Shopping, decorating and traveling may be all you can think about these days. If you haven’t noticed, this holiday trifecta has a tendency to run us ragged by the time our holiday meal rolls around.
Enter your crockpot: “Slow cooking is extremely helpful for meal planning because in order to get the food plopped in the pot at a decent hour, you need to already have it in the house,” says Stephanie O'Dea, a New York Times best-selling cookbook author and slow cooking expert. “Even on the busiest days, I can come home knowing that dinner is hot and cooked. This keeps us out of the drive-thru line and is healthier for our waistlines and wallets.”
Slow cooking is both convenient and timesaving year-round, but these one-pot wonders (which require minimal prep), will taste particularly delicious around the holidays. This year, why slow down your hectic holiday schedule with some slow cooking recipes?
Warm, hearty meals are indicative of winter, but may go by the wayside the second things get busier than normal. When you need quick, pre-holiday meal, O’Dea turns to some of her favorites such as slow cooker lasagna, salsa black bean soup and 20-40 garlic clove chicken. “I like that we can keep to our weekly budget by sticking to a meal plan during the hectic winter holiday planning,” she says.
Now, time for the good stuff! The day has arrived, and you may be getting ready to host a boatload of people (O’Dea entertains 30-plus people for Thanksgiving dinner). “Although I really enjoy testing new recipes, there's something about the holidays which makes me want to stick to our favorite comfort foods,” says O’Dea. Even if you aren't playing entertainer, you can still utilize your slow cooker. “[They’re] great for potlucks, especially since it can be troublesome to expect an open burner or oven at your host's house,” says O’Dea, “but there is always an available outlet somewhere!”
Cornbread stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and homemade cranberry sauce in the slow cooker top the list of O’Dea’s holiday favorites. Here, we’ve rounded up those recipes, as well as others from around the web, to make for a memorable holiday feast:
- Traditional Stuffing: Flavored with apple, sage and thyme, this classic recipe is made in an unconventional way: It takes two hours in the crockpot.
- Candied Sweet Potatoes: Layer sliced sweet potatoes with brown sugar, cinnamon and other flavors. For a marshmallow top, pop the dish in a broiler for a few minutes before serving.
- Turkey Breast: Forget all the brining and basting. The secret to perfectly juicy turkey is popping it in your slow cooker.
- Fruit-Stuffed Pork Roast: This impressive roulade is as beautiful as it is tasty. And the recipe is deceptively simple.
- Apple Cider Ham: Four to five hours in the slow cooker is all it takes to transform a bone-in ham into a salty-sweet masterpiece.
- Creamed Corn: Transform frozen corn into a delicious side with this easy and economical recipe.
- Creamy Ranch and Garlic Potatoes: In the morning, place the potatoes with a few added ingredients -- and you’ll have a perfectly creamy and flavorful side at dinnertime.
- Pumpkin pudding: This creamy pudding has all the flavor of pumpkin pie without the fat-laden crust. Your guests -- and waistline -- will thank you!