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If you’re in charge of the holiday party this year, chances are you’ve already scoured the internet for slow cooker holiday appetizers. Everyone knows apps can absolutely make or break a cocktail party, and that’s a lot of pressure, so you want them to be good! I’d argue that drinks are just as important, sure, but hungry guests just aren’t happy guests (Sorry to be the one to break this news to you, but you deserve to know the truth.)
Thankfully, the solution to this problem is super simple: Pick out some slow cooker holiday recipes that you can execute with ease, and make as many as you see fit. Unsurprisingly, the best easy holiday appetizers are the ones you can set-and-forget in a slow cooker. Not only are they a cinch to throw together, but they’ll also keep warm throughout your party without totally burning. No lame pinwheels or crusty crostini here—just decadent dishes that’ll stay ready to serve, no matter how long you keep them out.
The other thing about slow cookers? They’re super versatile, which means you get to pick from a variety of different recipes. Want something crunchy? Go for Chex Mix. Need something substantial and slightly sweet? Glazed meatballs to the rescue.
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No matter what you’re feeling this holiday season, there’s an appetizer (or two) that’ll meet your party needs. And if you don’t have a slow cooker just yet? I’d highly suggest buying one now as an early Christmas gift to yourself. Below, our favorite slow cooker holiday appetizer recipes to get you started.
Slow Cooker Baked Beans
This recipe takes your favorite baked bean recipe and makes it healthier so you don’t have to feel guilty about eating seconds. Fresh tomatoes and slow-cooked beans bring a major flavor to the table (no pun intended).
Jalapeño Chicken Taquitos
Taquitos are finger food which makes them appetizers in my book. This recipe is basically a take on your favorite jalapeño poppers, but without the deep fry. The taquitos themselves are baked in the oven, but you’ll get the perfectly tender, pulled chicken from your slow cooker.
Vegan Loaded Queso Dip
Vegan loaded queso dip may sound like an oxymoron but trust us on this one. Cheesy and creamy thanks to potatoes, cashews and nutritional yeast and loaded with beans, vegan chorizo and tomatoes, there’s nothing not to love about this delicious app.
Butternut Squash and Apples
The perfect cold-weather dish, you’ll feel comforted and satisfied after noshing on this butternut squash and apple recipe, cooked low and slow in the crockpot. It pairs perfectly with any holiday meal, plus it’ll make your home smell delicious.
They don’t call these ‘party meatballs‘ for nothing! A little sweet and a little spicy, you’ll just need four ingredients for this crowd-pleasing recipe. Plus, the slow cooker makes for easy prep and easy cleanup.
Everybody loves a good sausage. Make these sweet kielbasa bites, and your guests will be so content that no one will bug you about when dinner’s coming. Serve them with toothpicks during your ‘cocktail hour’ or as a side dish with the main course.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Winter, spring, summer, or fall—it isn’t a party without spinach artichoke dip. This dip is so delicious your friends and family will be scooping it right out of the slow cooker. Pair with crackers or sliced baguette to feel extra fancy.
Candied Cinnamon Pecans
TBH, you should probably keep a bowl of these spiced, sweet candied cinnamon pecans around throughout the holiday season—party or no party. They’re super easy to make and super satisfying for people of all different taste buds.
Go simple with this easy queso blanco, which you can serve with tortilla chips, pita or even sliced veggies. Queso blanco is always a crowd pleaser and you can’t go wrong spicing it up by adding in jalapeños, diced tomatoes or even some brisket.
Sweet and Tangy Cranberry Meatballs
Put out a box of toothpicks and let everybody go to town on these delicious cranberry meatballs, which your slow cooker will keep warm all night long. Don’t even both serving these on a fancy plate, they taste best right out of the crockpot.
Add a little holiday spice, like nutmeg or clove, to this simple slow cooker Chex Mix for classic, delicious fun. This recipe is so low lift and such a crowd-pleaser, you’ll definitely be making it year after year.
Slice up a baguette and let guests dip into these saucy Italian meatballs or serve them on top of your favorite pasta for the main course. There are so many ways to eat these meatballs, you can make the same recipe over and over and serve in a fresh new way every time.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
It’s always the season for Buffalo chicken dip. A crowd favorite, everyone will surely be asking for the recipe once the party is over. Plus, you’ll be able to keep it warm all night in the slow cooker, no microwave required.
Bacon Brown Sugar Sausages
What better way to get a party started than the combination of bacon, brown sugar and teeny tiny sausages? This passed app is like a level up on your favorite pigs in a blanket recipe and the meat lovers in your party are sure to love it.
Garlic-Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread
Be the hostess with the mostest with this cute, fun, carby, garlic-Parmesan pull-apart bread. Doughy, cheesy and full of flavor, we have a feeling this recipe will replace the boring old dinner rolls on the table for years to come.
Honey-Soy Chicken Wings
Who says you can’t serve honey-soy chicken wings at a holiday party? Nobody who’s ever tasted them, that’s for sure. Wings are always a great party snack, whether you serve them with drinks before dinner or with the main course.
Garlic Ranch Mushrooms
These cute garlic ranch mushrooms taste great on bread—or straight off a toothpick. This recipe is sure to give all your guests the warm and fuzzies and they’re the perfect side dish for carnivores and vegetarians alike.
A previous version of this article appeared in 2018.