Hosting a holiday get-together can be a lot of work — but you don’t have to stand in the kitchen all night to serve a meal your guests will love. Use a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, or a combination of the two to spend less time at the stove and more time enjoying your loved ones’ company.

Holiday Slow Cooker Recipes

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Holiday Slow Cooker Recipes

While there are some foods you shouldn’t cook in a slow cooker, these handy appliances are wonderful at gently heating soups, stews, hardy vegetables, and meat. Low, slow cooking temps allow you to start a dish several hours before your guests arrive — freeing up your time to prep or relax.

Appetizers

Cranberry Baked Brie (via Cooking Nook)

Servings: 4-6
Cook time: 1.5 hours

Who knew you could make such a classy appetizer in your slow cooker? Top a wheel of Brie with cranberries, brown sugar, and toasted pecans for an appetizer that looks like a lot of work but comes together in minutes.

Slow Cooker Spinach Artichoke Dip (via Gimme Some Oven)

Servings: 6-8
Cook time: 2 hours

Dips are a universally loved appetizer, and this creamy, vegetarian-friendly option won’t disappoint. Serve it warm with your favorite dippers. Potato or pita chips, crackers, and crostini are all fair game.

Crockpot BBQ Little Smokies (via The Salty Marshmallow)

Servings: 10
Cook time: 1 hour

Here’s another crowd-pleaser that works up quickly — just five minutes of prep and one hour in the slow cooker. Little Smokies are tasty mixed with prepared barbeque sauce alone, but adding brown sugar, dijon mustard, and a little spice dials the flavor up to ten.

Slow Cooker Candied Pecans (via Family Fresh Meals)

Servings: Varies
Cook time: 3.5 hours

Nothing says “festive” quite like candied pecans, and guests will enjoy munching on a handful as they wander and mingle. While they require occasional stirring, the warm, cinnamon-y aroma that fills your home while they cook will be worth the effort.

Entrées

Slow Cooker Ham with Maple and Brown Sugar (via Favorite Family Recipes)

Servings: About 10
Cook time: 2-3 hours

For many families, spiral cut ham is a holiday staple — and main courses don’t get much easier than this. Simply rub with brown sugar and pour in maple syrup and pineapple juice, and your slow cooker will take care of the rest.

Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast (via Recipe Tin Eats)

Servings: 8-10
Cook time: 8 hours

Planning to serve turkey? Check out this low-maintenance slow cooker version. Unlike oven-cooked turkeys, this recipe requires no brining beforehand or basting during the cooking process. Just rub with spices and nestle in the slow cooker with vegetables, then let the slow cooker work its magic. Cooking low and slow yields a juicy, flavorful main course — and the drippings make an excellent gravy.

To Die For Crock Pot Roast (via Genius Kitchen)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 7-9 hours

Traditional pot roast is pretty straightforward, but this slow cooker version has the advantage of keeping the oven off, which will help you keep the house nice and cool. (Your guests will thank you.) The longer cook time has a big advantage, too: You can pop it in the slow cooker early in the day and have plenty of time to do other things before the party starts. Add vegetables to the cooker for a hearty all-in-one meal, and serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles.

Sides

Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce (via The Lemon Bowl)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 3 hours

Sure, you can buy canned cranberry sauce — but making it from scratch is so easy, and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand. Fresh cranberries, warm ginger, sugar, and orange juice come together to make a tangy sauce worthy of your holiday turkey.

Crock Pot Stuffing (via Spend With Pennies)

Servings: 12
Cook time: 3.5 hours

This stuffing is rich, savory, and easy to prepare ahead of time. Slice your bread and mix with spices, veggies, butter, and broth the night before, then throw it all into your slow cooker a few hours before you’d like to serve it.

Crock Pot Million Dollar Mashed Potatoes (via The Country Cook)

Servings: 10
Cook time: 4 hours

Mashed potatoes pair well with pretty much everything — and this slow cooker version cuts down on the number of dishes you’ll have to wash since you can cook, mash, and season right in the crock. Peel and cube your potatoes ahead of time, and all you’ll have to do the day of is drop everything in the slow cooker and press start.

