Just two of you this year for Thanksgiving? You've got this! Planning a Thanksgiving dinner for two is quite different from organizing a big meal for a large group of friends or extended family. Cooking a full turkey is definitely going to result in a lot of leftovers, so you may want to alter your plans a little. You can opt for traditional or nontraditional Thanksgiving fare - the choice is yours. Plan a delicious Thanksgiving meal for the two of you and make it a holiday to remember.
Easy Thanksgiving Proteins for Two
Unless your goal is to end up with a lot of meat in the freezer, it's not ideal to prepare an entire turkey or ham when you're cooking a small Thanksgiving dinner for just two people. Fortunately, there are some small-scale ways to enjoy traditional Thanksgiving entrées.
Roast Turkey Breast
If you want to stick with the tradition of having turkey for Thanksgiving even though there are just two of you, purchase a turkey breast rather than a whole bird. Or, if dark meat is more your thing, how about turkey drumsticks? Follow these tips for cooking the perfect turkey, adjusting the cooking time based on the size. Unless the turkey breast you're cooking weighs more than seven pounds (which is not likely), you'll only need to cook it for about two hours at 425°F. Plan to cook turkey drumsticks for about 50 minutes at 450°F.
But what if you both want a little white meat and a little dark? Roast chicken to the rescue. It still makes the house smell like Thanksgiving as it cooks, and you won't be overwhelmed with leftovers. Oven already full? Then roast a chicken in your Instant Pot or cook it in your air fryer. Or, you could just purchase an already-cooked roast chicken from the supermarket's deli. We won't tell.
If you want a more upscale, gourmet main dish meat, turkey mignon is a great option. Purchase a few turkey medallions and prepare bacon-wrapped turkey mignon as the main course for your intimate Thanksgiving dinner for two. You'll need to sear turkey medallions wrapped in bacon on the stove before transferring them to the oven to cook. Serve over garlic spinach for a tasty main & side.
If one or both of you follows a vegetarian or vegan way of eating and/or is a fan of tofu, consider preparing a small Tofurky roast for your Thanksgiving dinner. This is a great main course option if you want to make a fairly traditional Thanksgiving menu for just two people and would rather avoid serving meat of any kind.
For a super-easy and tasty Thanksgiving meat entrée, purchase a thickly sliced ham steak (or two) from your favorite supermarket. This is the easiest possible meat option for a small Thanksgiving meal, as you'll just need to heat it for a few minutes before serving. You can pan-fry it, heat it on a baking pan in the oven, or even warm it on your outdoor grill if you're willing to brave the November chill.
Fun Alternatives for Two-Person Thanksgiving Dinner
When prepping Thanksgiving for two, don't feel like you need to limit yourself to traditional Thanksgiving entrées. A turkey casserole might be nice, but only if that's what you both truly crave. From soups and stews to pasta and beans, there are plenty of delicious entrée options that don't include turkey at all. You and your dining companion might just come up with a new traditional entrée based on your own dining preferences.
Sausage and Veggie Sheet Pan Meal
For a super-simple and fun two-person meal, pull together a sausage and veggie sheet pan meal. Cut potatoes and your favorite kind of smoked sausage into chunks. Place them on a sheet pan along with some broccoli florets (fresh or frozen), drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Feel free to add other veggies to taste. Bake at 400°F for 40 minutes. With this sheet pan meal, plates are optional. Simply put the pan on a trivet in the center of the table and dive in!
Baked Lentils Casserole
Looking for a hearty vegetarian option? A baked lentils casserole makes a hearty meal that really hits the spot on Thanksgiving. It's amazing how wonderful simple ingredients like lentils, tomatoes, diced onions, cheese (you can substitute vegan cheese if you prefer), and a few basic spices taste when combined in this way. Add some carrot slices for great flavor and an extra dash of seasonal color. If you're serving a meat course, this legume delight can be a lovely protein-packed side dish.
