If you’re hosting a holiday get-together, things can get overwhelming pretty quickly. No matter whether you’re a seasoned expert or this is your first go at a big Thanksgiving meal, getting things to turn out exactly how you planned can be a struggle. Ease some of those woes by bringing in some help in the most convenient of ways.
Don’t have enough time? Can’t stand it when all of those timers bing in unison? Let a handy slow cooker help save the day. Try out these recipes that are guaranteed to help you nail your dinner (and relax a bit, too).
We’ve seen our fair share of turkey mishaps on Thanksgiving Day—from being undercooked (read: still frozen) to being charred. Avoid these holiday fails by playing it safe and using a slow cooker this year.
Perfect for those hesitant in the kitchen, as well as those with small stoves that simply can’t fit a full turkey, this easy hack will ensure you get the tastiest bird possible. Follow along with these tips from The Little Kitchen, and then get to serving those hungry guests.
Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal
A day of indulging in all your favorite comfort foods calls for something at least mildly nutritious to balance it out. Enter: this recipe for steel cut oats. Jessica Gavin masterfully teaches us how to tie in the flavors of the season in a nutrient-heavy way. Top with as much fresh fruit as possible for an easy brekkie that’s both healthy and delicious.
Apple and Carrot Soup
For a crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving starter, you can’t go wrong with a decadent soup. This creamy apple and carrot soup by Foxes Loves Lemons is topped with homemade Za’atar croutons and a dollop of yogurt for a dish that’s both texturally and visually stunning.
Being that this soup cooks anywhere from four to eight hours, it’s a great one to have simmering in the background as your guests arrive. This way, it’s fresh and hot as soon as you serve it, and the aromatic dish will make your home smell amazing while people filter in.
Would you bake your show-stopping pie in a Crock-Pot? Blogger The Cookie Rookie says you should, making a strong case for the slightly unorthodox method with this gooey slow cooker pecan pie. It takes about three hours but is evidently super easy to make. Serve with a massive scoop of vanilla ice cream, and no one will be the wiser as to how your pie came to be.
While the turkey might be the star of the show, the sides are the dishes we’re always obsessed with the most. A classic that you can’t forget? Mashed potatoes, of course.
Achieve the perfect whipped, creamy consistency by using a slow cooker for this comfort food favorite. With few ingredients (and minimal effort), this option from Creme de la Crumb has us sold.
It’s easy to get so invested in the food itself, you forget about the drinks. Skip store-bought cider and impress your guests with a homemade option.
Savory Tooth dishes on how to use a slow cooker to create the perfect seasonal concoction. With a mix of apples, cranberries, oranges, and cinnamon, you’ll have yourself an artisanal beverage that goes way beyond the standard options. An added bonus? The smells of it simmering will create the perfect ambiance in the kitchen.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Even though mashed potatoes might already be on the menu, catering to those with a sweet tooth (guilty) is a must. A sweet potato casserole is reserved for this time of year, and is made even easier thanks to Damn Delicious.
After the sweet potatoes have been thoroughly cooked down (around seven hours), top them with marshmallows. Then, heat for only a few minutes in order to achieve that golden perfection.
Butternut Squash Soup
Part of the appeal of Thanksgiving is the huge amount of food presented on the table all at once. While the main spread is a big deal, there are starter ideas that shouldn’t be ignored.
This butternut squash soup from Two Peas and Their Pod is the perfect warming start to the big meal that’s about to come. Top this dish off with some maple roasted chickpeas, and your guests are guaranteed to be delighted.
Don’t forget about the trusty cranberry sauce—it serves as an essential flavorful addition to every plate. Skip canned options, and whip up this traditional must-have from scratch by taking a look at this recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Cranberries, orange juice, sugar, and water are the only ingredients you need in order to get started on this favorite side. Add in things like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, vanilla, or chopped pecans for some extra festive flavors.
Caramel Apple Crumble
Despite how full you get after a proper Thanksgiving dinner, a next-level dessert is still crucial. After a quality nap, there’s no better way to finish off the day than with a sweet treat.
It might be a challenge to whip up a dessert while you’re busy with the main course, but a slow cooker can help free up some time. While you’re eating with your friends and family, set aside this caramel apple crumble from How Sweet Eats. After only a couple of hours, this delectable treat will be ready for you to enjoy.
One of the best parts about using a slow cooker is the fact that it frees up space both in the oven and on the stove top. Reserve those areas for sides that need a bit more attention, and use a slow cooker for these Brussels sprouts instead.
The recipe from Life Made Sweeter shares the perfect way to make a balsamic Brussels sprouts dish that will complement the rest of your Thanksgiving meal flawlessly.
Cranberry Pecan Stuffing
Stuffing runs the risk of being a bit bland, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Put together an option that’s filled with flavor, thanks to Damn Delicious and this cranberry pecan alternative.
Give the basics an update in both taste and texture by working in some additional ingredients that’ll change stuffing for the better.
A few bottles of wine go with a Thanksgiving meal perfectly, but they can also be given an upgrade that certainly won’t disappoint. Take your wine to the next level by following this recipe from Kitchen Treaty.
With the help of some seasonal favorites like cloves and cinnamon sticks, your wine will get a festive update that can’t be beat.
Kale and Ham
Traditional sides are always a safe bet, but working in some trendy alternatives will do wonders for any menu that needs a little sprucing. This kale and ham side (as seen on Autumn Makes and Does) will be the perfect side addition if there’s a need for some extra veggies.
This Southern-inspired dish introduces flavor notes that pair perfectly with the classics that already have their spots on the table.
With all of those delicious dishes, having warm dinner rolls readily available is a necessity. Instead of buying packaged options, use a slow cooker to help you make the perfect side of bread for the table.
After tasting these homemade options from I Heart Eating, it’ll be impossible for you to go back to purchasing pre-made options from the store: Trust us.