A downsized Thanksgiving doesn't have to be any less fun or delicious

By Lisa Cericola
October 28, 2020
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Thanksgiving for Two
Credit: Cynthia Graubert

For many families, Thanksgiving—and the usual holiday spread—is going to be a lot smaller this year. But there’s no reason you can’t have a special feast with all of the usual trimmings, even if you’re only feeding a few people.

Instead of trying to scale down a casserole recipe that serves fourteen, cookbook author Cynthia Graubart just released Thanksgiving for Two (or Four), which offers twenty classic recipes that are tailor-made for small gatherings. “With the guidelines for gathering this year prohibiting many traditional Thanksgiving celebrations, I wanted to help people figure out how to have a satisfying holiday meal, even for two or four people,” she says. And yes, you can still make a turkey.

If you’re partial to white meat, Graubart suggests a boneless turkey breast served with gravy. If dark meat is your favorite, try her savory Skillet Turkey Thighs with mushrooms. And if you can’t decide, roasted Cornish hens offer a little of both. “Selecting right-sized recipes helps reduce the frustration brought on by too many leftovers,” she says. “We all love a sandwich from leftover turkey, but not weeks worth.”

Side dishes get the scaled down treatment too. The book includes recipes for holiday essentials like cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, pies, and dressing, as well as new dishes like Green Beans with Pecan Browned Butter, which she shared with us below.

Green Beans with Pecans
Credit: Cynthia Graubert

Skillet Green Beans with Pecan Browned Butter

The ingredients list offers two options, one for serving two people, and one for serving four people (in parenthesis)

Active 5 minutes, Total 15 minutes

Serves: 2 (or 4)

I’ve been on a mission to convert cooks to charring green beans in a skillet. Faster than roasting, the beans stay slightly crispy and maintain their color. The burnished spots contribute a complexity to the overall flavor of the beans. Splitting the fat between butter and olive oil ensures the butter won’t burn while the beans are charring.

2 (4)    Tbsp. butter, divided

1 (2)    Tbsp. olive oil

1⁄2 (1) lb. green beans, tipped, tailed, and stringed (if needed)

2 (4)    Tbsp. chopped pecans


Freshly ground black pepper

2 (4)    tsp. fresh thyme leaves

Melt 1 (2) tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil in a medium skillet. When very hot, add the beans, and cook until dappled with dark brown. Reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking a few minutes more, stirring, until the beans are nearly soft. Remove beans to a platter. Melt remaining butter in skillet and when foamy, add pecans and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to brown, just a minute or two, being careful not to burn the pecans. Return beans to skillet, toss, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Season with thyme.