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Thanksgiving and your slow cooker. What do make in it?

I do a ton of prep the wekend before the big day and my slow cooker is a god send. Since I am also out and about its nice knowing things can keep cooking away when I need to run errands, unlike using the oven or stove top.

This is what I using it for, what about you? Would love to get a few other ideas.

Pinot Noir cranberry sauce
Homemade cream of mushroom soup soup
Wild rice (for the dressing)
candied yams

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  1. I have never used my slow cooker for thanksgiving before, although this is only my second time hosting. Last year I axed the traditional baked beans of my fiance's famllu for space concerns but this year I am going to try them in the slow cooker.

    Problem is that I refuse to use the horrid turkey roaster which dries out the bird which means my oven is occupied until the turkey rests for the most part.

    1. You may need more than one crock pot/slow cooker to supplement the Thanksgiving oven -
      consensus is positive here for dressing recipes:

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cynsa

        can't imagine anyone going and buying another slow cooker just to supplement a few meals a year. Seems like a waste of money and space- buts that’s me. I don't have a ton of money or space. Then again if you could borrow one……

        I get around the oven issue by prepping a lot a head, getting up early (turkeys can rest a good long time), utilizing my grill as an extra oven and adapting traditional oven recipes for stove top ones. Oh and the micro! great for cooking the chestnuts for stuffing, making the green beans, heating the milk/butter for mashed potatoes, etc

        All that said I was more looking for creative idea from the slow cookers mavens out there! I am sure they (you) have some ideas I haven’t thought of before.

        1. re: foodieX2

          Keep your eyes open at garage sales and thrift shops, if you are so inclined. But I have garage and basement space, I realize you may not be as lucky. It's just so nice to not be frantic when the guests arrive.

      2. bread pudding--keeps it warm until you serve.

        1. I don't use mine much on Thanksgiving. Mostly we've settled on a menu that includes several make ahead dishes that are good at room temp or warmed slightly when the turkey rests.

          I sometimes do the cranberry sauce in the crock several days early (better flavor) and do the mashed potatoes early in the AM, then keep in a warm crock.

          If I did soup or hot apple cider, then those would be good in a crock.

          1. For TG, I've only used it for mulled cider. I'm debating using one to keep my mashed potatoes warm this year.

            1. I use it for the fresh green beans. I like the ones that cook all day. I toss them in the crock pot with a smoked pork hock, onions, black pepper and some Frank's hot sauce (mostly for the vinegar).

              1. last year when i had 20+ people, I think I had 3 going. one for 3 qts of gravy made a few days in advance from roasted turkey wing drippings to be kept warm. one for 10 lbs of mashed potatoes that i made stove top but kept warm beautifully in the slow cooker. one for cooking and serving stuffing. i feel like i had another one going, but hmmmm, can't remember what for. this year someone is bringing a slow cooker green bean dish. a take on the green bean casserole, but with fresh ingredients.

                They crocks are also going full time the week before with home made stock made from turkey wings to use in all sorts of tgiving dishes. i have a huge one and a 3 qt one. i borrowed another biggun from a friend.

                and then after thanksgiving i have them going for stock made from the turkey carcasses.

                This year only 7 people.... so we'll see if i need any.

                10 Replies
                1. re: eLizard

                  I only recently started using my Crockpot (it's an antique I guess) to hold the mashed potatoes. In 35 years of doing Thanksgiving this is one of the most brilliant ideas I've come across.

                  1. re: coll

                    it was a revelation. i added some extra half and half and butter, and it held up beautifully for the longest time. until it was all gone actually.....

                    1. re: eLizard

                      I am so glad I wrote down how I did it, so I can replicate this year. I got all my tips here.

                      1. re: coll

                        i'm sorta at a loss as to how to do such a small thanksgiving...... i guess i could put it in the 3 qt slow cooker.....

                        i did so much prep work last year that the only things that had to be cooked thanksgiving were the turkeys and the mashed potatoes.

                        i'm still doing 2 brined birds this year.

                        1. re: eLizard

                          This year either 4 or 5 people, I will still be doing the crock pot potatoes. Way back when, we were always 25 or more, but I was younger then too.

                    2. re: coll

                      Agreed! We need two crock pots for our mashed potatoes- but it is so great to cook them in the early am, and then pop them into the crock pot. I put the setting on low, cover the crock pot with a dish towel before putting on the lid ( stops the condensation from dripping into the potatoes). Potatoes are piping hot for dinner. Making the mashed potatoes at the last minute always stressed me out- especially since I need to mash 20 pounds. Felt like a genius when I did this!

                      1. re: macca

                        Mashed potatoes AND gravy at the last minute, just when you think everything is under control.

                        1. re: coll

                          I know! I do make the gluten free gracy for my celiac guests the day before. I let the birds rest for at least ½ hour and make the gravy then. Doesnt seem so bad now tat the potatoes will be done. But it is hectic- we have sit down for 26, so getting all the food to the table hot is nuts!

                    3. re: eLizard

                      Gravy, boy, can't believe I didn't think of that. Head smack in process. 3 quarts, I love you.

                      1. re: tcamp

                        i am a married woman! but you are certainly welcome. ;o)

                    4. I always use the slow cooker to make a batch of turkey stock overnight, the night before. It goes into my gravy and moistens my cornbread dressing. I have also used it to make green beans, cooked long and low with onion and salt pork or bacon, and sweet potatoes, done with Indian spices. It can be really handy, saving burners on the stove for other dishes.

                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                          I would love more specifics about your crockpot stuffing. I've used mine for a lot of things but never stuffing. Sounds like a brilliant idea.

                            1. re: baseballfan

                              Mix up your regular stuffing, but make sure it is quite moist (I make mine the moistness of mashed potatoes without any cream or butter added). If your regular recipe isn't moist enough, add equal parts broth and melted butter to get it there. Then leave it to cook on low for 5ish hours. The edges will be crispy and the rest will be moist.

                              1. re: CanadaGirl

                                Thanks so much! I can't wait to try it.

                          1. Did mashed potatoes last year and would highly recommend!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: geminigirl

                              +1 on the mashed potatoes. They taste fine, and streamlines Thanksgiving prep by being able to do them ahead.

                            2. While both of my uses have already been mentioned more than once (I use my big one for stuffing, and my smaller one for mashed potatoes) I just thought I'd mention that when prepared too early in the day, I've found it necessary to "monitor" the potatoes about every hour or two. Usually just requires a little stir to avoid browning on the sides of the crock, but sometimes I'll add more butter or cream/milk.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                I do the potatoes around noon, just before the guests arrive at 1 and we eat around 3 or 4. Works out fine that way.

                              2. I just got a freebie at the office and am a virgin using one. It's a nice big one with attractive stencilling on white enamel and will look fine in a dining room. We are hosting 15 plus in a rented space and I planned to make the stuffing in the crockpot using directions from another hound on this board. However I am getting flack from my husband- he is a throwback and can't believe we aren't cooking it in the bird let alone in a crockpot but time constraints mean out side the bird stuffing. I may capitulate and bake it in the oven as I have a large commercial stove to use but only for a few hours. In that case the crockpot may be the answer for keeping the mashed potatoes hot.