Tasty Thanksgiving Side Dishes You Can Make in Your Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole
Photo: Caitlin Bensel/Southern Living

For many Southerners, Thanksgiving dinner is all about the side dishes: cornbread dressing, casseroles, cranberry sauce, and everything else just waiting to be piled high on your plate before going back for seconds. With such a full dinner spread—not to mention a house full of holiday guests—preparations can get pretty overwhelming without some strategic planning. Forget about juggling bake times and wedging casseroles around a 20-pound turkey in a tiny oven—using your slow cooker is the secret to an easy Thanksgiving dinner.

We've rounded up our easiest slow-cooker side dishes that help make planning Thanksgiving day a total breeze. Expect new twists on classic side dish recipes, including cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and even homemade cranberry sauce. This year, don't let holiday meal-prep stress dominate your day and let your slow cooker do the work for you. Settle in with your family for a proper feast and plan your Thanksgiving around these standout slow-cooker side dishes.

01 of 16

Slow-Cooker Cornbread Dressing

Slow-Cooker Cornbread Dressing
Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Cornbread Dressing

Enjoying authentic cornbread dressing doesn't have to mean checking your oven to see if your dish is ready. If you want to walk into your kitchen and enjoy the aroma of freshly made cornbread dressing without the fuss, you will love our slow-cooker countertop recipe. Spoon this deliciously warm dressing into pretty bowls and voila!

02 of 16

Slow-Cooker Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

Slow-Cooker Sweet Potatoes with Bacon
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

Sweet potatoes are an important part of any Thanksgiving meal, and this recipe gives you a new take on that classic flavor. Orange juice gives this dish a little sweetness, while pieces of crumbled bacon will give you something to savor.

03 of 16

Slow-Cooker Collard Greens with Ham Hocks

Slow-Cooker Collard Greens with Ham Hocks Recipe
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Collard Greens with Ham Hocks

This classic Southern side gets a few subtle upgrades to help on both taste and time. Ham hocks add a burst of flavor and using pre-washed and chopped greens help to make this dish convenient and ideal for cooking during the holidays.

04 of 16

Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce

Spirited Cranberry Sauce
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce

If you're skipping out on the canned stuff this year, try this easy recipe flavored with fresh orange and ginger. This sweet sauce with just the right amount of zest is a worthy opponent in the old store-bought versus homemade cranberry sauce debate.

05 of 16

Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole

Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole
Caitlin Bensel/Southern Living

Recipe: Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole

It'd be hard to find a more beloved Thanksgiving casserole than green beans, and this one's a snap to make in the slow cooker. Rather than the usual mushroom soup, this slow-cooker recipe uses Alfredo sauce to make an extra creamy holiday casserole.

06 of 16

Slow-Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole

Slow-Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole
Southern Living

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole

This sweet casserole got a crockpot makeover that lets you save precious oven space. Just cube your potatoes (no need to worry about softening them in advance!), add all the sweet ingredients iconic to sweet potato casserole, and proceed with your other preparations knowing that everyone's favorite Thanksgiving casserole awaits in your slow cooker.

07 of 16

Uncle Jack's Mac-and-Cheese

Uncle Jack's Mac-and-Cheese
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Uncle Jack's Mac-and-Cheese

Your Thanksgiving meal won't be complete without a warm pot of homemade mac-and-cheese. Perfect for a crowd, this sliceable pasta side is the comfort food everyone looks forward to all year next to the turkey and dressing.

08 of 16

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Our new favorite addition to any fall meal? Homemade apple butter that pairs wonderfully with biscuits, cornbread, and even Thanksgiving turkey. This Appalachian staple is our favorite way of using apples fresh from the autumn orchard.

09 of 16

Vegetarian Slow-Cooker Collard Greens

Vegetarian Slow-Cooker Collard Greens
Victor Protasio

Recipe: Vegetarian Slow-Cooker Collard Greens

Collards can be just as good minus any ham—turkey is the star today, anyway! This recipe adds plenty of seasoning and tomatoes to make up for it.

10 of 16

Squash and Green Chile Casserole

Squash and Green Chile Casserole
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Squash and Green Chile Casserole

Green chiles and tomatillos give this classic Southern casserole a Southwestern twist everyone will love at Thanksgiving. And it's made totally in the slow cooker.

11 of 16

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Recipe: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Instead of (or in addition to) cranberry sauce, serve this cake side dish that's both sweet and tart. Hey, anything goes on Thanksgiving—and we think there's never too many cranberries!

12 of 16

Slow-Cooker Cranberry-Pear Butter

Slow-Cooker Cranberry-Pear Butter
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Cranberry-Pear Butter

Yet another show-stopping butter we're keep on the Thanksgiving table to accompany biscuits, cornbread, or turkey? This cranberry-pear concoction. It's sweet with just a hint of cinnamon spice and goes great with cheese if your feast includes some pre-dinner pickings.

13 of 16

Creamy Potato-and-Ham Hock Slow-Cooker Soup

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Creamy Potato-and-Ham Hock Slow-Cooker Soup

Big on flavor but low on effort, this side is comfort in a bowl. Serve this hardy and warming potato soup with a splash of hot sauce to complement the turkey and dressing Thanksgiving spread.

14 of 16

Slow-Cooker Grape Jelly Meatballs

Slow-Cooker Grape Jelly Meatballs
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Ali Ramee; Prop Styling: Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Grape Jelly Meatballs

These mini meatballs are easy-as-can-be to make. Simply throw your sauce and meatballs into a greased slow cooker and let the magic happen without any hassle. The not-so-secret ingredient? You guessed it: Grape jelly.

15 of 16

Slow-Cooker Green Beans

Slow-Cooker Green Beans Recipe
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Green Beans

A lighter (but thanks to the bacon, still rich!) alternative to green bean casserole, this recipe saves stovetop space for a classic side just like Grandma used to make. We'll never tire of the veggies and bacon combo.

16 of 16

Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder

Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder

Creamy soup makes for an indulgent side to the holiday turkey. Plus, served alongside holiday corn pudding, we're convinced that there's no such thing as too much corn on the Thanksgiving table.

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