6 Holiday Side Dishes You Can Master in a Crockpot

When it comes to holiday dinners, the sides often steal the show. It’s the one time the meat is overlooked for potatoes, vegetables, and other nostalgic favorites. But you also don’t want to slave away in the kitchen perfecting these dishes. That’s where the slow cooker comes in. Surprisingly enough, the slow cooker can do a lot of the work for you. Here are the recipes that prove it.

1. Slow-Cooker Home-Style Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes in bowl

Mashed potatoes in bowl | iStock.com

The first thing we’re throwing in the slow cooker is russet potatoes, butter, sour cream, milk, and chives to yield a dinner side that your guests will crave year after year. This recipe from Food Network cooks for 4 hours and serves 8, making it ideal for entertaining. Instead of muscling your way through manual mashed potatoes, make them in the slow cooker.

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1½ to 2 cups milk, warm
  • 2 tablespoons sliced chives

Directions: Toss the potatoes, butter, 1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add 1 cup of water, then cover and cook on high until the potatoes are tender, about 4 hours.

Remove the lid and add the sour cream and 1½ cups warm milk to the potatoes. Use a potato masher to smash the potatoes until they are mostly smooth. If the potatoes need to be thinned out, stir in the remaining ½ cup warm milk. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Garnish with chives.

2. Slow-Cooker Stuffing

Stuffing

Stuffing | iStock.com

You can also master your stuffing in the slow cooker with this recipe from The Kitchn. Many argue shouldn’t mess around when it comes to stuffing, but this recipe promises to yield perfection. Your crockpot will work its magic and turn your bread cubes, veggies, broth, and butter into the comfort food everyone loves.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16- to 18-ounce) loaf rustic white or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 large stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • Leaves from 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Optional add-ins

  • 1 cup diced apple, dried fruit, or nuts

Directions: If the bread is not already completely stale and dried out, preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet and bake for 90 minutes or until quite crisp, stirring every half hour.

Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft. Stir in the sage and thyme and cook for 2 more minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Beat the eggs with the broth, salt, fresh black pepper, and dried fruit or nuts, if using. In a large bowl, fold together the toasted bread cubes with the cooked onions and celery, then stir in the egg-broth mixture. Transfer to the bowl of a 7-quart slow cooker that’s been lightly greased with cooking spray.

Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook the stuffing on low for 3 to 4 hours, until crisp around the edges. Serve

3. Slow-Cooker Corn Pudding

Steamed Corn in a bowl

This dish gets a triple dose of corn | iStock.com

This corn pudding recipe from Betty Crocker makes sure you won’t slave away on it in the kitchen. When you take advantage of the crockpot, the side dish is as easy as they come, taking only 5 minutes of prep time. After about 3 hours in the slow cooker, you’ll have 12 servings of this nostalgic dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14.75-ounce) can cream style sweet corn
  • 1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel sweet corn, drained
  • 1 pouch cornbread mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend

Directions: Spray a 3- to 4½-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix all ingredients. Pour into slow cooker.

Cover; cook on high-heat setting 2½ to 3 hours or until mixture is set and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

4. Balsamic Root Vegetables

Sauted root vegetables

Balsamic root vegetables | iStock.com

For some healthy eats and great color on your holiday dinner table, make these balsamic root vegetables from Southern Living.  All you need to do to prepare this healthy dish is cut up your vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker with oil, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. The end result will be 6 to 8 servings of flavorful root vegetables you’ll love.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 pound parsnips
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 2 large red onions, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions: Peel first three ingredients, and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces. Combine parsnips, carrots, onions, and cranberries in a lightly greased 6-quart slow cooker; layer sweet potatoes over top.

Whisk together sugar and next four ingredients in a small bowl; pour over vegetable mixture.

Cover and cook on high 4 to 5 hours or until vegetables are tender. Toss with parsley just before serving.

5. Slow-Cooker Sweet Potato Gratin

Peeling sweet potatoes | iStock.com

Peeling sweet potatoes | iStock.com

If you need a break from marshmallows or nuts this holiday season, go for this sweet potato gratin from Oxmoor House. This savory dish combines butter, potatoes, herbs, cheese, and broth to yield a side dish that tastes decadent but won’t devastate your diet. One serving clocks in at just 90 calories.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup organic vegetable broth

Directions: Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine onion, sweet potato, next four ingredients, and ¼ cup cheese in a large bowl, tossing to coat with flour. Coat a 4-quart electric slow cooker with cooking spray. Transfer vegetable mixture to slow cooker.

Pour broth over potato mixture. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until potato is tender.

6. Slow-Cooker Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes

Scalloped potatoes | iStock.com

Last but not least are creamy, dreamy scalloped potatoes. This recipe from Family Fresh Meals is a complete breeze. Once you slice your potatoes and layer them into the crockpot with cheese and a homemade sauce, the spuds will cook on high for about 4 hours before they’re ready to be served. There’s a time and place for everything, and a holiday meal is just the occasion for this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can condensed cream of potato soup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese or cheese blend
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions: Combine sour cream, soup, paprika,  salt and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl. Add sliced potatoes to the mixture and stir to coat.

Transfer half of the potato mixture to a crockpot greased with cooking spray. Top with ¾ cup of shredded cheese, then repeat layers once more. Cover and cook on high for 3½ to 4½ hours. Serve topped with a sprinkle of paprika and chives.