Alabama-Style BBQ Sauce

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My family and I are addicted to Big Bob Gibson’s Championship Red barbecue sauce; it has the right balance of sweet and hot, and we think it would taste good served on anything! Big Bob’s is located in Decatur, Alabama, and serves some of the most delectable BBQ you will ever taste. The sauce recipe presented here is pretty close to Big Bob’s, but I think we need to sit in Big Bob’s kitchen to find the secret ingredients!

Click here to see the Pulled Pork Shoulder with Alabama-Style BBQ Sauce recipe.


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup pork cooking liquid, fat skimmed, or beef broth

Alabama White BBQ Sauce

This traditional Alabama white barbecue sauce is unlike any other barbecue sauce you might be familiar with. First of all, it's white, rather than red, and not made with a tomato or fruit base, but mayonnaise instead.

It's creamy, tangy, peppery, and slightly sweet if sugar is added with a rich flavor that is a great addition to most grilled foods but especially chicken, turkey, smoked pork, and grilled fish.

Just like a red sauce, this white sauce can be used to marinate or grill, or as a table sauce. But it has a leg up on the red stuff because white sauce makes a great dip, salad dressing, baked potato top, and even a binding agent for coleslaw and potato salad.

As with many barbecue sauces, you want to apply this only at the very end of your grilling or smoking, especially if you add sugar to the basic ingredients. Not only will it break down and separate if it is heated too long, but the sugar will burn instead of becoming nicely caramelized.


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Barbecue, Alabama Style

Barbecue Pork Barbecue is the age-old art and science of slow-cooking meat. It is worshipped in the state of Alabama, from pecan-infused pork shoulder in Mobile near the coast to white sauce-soaked chicken on the banks of the Tennessee River. Many barbecue restaurants in Alabama are long-time operations that have been run by the same family for generations, and others have proved to be successful second careers for many entrepreneurs. Pork is most commonly barbecued in Alabama in the form of ribs, shoulder or butt, and ham. Alabama Barbecue, ca. 1890s Barbecue, the coming together of fire, smoke, and meat, is one of the oldest cooking techniques known to humankind. The word barbecue itself, most scholars believe, takes its origin from the Taino Indian word babracot, which described the lashed-together wooden structure on which meat was smoked slowly over a grate in the Caribbean. The Spanish morphed the word into barbacoa, which eventually became barbecue. According to food writer Robb Walsh, this method of cooking was first brought to the Carolinas by African slaves in the seventeenth century. Easy to raise and fatten, pigs became the most popular choice of meat for southern barbecuers. Pigs were introduced into the New World by the Spanish in the fifteenth century and into Virginia by the English in the seventeenth. Southern Barbecue During difficult economic times in the South, barbecueing was an inexpensive way for the working-class to bring flavor and tenderness to even the most inexpensive cuts of meat. Barbecue has remained true to its blue-collar origins and is often the centerpiece of Saturday-afternoon football tailgate parties, political rallies, family reunions, rural church fundraisers, and impromptu backyard parties throughout Alabama and beyond. The word barbecue can be a verb describing the act of cooking and a noun describing both the product and the social gathering where it is consumed. Barbecue differs from grilling in that barbecue typically means long cooking over low heat, whereas grilling is done quickly over higher temperatures. Vinegar-based Sauce Alabama lies between the barbecue poles of Memphis and the Carolinas. In northern Alabama, vinegar-based sauces akin to those in eastern North Carolina are found, but they become scarce south of Birmingham. Variations of tomato-based sauces that bear a kinship to those served from Memphis to eastern Tennessee are served throughout the state. In eastern Alabama, mustard, a South Carolina influence, finds its way into spicy sauces, often in combination with tomato products. One emblematic aspect of Alabama barbecue is a white sauce of mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, black pepper, and salt. It was created in Decatur by Robert Gibson at Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q restaurant in 1925. The white sauce has evolved from a kitchen staple to a table condiment, and its use has expanded beyond chicken, with diners often squirting it on pork shoulder. Originally, cooks dunked chickens in the sauce and employees joked that chickens were baptized in it. Dreamland Ribs Dreamland Bar-B-Que is the most renowned establishment in the Tuscaloosa area. It was founded in 1958 by John Bishop. The early menu consisted of nothing more than ribs, white bread, chips, and drinks. A rib sandwich was three ribs atop commercial loaf bread. The sauce was redolent of vinegar but with a tomato underpinning. Although Bishop died in 1997, his family has continued the tradition and expanded the restaurant into other Alabama cities such as Birmingham, Northport, Huntsville, and Mobile, and even into Georgia. Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q In the steel mill town of Bessemer, the Sykes family has been in the food business since 1956, first serving hamburgers, then converting to barbecue, which is still smoked in a pit inside the front door of the restaurant. Van Sykes, son of the original owner and current proprietor of Bob Sykes BarB-Q, has echoed the views of many Alabama barbecue pitmasters in noting that the "secret" of good barbecue is the interaction of simply salt, meat, and fire. Sykes' sandwiches, like many across the state, can be stuffed with interior sections of meat, the crust from the charred outside, or, as many diners prefer, a combination of the two. Golden Rule At Chuck's Bar-B-Q in the former mill town of Opelika, the connection between barbecue and religion is most clear. Employees wear T-shirts with "Jesus, The Bread of Life" printed on the back, and beside the cash register, owner Chuck Ferrell's religious handouts proclaim "Something Better Than Barbecue." Chuck's has been serving chopped pork butts since 1976, and the restaurant has popularized mustard-based barbecue sauce in that section of eastern Alabama. Over oak, hickory, and sometimes pecan wood, Ferrell smokes Boston butt with fat and bone removed. Sliced and chopped are serving options, as well as "chipped on the block," a finer cut and the owner's personal preference. Alabama Barbecue Pit Alabama barbecuers have come into the business through varied and circuitous routes. Chuck Ferrell once repaired looms. Leo Headrick, who opened the Green Top with his wife Susie, once mined coal. Rudolph McCollum, founder of Winfield's The Sparerib, spent 32 years as a schoolteacher in Fayette. The Boar's Butt in Winfield began as a barbecue stand operated by the local high school football coach. Gerald Atchison, owner of Sho'nuff BBQ in Alexander City, sold live bait before converting to barbecue. Bob Sykes sold bread. These individuals are representative of numerous Alabama barbecue cooks who are committed to keeping a southern tradition alive, despite modern-day pressures to take shortcuts. Among all the variations in cooking techniques, sauce ingredients, and side dishes, persistence and patience are common characteristics.