Slow Cooker Roasted Carrots (via The Chunky Chef)

Servings: About 5
Cook time: 6 hours

Here’s a side that almost makes itself. Mix the glaze and pour over baby carrots in your slow cooker for a buttery, sweet-and-savory helping of veggies that pairs beautifully with any main course. A splash of balsamic vinegar gives these carrots a pleasantly tangy kick.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Corn Casserole (via Slow Cooker Gourmet)

Servings: About 12
Cook time: 2-3 hours

Cheesy and creamy, with just a little spice — it’s a good thing this slow cooker casserole serves 12, because everyone will want seconds. This is another tasty side you can prep the night before: Just chop your veggies, mix the sauce, and combine when you’re ready to cook.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Brussels Sprouts (via Damn Delicious)

Servings: 6
Cook time: 4.5 hours

If brussels sprouts weren’t your favorite as a kid, it’s time to give them another chance — preferably served with a balsamic reduction and sprinkled with fresh parmesan. With just 10 minutes of prep, this is a recipe that only looks labor-intensive.

Crock-Pot Sweet Potato Casserole (via Delish)

Servings: 6-8
Cook time: 4 hours

Is it acceptable to serve both mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole at a holiday dinner? Trust us, your guests won’t mind. Bursting with butter, warming spices, and savory pecans, there isn’t anything cozier than this half-side-half-dessert. And since the slow cooker makes potato cubes soft and tender, there’s no mashing required.

Drinks

Decadent Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate (via Sally's Baking Addiction)

Servings: 9-10
Cook time: 6 hours

If you didn’t know you could make drinks in a slow cooker, this perfect hot chocolate is about to change your holiday beverage game. Create a hot chocolate bar with whipped cream, marshmallows (you can even make your own!), or hot cocoa stirrers — the options are limitless.

Slow Cooker Cider (via Kitchen Treaty)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 4 hours

Nothing says “the holidays are here” quite like a hot cup of cider. Cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange slices take prepared cider to the next level. And as a bonus, it’ll make the house smell super festive while it simmers.

Desserts

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp (via Gimme Some Oven)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 3 hours

Looking for a hands-off dessert you can prepare in advance? Fresh cinnamon apples meet brown sugar and a crunchy oat topping for a treat that’s as simple as it is mouthwatering. Ali of Gimme Some Oven recommends serving it warm with vanilla ice cream and a caramel drizzle. (Yes, please.)

Slow Cooker Coffee Cake (via Crazy for Crust)

Servings: 10-12
Cook time: 2 hours

This coffee cake pairs perfectly with your after-dinner coffee, tea, or cocoa, and the leftovers will make a tasty breakfast or midnight snack. Measure the ingredients beforehand and pour them in the slow cooker shortly before dinnertime, and the bread will be warm, delicious, and ready to serve in about two hours — no babysitting required. Dorothy at Crazy for Crust suggests using a slow cooker liner to lift the cake out of the crock in one piece.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cake (via Spicy Southern Kitchen)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 3 hours

With less than five minutes of prep time, this pumpkin cake is a great anytime dessert. The recipe uses a box of spice cake mix as a base, but thanks to flavor-boosting additions like butter, pumpkin, and pecans, no one will know it’s not from-scratch.

Our Favorite Slow Cookers

Our Favorite Slow Cookers
Best for Portability
Hamilton Beach Set and Forget 6 Qt Programmable Slow
Hamilton Beach Set and Forget 6 Qt Programmable Slow

Best for Frequent Use
KitchenAid 6 Quart Slow Cooker with Easy Serve Glass Lid
KitchenAid 6 Quart Slow Cooker with Easy Serve Glass Lid

We researched 29 models (and tested 13 at HQ!) to find The Best Slow Cookers. Our top pick for portability, the Hamilton Beach Set and Forget 6 Qt Programmable Slow Cooker, maintained consistent temperatures — and didn’t scorch our food! — for eight hours. Its included probe thermometer will help you avoid over- or under-cooking meat, and its spill-proof latching lid allows you to take your meal from counter to table (or kitchen to tailgate) with confidence. And it’s an economical choice, too: the Hamilton Beach is about half the price of our top pick for frequent use, the KitchenAid 6 Quart Slow Cooker with Easy Serve Glass Lid.

Holiday Pressure Cooker Recipes

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Holiday Pressure Cooker Recipes

Electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot have taken the internet by storm in recent years, and for good reason: They make quick work of meat, soups and stews, grains, and even desserts that would take hours in the oven or on the stovetop. Use your pressure cooker to whip up festive dishes, fast. (Just don’t forget to account for time for the cooker to “come to pressure” in addition to the cook time!)

