Planning a Thanksgiving dinner for two but not sure where to start? Getting ready for the holiday when cooking for two is easier than you think. This menu is all about simplicity and very little fuss. This guide will walk you through how to make a turkey breast with stuffing thanksgiving dinner for two . Hopefully, it inspires confidence to make a holiday-worthy dinner when two share the meal.
- Small Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
- How to Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner for Two
- How to Make a Turkey Breast with Stuffing Thanksgiving Dinner for Two
- Turkey Breast Carving Tips
- Leftover Turkey Breast Recipes
- Freezing and Reheating Turkey Breast
- How to make Turkey Breast with Stuffing Thanksgiving Dinner for Two
Small Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
This thanksgiving dinner menu may be scaled down in size but not in flavor. Turkey and stuffing are a perfect pair on the plate and we cook them together in one pan, not only cutting down on dirty dishes but also creating a stuffing packed with savory poultry flavor.
As an homage to my grandmother’s stuffing, we will combine sage, onion, celery, wine, chicken broth and an apple for a flavorful turkey stuffing. Instead of small cubes of sandwich bread, we opted for larger chunks of ciabatta. The bigger pieces retained some chew even as they soaked up flavors from the turkey.
We will roast the turkey breast on top of the stuffing and when the breast is done, we will pop just the stuffing back into the oven crisping the top. It’s a perfect mix of moist and crisp edges that is guaranteed to win over your dinner guest.
For a final holiday flourish, we will make ahead a homemade gravy that is so much better than any store-bought gravy or gravy packet. If you don’t have time to make-ahead, it comes together quickly while the roasted turkey rests. I usually make a week ahead, thaw in the refrigerator the night before and then reheat while the turkey rests.
A simple warm spinach salad and no fuss mashed potatoes -- we will whip the dishes together while the turkey breast rests.
Since we will spend most of our effort on the main meal, let’s leave the bread baking to our favorite bakery. Be sure to call ahead to order your pie or preferred dessert.
Here are the dishes included in this small Thanksgiving dinner for two menu:
- Turkey Breast with Stuffing – cooked together in one pan, not just to cut down on dirty dishes but also to create a stuffing packed with savory poultry flavor. Using a turkey breast (instead of a whole bird) makes carving easier and eliminates the challenge of trying to sync the cooking times for white and dark meat.
- Homemade Gravy (without drippings)
- Mashed Potatoes
- Apple Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
- Jellied Cranberry Sauce – yup, the stuff out of the can.
- Store-bought pie or dessert
How to Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner for Two
There’s no need to plan out your Thanksgiving to-do list because we’ve done it for you. Take a couple of minutes to read through this step-by-step guide, which starts with all the little things you can accomplish a few days or weeks ahead.
Check off the small things every day, and come Thanksgiving, what’s left will be totally manageable.
Up to 1 month before
Make-ahead and freeze Ina Garten’s homemade gravy – no drippings are required and it’s a winner. The night before serving the Thanksgiving dinner, pull it out of the freezer and thaw it in the refrigerator.
- Create a shopping list. For this recipe and turkey breast with stuffing and the warm spinach salad you can generate a shopping list by saving the recipes in your collections (use the button at the top of the recipe card).
- Order or buy a turkey breast. Depending on how many leftovers you want, buy a whole breast (for a lot of leftovers) or a half breast. Keep in freezer up to 3 days prior to cooking.
- Order you pie for pick up the day before Thanksgiving.
3 days before
- Defrost your turkey breast. Thawing a frozen turkey breast takes time and patience. The best way is to thaw the breast in the coldest area of the fridge with a pan underneath to catch any drips.
- Buy perishables. Buy spinach, potatoes, and ciabatta bread for the stuffing. Wash the spinach leaves now, dry well, and store by packing them in paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
1 day before
- Set the table. Put out all the place settings, decorations and serving dishes – this way you won’t have to worry about it later.
- Salt the turkey breast. The salted turkey needs to be refrigerated, uncovered for at least 2 hours before cooking up to 24 hours.
Combine salt, pepper and thyme in a bowl (see recipe card for measurements). Place turkey on large plate and pat dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle all over with salt mixture. Refrigerate, uncovered for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
How to Make a Turkey Breast with Stuffing Thanksgiving Dinner for Two
For the big day, we’ve figured out just the right order and timing to pull together the rest of the feast.
3 ½ hours before serving
The size of the turkey breast will determine when you will begin prepping the stuffing and roasting.
Split breast (3 lbs). You will want to start the preparations 3 ½ hours before serving time if cooking a 3 lb breast. Allowing 30 minutes for preparing the stuffing and preheating the oven, 1 ¾ hours for roasting turkey time and 30 minutes up to an hour for the turkey to rest.
If you have a larger breast you will need to add more roasting time, up to an additional 20 minutes per pound.
Here are the tasks to start 2 - 3 ½ hours before when you want to sit at the table:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Prepare the Stuffing. Just a reminder that the turkey and stuffing are cooked together in one pan, not just to cut down on dirty dishes but also to create a stuffing packed with savory poultry flavor. Start by cutting the ciabatta into 1-inch cubes. If you cannot find ciabatta do not substitute sour dough as the flavor is too overpowering. Instead substitute another rustic, mild-tasting white bread. Now, sauté the onion, celery and garlic in oil in the roasting pan. Add the remaining stuffing ingredients, tossing using tongs or your hands until the bread is evenly coated.
- Nestle the turkey breast, skin side up, into the stuffing in the center of the roasting pan.
- Roast the turkey until the thickest part of the turkey registers 160 degrees, about 1 ½ - 1 ¾ hours.
