Thanksgiving slow cooker recipes to make hosting fun

One of America’s most beloved holidays, Thanksgiving brings together the cherished fundamentals of family, food and relaxation. However, the person (or persons) tasked with cooking the great meal of the day may find the celebrations far from relaxing.

Luckily, Thanksgiving cooks can make their kitchen chores a little easier with a handy gadget: a slow cooker.

Meredith Laurence, a cookbook author known to her fans as Blue Jean Chef, narrated news week Recently that slow cookers shouldn’t be neglected by any cook looking to offload some of the Thanksgiving load.

“The best thing to have in the kitchen on Thanksgiving is help, and the slow cooker can be your best kitchen assistant,” Laurence said. “It takes the pressure off your oven, can cook a lot of food at once, doesn’t require last-minute work, keeps food warm, and never responds.”

What are the best slow cooker recipes for Thanksgiving?

Laurence helpfully shared three of her favorite slow cooker recipes news week Readers, taken from their website. Their top 3 recommendations all tick two important categories: 1) they’re easy to make, so the cook at home can actually join in some fun of the day, and 2) they’ll satisfy all of your guests.

Comp Image, slow cooker and a turkey
Above is a combination photo showing a slow cooker and an inset image of a cooked turkey. According to one cookbook author, slow cookers shouldn’t be neglected by any cook looking to offload some of the Thanksgiving load.
iStock/Getty Images

Blue Jean Chef slow cooker filling recipe

“This is a great way to make a TON of stuffing (which always goes first) and free up your oven for the turkey and other side dishes,” Laurence wrote in an email.

She recommends doing some prep ahead of time for her filling recipe, which makes 15 servings. On her website, Laurence notes that the ingredients can be put together a day in advance, with the exception of the eggs and chicken broth. Another tip: preheat your slow cooker for 30 minutes and this dish should be ready in about three to four hours after cooking on low.


  • 1 pound large white bread (about 12 cups diced)
  • ½ pound whole chestnuts (or 5 ounces cooked and shelled)
  • ½ pound pork sausage with sage
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chopped celery – about six ribs
  • 1½ cup chopped onion (about 2 small ones)
  • ¾ pound mushrooms chopped
  • 1 14-ounce package dried herb and spice filling mix
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Cut the loaf into ½-inch cubes and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast at 350ºF for five to 15 minutes, until lightly colored. Put aside.
  • If using whole chestnuts, increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Using a sharp paring knife, place the flat end of the chestnut on a cutting board and carefully score an “X” on the top of each chestnut, simply by slicing through the skin. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 400ºF for 25 minutes until the skin peels away from the nut. When the chestnut skins have darkened in color and the cut skin has separated from the center, remove them from the oven. The shell should come off easily at this point. If not, continue roasting for a few more minutes. Allow the chestnuts to cool so you can handle them, then peel the shells and chop the nuts into small pieces.
  • If using cooked and peeled chestnuts, cut them into small pieces and set aside.
  • Preheat your slow cooker on the sauté setting for 30 minutes or preheat a large skillet on the stove. Fry the sausage until it’s no longer pink. Remove the sausage from the heat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Melt the butter in the stove together with the leftover fat from the sausage. Add the onions and celery and sauté for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another five minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
  • Add the cooked sausage, chopped chestnuts and parsley to the stove, tossing to combine the ingredients evenly. Add the filling mixture and mix well. Stir the toasted bread cubes into the stovetop batches and mix thoroughly with the other ingredients.
  • Mix the eggs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl and stir into the filling. Gradually add 2 cups of the chicken broth, stirring to mix evenly. Add more of the remaining broth as needed – the filling should look and feel moist. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • If you make this filling ahead of time, keep this mixture in the fridge until ready to cook. Take the filling mix out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to start the slow cooker to allow the ingredients to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat the slow cooker on high for 30 minutes. Pour another ½ cup of chicken broth evenly over the filling in the stovetop and continue with the recipe.
  • Cook slowly on high for three to four hours. Check the filling after two and a half hours and add a little more chicken broth if it starts to dry out. Leave on the “keep warm” setting until ready to serve.
Food in a slow cooker
This undated archive image shows food being cooked in a slow cooker. “The best thing to have in the kitchen at Thanksgiving is help, and the slow cooker can be your best kitchen assistant,” said Meredith Laurence, a cookbook author known to her fans as the Blue Jean Chef.
Getty Images

