16 Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Sides That Are Better Than the Bird

Buttermilk White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
Photo: Andy Lyons

We know the Thanksgiving menu is really all about the sides, and we want a lot of them! Thanks to recipes for slow cooker side dishes for Thanksgiving, meal prep is a bit easier. Keep your stove top and oven free for all the other holiday cooking and baking with these Thanksgiving slow cooker sides in your recipe arsenal.

01 of 16

Orange-Sage Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

Orange-Sage Sweet Potatoes Bacon
Jason Donnelly

Try this citrus twist on sweet potatoes. It's one of our favorite easy slow cooker Thanksgiving sides. A splash of orange juice heightens the sweet flavor; crumbled bacon offers a smidge of saltiness. Best of all, you need only 15 minutes of hands-on time to complete it.

02 of 16

Slow Cooker Spiced Pumpkin Butter

Slow Cooker Spiced Pumpkin Butter
Jason Donnelly

You'll want to slather this delicious pumpkin butter on everything, starting with your Thanksgiving dinner rolls. It's made with canned pumpkin, maple syrup, fruit juices, and warm fall spices. Make it a week in advance, then keep it in the fridge until the big day. Or make it Thanksgiving Day to keep in the refrigerator to use as the spread on leftover turkey sandwiches.

03 of 16

Cauliflower and Broccoli in Swiss Cheese Sauce

Cauliflower Broccoli Swiss Cheese Sauce
Jason Donnelly

Slow-cooking broccoli and cauliflower in a creamy blend of Swiss cheese and Alfredo sauce make eating your vegetables a whole lot tastier. Thyme and black pepper mixed into the sauce add more flavor dimensions.

04 of 16

Bacon Corn Bread

Bacon Corn Bread
Blaine Moats

This bacon-y corn bread recipe satisfies with a sprinkling of whole kernel corn in addition to the cornmeal. And yes, it actually "bakes" in the slow cooker.

05 of 16

Vanilla-Butter Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Syrup

Vanilla-Butter Brussels Sprouts Pomegranate Syrup
Andy Lyons

Gone is any chance of bitter Brussels sprouts. These slow cooker Brussels sprouts are sweetly flavored with vanilla bean paste and pomegranate syrup, with a topping of bacon and toasted nuts for salty contrast.

06 of 16

Apple-Infused Carrots with Bacon

Apple-Infused Carrots with Bacon
Andy Lyons

Seven simple ingredients are all you need for these slow cooker Thanksgiving carrots with the sweet-salty combo we crave. The sweetness comes naturally from the carrots and a bit of apple juice. For the salty element, top with as much (or as little) bacon as you like.

07 of 16

Slow-Cooked Sourdough Peasant Bread

Slow-Cooked Sourdough Peasant Bread
Andy Lyons

Make this sourdough bread recipe in the slow cooker to keep your oven available for all the other holiday baking. Once the bird and other baked trimmings are done, place this bread loaf under the broiler for only 3 minutes to give it the browning your slow cooker can't. This yeast bread is extra moist, thanks to a bit of yogurt mixed into the dough.

08 of 16

Potato Chip-Topped Green Bean Casserole

Potato Chip-Topped Green Bean Casserole
Andy Lyons

Green bean casserole is all about the crunchy topper. For this slow cooker Thanksgiving side, we opted for a topping of salty, crispy potato chips. Once you try it, you may never go back to fried onions.

09 of 16

Ancho-Butternut Squash Gratin

Ancho-Butternut Squash Gratin
Karla Conrad

We want more than mashed potatoes on our menu of slow cooker Thanksgiving sides because there's room for more than one potato dish on the table. This fresh twist on potatoes au gratin adds butternut squash to the mix. Plus, we added chorizo and chile powder to turn up the heat a bit.

10 of 16

Rustic Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Rustic Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Scott Little

Sometimes a classic is best, but we figured you'd be OK with making these potatoes in the slow cooker ($25, Target) to save room on the stove for gravies, sautéed veggies, and more. Prepare this recipe before Thanksgiving guests arrive, then keep it warm on low for up to two hours.

11 of 16

Whole Grain Slow Cooker Stuffing

Whole Grain Slow Cooker Stuffing
Jason Donnelly

Make this stuffing your own by choosing your desired proportion of veggies and, if you want it extra hearty, add the optional ham and macadamia nuts. We call for whole-grain bread cubes to give the slow cooker Thanksgiving stuffing a rustic feel.

12 of 16

Slow Cooker Pickled Beets

Slow Cooker Pickled Beets
Karla Conrad

Make this slow cooker side dish for Thanksgiving even easier by using purchased beets that have already been trimmed and peeled. Look for them in the refrigerated section of the produce department. You can pickle the beets in your slow cooker and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks for an easy make-ahead idea to kick-start the meal prep.

13 of 16

Loaded Creamed Corn

Loaded Creamed Corn with Tomato and Bacon
Andy Lyons

This homey recipe starts with frozen corn, so you can make it any time of year. We often serve this slow cooker dish at Thanksgiving because creamed corn always belongs on a Thanksgiving buffet, but the tomato and bacon topping makes it a fit for summer potlucks too.

14 of 16

Orange-Cardamom Slow Cooker Carrots

Orange-Cardamom Slow Cooker Carrots
Andy Lyons

Orange marmalade adds an unexpected bright, citrusy flavor to slow cooker carrots. Using whole baby carrots with their tops still on gives the side dish a holiday-worthy appearance.

15 of 16

Three-Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

Three-Cheese Scalloped Potatoes
Andy Lyons

This scalloped potato recipe is one of our Test Kitchen's most-requested slow cooker Thanksgiving sides. A trifecta of cheeses loads it with flavor and creaminess, making it immensely flavorful. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or chives for a fresh, festive finish.

16 of 16

Wild Rice with Pecans and Cherries

Wild Rice Pecans Cherries
Karla Conrad

Your ho-hum wild rice side dish gets a huge punch of flavor from dried cherries and crunchy toasted pecans for a new Thanksgiving favorite.

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