45 minutes prior to serving
- Peel, cut and boil potatoes. Place 1.5 pounds of potatoes cut into evenly-sized chunks in a large pot of cold water, so that the water line sits about 1 inch above the potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon Sea salt into the water. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high to maintain the boil and continue to cook until fork tender, about 10 – 12 minutes.
- Drain water from pot and mash the potatoes to reach your desired consistency. Fold in 1-2 Tablespoons butter, about ¼ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons sour cream and salt, to taste, keep warm in oven until ready to serve.
30 minutes prior to serving
- Transfer Turkey to carving board. Once the turkey is fully cooked (internal temperature registers 160 degrees), remove turkey from roasting pan and let it rest on cutting board, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.
- Stir and toast stuffing. Stir stuffing in roasting pan and return to oven, cooking until top of bread looks golden brown and is evenly dry, about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Cook the bacon and make the dressing for the Warm Spinach salad.
15 minutes prior to serving
- Reheat homemade gravy. Spoon the gravy into a cold sauce pan. Turn the skillet on low heat and let the gravy come to temperature slowly, stirring frequently to avoid the gravy burning and to remove any lumps. Simmer on low until ready to serve.
- Assemble Salad. Toss together the salad ingredients with the warm bacon maple dressing
- Remove breast meat from bone and slice thin crosswise.
- Arrange turkey over stuffing in pan. Drizzle with gravy. Serve, passing remaining gravy, mashed potatoes, and the warm spinach salad.
- Eat Pie. Sometime later when you have room!
Turkey Breast Carving Tips
Before carving you will want to let your chicken rest, this will avoid the breast meat shredding as you slice it and allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat for juicy slices of turkey.
- Use a sharp carving knife. You will want to put away your chef’s knife and grab a carving or deboning knife along with a two-pronged fork.
- Slowly start cutting the meat away from the bone.
- Working with one slice at a time, using a slicing knife slice thin crosswise.
Transfer the breast and layer on top of the stuffing in the roasting pan and drizzle with some gravy.
Leftover Turkey Breast Recipes
Here are a few of my favorite recipes to “use up” leftover turkey.
- Leftover wild rice turkey soup
- Swap out chicken for leftover turkey breast in chicken broccoli pasta casserole recipe
- Swap out chicken for leftover turkey breast in the chicken salad with pasta and dried cherries or pesto chicken salad
- Stuff your baked squash with leftover turkey and stuffing by. Follow the directions in how to cook your squash in this stuffed squash recipe. Reheat your turkey and stuffing leftovers then stuff your squash. Enjoy!
Freezing and Reheating Turkey Breast
According to the National Turkey Federation, the best way to store leftover turkey is to slice the meat from the bone, seal up in airtight container and refrigerate within two hours of serving. Store in refrigerate and eat up to four days.
If you are planning to freeze it, it’s best to freeze it within one day of cooking for optimal texture and taste. However, leftover turkey can be frozen up to 6 months.
To thaw: Place the bag or container in the fridge for at least one day, up to two days. You can also use the microwave if the container is small enough to rotate inside, allowing to defrost evenly. Do not thaw at room temperature.
If using in soups or baked casserole, you will not need to defrost first. Simply add to the dish and cook until warmed through.
To reheat in oven: Put the turkey in a baking pan, add a small amount broth or white wine, cover the pan with foil, and heat it gently in a 300°F oven until it is warmed through. You can pour off any remaining liquid from the pan.
To reheat in microwave: Put the turkey in a microwave-safe container, add a bit of broth or white wine, and cover the turkey with a damp paper towel. Make sure the tray can rotate in the microwave – if it’s too big, use the oven.
How to make Turkey Breast with Stuffing Thanksgiving Dinner for Two
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- ¾ tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon pepper
- ½ tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 3 pound bone-in split turkey breast, trimmed
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups chopped onion
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 1 ½ cups celery stalks
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ cup Granny Smith apple chopped into ¼ inch pieces – I opt to leave the apple unpeeled
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- ¼ cup Dry white wine
- 1 large egg whisk lightly
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
- ½ tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 pound ciabatta cut into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups) - If you can't find a loaf of ciabatta, you can substitute 2 pounds of another rustic, mild-tasting white bread. Do not use sourdough here; its flavor is too assertive.
For the Turkey:
- Combine salt, pepper, and thyme in a small bowl. Place turkey on large plate and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle all over with salt mixture. Refrigerate, uncovered for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
For the Stuffing:
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. If you have a convection oven this is the time to use it! Spray 12- inch oven safe skillet or cast iron skillet with vegetable oil spray, then add oil to pan. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and pinch of salt, cooking until onion becomes soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Now place the celery in the pan, continue to cook until the onion is golden brown, another 5 minutes. Add garlic and apple, cooking until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Remove skillet from heat, stir in broth, wine, butter, and lightly whisked egg, poultry seasoning, sage, thyme and remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, scraping up any brown bits. Add bread and, using tongs or your hands, toss until bread is evenly coated.
- Nestle turkey breast, skin side up into stuffing in center of roasting pan. Roast until thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees F, 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ hours.If making mashed potatoes now is the time to peel, cut and boil the potatoes. See notes below for instructions.
- Transfer turkey to carving board, skin side up, and let rest, uncovered for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.Make spinach salad and reheat homemade gravy (see notes below).
- Meanwhile, stir stuffing in the skillet. Return skillet to oven and cook until top of bread looks golden brown, and evenly dry, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove breast meat from bone and slice thin crosswise. Arrange turkey over stuffing in skillet. Drizzle with gravy. Serve, passing remaining gravy separately.
Your Notes, Tips and Tricks
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.