For a truly decadent Thanksgiving entrée, make a batch of pasta carbonara to enjoy with your dining companion. This rich combination of pasta, eggs, heavy cream, and bacon (plus more!) will have you and the person you're spending Thanksgiving with feeling just as sleepy as you would if you had eaten a traditional holiday spread complete with tryptophan-filled turkey. You could use this as a second entrée or side dish if you're preparing turkey or ham.
Spicy Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin isn't just for pies on Thanksgiving. Hearty, thick pumpkin soup will turn any two-person Thanksgiving meal into a fall festival of taste. This spicy pumpkin soup recipe is rich, delicious, and filling. The recipe calls for coconut milk instead of heavy cream, so it's also a vegan selection. This flavor-filled dish is hearty enough to be an entrée, but could also be served as an appetizer or side dish. In that case, you may want to cut the recipe in half (or freeze some for later).
Chicken Pot Pie
For a truly down-home Thanksgiving meal for two, whip up a homemade chicken pot pie in a deep-dish pie pan. This one-pot meal might not be traditional Thanksgiving fare, but it'll still remind you of home (or maybe grandma's kitchen). While the two of you might not eat the entire pie, you won't have a ton leftovers - maybe enough for one more meal (or late-night snack!) for the both of you. If you have a hankering to be a bit more traditional, you could use turkey in the pie instead of chicken.
Stew isn't a traditional Thanksgiving main course, but it is a warm and comforting one-pot meal to enjoy when it's chilly outside (which is usually the case on Thanksgiving Day in most locations). Depending on your dining preferences, you could make a rich and delicious slow cooker beef stew recipe, a decadent short rib stew, or a flavorful and filling vegan stew. Stew is a delicious one-pot meal all on its own. If you do have extra, just freeze the leftovers to thaw and reheat for a quick meal after winter sets in.
Tasty Thanksgiving Side Dishes for Two
No matter what entrée you serve, the sides are what really make the meal. Choose your entrée first, then focus on the sides. That way, you're sure to choose the right type (and quantity!) of recipes to perfectly round out your two-person Thanksgiving dinner.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Simple side dishes can be the very best ones. Baked sweet potatoes pair perfectly with any entrée, and they're easily scalable for two. Unless one diner is likely to eat more than one tuber, just cook one per person. Nothing could be easier. Poke holes in two sweet potatoes with a fork and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet (or wrap them in foil). Roast at 425°F for about 45 minutes. Pierce with a fork to verify they're fully cooked, then top with butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Green salad isn't just for summer; it's a great option for an intimate Thanksgiving meal. Not only is salad a healthy side, but it's also easy to match the amount to just a few guests. Simply decide which veggies and other ingredients to include and fill two salad bowls. Voila, you have just the right amount for a two-person meal. Kale salad is a particularly good option for a Thanksgiving dinner because this flavorful winter green is readily available this time of year.
Fresh Green Beans
Is it really Thanksgiving if there aren't green beans on the table? Rather than preparing a family-sized container of green bean casserole, you may want to serve simply prepared fresh green beans at your small Thanksgiving dinner for two. Whether you serve them boiled, sauteed, or simmered in a slow-cooker, they'll taste wonderful and add a bit of farm-to-table (or supermarket-to-table) elegance to your meal.
Corn on the Cob
Corn on the cob isn't just for warm-weather cookouts. While it might a bit too messy or serve corn on the cob at a large family dinner, that's not the case when the Thanksgiving guest list is limited to just the two of you. Corn on the cob is a fun treat that channels the spirit of the first Thanksgiving. A lot of the ingredients people associate with Thanksgiving recipes didn't exist back then (such as cream of whatever soup and corn syrup), but it's pretty certain that maize was part of that first Thanksgiving meal.
Want to add some rustic elegance to your Thanksgiving meal? Ratatouille is a tasty mixture of eggplant, zucchini, other vegetables, and spices that is a perfect, yet unexpected, side dish to serve with any of the meats or entrées listed above. The standard ratatouille recipe involves sautéing the ingredients on the stove, then roasting the mixture in the oven. You can also prepare ratatouille in a slow cooker. To avoid leftovers following a two-person meal, reduce these recipes by 50%.