Brick Pit Pride in the craft is evident, too, in the many boastful slogans found on restaurants. A sign at Mobile's Brick Pit proclaims, "Welcome to the Best Damn Smoked Bar-B-Que in the Great State of Alabama," and crimson red signatures on the restaurant's walls echo the theme as diners create odes to the 30-hour-smoldered meat. Of Dreamland's ribs, the restaurant's advertising asserts, "Ain't Nothing Like 'em Nowhere." In Alabama, barbecue is ecumenical. It is both urban and rural, black and white, tomato-sweet and vinegar-sour, pulled and chopped. It is cinder-block simple and strip-mall slick. A product of the working-class culture of the mills and factories, integrating all, it is one of the state's most unifying and enduring symbols.

Alabama-Style BBQ Sauce - Recipes

Southern hospitality and southern barbecue go hand in hand. Savory founder Mike Johnston encountered lot of both on the Alabama and Georgia portion of his Chasing BBQ road trip. Chicken with white sauce and perfectly charred ribs are the protein stars on barbecue menus in these regions. And classic sides like coconut cream pie, turnip greens, Brunswick stew, and fried okra round out a southern BBQ plate.

Hot & Fast Spare Ribs

This is a backyard grilling method where you cook over direct, high heat. While the backyard enthusiast can&rsquot hit the high temps the barbecue pros use, the high heat grilling principles are the same. You get great char and flavor on the ribs and you don't need to spend all day babysitting them. (View Recipe)

Sweet & Spicy Georgia BBQ Sauce

We found this quick and easy BBQ sauce equally delicious as a potato chip or french fry dip as it is a slathering sauce for your favorite protein. (View Recipe)

Smoked Chicken

This chicken is best served Alabama barbecue style. drenched in tangy, white BBQ sauce. See the recipe details for links to delicious white BBQ sauce recipes using Savory's spices and seasonings. (View Recipe)

