The Best Equipment for a Small (or Solo) Thanksgiving

With the right cookware, you can cook all your holiday favorites—for a smaller crowd.

Published Nov. 10, 2020.

Thanksgiving is a holiday of abundance, a time to gather and break bread with as many friends and family members as you can fit in your home. This year, however, many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving in smaller groups, or even by ourselves. Sure, you could make just as much food as you ordinarily would (aren’t the leftovers the best part of Thanksgiving anyway?).

But if you’d prefer to scale down your plans a bit—without sacrificing any of your favorite dishes—here are a few key pieces of equipment that'll get the job done.

Thanksgiving Guide 2020

Reliable recipes, tips, and how-tos so you can make the best—and least stressful—Thanksgiving meal you've ever had.  
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Stainless Steel Skillet

12-Inch Stainless-Steel Skillet

Our Favorite: All-Clad D3 Stainless 12″ Fry Pan with Lid
For smaller gatherings, a whole turkey might be overkill. (Let’s face it, sometimes it’s too much for even large gatherings!) Instead, try our
Roast Whole Turkey Breast with Gravy, which makes enough turkey and gravy to feed six to eight guests—or two to four with leftovers. The best part? You don’t need a big roasting pan to make the recipe; our favorite stainless steel skillet is perfect for the job. If you want to scale down even further, it’s also great for our Skillet-Roasted Chicken and Stuffing for Two.

Small roasting pan

Small Roasting Pan

Our Favorite: Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 14-inch Roaster with Nonstick Rack and Stainless Steel Lifters

If you’d like a more classic-looking bird at your small Thanksgiving table, consider roasting a chicken instead of a turkey. Of course, you could do this in a stainless steel skillet. Or you can use our favorite small roasting pan, which does a great job of browning food and is easy to maneuver in and out of the oven.

Nonstick Skillet

12-inch Nonstick Skillet

Our Favorite: OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro 12" Open Frypan

Love roasted vegetables but don’t want to make a whole sheet pan’s worth? You need our best nonstick skillet, which will allow you to make four servings of perfectly browned Skillet-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Skillet-Charred Green Beans, or Skillet-Roasted Cauliflower. It’s also the key to our Extra-Crispy Skillet Stuffing, which makes a manageable amount of stuffing for a small group.

Quarter-sheet pan

Quarter-Sheet Pan

Our Favorite: Nordic Ware Naturals Quarter Sheet

If your stovetop is too crowded to make all those sides, use our favorite quarter-sheet pan instead to roast half-recipes of Maple-Glazed Acorn Squash or Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Large saucepan

A Large Saucepan

Our Favorite: All-Clad Stainless 4-Qt Sauce Pan

Even if you’re only cooking for a few folks, you’ll still want a large saucepan to help you make many of the must-have Thanksgiving sides. It's great for making gravy, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes.

10-inch cast-iron skillet

A 10-inch Cast-Iron Skillet

Our Favorite: Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

To round out your meal, make this Cast Iron Apple Pie in a slightly smaller version of our favorite cast-iron skillet. If you get started ahead of time, you can also use it to make Cast-Iron Southern-Style Cornbread!

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