Delicious 2-Person Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes
Dessert is a must for even the most intimate of Thanksgiving dinners. If you don't want to be tempted by way too many leftover sweets, opt for spectacular desserts that can be prepared in small portions.
Thanksgiving Mug Cakes
Mugs aren't just for coffee! Mug cakes are ideal for small-scale dinners, as each one makes just one serving (in the microwave, no less). Simply make one mug cake for each diner, and you'll have enough for everyone with no pesky leftovers enticing you to keep eating. This list of fabulous mug cake recipes includes step-by-step instructions for making apple coffee cake and carrot spice cake in mugs. Your kitchen will smell like the sweet deliciousness of Thanksgiving when you make these.
Love brownies but don't want to bake a pan full with just two of you for dinner? Then stir up some spectacularly delicious single-serve brownies in a mug. It's super-easy to make your own microwavable brownies. Maybe each guest could have a mug cake and a mug brownie for dessert. After all, if you can't splurge with an extra dessert on Thanksgiving Day, when can you?
Strawberry Whipped Cream Wrap
Thanksgiving tortillas anyone? Don't mind if I do. Like mug cakes, tortillas are a good option for desserts à deux, as you can simply prepare one (or maybe two - it is Thanksgiving after all) tortilla-based dessert per person. To make this delightful dessert, simply spread whipped cream (or a mixture of cream cheese and sugar) on a tortilla and add sliced strawberries, along with (if desired) some chopped walnuts or pecans. Roll it up like a sandwich wrap burrito. Refrigerate until it's time for dessert.
Chocolate Dessert Hummus
Hummus might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of dessert or Thanksgiving, but chocolate hummus is in a class all its own. Chocolate dessert hummus isn't what you'd expect for Thanksgiving, but it's a perfect way to end a less than traditional dinner for two. Serve chocolate hummus with fresh strawberries or bite-size cookies (like vanilla wafers or gingersnaps). This off-the-beaten-path recipe is made from chickpeas, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, salt, and water.
Berries and Cream
Who says Thanksgiving dessert has to be labor-intensive? When it's just you and one other person, less can actually be more. Put the icing (well, whipped cream) on your Thanksgiving dinner for two with a bowl full of fresh berries, then top off with a dollop of whipped cream. You could use the store-bought stuff out of a spray can, but for maximum taste and nutrition, whip up half of a batch of fresh whipped cream.
Thanksgiving Joie à Deux
Sure, Thanksgiving dinner à deux already sounds cozy, but with a little effort you can make it joyful and extra-special.
- Light a fire in the fireplace and set up a table in front of it for your dinner. Cozy up in your warm, comfy clothes and sip on some hot Thanksgiving cocktails as you eat. No fireplace? Put a virtual fireplace (complete with sound effects) on your TV or tablet instead.
- Use your best linens and dishes, pour a bottle of bubbly, light some candles, and dress in your fancies to give it a sense of occasion.
- Prepare dinner together before you sit and enjoy your feast.
- Go for a post dinner drive to see if anyone has put up their Christmas lights yet. Cue up your best Christmas playlist for the drive.
- Plan a jammies day in. Wear your comfiest pajamas and watch the parade and football snuggled under a blanket sipping on mimosas. Then, prepare dinner and enjoy it snuggled on the couch watching your favorite movies.
- Volunteer together at a soup kitchen, and then come home and cook your own meal together.
- Rake the leaves in your backyard (or in a nearby park) and jump in them.
- Go for a hike and come home to prepare your dinner together.
- Celebrate #adulting by eating pie for dinner. Only. Pie.
Enjoy a Wonderful Thanksgiving
There's a lot to be said for enjoying a special (and easy!) beautiful Thanksgiving dinner with just one other person. It's even better if said dinner is easy to prepare and doesn't result in so many leftovers that every inch of your refrigerator and freezer are completely packed. After all, soon you'll need to start shopping and prepping for the busy month of December. So set a pretty Thanksgiving table and enjoy a meal with someone you love.