We all know the convenience of using a slow cooker any old day of the week, but on a holiday like Thanksgiving, when you can plan on being in the kitchen for the bulk of the day, invoking the slow cooker allows you more free time to spend with friends and family.
Many traditional Thanksgiving recipes can be easily transferred to a slow cooker, including mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, stuffing and even a turkey breast.
So round up your family’s slow cookers in advance, set a schedule of start times for each recipe, and enjoy the day and its scrumptious smells without hardly lifting another finger.
While you can’t put a whole bird in a slow cooker, a small turkey breast will fit nicely—and if you’re having a smaller crowd, might be plenty. Just be sure to start the cooking early, as it takes eight hours to cook.
- 3-lb. turkey breast on the bone
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into 4 chunks
- a few sprigs each of your favorite fresh herbs, such as thyme and rosemary
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Place turkey breast in slow cooker on top of garlic and onion
- Sprinkle garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper on top of bird, rubbing under the skin if you wish
- Drizzle olive oil on top of seasoned bird and rub into skin
- Bundle fresh herbs and add to the cooker
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (check after 7)
Tip: For a quick gravy, remove turkey from slow cooker and strain the remaining veggies. Skim the fat from the top of the liquid and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/2 a cup of milk and slowly add mixture to pan until sauce thickens to your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Forget boiling and straining potatoes—the ease of making mashed potatoes in the slow cooker will make it your go-to method! If you wish, add your favorite herbs before serving.
- 3 lbs. red or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (peel if desired)
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Add potatoes and stock to slow cooker, placing butter cubes and minced garlic on top
- Cover and cook 3 to 4 hours on high
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend together with a hand mixer or potato masher (be careful not to over-whip or the texture could become gummy)
This super-easy stuffing recipe will sate everyone’s favorite textural craving—it finishes with a tautness to the top and edges and a steamy-soft center.
- 10 cups crusty white or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (if using fresh bread, toast cubes in oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring every half hour, until dried out)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped sage leaves
- leaves from 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- Heat butter in a large pan over medium-high heat and sauté onions, celery and garlic until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes
- Add fresh herbs to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, then remove from heat
- Place bread cubes in slow cooker and gently add the vegetables
- Combine eggs, stock, salt and pepper, then add to slow cooker and stir to combine
- Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on low
Tip: Make it your own! Cooked ground sausage, cubed apples or chopped nuts all make great additions. Just add 1 cup of your chosen ingredient to the mixture before cooking.
Green Bean Casserole
Fun fact: The classic green bean casserole has had a place at the Thanksgiving table for more than 60 years! The slow cooker was invented 15 years earlier, so it’s no surprise that the oven-baked recipe was quickly adapted for the slow cooker to free up oven space, which is in such high demand on the holiday. Our recipe calls for frozen beans, but you can use fresh or (drained) canned beans if you wish, so long as you adjust liquids and cooking time accordingly.
- 18-oz. package frozen green beans
- 10-oz. can cream of mushroom soup
- 1-1/2 cups French fried onions
- 3/4 cup milk
- pepper to taste
- Reserve half of the onions, then mix all of the ingredients in the slow cooker
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours
- Spread the remaining onions over the top of the casserole and serve or leave on warm in the slow cooker
Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potato recipes call for various toppings. We’re partial to the crumbly, sweet pecan topping below, but if you prefer a gooey marshmallow topping (or if you’re serving someone with a nut allergy), skip the pecan mixture. Instead, after the given cook time, top with mini marshmallows and cook for 5 to 10 minutes longer on low, or until the marshmallows have melted.
- 5 medium to large sweet potatoes
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup cubed butter, plus 1/3 cup melted butter
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar, divided
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes
- Place sweet potatoes in slow cooker and add chicken broth and the cubed butter
- Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, then mash with a potato masher
- Add eggs, vanilla and 1 cup of the brown sugar to slow cooker and stir
- In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar, melted butter, flour and pecans
- Pour the pecan mixture over the mashed sweet potatoes, replace lid and cook for 2 hours longer