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How to use a slow cooker to make your whole Thanksgiving dinner

slow cooker turkey

  • A Crock Pot (or any slow cooker) can be an indispensable tool for Thanksgiving.
  • We spoke with several cookbook authors and slow cooker experts for tips and trick on how to cook your entire Thanksgiving meal in a crock pot.
  • For turkey, you'll want to separate the breast from the dark meat so it fits.
  • You can even slow-cook Thanksgiving cocktails like mulled wine or cider in a Crock Pot.


No matter how much you prepare ahead of time, cooking for Thanksgiving usually turns into a stressful hassle. But there's one tool that can ease some of that holiday preparation-related worry: your slow cooker.

INSIDER spoke with several cookbook authors and slow cooker experts about their tips and tricks for cooking your entire Thanksgiving meal in a slow cooker. Turns out you actually can use your Crock Pot for practically every part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, from soup to nuts (or from turkey to mulled wine).

We have rounded up tips for every part of your Thanksgiving preparation, from separating the turkey breast from the legs so that it can actually fit into the Crock Pot, to Thanksgiving-themed slow cooker pumpkin cheesecake. 

SEE ALSO: These are the Thanksgiving recipes you'll taste everywhere this year, according to Pinterest

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Separate the turkey breast from the legs and choose one to cook low and slow.

Unfortunately, your Crock Pot or slow cooker probably won't hold an entire turkey, but if you separate the breast from the legs, it can work. 

"If you have a 6 quart slow cooker or larger, you still probably won’t be able to fit a whole turkey in there, but you can fit a 3-4 pound turkey breast," Kendra Bailey Morris, author of "The Southern Slow Cooker," told INSIDER. "The beauty of the slow cooker is that it is inherently self basting. Slow cookers create a very moist environment with the condensation from the cooking process often rising to the top of the slow cooker and then dripping back down onto the meat, which helps to keep things moist."

Her one very important tip? Make sure to inject some fat back into your turkey breast, since the meat is very lean. She suggests using an herbed butter. 

Place your favorite stuffing recipe into your slow cooker instead of the turkey carcass.

Stuffing is actually made for the Crock Pot and doesn't require much tweaking at all for your slow cooker.

"I would say use just about any stuffing recipe you like, just make sure it contains eggs and a liquid, like stock," Sarah DiGregorio, recipe developer and author of "Adventures in Slow Cooking: 120 Slow-Cooker Recipes for People Who Love Food," said. "Prepare it as you normally would, but instead of baking it or stuffing it into the turkey cavity, spoon it into your slow cooker. Cover and cook for about 4 hours on low. The top won't brown, but the sides and bottom will get nice and crisp and golden, while the center will stay pudding-like and moist."

The slow cooker version of cranberry sauce or relish is simple and makes your house smell great.

"Apple cranberry relish makes your house smell so good," Sheana Davis said. "Equal parts apples, cranberries, and apple and cranberry juice. Add sugar to taste, a bit of orange zest and cinnamon. The house will smell wonderful and the relish is delicious."

Try this version of slow cooker apple cranberry sauce from Betty Crocker here. 

See the rest of the story at INSIDER