G&G’s Thanksgiving Hacks

Garden & Gun staffers share their tips and shortcuts to help make the holiday a little easier

Photo: Peter Frank Edwards


“My mom grew up in central Florida, and the holidays have always meant citrus season for us. My favorite morning-of-Thanksgiving treat is the simple broiled grapefruit she makes before all the big-time cooking gets underway. It’s so easy: slice a grapefruit in half and squeeze on a generous circle of honey. Broil until they are browned a little, and serve with a grapefruit spoon. It’s a little moment of pause and a bright pop of fresh fruit before all the busy-ness and the (delightful) beige food binge that follows.”

—CJ Lotz, Research Editor


“All year I look forward to Thanksgiving breakfast for my mom’s “Cinnamon Pig.”  It’s a cinnamon roll’s flakier, crisper cousin—instead of being made from puffy yeast dough, it’s made from buttery homemade pie dough. My mom saves the leftover scraps from the (many, many) pies she bakes on Wednesday. Then, she flattens all of the dough together with a rolling pin, tops it with butter and cinnamon sugar, and rolls it into a log to bake Thursday morning. It makes a great no-fuss breakfast for our gaggle of visiting family members, and it’s the perfect partner for a strong cup of coffee.”

—Dacey Orr Sivewright, Digital Editor


There is nothing better with a Thanksgiving Bloody Mary than hot, tiny, country ham biscuits all stacked up for the taking. Luckily, my hometown has a Biscuitville right around the corner that makes them by the dozen if you order ahead. You don’t even have to get out of the car! Pull up, give them your name at the drive-through, and they’ll hand you warm boxes of heaven. No one will ever know that you didn’t toil away in the kitchen.”

—Haskell Harris, Style Director



Just buy whole smoked turkey breasts and sliced ham from Jim & Nicks—or whatever barbecue joint you prefer. My family started that tradition years ago in Birmingham, Alabama, and brought it with us to Charleston, South Carolina, when I came to work at G&G in 2014. It’s hard to beat a professional pitmaster at his or her own game, so why try? Plus, this way you (and your oven) will be free to focus on all the sides and desserts: cornbread dressing, macaroni & cheese, Brussels sprouts, those bacon-wrapped bundles of green beans, sweet potato and hashbrown casseroles, apple-date cake, coconut cake… Everything but yeast rolls, which you also might as well buy. Grab a few packs of Sister Schuberts from the freezer section well ahead of Thanksgiving. Like Loretta used to say about Crisco, they’ll do you proud every time.”

—Phillip Rhodes, Executive Managing Editor


“No matter how gravy much we make, it seems we never have enough. For the past few years, I have bought homemade turkey gravy from Whole Foods to supplement what we make from the bird drippings. You usually can find it in the refrigerated section, packaged in quart-sized containers, but you can always call ahead and pre-order to make sure it’s available. It’s delicious and nobody will ever know you didn’t make it yourself.”

—Kim Alexander, Digital Director


“Once you’ve had super-juicy fried turkey, it’s hard to go back to the roasted variety, but my family has seen way too many videos of people singeing their eyebrows off (or worse) on YouTube to try it ourselves. So at my parents’ house, at Thanksgiving, “It’s Bo Time!” The Charlotte-based fried chicken chain Bojangles offers a fried turkey laced with their proprietary seasoning that’s *chef’s kiss.* You can order it at your local Bojangles’ ahead of time, and then schedule a pick up the morning of. The heating instructions are easy—Mom usually pops it in the oven for a couple of hours, so it’s nice and hot.”

—Amanda Heckert, Deputy Editor



“I make my pie crusts the week before Thanksgiving and pop them into the freezer. On Wednesday, I pull them out and bake all the pies that afternoon. While the pies are baking, I start on the potatoes. After mashing them in the same pot I boiled them in, I let them cool, cover the pot, and put it in the fridge. The day of Thanksgiving, I put the pot of mashed potatoes back on the stove and rewarm with a little cream and butter, then make cinnamon whipped cream for the pumpkin pies and call it a day.”

—Aileen Lewis, Business Manager


“Have the fire started before the guests arrive, and always place a couple logs off to the side. They’re there to dry out, but also act as decoys to help—ahem, certain—family members feel like they’re playing along. Everyone wants to poke and stoke the fire, and that’s fine as long as you’ve already taken command of the situation.”

—Marshall McKinney, Design Director



“Roast the bird upside down. I accidentally did this four years ago and thought I had ruined it, but many in my family who are not fond of turkey ate multiple helpings. It was flavorful, juicy, and didn’t need a knife for cutting! Now, it is my go-to method.”

—Jeny Tyler, Director of Information Technology


“Our family of five came to the consensus that none of us actually enjoyed eating turkey breast at Thanksgiving, so my dad decided to tweak the tradition and make one of our own. We toss smoked turkey into a gumbo with an extra-dark roux, and cook it in a huge Dutch oven with all sorts of meat—rabbit, duck, and any other odd game we can get our hands on. My mom is a gardener, so she tosses in the okra and peppers, plus some leftover coffee from the morning. Everything from leftovers to fresh greens seems to find a home, which makes clearing out room in the fridge an easier task. Plus, it freezes well. Who doesn’t love gumbo for days?”

—Maggie Armstrong, Integrated Marketing Coordinator



“My dad likes to serve up his ‘fried turkey fingers’ as an appetizer. He pounds the meat with a cleaver to tenderize it, and soaks it in milk. He then covers the bite-sized pieces in fish fry batter with lots of Cavender’s seasoning and tosses them into the fryer.”

Parker Butler, Editorial Intern


My mom and I make the easiest artichoke dip to serve before the big meal: Two cans of artichokes in oil (throw them in the food processor to chop them up a bit), two cups of grated parmesan, one cup of mayo, a dash of red pepper flakes, and lots of coarsely ground black pepper. Mix everything well in a large bowl. Pour into a pretty serving dish, sprinkle the top with some extra parmesan and paprika, and bake it at 350 degrees until it’s bubbly and a bit browned on top. Slice a baguette and toast it up, then serve and watch it all disappear. We like to enjoy with a glass of white wine (or three).”

Kitty Hill, Executive Director, Creative Services



Quit inviting people you don’t like.”

Pam Spivey, Customer Relations