Appetizer

Instant Pot Deviled Eggs (via Pressure Cook Recipes)

Servings: 6-8
Cook time: 12 minutes

This recipe isn’t technically “set-and-forget,” since you’ll have to make the filling and pipe it into the eggs. But Instant Pot enthusiasts say it has a supernatural ability to make hard-boiled eggs easier to peel (which means prettier presentation for your deviled egg platter!) If you’re so inclined, make them the day before and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Entrées

Instant Pot Ribs (via Tastes Better From Scratch)

Servings: 6
Cook time: 1 hour

When it’s too cold outside to fire up the grill (or you’d rather spend that time entertaining your guests), tender, flavorful ribs cook up quickly in a pressure cooker — under an hour, in fact! Lauren from Tastes Better From Scratch suggests adding a little liquid smoke for fresh-off-the-grill flavor.

Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes (via Creme de la Crumb)

Servings: 4
Cook time: 1.5 hours

Is it possible to cook a perfect pot roast in under an hour and a half? It is if you have a pressure cooker — doable and incredibly easy. If your cooker has a saute function like the Instant Pot, you can sear and cook your meat in the same pot, reducing the number of dishes you’ll have to clean up later.

Life Changing Instant Pot Beef Stew (via Pinch of Yum)

Servings: 5-6
Cook time: 40 minutes

Lindsay at Pinch of Yum adapted this version of a friend’s traditional beef stew — and she says it’s as flavorful as the original, even though it cooks up in just 35 minutes (compared to four hours in the oven.) Serve with plenty of warm, buttery bread.

Instant Pot Chicken Risotto (via Happy Foods Tube)

Servings: 4
Cook time: 10 minutes

Traditional risotto is finicky and involves lots of standing over the stove and patiently stirring — time that would be better spent enjoying your holiday get-together. Saute the meat and veggies right in your Instant Pot, then set cook time to 10 minutes. (Yes, you read that right.) Double the recipe to serve a larger crowd.

Instant Pot Minestrone (via Life Made Sweeter)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 8 minutes

For a filling entrée soup with a hearty serving of veggies, look no further than this Instant Pot Minestrone. It’s full to the brim with beans, carrots, spices, and noodles — and ready in less than half an hour. (Not too shabby for a recipe that serves eight!)

Sides

Garlic Mushrooms with Butter Sauce (via Foodie & Wine)

Servings: 2
Cook time: 20 minutes

Tender mushrooms, butter, fresh garlic, and thyme… these Garlic Mushrooms with Butter Sauce sound like a side you’d order at a nice restaurant, but they’re ready in under half an hour in your pressure cooker. (Note: The original recipe serves two, so you’ll need to increase it to feed a crowd.)

Southern Instant Pot Collard Greens (via My Sequined Life)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 16 minutes

Bacon and country ham, spices, and a little brown sugar give these greens a complex (read: incredible) flavor profile. No need to dirty an additional pan to cook up the meat — just use the Instant Pot’s saute function. That will reduce the washing and ensure you don’t lose any of the flavorful grease in transfer.

Pressure Cooker Fresh Green Bean Casserole (via This Old Gal)

Servings: 6
Cook time: 1 minute

Sauteed fresh green beans are tasty. Rich, buttery green bean casserole with an optional bacon garlic breadcrumb topping is transcendent. Unlike many green bean casseroles, this recipe eschews canned beans and soup for fresh — and you’ll taste the difference.

Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese (via Dad Cooks Dinner)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 20 minutes

This easy, cheesy mac has a secret ingredient: Evaporated milk, which replaces the flour and milk base that requires so much whisking in a traditional recipe. And with no water to boil and no noodles to drain, this one-pot wonder is ready in about half an hour.

Drink

Holiday Raspberry Cranberry Spritzer (via This Old Gal)

Servings: About 8
Cook time: 4 minutes

Here’s a refreshing take on a classic holiday flavor. Raspberries and cranberries (fresh or frozen) combine with lemon, sugar, and seltzer for a fizzy drink that’s equally delicious as a cocktail base or as-is. (If your pressure cooker’s tied up, you can also prepare it on the stove!)

Desserts

Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake (via Sweet & Savory Meals)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 28 minutes

Move over, pumpkin pie: This pumpkin cheesecake is a luxurious, festive addition to the dessert buffet. You’ll need a springform pan that fits in your pressure cooker (Catalina at Sweet & Savory Meals recommends this one) and a trivet (included with the Instant Pot.) If you’d like to prepare it ahead of time, this cheesecake can be frozen and thawed in the refrigerator — just move it to the ‘fridge the night before your meal.