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast by Blue Jean Chef

“The next one also clears your oven, but in the opposite way. You can use your slow cooker to make a super juicy and delicious turkey breast,” Laurence said. “If the slow cooker takes care of the turkey, you can use your oven for the stuffing and vegetable sides.”

That’s right: Even the main attraction of Thanksgiving – the turkey – can be handled by a slow cooker. This frees you up for all the different side dishes and doesn’t require the constant checking that an oven roasted bird needs. If you have a large gathering, you can also pop a full turkey in the oven while using this recipe, which makes eight servings, to add some extra meat.


  • 1 onion sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 bunch of fresh sage
  • 1 (5 to 7 pounds) turkey breast bones in, with skin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground sage
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons butter at room temperature
  • olive oil


  • Preheat the slow cooker for at least 20 minutes while you prepare the ingredients.
  • Place the sliced ​​onions in the bottom of the slow cooker and toss in the crushed garlic cloves, lemon slices, and fresh sage leaves.
  • Mix the salt, thyme, sage, paprika, and black pepper in a small bowl. Rub the room temperature butter all over the turkey breast, both on and under the skin. Sprinkle and dab the spice mixture evenly over the buttered turkey and place the turkey breast over the onions and lemons in the slow cooker. Drizzle some olive oil on top and cover the pot with a lid.
  • Slow cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 5 to 6 hours.
  • Check the internal temperature of the turkey breast with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat. The temperature should read 165°F when the turkey is sufficiently cooked. Remove the turkey breast from the slow cooker and cover with foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
  • Use the juice from the bottom of the cooker to make a gravy, or simply pour the juice over the sliced ​​turkey.
  • For a crispier skin, place the turkey breast under the grill for five minutes until browned before allowing the turkey to rest.
Slow cooker with soup
This undated archive image shows an arm lifting the lid of a slow cooker that is making soup. Even the star attraction of Thanksgiving – the turkey – can be handled by a slow cooker.
Getty Images

Turkey Pot Pie Soup by Blue Jean Chef

This recipe offers two options. One is for a chicken pot pie soup that might appeal to families who are particularly fond of poultry. The other uses leftover Thanksgiving turkey instead of chicken. Both options make eight servings.


  • 3½ pounds turkey (or chicken) breast and four bone-in thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup onion diced
  • 3 ribs diced celery
  • 4 carrots sliced
  • 1 large red potato peeled and diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ cups frozen corn and peas
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley


  • Preheat the slow cooker on the highest setting for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the skin from the turkey thighs. Halve the turkey breast crosswise. Season the turkey pieces on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes to the slow cooker and toss to combine. Add chicken broth, dried thyme, and bay leaf. Place the seasoned chicken in the broth and vegetables, cover the stove with the lid and cook slowly on high for three hours (or on low for six hours).
  • Remove the lid from the slow cooker and use a ladle to skim off the fat that has risen to the surface. Remove the turkey from the oven and place on a cutting board. Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces and discard the bones. Return the shredded turkey to the slow cooker. Rinse the frozen peas and corn in warm water and add to the slow cooker along with the heavy cream.
  • Cook slowly for another 30 to 60 minutes on high until the vegetables are tender.
  • Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and serve in bowls topped with some warm biscuit croutons.

“Bonus points? The slow cooker is actually a great way to keep your mashed potatoes warm during Thanksgiving dinner,” Laurence said.

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Rick Schindler

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