12 Easy, Slow-Cooker Recipes Perfect for Holiday Gatherings

And football parties. And Netflix binge sessions.

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With the holiday season around the corner, you may have already started planning the details of your upcoming get-togethers. But there's one kitchen tool you might be overlooking during your cocktail party-planning — your slow cooker.

With a little prep and planning, your slow cooker could actually become the star of your cocktail party.

We found 12 of our favorite slow-cooker recipes from our sister brand, FoodNetwork.com, for a fun and festive holiday gathering:

1: Spiced Nuts

SLOWCOOKER SPICED NUTS Food Network Kitchen Food Network Maple Syrup, Unsalted Butter, Cinnamon, Orange Zest, Kosher Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Pecans, Cashews

Photo by: Matt Armendariz via Food Network

Matt Armendariz via Food Network

You could serve these slow-cooker spiced nuts at almost any gathering you might host over the holiday season. You could even prepare a couple of batches, keep them in an airtight container, and then you’ll always have a treat on hand should any guests stop by.

2: Moroccan Turkey Meatballs



Photo by: Andrew Purcell via Food Network

Andrew Purcell via Food Network

These turkey meatballs would make a great addition to your menu for a Mediterranean-themed holiday party. They would work perfectly with hummus or baba ganoush and pita chips, pickled vegetables and olives.

3: Pulled Pork BBQ Sliders

Pulled Pork Sandwich, as seen on Food Network's Trisha's Southern Kitchen.

Photo by: Food Network

Food Network

These delicious pulled pork sliders are a great choice if you’re looking for a heartier dish to serve. They almost work as a light dinner. Just make sure to have plenty of napkins and extra plates on hand.

4: Deep-Dish Pizza

Photo by: Food Network

Food Network

This deep-dish pizza can be prepared entirely in a slow cooker, making prep easy as can be. Try pairing the pizza with a tomato and mozzarella salad, a big antipasto plate or some homemade garlic breadsticks.

5: Chicken Chili Bowls

Photo by: Food Network

Food Network

If you want to go for a Mexican-themed cocktail party, these chicken chili bowls should be on your menu. You can serve it up in small bowls or even coffee mugs. Pair with chips, salsa and guacamole to go all in on the theme. And don’t forget to include some extras, such as cheese, mild chili peppers and onions.

6: Chicken Noodle Soup

FNK SLOW COOKER CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP (comfort food) Food Network Kitchen Food Network Carrots, Celery, Onion, Parsley, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Chicken Thighs, Egg Noodles, Lemons

Photo by: Matt Armendariz via Food Network

Matt Armendariz via Food Network

This chicken noodle soup would warm up your guests in a snap. To make it a bit more elegant, try serving the soup in martini or champagne glasses.

7: Macaroni + Cheese



Slow cooker macaroni cheese served in a blue bowl.

Photo by: Marshall Troy via Food Network

Marshall Troy via Food Network

This slow-cooker recipe can definitely feed a crowd, so make enough so that people can grab seconds. Serve the macaroni and cheese in small ramekins with little spoons, and offer up some hot sauce for any guests who might like to spice things up.

8: Spiced Apple + Pear Butter

Photo by: Food Network

Food Network

This fall-inspired apple and pear butter would taste delicious on a pumpernickel/raisin bread or on a sweet roll. In addition to freshly-baked bread, you can serve a big cheese board with a variety of different types of hard and soft cheeses.

9: Chocolate Candy

Photo by: Food Network

Food Network

These chocolate slow-cooker candies are a great addition to have on hand, no matter what type of menu you serve at your gathering. You can keep them out on the table as your guests arrive or save them for the end of the evening and serve them with dessert wine. You could even package up a few candies in small plastic bags and give them to your guests as a little favor when they leave.

10: Gooey Brownie Cake

Photo by: Brian Kennedy via Food Network

Brian Kennedy via Food Network

Similar to lava cakes, these treats would be a wonderful surprise at the end of your cocktail hour. These can get messy, too; however, so make sure you’re stocked up on napkins.

