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Sheet Pan Paleo Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

Hands holding a plate of Thanksgiving food - turkey, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower rice pilaf

Recipe At-A-Glance

Paleo, Grain-Free

90 minutes

Don’t let the size of this Sheet Pan Paleo Thanksgiving Dinner fool you. It has all the flavors and dishes you love at Thanksgiving, from the turkey to the sweet potatoes to the cranberry sauce.

We go to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving every year. It’s a big mess of extended family and kids. It’s loud, it’s rambunctious, and it’s a really good thing my sister has two huge ovens because there is also a TON of food.

Last year when we woke up on Thanksgiving morning, I gave my daughter a good morning hug, and knew immediately she was running a fever. There would be no Thanksgiving treks for us that year—we did Thanksgiving on our own as a little family of three. As I scrambled to pull together a somewhat decent Turkey Day dinner last minute, I decided right then and there that there has to be an easier way to do a small-scale, quick, and easy Thanksgiving dinner.

Overhead shot of paleo Thanksgiving dinner cooked on a sheet pan. Components include sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, turkey, and cauliflower rice pilaf

The thing no one tells you about cooking Thanksgiving dinner is that no matter if you’re serving two people or 22, it’s still the same amount of work. The volume is different—you have to peel a few more potatoes—but the actual number of steps and dishes? The same. I’ve been working for the past few months on perfecting a recipe that I think will change that!

Say “hello!” to my Sheet Pan Paleo Thanksgiving Dinner—it’s done, start to finish, in 90 minutes. It’s all done on one sheet pan. It perfectly serves two people (with a few leftovers—it worked perfectly for our family of three) and it can easily be doubled to serve 4-6. It is also grain-free and paleo—because that’s the way I happen to be eating right now. But I think it’s delicious enough to serve to anyone!

MY OTHER RECIPES
Paleo Thanksgiving dinner on a white plate with a fork. Components include sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, turkey, and cauliflower rice pilaf

This paleo Thanksgiving dinner has five parts: Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Easy Bone Broth Gravy, Coconut Candied Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Cauli-Rice Pilaf, Rosemary Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Honey Cranberry Sauce.

Everything, minus the cranberry sauce and gravy, is made on one single sheet pan. This makes post-dinner cleanup a breeze! It might take you less time to clean up than it will to eat the meal, which is almost unheard of on Thanksgiving Day. You’ll be in your jammies and watching Elf before you know it (anyone else do this on Thanksgiving evening?).

Gravy being poured over slices of turkey breast on a white plate. The plate also contains a cauli rice pilaf and roasted Brussels sprouts.

The full printable recipe below walks you through the entire meal step-by-step. I highly recommend reading through the whole recipe (maybe more than once) before you actually dive in on Thanksgiving Day. It’s not complicated, but getting the timing right—so everything is warm at the same time—requires a little bit of organization.

I did want to go over each dish below to give you tips and suggestions that might make it go easier for you on the actual day of. Let’s dig in!

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast

Half a roasted turkey breast on a sheet pan lined with foil. Text overlay reads "herb-roasted turkey breast."
  • A half turkey breast is the way to go if you’re wanting to cook turkey for a small group! At about three pounds apiece, you’ll have enough turkey for a decent dinner-sized serving, plus some great leftovers for a sandwich or two.
  • You’ll usually be able to find frozen turkey breasts next to where the whole turkeys are at your local supermarket or from your local butcher shop. Some will carry half breasts, but if you can only find a full frozen breast, go ahead and grab it. Defrost it and use a sharp knife to remove the breasts from the bone (here is a good video that shows this method—this video shows a chicken, but it’s the same process). Leave the skin on the breast, and reserve the bones for making bone broth later. I recommend roasting both halves to have leftovers (for soup, perhaps?).
  • When you’re cooking a full turkey, the white meat often dries out before the dark meat is cooked. That’s why I always recommend brining when cooking a full turkey. But since we’re only cooking one type of meat (white breast meat) and only at a high temperature, you don’t need to worry about drying out nearly as much.  It won’t hurt if you are itching to brine, but it’s definitely not needed.
  • The gravy I recommend with the turkey is a simple bone broth gravy made on the stove. Since turkey breast is a pretty dry meat, you won’t have many pan drippings to turn into gravy—premade (either by you or from the store) bone broth will make excellent gravy!

