Holiday Slow-Cooker Recipes
Beef Pot Roast with Turnip Greens
We pulled together a collection of mouthwatering slow-cooker dishes to feed your holiday guests this season. From bold appetizers to juicy meats and decadent desserts, we have your holiday menu covered.
With a warming broth, creamy potatoes, and the lemony flavor of thyme, this pot roast is a cozy and comforting meal during the holiday season.
Nothing says "autumn" like the fragrance and flavor of cooked apples, especially when they're filled with a mixture of sweetened currants and walnuts and spiced with cinnamon. Serve these apples warm from the slow cooker with low-fat frozen yogurt.
Hearty Oats and Grains
When you have a house full of guests who'd enjoy a wholesome, hearty breakfast at their own pace, the slow cooker can come to your rescue. Get it going first thing, and let folks serve themselves when they're ready to eat.
Maple Onion Jam
Friends will love this versatile onion jam. You'll love how easy it was to make for them. We call to spoon the jam into 4 (8-ounce) jars, but you can also opt for 8 (4-ounce) jars to spread the love a little further. Give in cute jars with a note to enjoy the jam on burgers, pizza, bruschetta, or pasta.
Mediterranean Roast Turkey
This turkey is so tender and moist you could cut it with a fork. Mashed potatoes pair well with the Greek flavors of olive and oregano. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs, if desired.
Overnight Apple Butter
This rich and complex apple butter adds a new dimension to pork chops or chicken for your holiday recipes. Save leftovers to spread atop a warm slice of toast in the morning.
Cheesy Spinach-Artichoke Dip
Guests will be delighted to find this restaurant favorite on your buffet table. Get this appetizer started in the slow cooker a couple of hours ahead, and then make your final party preparations. The dip will be ready just as partygoers begin to arrive. To help you get as much moisture out of the spinach as possible, place it on a double layer of cheesecloth, gather up the edges, and squeeze the "bag" as tightly as you can. No cheesecloth? Spread the spinach on a few layers of paper towels, and top with more paper towels. Set a baking sheet on top, weight it down with a cast-iron skillet, and let it stand for a few minutes to draw out the moisture.
Ginger-Lemon Hot Toddies
Ginger infuses this lemony hot toddy with a spicy kick—the perfect antidote to chilly winter weather. After you add the alcohol, turn the slow cooker to low to prevent the spirits from burning off and allow guests to help themselves. Use the edge of a small teaspoon to scrape off and discard the ginger skin; it's much easier than trying to do so with a knife or vegetable peeler, both of which will cut away too much of the ginger flesh. Golden rum keeps this cocktail a lemony color, but if you prefer the burnt-sugar notes of dark rum, use that. This drink will also taste delicious cold: After cooking and infusing the ingredients in step 1, stir in the rum and brandy and cool the mixture to room temperature. Pour into a pitcher and chill. When you are ready to serve, pour the lemon-brandy mixture into glasses filled with ice and top off with club soda.
Spiced Apple Pork Chops
With spiced apples and caramelized onions, these tender pork chops create a beautiful and flavorful dish for your holiday table. Browning the pork chops in a skillet first, then sautéing the onions in the drippings to pick up the browned bits in the pan, creates a rich, flavorful base for the sauce in the slow cooker. Essential to the recipe, the thickness of the pork chops ensures that the chops stay tender and juicy throughout the long cook time. Serve with simply mashed sweet potatoes and sautéed Brussels sprouts to complete this comforting meal.
Sweet Potato Gratin
If you want a break from the typical sugar-packed sweet potato treatment, try this decidedly savory side. Instead of piling sugar or marshmallows onto sweet potatoes (which are already naturally sweet), enhance their taste with lightly browned onions, woodsy thyme, and salty Parmesan cheese. The flavor combination is irresistible. The gratin serves a crowd, so it’s perfect for a dinner party, open house, or holiday table. Make the job of slicing the potatoes much quicker and easier by using a mandoline or food processor fitted with the slicing blade. If you're not sticking to a vegetarian diet, you can swap in chicken stock for the vegetable broth.
Angel Food Cake with Mixed Berry Compote
Slow-cooked sauce made from three types of berries dresses up any store-bought cake or adds a finishing touch to your homemade holiday cake.
Tarragon Lamb Shanks with Cannellini Beans
A surprisingly simple list of ingredients yields incredible depth and one heck of an elegant dinner. Meaty lamb shanks are perfect for the slow cooker; over the long, low cooking period, all of the connective tissues melt so that the meat is tender and incredibly moist. White beans come along for the ride, soaking up all the meaty goodness from the lamb and the aromatics that flavor the pot. Tarragon—an anise-flavored herb popular in French cooking—lends the dish its distinctive taste. The recipe calls for dried tarragon, but if you prefer to use fresh, just toss in two sprigs (and sprinkle some chopped leaves on the finished dish).
