Thanksgiving Menu Ideas for a Small Group

  • By Kim
  • 12 November, 2013
  • Comments Off

RosemaryOrangeTurkey Breast

As a young adult living in a metropolitan city away from most of my family, most of my get-togethers are with friends. This includes holidays if I’m not traveling home. I don’t usually have a big Norman Rockwell-esque Thanksgiving gathering, but that’s no problem. In recent years, our Thanksgiving has involved getting together with my uncle, a few friends, and ordering some delicious Indian takeout and chowing down. Our local Indian place where we order from makes turkey tikka masala as well as tandoori turkey.  We eat curry with butternut squash and biriyani with dried cranberries. We make couscous and eat stacks of naan. Then we have pumpkin pie, ice cream and cookies for dessert. It is the best. People are always amused when I tell them and they always ask me, “Don’t you miss the traditional dinner?” Well, not really. I can make my own a turkey breast, gravy and stuffing anytime of year, and I do. I like our little Indian Thanksgiving no-fuss tradition.

So maybe you are in a similar situation like me – you don’t live near family or maybe you just like smaller gatherings rather than hanging out at a house full of relatives your barely know. Maybe you want to have a Friendsgiving with a few other Turkey Day orphans. You can still gather together a group for a scaled down feast. These recipes will serve 4-6 people. You can pair these main dishes with some of our recommended sides, and add a simple dessert. Serve some wine and coffee, and you’ve got an great little gathering.

Main dishes

Turkey Breast – I love making turkey breasts throughout the year. For white meat lovers, it’s all the meat, without all the fuss. No awkward, heavy bird to handle AND faster cooking times! Even better, the breast leaves PLENTY of good leftovers for for two people. I’ll roast one and have meat for turkey pot pies or opened-face hot sandwiches. One smaller whole breast is big enough to feed 6 people, especially if you have some sides to round out the meal. Some recipes to try:


Roasted Chicken – Another easy alternative to roasting a big turkey is to roast a chicken instead. Roasting chickens are very easy, quick and generally more juicy than turkeys since they aren’t as lean. Alternatively, if you can get your hands on one, try roasting a pheasant. It’s a lean bird like a turkey, but still delicate and richer tasting than a chicken.

Meats – Go full carnivore and buck tradition. Have some meat! You can try something a little out of the ordinary like venison or rabbits, or stick with the traditional lamb, beef and pork. Different sauces, and marinades help to dress up the meal and make it festive.

Meatless – On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can add in a meatless main dish if you have a vegetarian in the mix, or are looking for a heavier side dish. We talked about some veggie options a few months ago, but here are a few more that are fancy enough for Thanksgiving. Warning, I’ll all about carbs, yo.



Of course there are the more traditional options like pumpkin or sweet potato pies, but since you have a smaller group, you are free to serve up some desserts that wouldn’t necessarily work for a big crowd.


Turkey breast image from

Roasted chicken image by Herman Saksono, Flickr

Creme brulee image by McDee, Flickr

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