11 Easter dinner side dishes you can make in a slow cooker

11 Easter dinner side dishes you can make in a slow cooker
  • Easter dinner can be a perfect opportunity to try out new recipes in your Crock-Pot or slow cooker.

  • Side dishes like carrots, scalloped potatoes, and green-bean casserole can be made in a slow cooker.

  • You can even use a slow cooker to make your Easter ham.

Easter is right around the corner, making it the perfect time to start planning your menu.

Easter meals typically include dishes like ham, lamb, potatoes, and fresh seasonal vegetables.

While often associated with winter stews and game-day dips, Crock-Pots and slow cookers are actually on the rise as a helpful cooking tool year-round. According to a Google Trends analysis over the last five years, searches for "slow cooker" typically rise in November and December, decrease at the start of the year, and then rise again along with the Easter holiday in March or April.

Business Insider consulted slow-cooker recipes and Leigh Anne Wilkes, the author of "Holiday Slow Cooker: 100 Incredible and Festive Recipes for Every Celebration," to determine the best slow-cooker recipes to make this Easter.

Here are 11 Easter dinner side dishes you can make in a slow cooker.

Mac and cheese is a crowd-pleasing side dish.

Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
Slow cooker macaroni and cheese.Leigh Anne Wilkes

"Mac and cheese is amazing in the slow cooker and one of my favorite ways to make it," Leigh Anne Wilkes told Business Insider.

Wilkes likes to use a variety of cheeses in her recipe for slow-cooker mac and cheese — including sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, and Parmesan — and she tops it off with a generous amount of crispy bacon.

"Whether you have a houseful of kids or it's just the two of you, the slow cooker can make cooking so much easier," Wilkes said. "I often refer to it as my secret weapon to getting dinner on the table."

You can also make creamy mashed potatoes in a slow cooker.

olive oil mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes.Robynmac/Getty Images

Mashed potatoes can be a big hassle, from parboiling them to mashing and finding a space for them on the stove.

However, mashed potatoes can easily be made in a slow cooker. Just make sure to add water to your pot or you won't get the desired consistency for mashing. The potatoes should take about four hours to become tender enough to mash. Then, add in your heavy cream, butter, or chives to taste.

"Even if you don't cook in the slow cooker, it is the perfect way to keep things warm," Wilkes said. "The biggest challenge with a holiday meal is getting all the food done at the same time and the slow cooker is a perfect place to keep things warm while the rest of the meal finishes cooking. If your potatoes finish up before the main dish, keep them warm in the slow cooker."

Another option is a warm German potato salad with ingredients like mustard, crispy bacon, and softened celery.

finished slow cooker potato salad with bacon
The finished potato salad with bacon.Erin McDowell/Business Insider

However, you'll want to give yourself plenty of time, as it will take multiple hours for the potatoes to soften.

Buffalo-chicken dip is another quick and easy favorite for a holiday gathering.

Buffalo chicken dip
Buffalo-chicken dip.AS Food studio/Shutterstock

One of the benefits of making a slow-cooker Buffalo-chicken dip — or any other side dish in a slow cooker — is that it can be prepared well ahead of time and reheated when you're ready to eat.

Green-bean casserole can also be made in a slow cooker.

green bean casserole
Green-bean casserole.Elizaveta Korobkova/Shutterstock

Green-bean casserole is a favorite side dish at many holiday gatherings, from Thanksgiving to Easter, and it can easily be made in a Crock-Pot or slow cooker.

Slow-cooked glazed carrots are delicious and easy to make in a slow cooker.

slow cooker cinnamon and honey carrots
Slow-cooker cinnamon and honey carrots.Leigh Anne Wilkes

Wilkes told Business Insider that one of her favorite ways to use a slow cooker on Easter or another holiday is by making her recipe for honey- or maple-glazed carrots.

"The slow cooker is the perfect thing to use when putting together a holiday meal," Wilkes said. "Especially when you are limited on oven space, it can be your second or third oven. I often have two or three slow cookers going for a holiday meal."

Balsamic Brussels sprouts make for a perfect side dish at Easter.

brussel sprouts
Brussels sprouts.Jayme Burrows/Shutterstock

Simply toss them in with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and cook until tender.

Top with balsamic glaze, goat cheese, pine nuts, and more for a delicious side dish.

Scalloped potatoes, or potatoes au gratin, are the perfect cheesy, creamy addition to any Easter meal, but you don't need to take up precious oven space to prepare them.

scalloped potatoes
Scalloped potatoes.Joe Gough/Shutterstock

This recipe for slow-cooker scalloped potatoes from Damn Delicious instructs you to prepare the cream sauce beforehand, before pouring it over sliced potatoes in the slow cooker and cooking them on high heat for four to five hours.

Dinner rolls can also be made in a slow cooker or Crock-Pot.

dinner rolls
Dinner rolls.AnnSal/Shutterstock

You might be shocked to discover you can actually make warm, fluffy dinner rolls in a slow cooker. One recipe from I Heart Eating teaches you how to make the perfect dinner-roll dough, then bake them only using a slow cooker.

You can also kick your rolls up a notch with these cheesy slow-cooker rolls.

Slow cooker rolls
Slow-cooker rolls.Leigh Anne Wilkes

"These Crock-Pot rolls are amazing," Wilkes told Business Insider.

Plus, since this recipe calls for frozen rolls, it cuts out a lot of the extra prep work. To make, dip each roll into mayonnaise, then melted butter, then cheese, and place them in the slow cooker. Then, sprinkle garlic powder and parsley over the top and bake for two hours on high.

If you want to cook more than one kind of meat, you can use a slow cooker to prepare an Easter ham.

Slow Cooker Ham
Slow cooker ham.Leigh Anne Wilkes

I know that for my family, we usually have both lamb and ham on the table at Easter dinner. If you want to make another kind of meat as a side dish or alternative, a slow cooker can be a great way to make cleanup and cooking a snap.

"If I am doing a smaller size ham I will always do my ham in the slow cooker," Wilkes told Business Insider.

Wilkes' recipe uses a glaze made from brown sugar, maple syrup, and brown mustard.

Read the original article on Business Insider