Hopefully you’ve already discovered the magic the slow cooker can work on everything from appetizers to soups to side dishes. But here’s a dirty little trick you probably didn’t know that’s going to save you this holiday season: You can make a bounty of edible gifts in the slow cooker, too. Here, we show you how it’s possible to take care of everyone on your gift list while hitting up the holiday party circuit at the same time.
Header image and recipe of Spiked Wassail cocktail from CHOW
1. Bacon Jam
If you’ve never had bacon jam—pieces of bacon, rendered down to nubby bits with caramelized onions, vinegar, sugar, and spices—then you’re in for one heck of a treat. Head’s up: You’ll probably want to double the amount you make so you can save half for yourself.
Photo and recipe from Leite’s Culinaria
Granola: It’s a winner with vegetarians and carnivores, sweet tooths and health nuts alike. Make a giant batch and you’ve got the holidays covered for pretty much everyone you know.
Photo and recipe from Barefeet in the Kitchen
3. Apple Butter (or Any Fruit Butter for That Matter)
Unlike grape jellies and strawberry jams, apple butter doesn’t demand massive amounts of sugar (nor does it contain any actual butter). Its sweetness is the natural result of cooking fruit low and slow for hours. In fact, you can apply the same method to other fleshy fruits, like peaches, persimmons, or even blueberries.
Photo and recipe from Warm Vanilla Sugar
4. Perfectly Rendered Lard
For serious bakers, there’s nothing that’ll say “I love you” more than a jar of perfectly rendered, snow-white, odorless leaf lard.
Photo and recipe from My Humble Kitchen
5. Dulce de Leche
Dulce de leche is made by slowly heating sweetened milk until brown and thick. But why hover over it on a stove when you can pour milk in the slow cooker and step away? Think of all the holiday gift wrapping you can do in your spare time.
Photo and recipe from The Yummy Life
Lend a basic condiment like ketchup your own twist by choosing your own tomatoes (like San Marzano, heirloom, beefsteak, or cherry) and a personalized blend of seasonings and herbs (we like ginger and allspice, but you could go crazy with add-ins such as chipotle or fish sauce).
Photo and recipe from Simple Bites
7. Sweet & Spicy Nut Mix
Nut mix and the holidays go together like Justin Bieber and drop-crotch pants. Embrace the tradition head-on by doling out your very own from-scratch version with maple and cayenne.
Photo and recipe from 52 Kitchen Adventures
8. Caramelized Onions
When you gift someone caramelized onions, the message you’re sending is, “I spent hours coaxing the sweetness out of the world’s most tear-inducing vegetable. That’s how much I adore you.” Don’t feel obliged to tell them you have a good food processor and an even better slow cooker.
Photo and recipe from Shockingly Delicious