It looks like Thanksgiving, and the holidays in general, is looking very different for many of us this year. Some of us are planning small and intimate dinner parties with immediate family, some are planning virtual friendsgiving celebrations, and some might still be cooking up a huge Thanksgiving feast, boxing it up and dropping it off to family and friends. But just because the guestlist is small, doesn't mean that the thanksgiving dinner menu can't be epic. Today, I am sharing the best small Thanksgiving menu for four people with all the nostalgic classics (and of course some new comforting favourites) because we need all the holiday feels that we can get in 2020.
The menu is divided into the following sections: starters and snacks, mains, sides, soup and salad, dessert and thanksgiving leftovers.
Thanksgiving Starters and Snacks
Before we dig into our small Thanksgiving feast, and while the main course is spending its last moments in the oven, we need something to snack on. Bite-sized crostini like tomato bruschetta with balsamic glaze or curried white bean crostini is always a crowd favourite. You also can't go wrong with a classic holiday charcuterie board with creamy pumpkin hummus and sourdough crackers.
Pick one or two of the following starters to feature on your Thanksgiving menu:
If you are planning to cook turkey for just a few people, you might want to reconsider cooking an entire whole juicy roast turkey (although this would be a good idea just for all the delicious leftovers you would get!). Instead, try making roasted turkey breast or turkey legs, slow cooker turkey breast, or braised turkey breast. Another great option for a fancy Thanksgiving main is a whole roast chicken or whole roasted spatchcock chicken.
Pick one of the following mains to feature on your Thanksgiving menu:
Are you leaning more towards the nostalgic classics this year? Like creamy mashed potatoes, cranberry walnut apple stuffing, sweet potato casserole, roasted brussels sprouts and garlic green beans. Or do you want something festive but completely different? Like creamy brussels sprouts bake, sautéed garlic mushrooms, and stuffed butternut squash. Whatever you are in the mood for, I have a side dish for you.
Pick two to three of the following sides to feature on your Thanksgiving menu:
Thanksgiving Soup and Salad
I always start off my Thanksgiving dinners with a bowl of roasted butternut squash soup. It just sets the mood for the rest of the night. Plus, soup is really easy to make a few days ahead, and leftovers are good for up to 5 days to a week. I also usually throw in a light, seasonal salad on the dinner menu like apple walnut salad with balsamic vinaigrette just to balance out all the heavy comforting dishes.
Pick one soup and/or one salad to feature on your Thanksgiving menu:
We always have a bread basket with an assortment of bread on our Thanksgiving table every year. My favourites to make during the holidays are rosemary cornbread, pumpkin focaccia, and pumpkin dinner rolls. You also can't go wrong with simple homemade biscuits. The great thing about baking bread is that you can always make it ahead of time which is pretty great when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner planning. Always make what you can in advance.
Pick one of the following bread to feature on your Thanksgiving menu:
No matter how filling Thanksgiving dinner may be, there always room for dessert. Whether you are craving the classics -- pumpkin pie or pecan pie -- or something different like caramel pecan pie cheesecake bars, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, or pumpkin pie bundt cake with cream cheeze glaze, we can all agree that one serving is never enough.
Pick one of the following desserts to feature on your Thanksgiving menu:
Thanksgiving leftovers might actually be the best part of the Thanksgiving dinner experience, right? Which is a reason to just make a whole roast turkey even for a small intimate group. We always make leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches for lunch the next day, and a big pot of leftover turkey wild rice soup to last a few more days. And the cranberry sauce? Always make extra and bake up a storm. It's usually cranberry sauce oat bars or cranberry sauce muffins over here.
Tips for Planning the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Menu for Four
- Plan your menu ahead of time. You can prepare some of these Thanksgiving dishes in advance. Some can be frozen and reheated from frozen, others can be made and stored in an airtight container for a few days at room temperature or in the refrigerator, according to recipe directions.
- The turkey should be made fresh on the day of serving.
- Some sides should be made fresh on the day of serving, but many can be prepared in advance, stored in the refrigerator and reheated. Some easy make ahead sides are easy make ahead cranberry sauce, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and creamy garlic mashed cauliflower.
- All soup can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Salads can be prepared in advance (chopping vegetables and mixing the dressing ingredients together), and assembled before serving.
- Most dessert can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container either at room temperature or in the refrigerator . Some can even be made weeks in advance, frozen, and reheated in the oven.
- You can mix homemade and storebought. There is nothing wrong with getting some help by incorporating storebought items into your menu. If baking a Thanksgiving dessert is stressing you out, then just pick up a pie from the store instead. Does the sound of peeling and cubing a whole butternut squash for a butternut squash soup sound like too much work? No problem, pick up some pre-cubed butternut squash from the local grocery store.
- Prep your ingredients as much as possible. Once you have decided on the dishes to serve, prepare as much as you can in advance. Whether that is chopping vegetables, beating eggs, or preparing salad dressings. You can store all your prepared ingredients in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- Set the table the night before. Take out the fancy dinnerware, flatware, glasses, placemats, and napkins and set the table the night before. It's one less thing to worry about on Thanksgiving.
Did You Make Any of These Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes?
Please leave a comment and rating below, and let me know what you thought of this round up of recipes. Be sure to snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.Print