15 Thanksgiving sides you can make in a slow cooker

mac and cheese
Try making your macaroni and cheese in a slow cooker this Thanksgiving.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker
  • A slow cooker or Crock-Pot can be an essential tool for making your Thanksgiving dinner.

  • From stuffing to cranberry sauce, slow cookers can help you make classic Thanksgiving side dishes.

  • You might not know that you can also make dinner rolls and mashed potatoes in a slow cooker.

Everyone knows that when it comes to Thanksgiving food, the sides are arguably the standouts.

However, when your oven is busy cooking the turkey for hours on end, it can be difficult to figure out where exactly to cook your side dishes. Enter: a Crock-Pot or slow cooker.

Slow cookers can help you make a number of easy Thanksgiving side dishes, from stuffing to cranberry sauce and delicious dips.

Here are 15 Thanksgiving sides you can make in a slow cooker.

Sweet-potato casserole with marshmallows can easily be made in a slow cooker.

sweet potatoes with cinnamon and marshmallows
Sweet potatoes with cinnamon and marshmallows.Sara Seaberry/Getty Images

Sweet-potato casserole topped with marshmallows is a Thanksgiving favorite, and there are multiple recipes out there explaining how to make it in a slow cooker.

One recipe by Damn Delicious explains that the residual heat from the slow cooker is the perfect method for achieving gooey, melted marshmallows on top of your casserole.

"Making a side dish in a slow cooker saves room in the oven (which usually has the turkey or ham in it)." Sarah Olson, the blogger behind "The Magical Slow Cooker," told Insider. "Also, if you are traveling to another house for the holidays, the slow cooker will keep your dish warm at the party."

Meatballs make a great appetizer for guests while you're busy cooking on the stove.

meatballs in a slow cooker
Meatballs.anewlifephotostudio/Getty Images

There's nothing worse than having hungry guests hanging around the kitchen waiting for dinner to be ready. Meatballs are the perfect appetizer for parties big and small, and they are easy to make in a slow cooker.

Place your seasoned, raw meatballs into the slow cooker, top with sauce, and let the slow cooker finish them off, says one recipe by Spend With Pennies.

You might be surprised to learn you can make mashed potatoes in a slow cooker.

slow cooker mashed potatoes with wooden spoon
Slow cooker mashed potatoes.Erin McDowell/Insider

Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple — the meal simply wouldn't be complete without them. However, mashed potatoes can be a big hassle, from parboiling them to mashing and finding a space for them on the stove.

Don't fret: Mashed potatoes can easily be made in a slow cooker. Just make sure to add water to your pot or you won't get the desired consistency for mashing.

"Mashed potatoes are great in the slow cooker, though it does take a bit of time for the potatoes to soften, so plan ahead," Olson said.

It can take about four hours for the potatoes to soften, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.

Try making your stuffing in a slow cooker, rather than in the oven or inside the turkey.

stuffing in a baking dish for thanksgiving
Stuffing.Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Everyone has their preferred method of making stuffing for Thanksgiving. While some might opt for oven-baked stuffing or stuffing cooked inside the turkey, it's also totally possible to make it in a slow cooker.

Olson said you can use either prepare store-bought boxed stuffing in the slow cooker or homemade stuffing, depending on your preference.

Some people swear by mac and cheese on Thanksgiving.

mac and cheese
Mac and cheese in a slow cooker.Sarah Olson/The Magical Slow Cooker

While Olson's recipe for slow-cooker macaroni and cheese can be made on the regular, it lends itself perfectly for Thanksgiving. Olson uses cream cheese, milk, sharp cheddar, and white sharp cheddar to make her noodles creamy and flavorful.

Other unique Thanksgiving dishes that can be made in a slow cooker are ham-and-cheese corn, collard greens, and acorn squash, Olson told Insider.

Turkey chili is an easy slow cooker recipe to make on Thanksgiving or the next day with leftovers.

Turkey Chili in a white bowl
Turkey chili.vm2002/Shutterstock

If you're looking to use your turkey leftovers the day after or simply want a hearty appetizer for the Thanksgiving football game, look no further than a delicious turkey chili.