Coconut Candied Sweet Potatoes

Two roasted sweet potatoes filled with nuts on a sheet pan. Text overlay reads "coconut candied sweet potatoes."
  • These sweet potatoes fill both the dessert and side dish slot on the plate! They are sweet, but not too sweet, and are reminiscent of your favorite marshmallow-covered casserole.
  • The topping for these sweet potatoes can be made ahead of time and stashed in the fridge. Just make sure to bring it out about 30 minutes before cooking so it can soften to room temperature.
  • To get the timing right here, it’s important to use not-too-thick sweet potatoes. You know those behemoth sweet potatoes that could feed an entire family? Yeah, those aren’t the ones you’re looking for here. You want sweet potatoes that are about two inches wide. Or, if you prefer using the big ones, I recommend piercing them with a fork and parbaking them (either in the microwave or the oven) for a bit to soften them up before putting them on the sheet pan.

Roasted Cauli Rice Pilaf

Cauliflower rice pilaf in aluminum foil. A text overlay reads "roasted cauli rice pilaf."
  • This roasted cauli rice is my favorite dish out of the whole sheet pan! It’s fluffy, flavorful, and fills that carby void that’s left when you cut out white potatoes. It’s a beautiful and colorful addition to the plate!
  • I prefer to use a fresh head of cauliflower here just because it seems to make the end result a little fluffier and more rice-like, but if you’re short on time, the bags of frozen riced cauliflower will do just fine. Just defrost it enough to break it up, and then mix it with the rest of the ingredients as the recipe instructs you to do with the fresh cauliflower.

Rosemary Pomegranate Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels sprouts topped with pomegranate arils on a sheet pan. Text overlay reads "Rosemary Pomegranate Brussels Sprouts"
  • You gotta have some green on your plate, and these roasted Brussels sprouts are the perfect way to get your green veggies in on Turkey Day! If you aren’t a Brussels sprouts fan, broccoli is also excellent in this recipe.
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (arils) add color and a fruity burst to this dish. I recommend deseeding your pomegranate ahead of time and stashing the arils in a covered container in the fridge. That way you aren’t trying to wrestle with a pomegranate right before dinner hits the table!
  • You can use dried rosemary here, but fresh rosemary has such a better flavor and texture. If you’re going to spring for fresh herbs, I think Thanksgiving is the time to do it! Better yet: grab a rosemary plant, keep it happy on your windowsill this winter, and then plant it in your garden in the spring.

Honey Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a spoon. Text overlay reads "honey cranberry sauce."
  • I tried to figure out a way to make cranberry sauce in the oven, but I’m afraid this is the one dish (other than the simple gravy) that had to be taken off the sheet pan and made on the stovetop. If you really want to stick with one sheet pan, you can buy a can of whole berry cranberry sauce—easy peasy!
  • Cranberry sauce needs to be made ahead of time to gel up and for the flavors to meld. You can make this as many as two or three days ahead of time and keep it stashed in the fridge.
Plate of Thanksgiving food - turkey, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower rice pilaf

Phew, are you still with me? I know this is a lot of information, but I promise once you get to cooking, the time sails by! This really is the easiest way to make a full, hearty, satisfying Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!
Print

Hands holding a plate of Thanksgiving food - turkey, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower rice pilaf

Sheet Pan Paleo Thanksgiving Dinner for Two


  • Author: Cassie Johnston
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 big servings (plus a few leftovers)
  • Category: Entrees
  • Method: Baking

Description

Don’t let the size of this Sheet Pan Paleo Thanksgiving Dinner fool you. It has all the flavors and dishes you love at Thanksgiving, from the turkey to the sweet potatoes to the cranberry sauce.


Ingredients

For the Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast

  • 1 boneless, turkey breast (about 3 pounds, see notes)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or lard
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage OR 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme OR 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary OR 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

For the Coconut Candied Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • Pinch of sea salt

For the Roasted Cauli-Rice Pilaf

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil, melted coconut oil, lard, or other cooking fat
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary OR 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme OR 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage OR 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup juice-sweetened, dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

For the Rosemary Pomegranate Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil, melted coconut oil, lard, or other cooking fat
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary OR 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh pomegranate arils

