I love how the question, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” can spark an intimate conversation. Just this year, I’ve heard about cherished traditions, tales of crazy family dynamics, and even brokenness and hurt. Some sit around a table of 30+, and some sit at far smaller tables. This Thanksgiving Dinner Menu for 6 people (with an Italian twist) is geared toward the smaller, more intimate gatherings. It’s entirely homemade (except the gravy—I had to draw the line somewhere!), and it was one that my family and friends adored. I hope yours will too.
For the menu, I stuck with the usual Thanksgiving flavors, but put an Italian twist on them. Fresh herbs like sage and thyme, roasted garlic, olive oil, hazelnuts, tomatoes, olives, and other Italian ingredients show up in this Thanksgiving menu. The nod to Italy is subtle, but jazzes up each dish just enough to keep it interesting.
Here’s what’s on the menu (click on the links for the recipes):
When there’s a gathering to be planned, I get completely engrossed in the food. I’m all about the ingredients and the tastiest recipes, which means that setting the table is the last thing on my mind.
Thankfully, I have a friend who not adores adores setting a beautiful table, she’s extremely talented at it. Her name is Kelley, and she’s the owner of Haviland Events. She has built a career out of creating beautiful celebrations for people, so she was the perfect person to partner with for this Thanksgiving dinner menu for 6.
She set our Thanksgiving table with eucalyptus, ivory candles, branches of red leaves, mini pumpkins, and (my favorite addition) blood oranges. The exact how-to can be found on her Thanksgiving blog post. Head over to get the step-by-step instructions!
For the dinner itself, you could easily go grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday and everything will be in good shape for cooking on Wednesday or Thursday. The turkey breast, if frozen, will need about 24 hours in the refrigerator to defrost, so plan that into your prep time!
To prepare the meal, I prefer to make a few of the dishes in advance. I’d recommend making the cranberry sauce and the pie on Wednesday. You can also set the table on Wednesday to eliminate any last-minute scrambling.
Here’s the timetable (click on the links for recipes):
1. (20 minutes) Prepare the brine for the Olive Oil & Herb Roasted Turkey Breast. Place the turkey in the brine and allow to sit in the refrigerator for 10–12 hours.
2. (15 minutes) Make the pie dough for the Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie in the food processor. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or until Wednesday evening.
1. (5 minutes) Remove the turkey from the brine and place on a sheet pan in the refrigerator.
2. (30–40 minutes hands-on, 1 hour hands-off) Roll out the pie dough and prepare the filling for the Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie. Bake as directed. Let cool before covering.
3. (15 minutes) While the pie bakes, prepare the Orange Hazelnut Cranberry Sauce. Refrigerate the sauce overnight to let the flavors marry.
4. (30 minutes) Set the table using these instructions.
Thursday, 2½ hours before dinner
1. (15 minutes hands-on, 30 minutes hands-off) Prepare the olive oil rub for the Olive Oil & Herb Roasted Turkey Breast. Place turkey breast in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
2. (10 minutes hands-on, 1–1½ hours hands-off) Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Baste the turkey. Prepare the roasted garlic for the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Place the roasted garlic in the oven with the turkey breast. Cook the garlic for 45–60 minutes. Cook the turkey for an additional 1–1½ hours. When the turkey breast reaches 160°F, remove from the oven and cover.
Thursday, 90 minutes before dinner
1. Remove the cranberry sauce from the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature.
2. (10 minutes hands-on, 30 minutes hands-off) Peel and chop the sweet potatoes for the Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Olive Oil, Thyme, and Parmesan. Place on the stove and cook according to instructions.
3. (5 minutes) While the sweet potatoes are cooking, cut the potatoes for the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Place on the stove and cook according to instructions.
4. (10 minutes) Mash the sweet potatoes and complete the recipe. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and cover. Set aside.
5. (10 minutes) Mash the red potatoes and complete the recipe. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and cover. Set aside.
Thursday, 45 minutes before dinner
1. (15 minutes hands-on, 15 minutes hands-off) Prepare the Italian Stovetop Green Beans according to instructions. Set aside until ready to serve.
Thursday, 30 minutes before dinner
1. Place the sweet potatoes and the mashed potatoes (both covered) into a 350°F oven.
2. If desired, whip the whipped cream for the Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie. Place in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
Thursday, 20 minutes before dinner
1. Heat store-bought gravy on the stovetop according to package directions (I recommend purchasing one from your grocery store’s catering or deli department.)
2. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a serving dish.
3. Slice the turkey breast. Arrange on a serving platter and cover with foil.
4. Transfer the green beans to a serving dish and garnish with additional parmesan.
5. Transfer the sweet potatoes and mashed red potatoes to serving dishes (if they’re not being served in the same oven-safe dish) and garnish with fresh thyme (sweet potatoes) and fresh parsley (red potatoes).
Finally, sit down to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner (with an Italian twist)!
These recipes are designed to serve 6 people, though if you have less, then you get leftovers! If you have more, the recipes can easily be doubled or tripled.
Here are the links to the recipes again for quick reference:
Olive Oil & Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Olive Oil, Thyme, and Parmesan
Roasted Garlic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Italian Stovetop Green Beans
Orange Hazelnut Cranberry Sauce
Two-Layer Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie