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Do you want to host Thanksgiving Dinner without spending all of your time in the kitchen? I have a solution for you. Host a slow cooker Thanksgiving. I’ve done this in some capacity for a few years and I can’t wait to host again so I can streamline the process. Crockpots are great for keeping things warm, or even cooking the entire dish, depending on your time.
Before I was married, we hosted a handful of couples (16 adults) for a Christmas dinner party. I come from a large family, and I’ve found that cooking a big holiday meal isn’t really that much harder than a regular meal. You just make more side dishes and buy a bigger piece of meat. Like a turkey instead of a chicken. No big deal (in theory). At this particular dinner party, I was proud that I’d chosen side dishes and timed everything perfectly so that everything would go off with a hitch. Potatoes were mashed and ready to go. I pulled everything out of the oven to carry to the table and…everything was cold! Ahhh!
I forgot that when you cook multiple dishes in the same oven they don’t cook for the same amount of time as the recipe calls for. Timing everything to be hot and ready at the same time is the hardest part of cooking, especially if you only have one oven. That takes a lot of practice and a healthy dose of stress. Today’s Moms cook regular meals in a crockpot or slow cooker, so why not do a slow cooker Thanksgiving dinner too?
This is a typical Thanksgiving menu for my family
We like to keep it simple and because no one has food allergies or gluten sensitivities and no one is vegan, it’s easier to do that. This is a very basic menu that doesn’t address any of those concerns, but if you’re hosting and have no idea where to start this is a good place. No one has ever complained or left hungry. We usually have 15-20 adults. For more people, we have more appetizers and two meats.
• 2 Potatoes (Mashed and Sweet)
• Mac & Cheese
• 2 or 3 Veggies (Green Bean Casserole, Baked Corn, and Cheesy Cauliflower)
• Mushrooms (my grandma’s secret recipe)
• Pumpkin and/or apple pie for dessert
• Fruit salad
Turkey: The Main Attraction
Coat the turkey in buttered flavored Crisco or Olive Oil and season well (inside and out) with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Bake according to package directions. The cooking time and temperature will vary depending on the weight of your turkey. You’ll also need to give it at least 3 days to thaw out if it’s frozen.
Alternative Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Method:
Buy one of these Rival 22-Quart Roaster Oven￼s
so your Turkey isn’t taking up valuable real estate space in your oven. Make sure that you get a turkey that will fit in it. This particular one will hold a 22 lb. turkey.
While you are shopping for your Roaster Oven￼, get some PanSaver Electric Roaster Liners￼ and Turkey Lifters ￼if you don’t already have them.
Slow Cooker Thanksgving Side Dishes
To pull this off, you’ll need a double or triple slow cooker. Or several slow cookers. There are many brands and types. I’m not an expert so choose the one you like that fits your budget. I have a double slow cooker that’s similar to this Triple Slow Cooker￼ but I absolutely love the concept of this Crock-Pot Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System￼. They would be perfect for a potluck.
In the past I’ve made this slow cooker stuffing recipe and this slow cooker mac and cheese recipe in the Crock pot and they turned out great! If you’re unsure, do a practice run and make the dish for a regular dinner.
More Slow Cooker Sides
Here are some other slow cooker thanksgiving side dish recipes I’ve collected that I think would be great additions to the menu. You don’t have to make them all. Typically we go with 2 potatoes (mashed and sweet) and 2-3 vegetables (green bean casserole, baked corn, and carrots or cauliflower).
• Crockpot Parmesan Ranch Mushrooms
• Slow Cooker Glazed Carrots
• Crockpot Pumpkin Risotto
• Mashed Potatoes
I use an entire bag of Yukon Gold potatoes and make them the usual way by boiling the potatoes and then mashing with butter, milk, and salt. Then I use the slow cooker to keep them warm. But you can even make mashed potatoes directly in the crock pot. Or you can make these Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes in the crock pot.
• My baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe– just transfer to crockpot to stay warm or try this slow cooker version.
• Slow cooker Candied Sweet Potatoes
• Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Mash
• Crock Pot Cauliflower and Cheese
• Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole
• Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
• Crock Pot Corn on the Cob
• Apple Cranberry Sauce (if you want to get fancy. I just use the can.)
• Don’t forget the gravy. It’s OK to use Campbell’s gravy from the can or Heinz from the jar. Getting gravy right is hard.
This Autumn Squash Casserole is not a slow cooker recipe, but it’s my favorite and since you’ll have everything else in the slow cookers you’ll have oven space left for this.
Have you hosted a large family meal like Thanksgiving? What are your tips for getting everything ready ahead of time, so you can spend more time visiting and less time slaving away in the kitchen? I’d love to hear them.
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