38 Great Thanksgiving Recipes in 5 Ingredients or Fewer

November  2, 2020

Even if you’re hosting a smaller, low-key Thanksgiving this year, when you add up all the staple dishes—bird, vegetables, stuffing, desserts—the grocery list slowly, surely, steadily piles up.

Few-ingredient recipes to the rescue! Making a couple—or a few, or, why not, all—minimalist dishes means chiller planning, chiller shopping, chiller prepping, chiller holiday-ing, period. You deserve that, especially this year.


1. Crispy Garlic Dip

Just like onion dip, but instead of caramelizing onions for an hour then stirring them into sour cream, you crisp garlic for a few minutes then stir this into Greek yogurt. Potato chips all around.

2. Garlic Butter Hummus

Where you’d expect to find tahini or olive oil, this recipe swaps in garlicky butter, yielding an atypical hummus that’s as silky as can be. Serve with crispy pita chips and raw vegetables.

3. Extra-Cheesy Spinach-Artichoke Dip

For better spinach-artichoke dip, give the gooey cream cheese a couple of big-personality friends: sharp cheddar and zesty Dijon mustard. Team up with seedy crackers and toasted bread.

4. Renee Erickson’s Sautéed Dates

This sweet, sticky wonder will be the star of any cheese plate—and you don’t need a million cheeses, either. Just pick a creamy variety you love, like ricotta or Brie, and call it a day.


5. Russ Parsons’ Dry-Brined Turkey

If you don’t want to navigate an unwieldy wet-brine, this recipe is for you. The herbs and spices are nice but, repeat after me, not necessary.

6. Barbara Kafka’s Simple Roast Turkey

So simple, you don’t even need salt. Seriously.

7. Melissa Clark’s Really Easy Duck Confit

Don’t want to roast a turkey? Don’t. Duck confit feels holiday-special, and this version is a cinch.

8. Barbara Kafka’s Simple Roast Chicken

Speaking of not-turkey: Roast chicken was made for a mini Thanksgiving, even if it’s just you.

9. Judy Hesser’s Oven-Fried Chicken

Or, if you aren’t feeling a whole bird, opt for this crispy-crunchy wonder that involves zero stovetop splatters.


10. Sausage Stuffing With Broccoli Rabe

Sausage stuffing is a Thanksgiving classic. It’s also heavy as heck. This version brightens things up with a boatload of broccoli rabe (plus its ultra savory blanching liquid in place of stock).

11. Brown Butter Stuffing

Skip the caramelized onion and celery, the browned meat and sautéed greens, the toasted nuts and dried fruit, yada-yada-yada—and still end up with a crusty, buttery, second helpings–worthy stuffing.

12. Salt & Vinegar Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes learn a couple tricks from their chippy counterparts: Don’t skimp on the salt and add a splash of vinegar (we like malt, but you can use white or cider, too) for tangy contrast.

13. Patricia Wells’ Fake Frites

Sure, mashed potatoes are more traditional, but (fake) frites are just so good.

14. Francis Mallmann’s Potato Dominos

Clarified butter does most of the heavy lifting with these crispy-edged shingled potato slices.

15. Sweet Potatoes Anna With Prunes

Half the ingredient list is in the title. The other half is butter (yay) and port (yay!).

16. Sweet Potato Bake

A cozy casserole that trusts in the power of butter and brown sugar (plus a hit of cinnamon and orange zest, as you wish).

17. King Arthur Flour’s Never-Fail Biscuits

Self-rising flour plus heavy cream equals biscuits? Sure does.


18. Stovetop Green Bean Casserole

Traditional green bean casseroles come together in the oven, which we’re guessing is already full of turkey, sweet potato casserole, and then some. That’s why this modern take happens completely on the stove (and only needs four ingredients to boot).

19. Miso Charred Carrot Soup

Have you ever burned your roasted vegetables by accident? This recipe does it on purpose—as a path toward bigger, bolder flavor. Just puree with water, no stock necessary.

20. Broccoli Rabe Gratin

Broccoli rabe, cream, and cheddar are all you need for this standout side.

21. Roy Finamore’s Broccoli Cooked Forever

Crisp-tender, begone! This garlicky broccoli is buttery tender, and proud of it.

22. Dan Barber’s Cauliflower Steaks With Cauliflower Purée

With just cauliflower and milk (plus salt, pepper, and water), this dish could serve as a side or a vegetarian main.

23. Skillet Scallions From Edna Lewis

When tossed in a hot, buttery skillet, scallions become sweet, tender, and infinitely satisfying, just as they are.

24. Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

With just a squeeze of lemon and pinch of pepper flakes, these sautéed Brussels sprouts speak for themselves.

25. Miso Butter Onions

From the latest Yotam Ottolenghi book, these lucky onions are treated to a salty, umami-laden miso butter.

26. Butternut Squash Salad With Feta, Dates & Chile

Yes, you can eat butternut squash raw. And you should!

27. Gabrielle Hamilton’s Endive Salad in the Roman Puntarelle Style

The secret ingredient here? Ice cubes, which tame the zingy dressing and keep the endive on its toes.


28. Very Easy Apple Cake

Based on the Russian sharlotka, this apple cake needs no butter, oil, or even leavening agents. Instead, eggs do most of the work. White whole-wheat flour and brown sugar bring lots of caramely-nutty vibes.

29. Flourless Pecan Cake

For those of us who don’t want to make pecan pie, there’s this cake. Based on Emiko’s Calabrian Walnut Cake, this recipe needs no flour—just a lot of pecans, pulsed until cornmeal-esque, bound with eggs and brown sugar.

30. Simplest Bread Pudding With Salted Brown Sugar Sauce

Think of it like stuffing, but for dessert. In this case, the “gravy” is actually salted brown sugar sauce, and we’re very here for it. Fresh fruit, like persimmons or ripe pears, would be great on top.

31. Pumpkin Cheesecake bars

That just so happen to be no-bake. (“Thanks much!” your oven says.) These bars are pumpkin-y as can be (they use a whole can), thanks to a secret ingredient that creates a custardy, set structure.

32. Apple Cider Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch usually starts with brown sugar. This version goes rogue and starts with apple cider instead. Just boil it—then keep boiling it—until you reach the consistency of caramel sauce. From there, you’re on your way to a puckery, appley pudding.

33. Butter Pecan Cookies

Yes, you can and should serve bite-sized cookies on Thanksgiving. Especially these buttery, crumbly, extra-tender ones—think pecan pie meets shortbread.

34. Sheet-Pan Apple Crisp

For the ideal fruit-to-streusel ratio, ditch the deep casserole dish and opt for a shallow sheet pan. Not only does this cook faster, but it means more crunchy topping in every bite.

35. No-Churn Pumpkin Ice Cream

No ice cream machine required. This no-churn method (condensed milk plus whipped cream) is foolproof as can be. A splash of bourbon—or rum, if you want—keeps things scoopable and creamy.

36. Pie Crispies

If crust is your favorite part of pie (me too), these bite-size cookies are right up your alley.

37. Roasted Parsnips With Caramel & Sour Cream

Roasted parsnips as dessert, yes, and in only three ingredients.


38. Apple Peel Bourbon

Odds are you’re peeling an apple or seven for Thanksgiving. Put the scraps toward this boozy treat.

What few-ingredient recipes do you have lined up for Thanksgiving this year? Let us know in the comments!
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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


[email protected] December 6, 2020
Does Emma have a cookbook?
Emma L. December 7, 2020
Our Big Little Recipes cookbook is coming out in fall 2021! :)