meal isn't complete without an array of delicious side dishes. When your oven is occupied by your bird for the most day, finding the time and space to whip up those sides can get a little hectic. That's where a slow cooker can be a huge help. There are so many classic Thanksgiving sides to make in your Crock-Pot that will have your guests salivating.
I myself am a devoted Crock-Pot user, largely because so many slow cooker recipes have extremely simple directions: dump everything in, and hit the ON switch. Despite my lack of culinary skills, even I can manage that. If you're not a slow cooker devotee like me, you might be surprised by the huge variety of food you can make in the countertop appliance. Everything from bread to veggies to sides of meats can go in it, saving you the trouble of having to make a cooking schedule to get everything heated up in the oven.
Here are some yummy side dishes you can set-and-forget in your Crock-Pot on Thanksgiving day.
1. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a must for Thanksgiving dinner, but they're a decent amount of work. Mom Foodie's recipe calls for red potatoes with the skin on, so there's no need to peel the spuds (which is the absolute worst)
2. Candied Sweet Potatoes
Candied sweet potatoes with lots of marshmallows on top is my personal Thanksgiving favorite. This recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking makes them simple.
3. Cinnamon Butternut Squash
This Crock-Pot butternut squash recipe from The Magical Slowcooker is sweet and buttery. You can save even more time by buying your butternut squash pre-chopped.
4. Butternut Squash Macaroni And Cheese
Macaroni and cheese gets a healthy twist (sort of) with the addition of butternut squash in this recipe from Healthy Slow Cooking.
There's no tedious chopping of bread in this slow cooker stuffing recipe from One Sweet Appetite. It calls for store brought bread cubes, and your guests won't know the difference.
6. Green Beans
Fresh or frozen green beans will work for this slow cooker recipe from Six Sisters Stuff. Either one will add some healthy and delicious greens to your spread.
7. Glazed Carrots
Cooking up these Crock-Pot carrots from Who Needs a Cape couldn't be easier. Besides carrots, you only need two other ingredients: butter and brown sugar.
8. Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
You don't need a second oven to cook a show-stopping ham in addition to your turkey. You can whip up a delicious glazed ham in the slow cooker with this recipe from Number 2 Pencil.
9. Dinner Rolls
These slow cooker dinner rolls from I Heart Eating are ready in about an hour and a half in your Crock-Pot and won't hog any precious oven space.
10. Potatoes Au Gratin
While mashed potatoes seems to be the most popular spud dish this time of year, au gratin potatoes can be equally delish and even more impressive. Chelsea's Messy Apron shows you how to achieve this cheesy potato goodness in the Crock-Pot.
11. Glazed Root Vegetables
Why pick just one yummy fall veggie when you can have a whole bunch? Family Style Food's recipe for slow cooker root vegetables finishes them off with an apple cider glaze.
12. Cranberry Sauce
As easy as it is to open up a can of cranberry sauce and plop it on the table, it's really not that much more effort to make some fresh with this Crock-Pot recipe from The Frugal Girls, and will taste way better than the jelly stuff.
13. Mashed Sweet Potato
If marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes aren't your thing, this slow cooker recipe from Creme de La Crumb might be more your speed. The pecan garnish it calls for makes it look extra fancy.
14. Corn Bread
This yummy Crock-Pot corn bread recipe from This Old Gal pulls double duty. It can also be prepared in an Instant Pot.
15. Cheesy Corn
Everything is better with cheese, in my opinion, so this slow cooker corn recipe from Plain Chicken looks amazing.
16. Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup, Cranberries, & Feta
Cooking Brussels sprouts in a slow cooker not only saves valuable oven space but ensures that the dish will keep warm. Well Plated says this brussels sprouts recipe with maple syrup, cranberries, and feta recipe gives you a tasty caramelized flavor that’s usually only ever made possible from an oven. The maple syrup and feta bring together contrasting sweet and savory flavors, making for a more complex flavor profile.
17. Crock-Pot Spaghetti Squash
Even picky eaters will likely consume this cost-effective dish that requires only a touch of brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter for flavor. You can switch up the seasoning in Well Plated’s Crock-Pot spaghetti squash recipe depending on what flavors your family prefers. Variations to the recipe include turkey bolognese or lentil meatballs.
18. Crock-Pot Butternut Squash Soup
This gluten-free and vegan slow cooker butternut squash soup from Gimme Some Oven is perfect for family members who may have dietary restrictions because the recipe calls for vegetable stock and coconut milk instead of animal-based stock or heavy cream. Pre-cut butternut squash, either fresh or frozen, will save you some prep time the day of. The blog also offers other variations of the recipe if you’re looking to customize it.
19. Crock-Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup
Even though you can make this dish in an oven or on a grill, you might as well stick to using the slow cooker to save some valuable oven space. Family Fresh Meals’ Crock-Pot stuffed pepper soup recipe removes the step of stuffing peppers individually and allows you to just combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker — you’ll get all the same flavors and it won’t take you as long to prep. The blog recommends using soy crumbles for those who would like to make this soup vegetarian.
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