11: Hot Chocolate

This slow-cooker hot chocolate recipe would work with almost any cocktail party theme. It works well for a dessert-themed party or at the end of the evening served with your designated dessert item. You could even add some booze to the hot chocolate to turn it into a true cocktail.

12: Chocolate Fondue

Photo by: Food Network

Food Network

One of the most versatile treats you can make in your slow cooker is chocolate fondue. This is the perfect choice for a dessert-themed party or a sweet treat at the end of a meal. Chocolate fondue also gives you the flexibility to use whatever you have on hand for dipping: vanilla cookies, seasonal fruit or even a salty treat, like pretzels.

30 Warm Appetizers for Cold-Weather Entertaining

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Toasted Crostini With Herbed Cream Cheese Spread

Top warm and crunchy baguette slices with our sweet-meets-savory spread for a crowd-pleasing appetizer you can whip up in just minutes. Get the recipe.

Baked Brie With Raspberry Preserves

Warm-and-gooey baked Brie always impresses, but its preparation couldn't be easier. It's the perfect starter to keep holiday guests satisfied while they wait for dinner to begin. Get the recipe.

Mini Quiche Florentine

Vegetarians (just omit the bacon) and meat lovers alike will fall for these satisfying little mouthfuls. Store-bought pie crusts keep prep time to a minimum. Get the recipe.

  1. mini quiche

Caramel-Covered Brie

This ooey-gooey recipe looks impressive but it really couldn't be easier to make. Your family and guests won't be able to get enough of the warm, flavorful cheese topped with decadent caramel sauce and crunchy pecans. Get the recipe

Creamy Lump Crab and Corn Dip

Keep ravenous Thanksgiving guests at bay with this warm and creamy starter that features the fresh flavors of crab, corn and three different cheeses. Get the recipe.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits With Honey Ham

Comfort food has never tasted so good. Bake up a batch of from-scratch biscuits, then fill them with thinly sliced honey or country ham for a hearty bite to tide guests over till dinner is served. Get the recipe

Beer Cheese Dip

Why go out when you can whip up the pub favorite at home? Seasoned with hot sauce, cayenne pepper, horseradish and Worcestershire, this hot and spicy dip is guaranteed to warm up your guests on even the coldest of days. Get the recipe.

Smoked Gouda and Herb Puffs

These bite-sized balls of smoked, cheesy, herby goodness are the perfect appetizer for a dinner or cocktail party. Just be careful: They're so addictive that it's impossible to eat just one or two (or three)! Get the recipe.

Homemade Pub-Style Pretzels

Soft and chewy, these yeasty pretzels are perfect for serving with one of our warm dip recipes or just pulling apart and munching on their own. Get the recipe.

Chile and Lime Roasted Cashews

Ancho chile and chipotle peppers give fresh roasted cashews just the right amount of heat. Serve the nuts hot out of the oven for a real treat. Get the recipe.

Focaccia With Tomato and Mozzarella

Irresistible when served hot from the oven, this focaccia is a great light snack for guests waiting for dinner to begin. Pile any leftovers high with slices of turkey or ham for an unbelievably good after-Thanksgiving sandwich. Get the recipe

  1. bread
  2. loaf

Homemade Pimento Cheese

Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., shares a Southern-style recipe for spicy pimento cheese. Serve chilled, straight from the fridge, or place in a casserole dish and heat in the oven till bubbly warm. Get the recipe

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Blackberry Farm and Beall + Thomas Photography

Braised Pork Belly on Homemade Biscuits

Succulent braised pork belly on fresh, from-scratch buttermilk biscuits is sure to tempt guests. The biscuit's scaled-down size ensures everyone can enjoy this homey comfort food without ruining their appetite. Get the recipe

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Blackberry Farm

Pepperoni Pizza Hand Pies

Just 10 basic ingredients are all you need to whip up these tasty little pockets of spicy, cheesy goodness. Get the recipe.

