THANKSGIVING FOR TWO by local mom, Christina Lane
Thanksgiving for two has all the favorites on the menu. This small Thanksgiving dinner is easy, plus plenty of options! Thanksgiving for two menu complete with a small Thanksgiving turkey, all the sides plus desserts to choose.
Thanksgiving Recipe for Two:
We are here to perfect our small Thanksgiving For Two game plan! For many reasons, throughout the years, my husband and I have been alone for the holidays. We lived far away from home, plus my husband’s parents are split between the two coasts! Not to ever forget the holidays I had to miss traveling due to being pregnant or with a newborn.
Cooking for two is my specialty. I’ve been writing this blog called Dessert for Two for 10 years, and I have written 4 cookbooks all about cooking for two. You have come to the right place for your small Thanksgiving dinner ideas!
Small Thanksgiving Turkey:
Let’s start with arguably the most important part of dinner: the turkey. We will not be roasting an entire turkey this year, because that’s kind of crazy! While leftover turkey is great in things like Broccoli Rice Casserole and homemade turkey broth, it takes up too much valuable oven space.
Enter the beautiful turkey breast; this one is boneless and skinless. It’s so easy to cook!
If you’re nervous about cooking an entire bird (even I am, and I cook for a living), turkey breast tenderloins are the place to start. It’s really no more difficult than cooking chicken breast—it’s just longer and wider, hah! A pack of turkey tenderloins, also known as our small Thanksgiving turkey, usually come two per pack. And while you could rub them with butter, salt, pepper, and sage, why be boring?
My recipe for Indian-Spiced Turkey Breasts is made with yogurt (or tangy kefir), turmeric, ginger, garam masala, cilantro, and lime. These Indian flavors taste so good on an otherwise boring piece of white meat.
Just because our celebration is small doesn’t mean our Thanksgiving turkey for two is any less impressive than a whole bird
Thanksgiving for two sides:
We will start with the orange vegetables. Oh, the orange vegetables are the best things about Fall, don’t you know?
Melting Sweet Potatoes are the world’s greatest gift to us all. Even if you think you don’t like sweet potatoes, you will like these sweet potatoes. The outside forms a crisp crust while the insides is, well, meltingly tender. We make this year ‘round in our house as snacks and on top of brown rice bowls.
If squash is more your thing, you’re going to love Baked Acorn Squash with Vanilla Bean. Yes, splurge on a vanilla bean, because it’s just the two of you, after all! One of the perks of a small Thanksgiving dinner for two is that we can treat ourselves!
The star of the show in my house:
We’re moving on to the next great Thanksgiving side dish. I love this cornbread dressing so much that I make a batch on my birthday, that falls nowhere near Turkey Day, hah!
My Southern cornbread dressing is the reason I celebrate Thanksgiving. I love cornbread dressing even more than I love turkey—it’s my favorite thing on my plate.
This recipe started out as a Southern Living magazine winner, and over the past 35+ years, my family has made it our own. We’ve changed the ratio of cornbread muffins to bread, and we’ve increased the spices by at least triple. There are no other cornbread stuffing recipes made in our house. Distant family members travel far and wide to get a taste of this stuffing recipe.
By the way, it’s stuffing if it’s cooked inside your turkey, and dressing if it’s baked alongside, did you know this?
Plus, this recipe has a how-to video to walk you through it exactly. It uses a double batch of my cornbread muffins, just so you know.
More Thanksgiving side dishes for two
I suppose we have to start talking about vegetables now. Now, please don’t feign your excitement–my side dishes are epic! I’ve been cooking these recipes for so many years that I have it narrowed down to just the amazing ones!
First, we should probably talk about salad. When I was growing up, salad was never served before Thanksgiving dinner—it just wasted space in our stomach, hah! But, I happened to marry a Southern Californian dude who loves a good salad. I created these two salad recipes for him using our favorite fall fruit: pears!
This Fall harvest salad features crumbled blue cheese, crunchy hazelnuts, and sliced pears. It’s so good that we eat it as a meal topped with baked tofu or sliced chicken breast during the whole season.
If you need another salad option, this chopped salad with pear vinaigrette is fabulous, too! The dressing is made with a whole pureed pear for sweetness!
I’m going to make a case for Brussels sprouts on your Thanksgiving for two menu. If you know you love Brussels, you will go crazy for a new way to make them: Coconut Brussels Sprouts with Black Mustard Seeds.
If you know you don’t love Brussels, swap them out for Bacon wrapped asparagus.
While we already have plans for plenty of orange vegetables, that doesn’t mean that we can forget about white potatoes!
Make ahead mashed potatoes, instant pot mashed potatoes for two, or even funeral potatoes are the way to go. Personally, the more I can make ahead, the better, so it would be so easy to pull a bread loaf pan full of mashed potatoes from the freezer that day.
It’s hard to believe we’re still talking about side dishes, but sweet potato casserole with marshmallows is not a sleeper.
And there are many, for whom, the Thanksgiving for two menu would be incomplete without mac and cheese. My instant pot mac and cheese will save you time and clean-up.
Before we move onto dessert, we need to put our slow cooker to use and make crockpot cranberry butter to drizzle over our turkey.
Small batch bread recipes:
If you think you’ll have room for bread on the table, I suggest my small batch biscuits or small batch dinner rolls.
Bread can be decisive at times, and maybe you want to skip the bread and save room for dessert instead? I’ve got you covered with desserts up next.
Desserts for Two:
As for desserts for two, well, that’s kind of my whole thing. Four out of the four cookbooks I’ve written are either all about small batch desserts or have a significant dessert chapter.
If you don’t believe that Thanksgiving dessert should be scaled down, I give you a full-size Orange Coconut Pumpkin Pie. Make sure you use the deep dish crust, ok?
But for everyone else, moving forward, the Thanksgiving desserts for two will be small.
Mini Pumpkin Pies are so cute.
Mini pumpkin cheesecakes with whipped cream on top are also so nice. The recipe makes just 4 pumpkin cheesecakes in a cupcake pan.
A pumpkin roll cake is fancy, if you own a quarter sheet pan.
Speaking of the quarter sheet pan, you can make my pumpkin quarter sheet cake.
Pumpkin mousse is a no-cook way to get your pumpkin fix.
And let’s not forget smaller, simpler desserts, like pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin cakes for two, mini pumpkin cakes with glaze, pumpkin brownies, and easy pumpkin bread.
If your family likes apple for Thanksgiving dessert, I have mini apple pies for two, apple tarte tatin for two, apple turnovers, and apple pie pizza.
Oh, the homemade small apple pie is made in a 6” pie pan, while the mini apple pies are made in two 6” pie pans. It really just depends on how much pie you and your partner need.
I hope this Thanksgiving for Two menu is perfect for your small Thanksgiving celebration this year! If you can’t travel to be near friends or family, my heart is with you. I hope these recipes bring you comfort and just enough leftovers for the next day.