(Holiday Entertaining)

Thanksgiving For Two? Here’s What Top Chefs Say You Should Make

No turkeys in sight.

zeljkosantrac/E+/Getty Images
woman couple  watching tutorial and making a meal in kitchen.

When it comes to the classic, huge, family-filled Thanksgiving dinner, most people know the drill: Cook as much as you can, and tell everyone coming to bring something, too. Yet when it comes to a Thanksgiving celebration for two? That’s a completely different story. Of course, you still want to create a delicious, filling meal that feels appropriately seasonal. But making your usual turkey, casseroles, and pies would just be wasteful, not to mention overwhelming.

That’s not to say you and your companion should throw tradition to the wind and cook a tiny, un-festive dinner. It just means you need a few pared-down recipes to help you set a Thanksgiving vibe without the excess. Which is why TZR turned to a few top chefs, food insiders, and mixologists to help figure out the best menu for your less-crowded meal.

In the list ahead, there’s something for every mood, whether you want your usual fall-themed lineup or something lighter and less expected (but still comforting and warm). So get your grocery list ready and continue scrolling for recipes that’ll make this Thanksgiving for two your best one yet.


Fizzy Fall Shrub

Courtesy of Shrubbly

This recipe by mixologist Chelsea Harris is a healthier cocktail designed to go perfectly with those Thanksgiving favorites. To make it, muddle fresh ginger in a cocktail shaker. Add one and a 1/2 ounces of Italian Amaro (Montenegro or Meletti recommended), a 1/2 ounce of Grand Marnier, one ounce of orange juice, a 1/2 ounce of lemon juice, and ice. Shake and strain into a glass with fresh ice. Top with two ounces of Lemon Ginger Shrubbly, and garnish with orange zest and freshly grated cinnamon. Double the measurements for two servings.

Kendie’s Kick

Four Seasons Resort Nevis master mixologist Kendie Williams’ recommendation, Kendie’s Kick, is the perfect cocktail to try if you’re looking for something less traditional. The recipe calls for two ounces of Crowned Monkey Rum (or any spiced rum), one ounce of Brinley Vanilla Rum, one ounce of tamarind purée, one and a 1/2 ounces of passion fruit purée, a 1/2 ounce of lime juice, and one dash of Angostura Bitters to be poured into a shaker with ice. Shake, and strain into a glass.


“Fuego” Roasted Brussels Sprouts + “Poppin” Crispy Potatoes

Courtesy of ALL DAY

Lena Kwak, co-founder of just-launched spice brand ALL DAY and former Research & Development Director at French Laundry, recommends this easy sheet pan meal for a two-person Thanksgiving dinner. To make the Brussels sprouts and potatoes for the sides, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine one and a 1/2 pounds of baby red potatoes (cut into quarters), five tablespoons of olive oil, and three tablespoons of Poppin flavor spice on a sheet tray. Cook for 15 minutes.

Take the partially cooked potatoes out of the oven and push to the side. Add 12 ounces of Brussels sprouts, five tablespoons of olive oil, and three tablespoons of Fuego flavor. Mix until well combined. Place back into the oven for 15-20 mins, or until everything is nicely browned.

Pumpkin Cream

David Ruiz, sous chef at El Olivar at the Marbella Club, suggests an unexpected (and simple) take on classic fall flavors as a delicious side dish. To create the pumpkin cream, sauté one diced onion with two roasted garlic cloves, anise, cinnamon, and 200 grams of diced pumpkin. Add salt, pepper, and orange juice, and simmer until it’s ready to mix in a blender. Garnish with sprouts and seeds.


“Boom” Holiday Pork Chop

Courtesy of ALL DAY

To finish the “Fuego” Roasted Brussels Sprouts + “Poppin” Crispy Potatoes recipe, Kwak suggests this “Boom” Holiday Pork Chop. Start by heating up a cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add two tablespoons of olive oil. Season two one-pound bone-in pork loin chops with three tablespoons of Boom flavor. Sear both sides until golden brown, and then place into the oven with the Brussels sprouts and potatoes to cook to your preference of doneness.

Coconut and Herb Risotto

In keeping with the less “traditional” Thanksgiving theme, Ruiz shares a pared-down risotto recipe that will keep your smaller meal feeling light and fresh. Start by finely chopping two onions, three carrots, and four cloves of garlic. Sauté in a pan and then flambé with white wine. Lower the same pan to medium heat and add one kilogram of rice (preferably the Arborio variety). Stir, slowly adding vegetable stock, until the rice is al dente.

In a separate pot, place herbs including parsley, cilantro, spring onions, and basil (amount is to taste) with coconut milk and boil until reduced to half the amount. Take the herbs and quickly place under boiling water. Drain and blend to get a thin paste. To finish the rice, add the coconut milk and nutritional yeast (these are substitutes for the fat that is typically added to traditional risotto). Add the herb paste just before serving.


Apple Cranberry Crisp With A Pecan Crumble

Courtesy of Erin Emmett

Erin Emmett, pastry chef and founder of Pistachio Culinary Studio, offers this small crisp recipe for your downsized dinner party. Toss two diced apples and one cup of fresh or frozen cranberries in one tablespoon of brown sugar, one tablespoon of melted butter, two tablespoons of all-purpose flour, and the zest and juice from half a lemon. Pour the mixture into a pan or ramekin.

Separately, add a 1/4 cup of unsalted butter (melted and cooled) to 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, and (optionally) 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats. Using a spatula or your hands, mix the crumble until it resembles small stones. Add the crumble over the fruit and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Remove from the oven and serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Cinnamon Orange Hot Chocolate

Can’t stomach a full dessert, but still want something sweet to top off your meal? This hot chocolate recipe from the Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru at Embassy ONE will do the trick. Begin by adding 300 milliliters of milk to a pan. Remove the peel of an orange and add to the milk, along with cinnamon sticks. Heat the mixture to just before the boiling point, and then leave overnight in a refrigerator. The next morning, strain out the peel and cinnamon sticks from the milk.

Chop a chocolate bar into tiny pieces. Heat the milk again and pour it into the chocolate. Use a spatula or whisk to emulsify the chocolate and milk mixture well. Strain and serve warm in a cup, with a slice of orange, whipped cream, and a dusting of cinnamon powder as garnish.