With our recipes for turkey, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin cheesecake and more you can have a wonderful meal without tons of work or too many leftovers.

Hilary Meyer
October 29, 2020
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Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to gather with friends and family. And the dishes that typically go with it—the casseroles, stuffing, pies, a turkey that takes over the oven—are usually designed to feed a crowd. If you find your guest list shrinking this year and wonder how to honor this food-centric holiday without getting buried in leftovers, we can help. You can still enjoy a delicious meal, built for two, without making too many sacrifices. Check out our recipes and tips for pulling off the perfect Thanksgiving for two.

Thanksgiving for Two Tips & Recipes

Try Something New

If Thanksgiving is looking a little different this year, maybe it's time to embrace some change. This year you only have yourself and your loved one to please, so you can skip the dishes that don't speak to you and focus on what you love—or better yet, want to try. Don't like Aunt Sally's sweet potato casserole? Skip it! Tired of plain old turkey and gravy? Spice things up with a whole new flavor profile. Have some fun. It's your Thanksgiving. Speaking of fun, try a new cocktail or mocktail recipe. They're good at making things feel festive, and easy to make just for two. And if you're connecting virtually with friends and family, there's no better way to celebrate than with a tasty beverage in hand. Check out our Thanksgiving cocktails, like this Sagey Gin Gimlet, for inspiration.

Keep It Simple

Between the appetizers, side dishes and desserts (not to mention the turkey) it's easy to go overboard on your typical Thanksgiving. But if you're cooking for two, consider scaling it back a bit. After all, it's just you and one other person to cook for and a few less hands to help you clean up the mess. You should plan on spending time in the kitchen, but you shouldn't have to spend all day tending to seven different side dishes and desserts. Keep it simple. Pick one appetizer, two or three sides to go along with your turkey (if that's what you choose as your main) and a simple dessert. That will leave you plenty of time to enjoy dinner (and your company). Also, choosing recipes that can be made ahead of time, whole or in part, like this Turkey & Stuffing for Two, will help save time too. Plus recipes that serve two as opposed to 12 take up less space in the fridge.

Credit: Joy Howard

Choose Dishes with Leftovers in Mind

Sometimes it's hard to break with tradition. If you've spent all year looking forward to certain Thanksgiving sides or desserts, go ahead and make them. Just keep in mind, you will have to do something with the leftovers. To avoid leftover fatigue, try to repurpose leftovers into new dishes. Using mashed potatoes to thicken soup, or combining leftover cranberry sauce with whipped cream cheese to spread on bagels or serve on crackers are great ways to spin leftovers into new recipes. Some leftovers may be harder to transform (think: green bean casserole and stuffing). If it's a deal breaker not to have dishes like these on your holiday table for two, consider packaging a few portions to give to friends or neighbors. Everyone appreciates food that they themselves didn't have to cook, and you won't have to worry about leftovers languishing in your fridge. Some leftovers (like turkey) freeze well, and we all know leftover turkey can make its way into soups, salads and sandwiches. But if a whole turkey feels too big to manage, you can buy bone-in breast or turkey drumsticks for dark meat lovers instead.

Advice for Cutting Larger Dishes Down to Size

If you want to attempt to keep your traditional Thanksgiving side dishes but cut them down to serve fewer people, go for it! Just be aware that some dishes don't divide neatly. Generally speaking, if you're trying to decide whether to round an ingredient amount up or down, err on the side of caution by choosing the lesser amount. It's always easier to add ingredients later than to take away! Also keep in mind that you may have to adjust your pan size and cooking times. Smaller servings of your typical Thanksgiving casserole won't fit neatly in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. You'll be better off baking it in a smaller dish. If you're cutting your servings to serve two, heatproof ramekins are a great way to bake and serve individual portions. If you take this route, there will be some guesswork when it comes to baking times. Cutting the cooking time in half from the original recipe is a safe place to start checking for doneness. Get more advice on How to Adjust Recipe Servings for Any Size of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Recipes for Two

To really keep leftovers to a minimum, make a turkey breast or some drumsticks, and a selection of these dishes designed specifically for two people. We also included a vegan stuffed squash that can do double duty as a side dish or a vegetarian main course.

You may not want to wait for a special occasion to have this satisfying mini celebration. As noted above, turkey breasts and turkey drumsticks are good options too if you prefer your stuffing on the side.

Get the recipe:  Turkey & Stuffing for Two

Sourdough bread, a mix of earthy mushrooms and wild rice fill sweet acorn squash in this vegan recipe.

Get the recipe: Vegan Wild Rice Stuffed Squash for Two

Green bean casserole is usually built for a crowd, but not this one! It's perfectly portioned for a smaller Thanksgiving and done on the stovetop to free up oven space.

Get the recipe: Skillet Green Bean Casserole for Two

One sweet potato yields the perfect amount for two people while keeping true to the classic flavors you'd expect for Thanksgiving and other holidays.

Get the recipe: Stuffed Sweet Potato Casserole for Two

This easy make-ahead stuffing for two comes in its own single-serving dish. Turkey sausage and hearty whole-wheat bread combined with apples make this sweet and savory stuffing one you'll want to turn to again and again.

Get the recipe: Sausage, Apple & Herb Stuffing for Two

Hearty Brussels sprouts pair nicely with salty bacon and onions in this quick Thanksgiving side dish.

Get the recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions for Two

Caramel adds a sweet and salty note to this classic apple crisp.

Get the recipe: Caramel Apple Crisp for Two

Single-serving pumpkin cheesecakes are the perfect way to finish off a Thanksgiving meal for two (or any other meal, given that they take just 15 minutes of active prep time!).

Get the recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake for Two