Thanksgiving for Two shouldn't be any less than Thanksgiving for twelve. I want everyone to enjoy an indulgent and flavor packed Thanksgiving - no matter the party size! In this post I have included a complete menu and a planner to plan grocery shopping, oven schedule and overall kitchen schedule!
This will be a long post. But it's long because it's complete, right. In order to make it easier for you to read, I've included some links that will redirect you to the paragraph you need at that time. Most of these recipes have their own blog post, where you can print the individual recipe card. Links to them can be found under their paragraphs. Have a lovely Thanksgiving!
Click for redirection to paragraphs:
- A lot of food = awesome leftovers
- What to do before the actual Thanksgiving day?
- The Order of the Cooking
- Oven Schedule
- Thanksgiving for two: the recipes
- You did it! (incl. complete list of pdf downloads)
A lot of food = awesome leftovers
And yes, this is a lot of food. Thanksgiving is all about the food, and you are supposed to be stuffed. So that is what I do. Stuff you with recipes so you can make and eat and then love me. I make extra because I want to have leftovers. Leftovers actually give room for a lot of creativity. Click this Thanksgiving Leftovers blog post to see what I did with all the leftovers. It made 7 vastly different dishes!
One turkey breast of 1.7 kg (3.7 lb) is too much for two people, especially with all these sides. But I still want you to have that festive feeling of roasting a bird for a long time. And with all the shopping you need to do on Black Friday, I am sure you will appreciate the extra meat and quick leftover dinners.
What to do before the actual Thanksgiving day?
So, you only have two hands and one brain (I think), so we need to spread it out a little. I really hope that since this is Thanksgiving for two, that two also help make it. I was alone on making this, and it went fine. But two is always better.
On Monday or Tuesday - go grocery shopping. Get it out of the way. I have made a grocery list. We are sometimes out of the kitchen and pantry staples too, so this is a complete list. So much of the list won't have to be bought that day! Click here to download the Thanksgiving Grocery List pdf!
The recipes that you can make ahead
Dessert: The Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
Like eating a pumpkiny gingerbread pudding with crispy topping! This recipe yields 4 ramekins, but they can be stored in the fridge for days. So you have dessert two days! Make these either on Wednesday or Tuesday, store covered in the fridge. All you need to do on Thanksgiving Day is adding sugar and torching or broiling the top. This is done in a flash and you don't have to multitask with all the other dishes. Do it when you're finished eating the main course!
For a more thorough explanation of the process and a printable recipe card, head to the main post Pumpkin Crème Brûlée.
- 230 ml heavy cream (1 cup)
- 90g egg yolks (4 large)
- 50g brown sugar (¼ cup)
- 125 ml pumpkin puree (½ cup)
- 2 pinches ground cinnamon
- pinch each of ground nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt
- 4 teaspoon granulated sugar for caramelizing the tops
- Pre-heat oven to 300F (150C). In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and brown sugar until well blended.
- Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan, until a barely simmer. Remove from heat and let cool a little. Slowly add the warm cream into the sugar and eggs while whisking. Mix in the pumpkin puree, salt and spices.
- Divide the mixture into 4 ramekins and place in a large baking dish. Fill the baking dish with warm water about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for around 35-40 minutes. They should wiggle a little in the middle once done because they firm up considerably in the fridge. Chill completely before placing in the fridge. Can be stored there for several days.
- Right before serving: Pour 1 teaspoon sugar on top of each ramekin, jiggle and turn it until it’s evenly coated. Broil using a kitchen torch or the broiler setting in your oven. Cool for 1 minute to crisp up the topping before digging in.
The Orange Cranberry Sauce
Oh dear, this is delicious. And the orange cranberry sauce is usually served cold, so you don't have to do anything about this dish on Thanksgiving. Make it either Wednesday or Tuesday and store covered in the fridge. Leftovers are great in these cranberry sauce oat muffins and cranberry coconut trifles, so make sure to double the recipe if you want those too!
For a more thorough explanation of the process and a printable recipe card, head to the main post Orange Cranberry Sauce.
- 150g cranberries (1 ½ cups)
- 60ml orange juice (¼ cup. Approx. 1 small orange)
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 75g sugar (¼ cup + 2tbsp)
- pinch salt
- 2 tablespoon orange liqueur
- ½ tablespoon orange zest (Approx. 1 small orange)
- Add all ingredients into a medium saucepan, apart from the orange liqueur and orange zest. Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add in orange liqueur and orange zest. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes. It will thicken more in the fridge.
- This orange cranberry sauce can be made days in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator. Served cold.
There are more that could be made ahead
If you are really short on time on Thanksgiving, you could also make your stuffing beforehand. You could make it a week before, freeze it and take it out on Thanksgiving or thaw the day before. I didn't do this, but I know a lot of people do.
However, what I would do is just dry the bread cubes in the oven to golden, for 20 minutes (190C/375F). That is the first step of the stuffing out of the way.
You could also make the cheddar herb sweet potato mash beforehand, but it's very little hands-on time so I think you should just make it then and there. If you re-heat it you may want to add some broth or cream, depending on the consistency you want, but I didn't find it necessary.
The Order of the Cooking
Sorry for the Harry Potter reference, I just couldn't resist. So this is my list that I continued to look at during the cooking:
Days in advance:
- Orange Cranberry Sauce
- Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
- (Appetizer: Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Apple Puffs filling)
- You may also dry your bread crumbs for the stuffing the day before (step one of stuffing)
Preferably the same day, but could also be made in advance:
- Caramelized Onion, Apple and Sage Stuffing
- Cheddar Herb Sweet Potato Mash
Before you start cooking:
- Have I bought everything? Click here to download the Thanksgiving Grocery List pdf!
- Make sure the kitchen is clean. You may also think of finding pots and pans beforehand. Set the table.
- You may also start prepping this: bread, onion, celery, carrot, pomegranate, brussels sprouts, peel and cube the sweet potato and put in a large pot with water. If you make the puff appetizer you could also make the filling beforehand. But remember that these need oven time.
- During the baking of sweet potato skins - 20 minutes
- Continue prepping what's not already prepped
- Prepare turkey
- During baking of bread cubes - 20 minutes
- Make the stuffing filling
- During turkey roasting - 1 hour - 1.5 hours
- Continue prepping for brussels sprouts, green beans, mashed potatoes
- Bake stuffing alongside turkey the last 40 minutes
- Cook bacon for brussels sprouts
- Begin with the mashed potatoes (but closer to the end of roast time)
- Broil sweet potato skins - 4 minutes
- During baking of brussels sprouts - 20 minutes
- Eat sweet potato skins (if you decide to make it)
- Rest turkey
- Keep mashed potatoes warm (e.g., on low in slow cooker)
- Green beans (the last 12 minutes)
- Broil or torch the Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
Click here to download this Thanksgiving Time Schedule on its own. Here is also the Thanksgiving Oven Schedule (download the pdf here). Because we are only roasting a turkey breast, we could fit two pans into the oven at once. Find the smallest pan that fits the turkey.
Thanksgiving for two: the recipes
I think we are more than ready for the actual recipes. Remember that orange cranberry sauce and pumpkin créme brûlée will be made days in advance, seen earlier in this post (or just click the links to go directly to their respectable posts).
Citrus Rosemary Turkey Breast
This turkey breast is fresh in flavor with tangy citrus and aromatic rosemary. It works perfectly with the other elements of this recipe. The turkey is and should always be the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving dinner whether it being just Thanksgiving for two or for a large family.
For a more thorough explanation of the process and a printable recipe card, head to the main post Citrus Rosemary Turkey Breast < here's also the gravy. If you want to roast a whole bird instead, I can recommend this Orange Pepper Whole Roasted Chicken!
- Half a turkey breast (split at the bone) 1.7 kg / 3.7 lb
- 2 tablespoon butter
- Salt and pepper
- 3 fresh rosemary sprigs (if they are big you may reduce to 2)
- 250ml (1 cup) white wine or cooking sherry
- ½ each of one lemon and orange.
- ½ head of garlic, crushed with paper still on
- Preheat oven to 230C (450F). Rinse and pat dry the turkey breast. With your fingers, carefully separate the skin from the meat and spread half of the butter under the skin. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Spread the rest of the butter on the skin along with more salt and pepper.
- Place the turkey breast in a roasting pan. Pour the white wine/sherry and juice from the lemon and orange on top. Cut the juiced lemon and orange into quarters and place in the roasting pan along with the garlic and rosemary. Top the turkey breast with rosemary sprigs.
- Reduce oven temperature to 180C (350F). Roast turkey for 60 minutes, then start checking the temp - a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should be 73C (165F). If it is getting brown, cover with aluminum foil to prevent burning. I had mine in for 1.5 hours.
- Take the turkey out of the pan and let it rest on a cutting board, covered, for around 30 minutes (or as long as it takes to make the gravy) before carving/slicing. Slice along the wing bone. A little pink at the bone is normal.
Super Easy Turkey Gravy
Because the turkey is lemony rosemary flavored, so will the turkey gravy taste like. It's tangy, but also full bodied and delicious. Because it's so tangy, I have added a little sugar to the recipe. If you decide to omit lemon in your turkey, I would also omit sugar from the gravy. But I hope you don't!
- 60ml (¼ cup) turkey fat - or butter to compensate
- 250ml (1 cup) pan drippings - or stock to compensate
- More chicken stock to thin out the gravy, as needed
- 60ml (¼ cup) flour
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar, or more or less to taste
- When the turkey is done, there will be a lot of sauce and pan drippings in the pan. Save this in a cup. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, this way the fat and pan drippings will separate and it's easier to measure.
- Once done chilling, scoop out the fat and measure. You ideally want ¼ cup, but I had only 2 teaspoon so I compensated by adding butter to reach ¼ cup. Place in a saucepan. Once hot, add in the flour. Whisk for a few minutes, it will be bubbly.
- Add in 1 cup pan drippings (if you have less, add chicken broth to compensate). Whisk.
- Add salt and pepper and taste. Is it way too sour? Add in 1 teaspoon sugar. My gravy was a little sour, but that does not matter when you eat it alongside all the other dishes. So remember, a little sour is fine.
- Whisk in more chicken stock if needed, to reach desired consistency. It will thicken a little once cooled.
This recipe is adapted from The Kitchn.
Caramelized Onion, Apple and Sage Stuffing
This stuffing recipe is filled with autumnal / winter flavors. Super comforting, yet a little interest with the apple and pomegranate. I am not one that says no to pomegranate, especially not as tasty garnish on comfort food! This stuffing is ultra soft and mild, making it very easy to like.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 75g sourdough bread, cut into quarters (about 2 slices)
- ½ medium onion (60g) finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt and pepper
- Half a celery stalk (10g) finely chopped
- Half a carrot (15g) cut into slices and then quartered
- A handful mushroom (50g), cut into slices, around ½ cup
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 1 ½ tablespoon fresh sage
- 250ml (1 cup) chicken broth
- ½ green apple (e.g. Granny Smith) peeled and chopped
- 1 egg
- pomegranate, for tasty garnish
- Heat oven to 190C (375 F). Place the chopped bread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and beginning to turn a golden brown color, around 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
- Add the celery and carrot, and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the onions are beginning to brown. After 7 minutes, add in the mushrooms and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add in the rosemary and sage and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
- Pour the chicken broth over the golden bread and toss until it’s nearly absorbed (do not pour everything at once, check and see if it's covered enough, then add more if needed). Add the cooked vegetables and the apple and mix to combine. Fold in the egg.
- Oil a small deep baking dish and add the mixture to it. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25 minutes on 190C (375F)*. Uncover and bake until golden brown, 15 more minutes.
* If you can bake it alongside the turkey, we will make do with 180C (350F). No worries.
NOTE: The photo above is double the amount as in the recipe.
The Caramelized Onion, Apple and Sage Stuffing is adapted from Woman’s Day.
Cheddar Herb Sweet Potato Mash
I love this sweet potato mash recipe. Sweet potatoes are in my opinion too sweet to be a mashed potatoes side dish. However, I managed to savorize it, making it less sweet and more savory. The sweet potatoes go so well with cheddar, and herbs go with literally everything.
For a more thorough explanation of the process and a printable recipe card, head to the main post Cheddar Herb Sweet Potato Mash.
- 500g sweet potato (about 1 large). Peeled and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces. If you are frying the sweet potato skins, you should peel the skin in large pieces. Set aside.
- 1 teaspoon salt (divided), or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper, or more to taste
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives
- 4-6 sage leaves - cooked in bacon fat of brussels sprouts (optional)
- 20g cheddar cheese, 3 tbsp
- Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a large pot, cover with water with about 2.5 cm (1 inch) extra. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer uncovered until the potatoes are tender. Approx. 10 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Mash it to your desired consistency.
- The herbs: because you are going to cook bacon for the brussels sprouts, I cooked a few sage leaves a couple of seconds in the bacon fat. You can cook it in butter or oil if you want.
- Add all the other ingredients and give it a good mix. Taste and season to your liking. Garnish with more chives.
- Serve hot. Leftovers can be stored covered in the fridge for 4 days.
NOTE: The photo above is of double the amount.
Optional Appetizer: Smoky Sweet Potato Skins
- The skin of 1 large sweet potato
- 2 tablespoon cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4-5 small sage leaves, finely chopped
- Pre-heat oven to 220C (425F). Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove peels from the large sweet potato into large pieces - 0.5 cm thick (¼ inch). Set the peeled potatoes aside, use in Cheddar Herb Sweet Potato Mash.
- Place the skins on the baking sheet and bake until tender, approximately 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix grated cheese with smoked paprika and garlic powder.
- Remove the potato skins from the oven and get the broiler on.* Lightly brush the potato skins with olive oil and sprinkle with the cheese mixture. Broil until golden brown, 4-5 minutes.
- Once they are done, sprinkle with sea salt. Eat immediately.
* I waited with this step until the turkey was done, but I made the soft skin before I roasted the turkey, see oven schedule.
NOTE: The photo above is double the amount as in the recipe.
This Sweet Potatoes Skin recipe is adapted from Woman’s Day.
Honey Balsamic Baked Brussels Sprouts
This recipe is on my heavy rotation for special occasion comfort food. If you would like one a bit fresher with lemon and blackberry, I can recommend you to check out these lemon blackberry basil glazed brussels sprouts and broccoli.
For a more thorough explanation of the process and a printable recipe card, head to the main post Honey Balsamic Baked Brussels Sprouts.
- 280g brussels sprouts, cut in half and outer shell removed (2 ½ cups)
- 4 strips bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼-1/8 cup pomegranate arils
- Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C). Cook bacon to crispy and save the bacon fat.
- Place brussels sprouts on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Mix with olive oil, reserved bacon fat and salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes, turning them halfway through.
Mix honey, balsamic vinegar and crumbled bacon with the brussels sprouts. Bake for 3 more minutes. Serve with fresh pomegranate arils.
Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
Garlic and parmesan makes anything taste better - even green beans. Green beans add that healthy side dish situation to the Thankgiving for two table, and it's a welcomed one too. A Thanksgiving feast can be a bit heavy, so it's nice to have some delicious balance!
For a more thorough explanation of the process and a printable recipe card, head to the main post Garlic Parmesan Green Beans. Or if you want, you could make a green bean casserole instead. I mention in the blog post how I would do that for this Thanksgiving for 2 fiesta.
- 190g green beans, stems removed (7 oz)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt and pepper
- Chop the edges of the green beans off, discard the edges. Mince garlic and grate parmesan cheese.
- Heat butter in a large skillet, over medium heat. Add minced garlic and stir for one minute, until fragrant. Add the green beans, salt and pepper and stir to coat evenly. Sautée for about 5 minutes or until cooked through, while stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
- Sprinkle with the parmesan and toss to melt the cheese.
You did it!
I try my best not to confuse you here. If you prefer to read it as a complete pdf, I have made this blog post including grocery list, oven schedule and time schedule, recipe for orange cranberry sauce and pumpkin crème brûlée as one pdf. You can find it in the list below.
It does not contain any photos (apart from the oven schedule) to help you save ink. If you are like me and love to print photos, I'd rather print the Thanksgiving Checklist pdf which contains recipe photos, see below.
Again, if you only want some helping tools, here's the list:
- Thanksgiving Checklist < this includes grocery list, recipes, oven schedule, time schedule
- Or if you just need the Thanksgiving Grocery List
- Head straight to the recipes here Thanksgiving Recipes
- Thanksgiving Oven Schedule
- Thanksgiving Time Schedule
- Full Thanksgiving Blog Post without photos
I hope you will have a fantastic Thanksgiving celebration, even though you may be only one or two or a small family. It's time to be in the kitchen and just shut the outside world out.
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