Long’s Peak White BBQ Sauce

A nod to the traditional white BBQ sauce of Alabama, this version has a smoky twist from our Long's Peak Pork Chop Spice. This is the perfect complement to BBQ chicken, chicken wings, ribs, or pulled pork. You can also use it as a chicken salad, potato salad, or coleslaw dressing. It goes quickly, so you might want to make a double batch! (View Recipe)

Cajun Fried Okra

A Southern BBQ menu wouldn't be complete without a side of fried okra. These addictive bites were gobbled up quickly by tasters in our test kitchen. They have a mild kick of heat from both our Cajun seasoning and Cajun hot sauce. They also have a perfectly crunchy cornmeal coating, which makes them gluten-free too! (View Recipe)

Southern Style Turnip Greens

Southern style greens usually involve bacon or ham and at least an hour or so of simmering on the stovetop. These simple yet hearty turnip greens make a great side for any BBQ meal or Southern-inspired menu. (View Recipe)

Easiest Savory Cornbread Ever

By simply adding your favorite seasoning to a package of cornbread mix, you can spice up each batch with different flavors to match the rest of your menu. Serve with BBQ, chili, gumbo, collard greens, roast turkey, baked ham, and more. (View Recipe)

Coconut Cream Pie

We upped the coconut factor in this traditional southern dessert by using coconut extract in both pudding filling and the creamy whipped topping. We also gave it a Caribbean twist by dusting the graham cracker crust with allspice. It makes a great dessert for a summer backyard barbecue. (View Recipe)

Brunswick Stew with Shredded Chicken

This southern stew may have originated in the town of Brunswick, Georgia, in 1898. Or it may have been created in 1828 in Brunswick County, Virginia. Wherever it was born, its still a popular dish on BBQ menus across the South today. Each region has its own version of a recipe, most featuring corn, lima beans, tomatoes, and whatever leftover BBQ protein happens to be on hand. (View Recipe)

Beer Can BBQ Chicken

Beer can chicken is one of the easiest ways to grill a whole chicken. It just requires a can of beer (or cola!), your favorite BBQ rub, and a little patience. (View Recipe)

Woody’s Peach BBQ Sauce

Savory Spice founder Janet C. Johnston grew up on her dad's peach BBQ sauce. Janet's dad, Woody, shared his easy recipe with us and we discovered it works perfectly with our Georgia Peach Spice. (View Recipe)

Pepper Roasted Chicken Wings

Create the wings of your dreams at home with this customizable recipe. Pick your favorite seasoning then roast or grill. These juicy, flavor-packed wings are perfect whether you're enjoying them with friends on game day, for an easy family meal, or all to yourself. (View Recipe)

Stefan’s Tangy White BBQ Sauce

This no-cook, all-purpose, mayo-based BBQ sauce comes together in less than 5 minutes and brightens up grilled meats and veggies alike. (View Recipe)

Amish Style Fried Pies

Savory founder Mike Johnston adapted this recipe to recreate his favorite barbecue dessert during the Alabama and Georgia portion of his Chasing BBQ road trip -- fried hand pies. The dough is perfectly crispy on the outside yet sturdy and slightly chewy on the inside so it holds a lot of filling and doesn't fall apart in your hand while you're enjoying it. They're just as delicious the day after they've been fried. so you might want to make a double batch! (View Recipe)

Fruit Filling for Fried Pies

Designed as a filling for fried hand pies, this recipe also works as a regular pie filling. If you don't have time to make pies, use it as a topping for ice cream or yogurt. It can be made with whatever fruits are in season so you can switch it up all year long! (View Recipe)

Chocolate Puddin’ Filling for Fried Pies

This easy, eggless pudding was designed as a filling for fried hand pies but also works as a pudding dessert (with a little whipped cream on top, of course!). It can easily be made vegan by using coconut milk and vegan chocolate chips. (View Recipe)

Grilled Spiced Peaches

A platter of these sweet and savory peaches didn't last long in our test kitchen. They were gobbled up as soon as they came off the grill each time we made them. They make a great backyard BBQ party appetizer. (View Recipe)

Marmalade Marinated Woody Creek Wings

Marinating wings in a mix of yogurt and marmalade spiked with garlic and jalapeno will take your BBQ wings to the next level. The sugar in the marmalade adds a lot of char to the grilled wings, which is what tasters in our test kitchen loved about this dish. (View Recipe)

