One thing that is at a premium on Thanksgiving is oven or stove top space. We created this post to help you find ways to use your slow cooker to not only save your space but also save your sanity.
Finding space in the oven or on top of the stove on Thanksgiving day is like trying to lay your towel down on an over packed beach.
Or finding a parking spot at the grocery store on the eve of Thanksgiving.
That's why I think it's always good to have a repertoire of slow cooker recipes at your disposal. A slow cooker or Crock pot (if you actually have the brand) is great to use on Thanksgiving in order to save space not only on your stove top but also in your kitchen.
A slow cooker is great to use on Thanksgiving in order to save space not only on your stove top but also in your kitchen.
I have been known to cook something in my slow cooker in another room completely.
How to Use Your Slow Cooker on Thanksgiving
Here are some ways you can use your slow cooker for the Thanksgiving meal. These will help you save space on in your oven or on your stove top. Sorry I am not including the turkey on the list. Give the star (the turkey) center stage (the oven).
- Make the mashed potatoes
- Keep Food Warm
- Making stock for gravy
- Mulled Apple Cider
- Keep rolls warm
- Applesauce (like my cranberry)
- Caramelized onions
- Soup (for Lunch)
- Sweet Potato
Make the Mashed Potatoes
It doesn't get much easier than this - throw the potatoes into the slow cooker (I used gold potatoes and keep the skins on) and let them go for about 4 hours. Don't forget to add a little water to the bottom and check them to make sure they don't dry up or they might burn on the bottom.
Then mash them with a potato masher. Add in your milk/cream and butter and salt. Whip them with a hand mixer until just smooth.
You can keep them on warm until it's time eat. Serve them right out of the slow cooker.
In fact, even if you don't use the slow cooker to cook a dish you certainly could use it to keep any food warm.
We have an Instant Pot version as well.
Make Stock for Gravy
Take the giblets and neck from your turkey. Cover them with water and add them to a slow cooker. Let them go overnight or 8 hours. Strain everything out and you have stock that you can use for gravy or add to your stuffing.
Get our recipe for Slow Cooked Giblet Stock
Mulled Apple Cider
Add apple cider and mulling spices to your slow cooker. Turn it on low and let it go. Have a ladle nearby for your guests to partake.
Keep Rolls Warm
If you are serving rolls for Thanksgiving, you can keep them warm by folding the rolls up in a clean towel and setting your slow cooker to warm. The towel can be slightly damp too, to help keep the rolls from drying out.
The rolls you see in the photo above are Alton Brown's Parker House Rolls.
Whether you want a quick little sweet side or something else for the kids to eat, applesauce in the slow cooker is super easy to do for Thanksgiving. Give yourself a few hours for the apples to cook down. the time really depends on the variety of apple. Some break down faster.
For a fun, more Thanksgiving version trying adding cranberries to the sauce.
Recently I came across the idea of using your slow cooker to caramelize onions. Really good caramelized onions are cooked low and slow. Do them overnight or first thing in the morning. They are great to add to gravy, potatoes, or turkey. You can even have them as a topping your guest can chose to use.
All you need is onions, salt, and butter/oil.
The only tricky part is the moisture content of the onion may vary. They could dry out and become jerky, or be too wet. Keep an eye on them. If too wet, remove the lid and cook longer. If getting too dry cover them with a lid and more oil or butter or even a little water, not too much.
Soup for Lunch?
Soup isn't something you see served for Thanksgiving at lot. Or at least not in any of the family gatherings I have been to. However, depending on when you are eating, you might need something to eat before the meal. Soup is a great thing to have on hand that you heat up or cook in the slow cooker to have available when you are ready.
If you have family staying at your house it's nice to have something they can eat so you aren't feeling the pressure of a bunch of absolutely starving people at dinner time.
You can make sweet potatoes really easy in a slow cooker. You can throw them in whole with some water in the bottom to prevent them from burning.
They should take about 4 hours to get tender. Monitor the water and add more to the bottom if it gets too dry.
When they are done I remove them, mash them up, and add in some seasonings.
Squash is pretty straight forward as well. Do it the same way as at the sweet potatoes. Squash come in all shapes and sizes, make sure what you buy will fit in your slow cooker. We like Delicata squash.
I don't want to leave out other veggie options besides potatoes and sweet potatoes. A lot of veggies I don't want to slow cook, ones that cook fast like green beans or ones that would smell your house up something fierce like broccoli or Brussels sprouts.
My choice - cauliflower. It's a veggie that can be cooked low and slow and turn out delicious. Cauliflower, unlike broccoli, needs additional time to cook.
It's super simple to do:
- Just put the whole head of cauliflower into the slow cooker.
- Cook for 2 to 2 ½ hours depending on the size.
- Keep a small amount of water covering the bottom.
- When the cauliflower is done cooking, I then cut it up into bite size pieces and place it on a sheet pan.
- Drizzle some oil on it.
- Then I season it with salt and pepper, and I like cumin seeds.
- Then underneath the oven's broiler just to get it brown, will only take a couple minutes.
At the moment I am writing this, I have not personally given this a try yet, but there are plenty of recipes out there for making stuffing or dressing in a slow cooker. It won't get as crisp on top but you could always use that oven broiler to brown the top by taking out your stuffing and putting into an broiler-safe vessel.
Other Thanksgiving Posts You'll Want to Read
How to Save Time with Instant Pot on Thanksgiving
Anything I missed here? Share your favorite Thanksgiving slow cooker uses in the comment section below.
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