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I love Thanksgiving, but even I admit that putting together such a huge meal can be a little stressful. It takes a ton of advance planning—as well as a significant commitment of time and money. Even the most organized cooks might find themselves scrambling to get everything on the table in time. Enter: slow-cooker Thanksgiving dishes, guaranteed to make your meal prep quicker and easier and your final product even more delicious.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to minimize this last-minute panic. First, consider your Thanksgiving dinner budget and make a cooking schedule beforehand, taking into account how long different dishes will take to cook and what appliances you’ll need for each one.
Second, do as much ahead of time as possible. You can decorate your table, bake your pies and put together any dips or spreads the day before.
Finally, take advantage of no-cook and slow-cooker recipes for Thanksgiving dinner—they’ll fit seamlessly into your prep schedule, since they don’t take up any precious oven or stovetop space. If you don’t already have a slow cooker , consider it a worthwhile investment in Thanksgiving dinners to come.
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Now, all you’ve got to do is decide which slow-cooker Thanksgiving dishes you’ll rely on this year! The following 20 slow-cooker recipes should cover all your Thanksgiving bases, from decadent mashed potatoes and stuffing to al dente Brussels sprouts and carrots.
All 20 are convincing versions of classic recipes, so you don’t have to worry about guests complaining that you strayed from tradition. Pick a couple to make this year, or borrow a second slow-cooker and whip up a bunch.
I’ll eat anything cornbread-related, so expect a hearty helping of this slow cooker cornbread pudding on my plate right alongside my turkey and gravy. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Soup is such a Thanksgiving sleeper hit! This one in particular is perfect for a full belly on a cold November evening, thanks to carrots, celery, peppers, sweet onion and of course, cheddar cheese.
Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili
OK, throwing in a wild card here. Chili on Thanksgiving? This sweet potato quinoa chili is such a wonderful option for vegans who want a hearty Thanksgiving meal without missing out on any of the season’s delicious signature flavors.
Butternut Squash Stuffing
Spoiler alert: This is not the only stuffing recipe on this list, nor is it the only squash recipe. Both are Thanksgiving essentials, and when combined? This tasty butternut squash slow-cooker stuffing just might be the perfect dish.
These slow-cooker mashed potatoes are just as creamy as ones you’d boil and then mash, but create way fewer dirty dishes.
Let’s be honest: not everyone likes Turkey, so if you have a big crowd, having a second meat option is a great idea. This slow-cooker Colorado pot roast is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and won’t throw off the rest of the menu.
Butternut Squash + Gruyere Mac & Cheese
To me, macaroni and cheese is a Thanksgiving staple—but this butternut squash take makes it feel even more festive, not to mention so creamy.
Sweet Potato Casserole
This slow-cooker sweet potato casserole is packed with nutty, marshmallowy goodness. Need I say more?
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Sure, you could just heat a can of candied sweet potatoes and put its contents on the table. But these slow-cooker candied sweet potatoes are almost as easy, and they get extra flavor from butter and herbs.
Hopefully, we’re all on the same page about never, ever cooking stuffing inside your turkey, since it means you need to cook the bird longer and will end up with dry meat. You probably didn’t know that slow-cooker stuffing was a thing until right now, though. Spoiler alert: It tastes just like the oven version.
Green Bean Casserole
No matter where you stand in the great green bean casserole debate (I’m against, TBH, but you do you), you gotta admit that this slow-cooker green bean casserole looks a lot more appetizing than the original.
Homemade dinner rolls make a meal feel so much more special, and now you can make them happen while a turkey takes up all the space in your oven. These slow-cooker dinner rolls are a must-try.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
If a marshmallow-topped casserole isn’t your thing, try these slow-cooker mashed sweet potatoes this year instead.
Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Brussels sprouts can make for a refreshing alternative to green bean casserole, and the bitter flavor of the sprouts really cuts through the richness of other Thanksgiving staples. Give these slow-cooker balsamic Brussels sprouts a try if you don’t want to sacrifice oven or stove space.
Cinnamon-Sugar Butternut Squash
Sweet potatoes and pumpkin both get a lot of attention on T-day, but you’d be foolish to neglect their earthier cousin, butternut squash. This slow-cooker cinnamon-sugar butternut squash is sure to be a fan fave.
Butternut Squash Soup
Want to serve an appetizer course before dinner? Make your life easier with this slow-cooker butternut squash soup. Cook and blend it ahead of time, then keep it warm until it’s time to serve.
Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate
Didn’t realize you needed slow-cooker pumpkin spice hot chocolate? Now that you know it exists, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. (You’re welcome.) Oh, and when you serve it, be sure to keep a bottle of bourbon nearby so that adult guests can make their drinks even more fun.
Pumpkin Pie Cake
Don’t have time to bake a bunch of different desserts? This slow-cooker pumpkin pie cake kills two birds with one stone. Drizzle warm maple syrup with pecans on top if you want to go the extra mile.
Love canned cranberry sauce? Great, go for it! But if you’re a fan of the homemade stuff, this slow-cooker cranberry sauce will get you there without any extra worry.
Lemon and Thyme Butter Carrots
No one likes a soggy carrot. Luckily, these slow-cooker lemon and thyme butter carrots come out perfectly al dente.