The Best Pressure Cooker Rice Pudding (via Pressure Cooking Today)

Servings: 8
Cook time: 20 minutes

If you’ve never tried rice pudding, you’re missing out. It’s creamy and comforting — sort of like a dessert risotto packed with raisins, vanilla, and cinnamon. Barbara at Pressure Cooking Today recommends serving with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Instant Pot Chocolate Lava Cake (via Favorite Family Recipes)

Servings: 4
Cook time: 10 minutes

The chocolate lovers on your guest list will be excited to dip their spoons into one of these. Each guest gets their own mini lava cake, which is good because 1) They’re pretty on the table, and 2) There’s built-in portion control. (Heads up: You’ll need a trivet and a few ramekins.) These little cakes are gorgeous topped with mint leaves and raspberries, but a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a drizzle of chocolate — or even a scoop of ice cream! — would be tasty, too.

Our Favorite Pressure Cooker

Our Favorite Pressure Cooker
Best Electric
Instant Pot DUO60
Instant Pot DUO60

To find The Best Pressure Cookers, we researched 40 models and hand-tested 7. Our favorite electric option, the Instant Pot DUO60, is a “7-in-1 multi-cooker” with presets for meat, rice, soup, and more. We loved its sturdy, dishwasher-safe inner pot — and its sauté function, which allows you to brown, sear, or soften ingredients before pressure cooking, without the need to dirty another dish. While all of our top picks (both electric and stovetop) are safety-certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, the Instant Pot’s 10 safety features gave us extra peace of mind.

» Read more: Is The Instant Pot Worth It?

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How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Gathering

Use multiple cooking methods

If you choose your recipes (and cooking methods) wisely, you can cook several dishes at once to save time. You might pop a roast in the oven, one side in your pressure cooker, and another on the stove top — all while a cozy beverage or appetizer simmers in the slow cooker. Check cook times on each recipe before you start, and get the more involved recipes going before you prepare the quicker ones.

Borrow extra pressure cookers or slow cookers

Many recipes can be easily doubled or tripled, though you’ll need to keep capacity in mind — especially for a pressure cooker, which won’t come to pressure if it’s too full. If your guest list is long, consider borrowing extra cookers before the event.

Make it a potluck

You could also consider asking each guest to bring a side, drink, or dessert. If you go that route, a potluck signup sheet will ensure you don’t end up with five dishes of mac and cheese. Perfect Potluck and Google Sheets are great (free!) tools for this.

Prep in advance

Some recipes, like The Country Cook’s Crock Pot Million Dollar Mashed Potatoes, will taste awesome made ahead of time and reheated. For others, you can still do the chopping, measuring, and more before the party begins. That way, you’ll be able to get everything cooking quickly when guests arrive.

Use slow cooker liners

If there’s a slow cooker dish on your holiday menu, do yourself a favor and use a slow cooker liner. Once the meal is over, you can toss the liner and give the crock and lid a quick wash — no soaking or scrubbing required.

Slow Cooking vs. Pressure Cooking FAQ

Can I convert slow cooker recipes for a pressure cooker?

You sure can — and there are plenty of resources out there to help you do it well. Check out Taste of Home’s guide to converting slow cooker recipes for a pressure cooker for an overview, then visit Kristin at A MindFull Mom for help converting oven, stovetop, and other methods, too.

Can I convert pressure cooker recipes for a slow cooker?

Yes. See My Crazy Good Life’s guide, How To Convert Instant Pot Recipes To Crockpot. Keep in mind that the age, condition, and brand of your slow cooker could affect cooking times.

Can I double slow cooker or pressure cooker recipes to feed a crowd?

Yes — just keep your cooker’s capacity in mind. Both pressure cookers and slow cookers can vary widely in size from 3 quarts to 8. It’s especially important to stay below the max fill line in a pressure cooker because overfilling can mean your cooker will take longer to build pressure — or not come to pressure at all. A slow cooker that’s too full may boil over, which can pose a fire hazard.

Do I need to thaw frozen meat before cooking?

It’s safe to cook frozen meat in a pressure cooker because it increases temperature rapidly enough — and maintains a high temp long enough — to kill most bacteria. (Note: Using frozen meat may increase cook time and the amount of time needed for your cooker to build pressure.) If you’re planning to prepare frozen meat in a slow cooker, though, the USDA recommends thawing first to reduce the risk of foodborne illness, due to the lower cooking temperature.

When should I use a pressure cooker vs. a slow cooker?

That’s mostly a matter of taste since many dishes can be prepared in either (though your recipe may need some tweaking, depending on the method it’s written for.) In general, pressure cooking is ideal for quick cooking; grains, dry beans (without soaking); hearty vegetables; and frozen meat. Slow cooking is better at gently cooking more delicate vegetables and fruit. Some say slow cooking develops deeper flavors than pressure cooking.