You Can Make This Easy Thanksgiving Meal with Minimal Ingredients

These easy Thanksgiving recipes require six or fewer ingredients each — perfect for a smaller-than-usual crowd — and they'll still make your meal insanely delicious.

Thanksgiving dinner
Photo: VioletaStoimenova/Getty

This year, it's a whole new type of Thanksgiving. There will be fewer people (physically) at your table, and you'll spend most of your time hovering around a laptop, Zooming with distant friends and family. And with all the cooking you've been tirelessly doing for the past eight months, putting together a Thanksgiving feast with dozens of dishes and complicated ingredients is probably the last thing you want to do.

Enter: These easy Thanksgiving recipes, all of which require six ingredients or fewer (not including pantry staples like olive oil, salt, and pepper). Yeah, you read that right. Not only will these minimal ingredient dishes take you less time to prep and cook, but they'll also seriously slash your grocery bill. Even better, you'll be spending less time in the supermarket because you have fewer ingredients to buy.

Try these delicious, easy Thanksgiving recipes — including an appetizer, two main dishes (one of which is plant-based!), a side, and a dessert — for your Turkey Day celebration and spend less time in the kitchen and more time where it matters: around the table.

Appetizer: Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms
Courtesy of Ashley Lima

This easy Thanksgiving recipe is not only simple, nutritious, and delicious, but it also helps minimize food waste, since you use the mushroom stems that you normally just cut off. Mushrooms are rather low in calories but are brimming with a variety of minerals, including copper (which helps the body form red blood cells) and potassium (which helps offset sodium's effect on blood pressure). For the stuffing, you'll combine the mushroom stems with a store-bought pesto sauce and your favorite Parmesan. Since Parmesan is super flavorful, a little goes a long way.

Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Serves: 4

Serving size: 3 mushrooms

Total time: 20 minutes


  • 12 mushrooms, stems removed and half the stems reserved and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Brush a baking sheet with oil.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together chopped mushroom stems, pesto sauce, and Parmesan.
  4. Place mushroom caps flat side down on baking sheet and space them 1 inch apart. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the pesto mixture into each mushroom cap.
  5. Cover mushrooms with foil and bake until cooked, 15 minutes. Remove foil and turn broiler on low. Broil, uncovered, until mushrooms are slightly browned, 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and let mushrooms cool slightly before serving.

Main: Rosemary Garlic Pork Loin

Rosemary Garlic Pork Loin
Courtesy of Ashley Lima

With fewer mouths to feed this year, many folks are shying away from the large turkey and choosing smaller-sized meats instead. Pork tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork around, and three ounces of roasted pork tenderloin provides just 120 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 1 gram of saturated fat. Because it's so lean, you need to add flavorful ingredients — and that's where the fresh rosemary and garlic rub come in. Combined with olive oil, salt, and black pepper, this dry rub adds a punch of flavor to easy Thanksgiving recipe, and makes it feel special enough for a holiday meal.

Rosemary Garlic Pork Loin

Serves: 4

Serving size: 4 ounces

Total time: 50 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound boneless pork loin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Brush baking sheet with oil.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Place pork loin on prepared baking sheet. Using a brush or clean hands, rub the rosemary mixture over all sides of the pork loin.
  5. Transfer pork to oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the loin registers 145°F, 40 to 45 minutes. Let pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Main: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Stuffed acorn squash

If your Thanksgiving table isn't complete without a plant-based main dish, go for a seasonal fall squash. Acorn squash is filled with the antioxidants vitamin A and C (which can help prevent or delay some types of cell damage), magnesium (which helps support a healthy immune system), and potassium (which is good for maintaining healthy blood pressure). The quinoa filling adds two grams of plant-based protein and adds a complementary crunch with the kale and dried cranberries. (

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves: 4

Serving size: 1 squash half

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 medium acorn squash (about 2.5 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries


  1. In a medium pot, add quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork.
  2. Using a knife, pierce the skin of both squash several times. Place them in the microwave and cook for 18 minutes, rotating halfway through. Carefully remove squash from microwave and place them on a cutting board. Halve both squash lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop out seeds.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Add kale, tossing to combine.
  4. Add cooked quinoa and cranberries to kale mixture, and stir to combine.
  5. Scoop 1/2 cup of quinoa mixture into each of the 4 squash halves and serve.

Side: Almond-Lemon Green Beans

Almond Lemon Green Beans
Courtesy of Ashley Lima

Don't forget to add a green veggie to your Thanksgiving meal — and this time, not as a casserole. This easy Thanksgiving recipe contains fresh green beans, which provide just 34 calories and 15 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber in one cup. It's also an excellent source of vitamin K (which helps blood clot), antioxidants vitamins A and C, and folate, a B-vitamin that's essential in the making of DNA and other genetic material. Pair with flavorful lemon and crunchy almonds for a simple, delicious side that won't leave you feeling stuffed.

Almond-Lemon Green Beans

Serves: 4

Serving size: 3/4 cup

Total time: 25 minutes


  • 1 pound green beans, rinsed, trimmed, and dried
  • 1 lemon, sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons dry-roasted, unsalted almonds, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Brush baking sheet with oil.
  3. In a large bowl, toss green beans with oil and salt.
  4. Spread green beans in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Place lemon slices on top.
  5. Roast until green beans are lightly browned, 18 to 20 minutes.
  6. Place green beans in a serving dish and sprinkle with almonds. Serve warm.

Dessert: Applelicious Apple Crisp

Apple crisp

Nothing screams fall more than apples, especially when they're sprinkled with a crunchy, sweet topping. Although this easy Thanksgiving dessert recipe looks fancy, it's made with simple ingredients including whole grain oats and whole wheat pastry flour. Not only are you getting fiber from the apples, but you're also getting it from those whole grains. It's a delicious, better-for-you way to finish your meal. (PSA, you can eat this delish apple crisp for breakfast.)

Applelicious Apple Crisp

Serves: 6

Serving size: 1/6th of the crisp

Total time: 1 hour


For the filling:

  • Cooking spray
  • 6 medium apples (such as Empire, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady), cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons honey

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place apples in a medium bowl. Add honey and toss to coat. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
  3. To make the topping, in a blender, add oats, flour, brown sugar, butter, and water and blend until smooth.
  4. Use clean fingers to crumble the topping over apples.
  5. Place baking dish in the middle rack of oven and bake for 40 minutes, until topping is browned and apples are cooked through.
  6. Remove baking dish from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Using a spoon, divide crisp into six portions and serve.

Recipes from The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook by Toby Amidor and published by Robert Rose Books, October 2020; and The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook by Toby Amidor and published by Rockridge Press, March 2018. All rights reserved.

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