Your kitchen has limited real estate, and the price is high when holidays roll around. Every Thanksgiving, we hear the same complaint: There’s not enough space in the oven. And we concede that between roasting vegetables, baking pies, and cooking the hours-long turkey, it can seem nearly impossible for everything to arrive hot to the table, all at the same time. That’s why we’re introducing a new idea: the concept that you can cook your entire Thanksgiving meal in the slow cooker.
You heard us right—everything from a party mix to the turkey to the sweet pumpkin finish. So get inspired, grab a Crock-Pot (or 10), and give that oven a little breather already. We’ve rounded up the best Thanksgiving Crock Pot recipes we could find—but feel free to put your pressure cooker into service too, because we also have Instant Pot Thanksgiving recipes to give you back even more oven space.
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Slow Cooker Drinks & Starters
Never underestimate the importance of little nibbles and festive drinks before the big meal. They keep the crowd happy and out of your hair while you finish up in the kitchen.
Your guests have all arrived prepared and hungry, but you’re still adding the final touches to your 10-course meal. Tame the hungry revelers by serving them a holiday favorite, Chex party mix, to go along with their cocktails. Get our Slow Cooker Party Mix recipe.
Whet guests’ palates by starting off the big meal with a red pepper and butternut squash soup that’s light yet packs plenty of flavor and texture. Get our Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup recipe.
Wassail (from the Norse for “good health”) is an ancient drink for celebrating. It was originally ale or wine, sweetened and spiced, and often served warm. Here it gets an American makeover with cider and a bit of Calvados, warmed in the slow cooker. We think the ancient Norse would approve. Get our Slow Cooker Spiked Wassail recipe.
Related Reading: Crock-Pot Cocktails to Keep You Cozy
Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Mains & Sides
You can cook practically every part of the Thanksgiving dinner in your Crock-Pot, so prepare to free up oven space (and make some things ahead of time too).
It’d be unrealistic to think a traditional whole roasted turkey could be made in a crock pot; most consumer slow cookers aren’t big enough to fit a whole bird (that said, you can fit a smaller bird if you want a whole Crock-Pot turkey). Using the slow cooker to braise turkey breast, then making gravy from the drippings, is a great option for a small Thanksgiving dinner and the result is impressively tender. Get the Slow Cooker Turkey Breast recipe.
If you’re of the stuff-the-turkey-itself persuasion, you won’t be doing this. But if you like to keep it separate, or you’re not cooking a whole turkey this year (whether just the turkey breast or an alternative bird), this is a great way to stuff your oven with other dishes and your Crock-Pot with the stuffing itself. Get the Slow Cooker Stuffing recipe.
Being a native of the South isn’t required to appreciate the deep flavor of collards, which you can flavor with ham hock or a turkey leg—which is quite convenient for this dinner, wouldn’t you say? You have to have some greens to balance out all the carbs and turkey. Get our Slow Cooker Collard Greens recipe.
Here’s proof that you only need a Crock-Pot and a hand-held mixer to make swoon-worthy mashed potatoes—no oven, potato masher, or extra bowls required. Get the Slow Cooker Garlic Mashed Potatoes recipe.
Even that old favorite, the green bean casserole with the crispy onions on top, can be made in a slow cooker insert. The key to success is building the sauce from scratch (no Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom here!), and to sprinkle the fried onions on at the end to preserve their crispiness. Get the Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole recipe.
Related Reading: Who Invented Green Bean Casserole?
Zoë François, coauthor of the “Bread in Five Minutes a Day” series, has a superb method for making herbed dinner rolls that utilizes brioche dough and a slow cooker. Get the Slow Cooker Dinner Rolls recipe.
Cooking fresh cranberries with softened, rehydrated dried cranberries in the Crock-Pot gives this cranberry relish a memorable texture. Honey, cinnamon, apple, and orange zest add layers of dimension. Get the Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce recipe.
Related Reading: Canned Cranberry Sauce vs Homemade Cranberry Sauce
You can make a slow cooker sweet potato casserole with mini marshmallows if they’re a must for you and yours, but this sweet potato casserole has a brown sugar, pecan, and butter topping instead. Get the Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.
Slightly sweet, slightly tangy, garlicky, and totally cheesy, this is how Brussels sprouts should taste. They cook on low for a relatively short time so they’re tender but not mushy, and panko adds a crisp contrast at the end. Get the Crispy Crock-Pot Brussels Sprouts recipe.
If you’re not one yourself, knowing what to cook for vegetarians and vegans who show up at Thanksgiving is always a challenge. Here, a delicious quinoa salad seasoned with feta, scallions, and white beans is stuffed into sweet red peppers, then cooked slowly in the Crock-Pot until lusciously tender. It’s tasty and celebratory—but if you have vegans coming, leave out the feta, or swap in a vegan cheese. Get our Slow Cooker Quinoa Stuffed Peppers recipe.
Related Reading: How to Accommodate Vegan Guests at Thanksgiving
Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Desserts
Pie crust won’t really bake properly in the Crock-Pot, but you can still end your slow cooker Thanksgiving meal with a crustless pumpkin brown sugar pie—or even a slow cooker pumpkin cobbler. Either way, you should top it with whipped cream or ice cream as usual. Get the Slow Cooker Crustless Pumpkin Pie recipe.
You can go ahead and put pie crust in the slow cooker, but be prepared for unevenly baked spots if you leave much crust on the sides. This pecan filling is so good, though, you won’t mind too much. Get the Crock Pot Pecan Pie recipe.
Little ones are the perfect sous chefs to help make a rich, simple, and satisfying Crock Pot cake recipe that’s ideal to serve at the kids’ table…not that adults will be able to resist a bite either. Get our simple Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake recipe to serve with ice cream, or gussy it up with this Slow Cooker Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake recipe. Thanksgiving is synonymous with indulgence, after all (for better or for worse).
For more Thanksgiving tips, hacks, and recipes, check out our Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide.