Thanksgiving Dinner for a Small Crowd Recipe

Planning

Guest Count: Determine the number of people you’ll be hosting (4-6 is ideal for a small gathering).

Menu: Consider preferences and choose dishes accordingly. Here’s a classic small Thanksgiving menu suggestion:

Main: Turkey Breast, Cornish Hens, or Vegetarian Main Dish

Sides: Mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce

Dessert: Pumpkin pie, apple pie, or another seasonal favorite

Timeline

Create a schedule for yourself to make sure everything’s ready on time. Here’s a sample:

Week Before

  • Purchase non-perishables, frozen items
  • Make & freeze cranberry sauce if making homemade
  • Consider making pie crust in advance

2-3 Days Before

  • Buy fresh groceries
  • If using a frozen turkey breast, start thawing in the refrigerator

Day Before

  • Brine turkey breast (optional, but recommended)
  • Prepare dessert (pumpkin pie, etc.)
  • Prep any vegetables to be roasted the next day

Thanksgiving Day

  • Morning: Roast turkey. Make stuffing.
  • Afternoon: Prepare side dishes. Set the table.
  • Before Dinner: Reheat side dishes, make gravy.

Recipes & Instructions

Main Course

Roast Turkey Breast

  • Brine (optional): Soak breast for 2-4 hours in a solution of salt, water, and spices).
  • Season: Pat the breast dry, then season generously with a blend of herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, butter, salt, and pepper.
  • Roast: Place breast on a rack in a roasting pan at 350°F (175°C). Tent loosely with foil and roast until internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
  • Cornish Hens: Great if you want individual portions! Season as above and roast at a higher temperature (400-425°F/ 200-220°C) until done.
  • Vegetarian Option: Consider stuffed acorn squash, a lentil loaf, or a vegetarian roast.

Sides

  • Mashed Potatoes: Boil potatoes, then mash with butter, milk/cream, salt, and pepper. Consider adding garlic or herbs for extra flavor.
  • Stuffing: Use store-bought for simplicity, or make your own with bread cubes, vegetables (onion, celery, etc.), herbs, and broth.
  • Green Bean Casserole: Easily assemble with canned soup, green beans, and fried onions.
  • Cranberry Sauce: Store-bought is fine, or make your own by boiling cranberries, sugar, and water until thickened.

Dessert

  • Mini Pumpkin Pies: Adorable, individual portions and easier to manage than a whole pie.
  • Apple Crisp: Warm, comforting, and a fantastic use for fall apples. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
  • Pecan Pie Bars: Perfect for a small crowd, these offer the rich flavors of pecan pie in easy-to-serve bars.
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake: Combines the creamy texture of cheesecake with the spiced warmth of pumpkin. You can even find mini cheesecake versions ready to bake!
  • Cranberry Upside-Down Cake: Festive, tart cranberries balanced with a sweet, buttery cake.
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble: Doubles as a side dish and dessert, especially popular in the South.
  • Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding: Utilizes leftover bread in a luxurious, custardy dessert.
  • Fall Fruit Cobbler: Swap out pumpkin for seasonal fruits like pears, apples, and a touch of cranberry.

Tips for Success

Shop Smart: Make a detailed grocery list to avoid stress.

Small Batch Recipes: Look for specifically scaled-down Thanksgiving recipes.

Prep Ahead: Make what you can in advance to free up time on Thanksgiving Day.

Ask for Help: Don’t be afraid to ask a guest to bring a side dish or assist with dessert.

Relax & Enjoy: The best Thanksgiving is about good company, so focus on the fun, not perfection.

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