Turkey chili, like this chipotle turkey chili by The Magical Slow Cooker, is easy to cook up in a slow cooker and leave simmering all day until you're ready to dig in.

Butternut-squash soup is a festive soup you can make in a slow cooker.

butternut squash soup in a bowl
Butternut-squash soup.Ekaterina Kondratova/Shutterstock

This butternut-squash soup recipe from Delish advises you to buy pre-cut butternut squash cubes, sautée your vegetables first, and use a low-sodium broth. The soup should take around four hours to cook, so make sure you start early in order to have it done by the first course.

Candied yams are an easy Thanksgiving recipe to make in a slow cooker.

candied yams with sesame seeds on a plate
Candied yams.sasaken/Shutterstock

"My husband adores southern style candied yams and I finally took the time to make them from fresh yams, from scratch," Olson writes in the blog post detailing her recipe.

For Olson's Southern-inspired candied yams, you'll need peeled thick-sliced red garnet yams, cornstarch, melted butter, cinnamon, cloves, salt, brown sugar, and molasses, among other ingredients.

Slow-cooked glazed carrots are delicious and unbelievably easy to make in a slow cooker.

glazed carrots in a white bowl with herbs
Glazed carrots.Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock

The best part of this recipe is how easy they are to make. Toss the carrots into the slow cooker with a little salt, brown sugar or honey, and butter and let sit for four to six hours, until tender.

Green-bean casserole is another Thanksgiving side dish that can be made in a slow cooker.

green bean casserole in a baking dish
Green-bean casserole.Elizaveta Korobkova/Shutterstock

"My family can not go without the green-bean casserole. It's pretty much the best side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas," Olson said.

A recipe for green-bean casserole by The Magical Slow Cooker is perfect for a large group.

Buffalo-chicken dip is a quick crowd-pleaser.

Buffalo chicken dip in a baking dish
Buffalo-chicken dip.AS Food studio/Shutterstock

One of the benefits of making a slow-cooker Buffalo-chicken dip — or any other side dish in a slow cooker — is that it can be prepared well ahead of time and reheated when you're ready to eat.

Queso is another appetizer that can easily be made in a Crock-Pot.

slow cooker queso
Queso in a slow cooker.Erin McDowell/Insider

Like a lot of other Martha Stewart slow-cooker recipes, this dip only required a few ingredients, which comes in handy if you're braving the grocery store during Thanksgiving week. Martha Stewart's recipe for slow-cooker queso includes pepper jack and American cheeses, red onion, and jalapeño.

Another one of Olson's favorite slow-cooker dishes around the holidays is cranberry sauce.

cranberry sauce in a pot with spoon
Cranberry sauce.EBMarketa/Getty Images

Cranberry sauce in a can is undeniably nostalgic, but slow-cooked homemade cranberry sauce is just as easy to make. Olson's recipe for slow-cooked cranberry sauce requires only a few ingredients: fresh cranberries, marmalade, and brown sugar to taste.

For slow-cooker beginners who might be using their pot for the first time this holiday season, Olson recommends being prepared.

"Plan ahead and stay on schedule. Slow cooker recipes need to be prepped and set to cook early in the day," she said. "Don't wake up late and forget to start the recipe or you'll have to cook said recipe on the stove or in the oven."

Dinner rolls can also be made in a slow cooker or Crock-Pot.

dinner rolls
Dinner rolls.AnnSal/Shutterstock

You might be shocked to discover you can actually make warm, fluffy dinner rolls in a slow cooker. One recipe from I Heart Eating teaches you how to make the perfect dinner roll dough, then bake them only using a slow cooker.

You can also make pumpkin pie in a slow cooker for a tasty side dish or dessert after the meal.

pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie.Tetra Images/Getty Images

What Thanksgiving table would be complete without pumpkin pie? Olson's recipe for slow-cooked crustless brown sugar pumpkin pie is made using pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.

Olson suggests either scooping the pie out of the slow cooker and serving it warm with ice cream, or chilling the pie after it's done cooking and serving it in slices with whipped cream.

Read the original article on Insider