Butternut Squash-Parsnip Soup
When you combine earthy parsnips, tart Granny Smith apples, and nutty-sweet butternut squash in the slow cooker, greatness awaits you. This combination cooks until buttery soft, then gets pureed in a blender for a creamy, smooth, comforting pot of gorgeous golden-hued soup. You'll end up with a lot of soup; it will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator. Reheat gently over medium-low heat, and whisk to bring the texture back to creamy perfection. Serve with an elevated grilled cheese sandwich (think multigrain bread with Gruyère or Comté cheese) for a fantastic soup-and-sandwich night.
Company Pot Roast
Though this delicious meal takes some planning ahead (it requires an overnight marinade), you'll be glad when you can spend the time before dinner chatting with family and friends instead of busily running around the kitchen. The recipe calls for dried morels, but you can substitute dried shiitakes (with an almost smoky taste) or dried porcini mushrooms (with a truffle-like intensity). Just opt for a dried and not fresh mushroom here, as it will have a more concentrated flavor. Use leftover meat and gravy to make roast beef sandwiches the next day, or spoon onto baked potatoes with a sprinkling of provolone cheese.
Mocha Hot Chocolate
Warm up with a glass of steamy and sweet hot chocolate. Serve this coffee-flavored cocoa with a batch of your favorite biscotti.
Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes without ever turning on your oven—nice! The slow cooker lets you set up these potatoes in the morning so they're ready to finish when you get home. Russet potatoes are best for baking; they have a mild flavor that's compatible with a wide variety of ingredients. The skin is edible and the interior is light and fluffy. Fat-free yogurt brings tangy notes to the mash in place of traditional sour cream. If you'd like, customize the flavor with a touch of added spice: Try a chopped canned chipotle pepper and a little of the adobo sauce it's packed in for spicy, smoked flavor; try cumin and a little curry powder for a deep earthy flavor. For a veggie-forward spud, layer on 1/2 to 3/4 cup of steamed chopped broccoli, sauteed spinach, or cooked cauliflower first before adding the remaining toppings.
That’s right—savory cheesecake. This retro appetizer is exactly what you need to turn up the volume at your next get-together. Folks will love hovering over and digging into a big “cake” of cheese made delicious with Tex-Mex flavorings such as salsa, cumin, and green chiles. Your slow cooker will cook it perfectly; the low heat gently melts the cheese without danger of it breaking or separating. Skip past the delicate, thin tortilla chips and make sure to purchase sturdy ones so they won't break as guests scoop into the impressive dip. Embellish the platter with celery, baby carrots, and sweet mini peppers for dipping, too—just as crunchy and delicious with the rich cheese and healthier to boot.
You may not think of using your slow cooker for breakfast, but it’s a great helper when it comes to the morning meal. Think of serving your family a warm bowl of fruity, cinnamon-spiced steel-cut oats—on your busiest weekday morning. That’s right: Just load your ingredients in, and start the cooker right before you go to bed. When you wake up, breakfast is ready and waiting. You can double the recipe for times when you have weekend guests. Be sure to use traditional steel-cut oats; quick-cooking steel-cut oats and rolled old-fashioned oats won’t hold up after the long cook time.
Braised Pork Loin with Port and Dried Plums
If you (like many folks) have a bottle of port hanging around that you don’t know what to do with, this recipe is just for you. The port, along with the dried plums, creates a rich, sweet—but not too sweet—sauce that perfectly pairs with pork loin. The plums soften so much that they break apart and incorporate into the sauce. If you don’t have them on hand, you can use raisins, but they won’t break down quite the same way. Dried herbs work well here because they soften and release their essences over the long cook time; if you’d rather use fresh, toss a sprig each of sage and thyme into the crock.
Sweet and Tangy Short Ribs
This saucy dish is worthy of a dinner party; just serve with a side of brown rice or rice noodles. Cola is the secret ingredient, yielding a luscious sauce with great body.
Spiced Poached Pears
This elegant but yummy sweet treat is a slow cooker sensation that is sure to be one of your all-time favorite desserts. Top with crème fraîche and cinnamon, if desired.
Balsamic Collard Greens
You'll love having a pot of these slow-cooked greens on hand. Serve them with roasted chicken, pork tenderloin, or pan-grilled pork chops—or pile them onto a bed of quinoa for a delicious whole-grain bowl. The slow cooker works some real magic here, turning collard greens soft and tender while still retaining some texture. The sweet and tangy vinegar-honey finish brings together the flavors of smoky bacon and earthy, mildly bitter greens in perfect harmony. For a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and stir in 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika to replicate the flavor, and swap in vegetable stock for chicken broth.