For the Honey Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Pinch of salt

For the Easy Bone Broth Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons lard, ghee, tallow, or other solid cooking fat
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 2 cups chicken or turkey bone broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (this makes clean up really easy!) or a silicone baking mat. Form a “bowl” out of aluminum foil a quarter the size of the sheet pan, and place on the sheet pan. Set aside.
  2. Begin with the Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast: Place the turkey breast on one quarter of the sheet pan. In a small bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients for the turkey breast. Spread the mixture liberally onto the breast—making sure to gently pry up some of the skin to get the mixture between the skin and the breast.
  3. Next, prepare the sweet potatoes: place the two sweet potatoes on one quarter of the pan. Then place the sheet pan in the oven, and immediately turn the heat down to 400°F. Roast for 20 minutes.
  4. While the turkey and sweet potatoes are roasting, prepare the Roasted Cauli-Rice Pilaf: take the cauliflower head and pulse in a food processor until it resembles the texture of rice. In a large bowl, mix together the cauliflower rice with the avocado oil, onion, carrot, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, nutmeg, and pepper.
  5. Also prepare the Brussels sprouts: in a medium-size bowl, toss together the Brussels sprouts, cooking fat, rosemary, salt, and black pepper until well combined.
  6. After the initial 20 minutes of roasting of the turkey and sweet potatoes, remove the pan from the oven. Spoon the Roasted Cauli-Rice Pilaf into the prepared aluminum foil “bowl.” Spread the Brussels sprouts out in the remaining quarter of the sheet pan.
  7. Place sheet pan back in the oven, and roast for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the turkey breast reads 155°F on an instant-read thermometer in the fleshiest part of the breast.
  8. While the sheet pan is roasting, combine all ingredients for the Honey Cranberry Sauce in a medium sized saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the cranberries pop and the sauce looks thickened, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and chill until ready to serve.
  9. When the cooking time is up on the sheet pan, remove from oven. Transfer the turkey breast to a large cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
  10. Increase the oven temperature to 475°F.
  11. In a small bowl, combine all remaining ingredients for the Coconut Candied Sweet Potatoes. Split open the cooked sweet potatoes and divide the topping mixture between them. Return to oven for an additional 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and pilaf are all golden brown.
  12. When the cooking time is up, mix the dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds in with the pilaf. Mix the pomegranate arils with the Brussels sprouts.
  13. To make the gravy, heat the cooking fat in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the tapioca flour, and cook until just slightly brown, about 2 minutes. Add in the bone broth. Whisk constantly until thickened, about 1 minute. Then remove from heat and season to taste. If the gravy thickens too much before serving, thin with a bit of warm water or warm bone broth.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • If you can’t track down a single turkey breast, no problem. Just grab a full frozen bone-in breast (about 6 pounds) from your grocer’s frozen meat section. Defrost, and use a sharp knife to remove the breasts from the bone (here is a good video that shows this method—this video shows a chicken, but it’s the same process). Leave the skin on the breast, and reserve the bones for making bone broth later. You can cook both breasts now and have leftovers, or reserve the other breast half for cooking within the next few days.
  • If you’re really wanting stuffing, work ahead and make my Grain-Free Thanksgiving Stuffing. I didn’t include it here because it takes a bit more than just a sheet pan!
  • To save time, you can also use one 10-ounce bag of frozen riced cauliflower in place of the head of cauliflower.
  • You don’t need to brine your turkey breasts– because you’re cooking at such a high temperature, you’ll have nice and juicy meat. But if you’d like to brine, you can use my dry brine method. Just make sure to leave out the salt when you mix up the herb mixture in this recipe.
  • This recipe doubles with ease to serve 4-6. Just do an exact copy of the first sheet pan on a second sheet pan, and cook at the same time—making sure to rotate the pans between racks while cooking.

Keywords: Thanksgiving, paleo, grain-free, sheet pan dinners, holidays

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4 comments

Leave a Comment

  • Jana SAYS

    This looks delish! :)
    I just moved to the US, so this will be my first Thanksgiving and I’m excited for all the madness. But I’m sure that the novelty will wear of fast and I’ll soon be looking forward to quicker and less stressful ways to make Thanksgiving dinner. :)

  • chaley SAYS

    This is fantastic. We host a huge dinner at our house on Thanksgiving, but I am saving this for a special weekend meal sometime. Thank you for sharing!!

  • Sarah D SAYS

    Happy turkey day! Just got back from an international trip with a 5 month old, so this easy turkey dinner is definitely happening today. For future reference, what was I suppose to do with the cooking fat for the turkey breast?

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