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Side Dishes Make the Meal

This recipe for Crockpot Dressing is simple and can be combined ahead of time so all you have to do is pour into your pot and cook.


Think of your Thanksgiving meal and what comes to mind first? The turkey of course! But what would the meal be without the side dishes. To me, they make the meal. I love the thought of the dressing, sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, and other side dishes. Sure I can have them throughout the year, but for some reason Thanksgiving is when we crave those dishes.

Make your side dishes memorable by making a few additions that your family will love. Whether it be your sweet potatoes, dressing, gravy, or green bean casserole; you can make simple changes to make them shine.

Perk up your sweet potatoes by making a few additions to the simple tuber. Add any type of nut such as pecans or walnuts; dried apricot pieces, dried cranberries, apples, orange zest, crushed pineapple, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. I love them with roasted pecans, brown sugar, and dried cranberries.

Crock Pot Dressing will save you time and oven space and might be your new favorite recipe. You can make up the recipe the day before and put in the crockpot the morning of the feast. You have saved yourself time, but also oven space. If you forgo the crockpot and cook it in the bird, heat up your stuffing in the microwave right before putting it in the turkey. Then put the bird in the preheated oven immediately. This keeps the stuffing from lingering at unsafe temperatures inside the bird. Do not pack the stuffing too tightly; it will expand as it absorbs juices from the turkey. Expect to fit about three-fourths cup stuffing per pound of turkey. Don’t forget to stuff the neck cavity too!  Before removing the turkey from the oven, use a meat thermometer to check that the stuffing has reached at least 165 degrees F.

Giblet gravy was essential at my grandmothers. She had it mastered. If the thought of it gives you the jitters, don’t fret. Start by making a roux, which is equal parts fat and flour cooked together. Warm turkey fat in a skillet over medium heat and add an equal measurement of flour. Stir constantly for several minutes until light brown and well blended, and then allow it to cool. Heat turkey stock and pan drippings to a simmer and whisk in approximately 1 tablespoon of cooled roux for every cup of liquid. 

Green beans are a standard side dish for many. If you are tired of the green bean casserole, change it up. Make an elegant green bean and almond side dish. To make your own green beans with sliced almonds:  Follow package directions for cooking green beans. Drain liquid and, if desired, add about one-half to 1-teaspoon margarine and 1-tablespoon slice almonds for each cup of beans. These are great made the day before, refrigerated, then reheated before serving. This is another time saver for you!

If you would like to receive more information about serving foods safely, contact me at the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture in Miller County at 400 Laurel, Suite 215, call 870-779-3609, or e-mail You will also find great tips and recipes on facebook UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, and  twitter at @MillerCountyFCS or visiting our website at

This is my recipe for Crock Pot Dressing that I love to make all throughout the year. I have used it for so long; I don’t even know where it came from. It is simple and can be combined ahead of time so all you have to do is pour into your crock and cook. You will want to adjust the sage to your taste.


Crock Pot Dressing

1 cooked 9 x 13 inch pan of cornbread

4 eggs, beaten

1 medium onion

1/2 cup celery

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon sage

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cans cream of chicken soup

2 cans chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon margarine

In a saucepan, sauté onion and celery in 1/4 cup chicken broth. Spray inside of crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Mix all ingredients and put in crock pot. Add 1/4 teaspoon margarine on top of mixture. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours on low or 7 to 8 hours, until center temperature reaches 165°F.

NOTE: Omit salt if you are using poultry seasoning.

By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


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