Chunky Peach-Ginger Chutney
This highly spiced, sweet-and-tangy condiment is great to keep on hand, or to package in cute jars to give as gifts. Serve the chutney warm or chilled with grilled or roasted pork, chicken, or lamb. Or make the ham biscuit of your dreams by slathering the chutney between layers. For a near-instant appetizer, smear cream cheese, softened Brie, or labneh on whole-grain crackers, and top with the chutney. If you use frozen peaches, there's no need to thaw them first; just toss them in the slow cooker straight from the freezer. This chutney thickens as it stands, as well as when it chills.
Gruyère Bacon Dip
Serve this dip with assorted vegetable dippers for a great appetizer at your holiday party or your dinner spread. Spread it on a sandwich made of leftover meat the next day for a simple and delicious lunch.
Double Apple Cake
If you’re an apple lover, look no further than this tasty cake recipe that boasts a double helping of applesauce and dried apples in its batter. With only 1 to 1-1/2 hours in the slow cooker, this apple cake is the perfect ending to a fall feast.
Spiced Caramel Cider
Cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a mug of warm spiced cider. The slow cooker is the perfect vessel for this winter drink: Whole spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice steep in the liquid at a low, even heat so they don't overpower the finished drink. We take the beverage one step further by adding a simple homemade caramel (made with a touch of butter and heavy cream) for a little sweetness that’s not at all cloying, as ciders often are. Fresh orange and lemon juice cuts through the sweetness and brightens the brew.
Beef Brisket with Beer
Yes, beef brisket is one of the toughest cuts out there, but it’s also the most delicious. As it turns out, the easiest cooking method for this cut is also the best: add it to your slow cooker with some sautéed onions and a bottle of beer, then return eight hours later to meltingly tender meat and a sauce you'll want to dunk everything in. Another brilliant addition? A shot of balsamic vinegar. It perks up the flavor and adds a little bit of sweet and tang to the sauce. Serve with any simply cooked vegetable or sliced and piled on a sandwich.
Lemon zest adds a nice bright lift to the spicy sauce and complements the Greek-inspired flavors of these meatballs. The dish makes a fantastic nibbler for cocktail parties or potlucks: they come together in a snap, and hold in a warm pot or chafing dish without suffering. If you don't care for the taste of lamb, use all ground turkey. Egg serves as the binder here. Warm spices like cinnamon and allspice bring toasty notes to the meat, while lemon and red pepper sauce add bright top notes. Currants add a hint of sweetness for balance. If you can't find currants, raisins will also work in this dish.
Serve this honey-colored jam alongside goat cheese or 1/3-less-fat cream cheese with assorted crackers. The recipe makes a lot, so store in decorative jars in your refrigerator to serve to unexpected guests and at impromptu parties. Tie on a pretty ribbon to present as a hostess gift. We use Calimyrna figs here, but any dried figs you like will work just fine. This jam would also make a great glaze for roast pork or chicken, or you could stir a touch into pan sauces for a hit of fruit flavor. Put some in a ramekin to include with cheese boards for party guests.
Hoppin’ John is traditionally served on New Year’s Day (it’s said to bring good luck all year)—but we think it’s too good to have only once each year. It’s a comforting delight, combining earthy black-eyed peas with aromatic vegetables and rice. Converted rice works best here; it’s par-cooked and re-dried rice that stays firmer after being cooked than traditional long-grain rice. Not a fan of bouillon cubes? Omit it, and use 2 cups chicken stock in place of water. Serve with a side of braised kale, Swiss chard, or collard greens.
Poblano Corn Pudding
Guaranteed to heat up any meal, this corn pudding is a tasty menu item for a holiday buffet.
Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew
A nutty dark beer adds richness and depth to the stew. Be careful not to choose a beer that's super-hoppy; it will taste too bitter. To get 2 pounds of trimmed meat, you'll probably need to purchase a 2 1/2-pound roast.
Cheesecake in a slow cooker is a brilliant idea for a heavenly special-occasion dessert that will keep your oven free. Top with fresh raspberries to complete your sweet treat.
Pork with Apricots, Dried Plums, and Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut balances the sweetness of the apricot preserves and orange juice. Dried fruit is a perfect sweetening agent for slow-cooked dishes. The fruit plumps and softens as it cooks, and releases its natural sugars into the cooking liquid. Lean cuts like pork tenderloin and white meat chicken need to be cooked in plenty of sauce in a slow cooker, or else they turn out dry and stringy. Dried thyme, like other dried herbs, is great in the slow cooker because the intense flavors mellow over time and blend nicely into the dish. A hit of some fresh chopped thyme at the end of cooking or as a garnish would be a welcome addition here as well.