Nacho-Stuffed Potato Skins

If your cold-weather get-together includes gathering around the TV for a football game, then be sure to make these restaurant-style potato skins a star player in your appetizer lineup. Get the recipe.

Spicy Cheese Straws

No fall or winter party is complete without the classic cheese straw. A savory combination of butter and cheese gets an added kick from cayenne pepper, making them a crowd-pleasing appetizer or hearty snack. Get the recipe.

Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Top flour tortillas with creamy goat cheese and guava jam for a crowd-pleasing starter that can be made in minutes. Get the recipe.

Blackened Tuna Bites

Tempt health-conscious guests with these sushi-inspired appetizers that get their "heat" from a healthy topping of wasabi or hot sauce. Get the recipe.

Ropa Vieja Mini Tacos

With two types of chiles, these spicy steak mouthfuls are sure to warm up guests coming in from the cold. Cut down on prep time by making the tasty filling ingredients a day or two ahead of time then stuffing mini taco shells right before guests arrive. Get the recipe.

Classic Cheese Fondue

Always a party favorite, cheese fondue can be made hours before serving. Serve with crunchy veggies and crusty bread. Get the recipe.

Crudites With Herbed Cream Cheese

For a healthy first course, whip up this flavorful herbed cream cheese to artfully top crunchy raw veggies. Get the recipe

  1. french

Photo By: She-n-He Photography

Fried Camembert

Take gooey fried cheese to the next level with Camembert and truffles. Sophisticated and oh so yummy, this quick and easy starter is sure to please even the pickiest of palettes. Get the recipe.

Bruschetta With Caramelized Dates, Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Whipping up bruschetta appetizers is a snap. Just toast a fresh baguette then top the slices with a soft cheese, like chevre, and any combination of savory ingredients like caramelized dates, spicy red pepper jelly, finely chopped pistachios or crumbled bacon. Get the recipe.

Southern Fried Stuffing Balls

HGTV's Meg Caswell, host of Meg's Great Rooms, shares this recipe that can be made with or without sausage. To kick up the flavor, Meg recommends adding crumbled bacon and serving them with cranberry dipping sauce made by pureeing a can of cranberry sauce with a splash of orange juice until creamy. Get the recipe.

Photo By: Photography: Kat Teutsch; prop styling: Elizabeth MacLennan; food styling: Jamie Kimm

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Fire up guests' appetites with shot glasses filled with this spicy vegetarian soup. Get the recipe.

Maple Chili Popcorn

Food Network's Jeff Mauro of The Sandwich King shares this endlessly munchable spicy-meets-sweet recipe that's great as both a light snack before a big holiday meal and for filling cellophane favor bags that guests can enjoy later. Make several batches a day or two before your get-together then store the popcorn in an airtight container. Get the recipe.

Photo By: Courtesy Kelsey Nixon ©2012 CookingChannelTV.com

Savory Focaccia

Freshly roasted garlic cloves, olive oil and rosemary sprigs give this tasty Italian favorite its signature flavor. Have a batch in the oven when guests arrive to fill the house with a tempting, herbal aroma. Get the recipe.

Photo By: Stefano Gargiulo

Nut-Crusted Brie With Cherry Chutney

Almonds, pecans and walnuts add a crunchy finish to toasty, gooey Brie. Serve with our tangy cherry chutney for an appetizer that's sure to wow your guests. Get the recipe.

Artichoke and Black Truffle Dip

Pair flatbreads and pitas with our savory Mediterranean-inspired dip that's served hot fresh out of the oven. Get the recipe.

Taleggio Crostini With Apple, Thyme and Honey

These tasty crostini can be prepared in a flash with only a few simple ingredients. They're a healthy, light starter for holiday guests to enjoy while dinner is prepared. Get the recipe.

Photo By: Courtesy Andrea Albin ©2012 CookingChannelTV.com

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