Blue Cheese-Artichoke Dip
Blue cheese amps up the flavor for a little twist on the traditional artichoke appetizer. The dip holds up well for about two hours after the cook time. Serve with pita chips or toasted baguette slices. Be smart: While the blue cheese gives the dip a big flavor boost, it's partnered with many other ingredients here, so there's no need to use a premium Stilton that's $30 a pound. Save the star cheeses for your party cheese board where people can savor their flavor unadorned. Follow the same rule as you would when cooking with wine: Choose a wine that you would drink, but not one that you would showcase at a special event. Blue cheeses in the supermarket cheese section, even those sold already crumbled, are perfect for a dish like this.
Spicy Black-Eyed Peas
Don't forget to eat your black-eyed peas for good luck this year on New Years. Reduce the amount of hot sauce and finely chopped jalapeño pepper to mellow out the spicy flavor, if you desire.
Vegetable Pot Pie with Parmesan-Black Pepper Biscuits
This recipe offers a couple of fun twists. It’s a completely vegetarian take on the usual chicken pot pie, one that’s just as good as the traditional poultry version. And it all happens in the slow cooker, including the cooking of the fluffy biscuit topping. Fresh chives, lots of black pepper, and Parmesan cheese contribute tremendous flavor to the topping; you can use chopped green onions in place of chives if that’s what you have on hand. And do grind the pepper fresh from a pepper mill; it will have a much fresher and sharper flavor than preground black pepper.
Creamy White Bean Soup with Smoked Ham Hocks
Creamy, starchy, and filling, this hearty, rustic soup is the epitome of comfort. And convenient: Beans go in dry—no need to soak.
Vanilla Bean Baked Custard
This creamy custard is about as simply delicious as it gets. Using evaporated milk helps the custard stabilize and not curdle.
This classic soup gets a double hit of cheese—stirred into the soup and sprinkled over the top.
Roasted Garlic-White Bean Dip
Don’t just think of the slow cooker for all-day stews and braises. Here it offers you hands-off convenience by gently warming and melding the flavors of a white bean dip for a couple of hours—a great help for your next dinner party. While you’re tending to the rest of the meal, the appetizer can cook itself without needing your attention. Cannellini beans are the bulk of the dip, and their mild taste gets a flavor perk from toasted garlic, piney fresh rosemary, and meaty kalamata olives. You can also use navy beans or Great Northern beans if cannellini are hard to find.
Plum Pork Tenderloin
Pork and peaches is the classic combo that gets all the attention, but pork with other stone fruit like plums is every bit as delightful. Plums offer a deeper, more musky flavor than bright peaches, lending complexity to the dish. Use only ripe, juicy plums here for the best results. The plum sauce helps keep the very lean pork tenderloin moist as it cooks. Serve with jasmine rice to help soak up some of the sauce. Snow peas make a great side dish for rounding out your meal. Allspice and cinnamon are perfect spices for this savory dish, lending warmth and complementing the natural sweetness of the sauce.
A little lemon juice brings out the vivid color in these beets and keeps the flavors bright, too. Fun fact: While acidic ingredients like vinegar and citrus juice turn green veggies brown because the acid kills the chlorophyll, the same ingredients help preserve the color in other vegetables like red and yellow beets (or even white asparagus). If rosemary isn't your thing, thyme would work well here, and lemon thyme would be even better. Adding lemon rind at the end lends a little floral aroma and flavor. Delicate ingredients like zest are always best added at the end of the cooking process or else their flavor dissipates. A touch of honey amplifies the natural sweetness of the beets and subtly glazes the veggies.
Sweet Glazed Chicken Thighs
The combination of pineapple juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce creates a flavorful, teriyaki-style glaze that infuses tons of flavor into meaty chicken thighs as they simmer in the slow cooker. This mixture then gets thickened at the end so that it turns into a sticky, sweet glaze that coats the chicken perfectly. Though the recipe calls to serve the chicken over rice, try shaking things up by pairing with a nutty, bold-flavored grain—think barley, farro, quinoa, or buckwheat. Don't forget the sprinkling of green onions at the end; that little bit of crunch and the bold allium notes bring all the flavors into balance.
Cheesy-Spinach Crab Dip
We love crab dip and we love creamy spinach dip, so naturally we had to combine the two. This is a mash-up that actually works: plump, sweet crabmeat counters the jalapeño heat and won't fall apart in the slow cooker. By the time the two hours are up, the cheeses have softened beautifully, the garlic has mellowed, and the shredded jalapeño cheese has melted into gloriously stretchy strands. Spoon into a bowl or keep warm in the slow cooker. Serve with whole-grain crackers or colorful vegetable dippers like red and yellow bell pepper strips, diagonally sliced cucumber, or halved radishes.
A healthy side dish loaded with vitamins, these gently-cooked carrots are a great sweet addition to your holiday meals without excessive calories.