Slow Cooker BBQ Picnic Chicken

This crowd-pleasing recipe couldn't be easier or more delicious. It yields the flavors of summer BBQ without the commitment to the grill. Plus, it's great warm or cold so you take it to your next picnic. (View Recipe)

LoDo Red Adobo Ribs

A creative customer developed this oven-roasted rib recipe with the desire to channel grill-type meat flavors when you don't have access to a grill. The method is simple and just requires time for marinating and low-and-slow oven roasting. (View Recipe)

Capitol Hill Classic Coleslaw

A creative customer submitted this super easy cole slaw recipe featuring one of our most popular spice blends - Capitol Hill Seasoning. (View Recipe)

Peach Crumble Pie

While this is best with fresh, summer harvest peaches, it works with frozen peaches as well. Throw several scoops of vanilla ice cream on top when it comes out of the oven, hand out a fistful of forks, and you've got the perfect, shareable backyard party dessert. (View Recipe)

Smoky Hills Stovetop Mac’n Cheese

This classic with a smoky kick is super fast and simple to make. It's sure to be a hit with the whole family whether you serve it on it's own for an easy lunch or as a side - it's also a great addition to a BBQ feast. (View Recipe)

What Is Alabama White Sauce&mdashand How Is It Different From Other Barbecue Sauce?

A tangy, mayonnaise-based sauce that's particularly great on barbecue chicken.

Alabama barbecue doesn&apost have the same nationwide recognition as its counterparts in the Carolinas, Texas, or Kansas City. That&aposs probably because Alabama is in the middle of a bunch of different styles. It&aposs mostly pork, but you can also find beef. And though the sauce runs more toward vinegar than tomato, there are also versions that are sweet, spicy, and in between. There&aposs a great deal of variety throughout the state, and very few agreed-upon tenants of barbecue, meaning that you can find all kinds of treasures in the pits tucked into every city in the state. But the most recognizable hallmark of the state&aposs barbecue has to be Alabama white sauce.

If you&aposve never heard of a white barbecue sauce, you&aposre in for a treat. The sauce, according to most estimations, is the invention of Decatur, Alabama&aposs Bob Gibson, who started selling it in 1925 out of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. It&aposs a sauce that combines cider vinegar with mayonnaise, salt, sugar, and spices, and it was originally served with the restaurant&aposs barbecued chicken. Now they use it as an all-purpose flavoring for their chicken dishes—it can be a marinade, a table sauce, or used to baste chicken.

It&aposs grown out of Big Bob&aposs to become a staple of many Alabama barbecue joints, where you can get pork ribs slathered in spicy brown sauce, or chicken wings with a container of white sauce for dipping. And the best news is that it&aposs a sauce that&aposs completely replicable at home, and very good with all kinds of preprations of chicken, turkey, and vegetables. You can use it on burgers or baked potatoes or dip French fries in it, or just drizzle it over some roasted vegetables.

There are a few different versions of the sauce, but the main components are always mayonnaise and some kind of vinegar, either white wine or apple cider, mixed together with horseradish, creole mustard, salt, sugar, garlic, and pepper. Even if you&aposre nowhere near Alabama, it&aposs definitely worth making a batch of Alabama white sauce for your next picnic or cookout to try it out.

To ensure food safety, the FDA recommends the following as minimum internal cooking temperatures:

  • Steak and Pork 145° F (rest cooked meat, 3 minutes) |
  • Seafood 145° F |
  • Chicken 165° F |
  • Ground Beef 160° F |
  • Ground Turkey 165° F |
  • Ground Pork 160° F

Prepare the Ingredients

Peel carrot, trim, and cut into sticks 3" long and ½" thick. Thinly slice Fresno chile on an angle. Combine ¾ the mayonnaise (reserve remaining for slaw), Dijon, half the apple cider vinegar (reserve remaining for slaw), and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Refrigerate until ready to plate. Rinse chicken breasts, pat dry, and season both sides with ¼ tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper.

Make the Slaw

Combine slaw mix, Fresno slices (to taste), remaining mayonnaise, remaining apple cider vinegar, half the honey (reserve remaining for carrots), and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Stir and refrigerate until ready to plate.

Sear the Chicken

Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a medium non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Place chicken in hot pan and cook undisturbed until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Transfer chicken to prepared baking sheet, seared side up. Reserve pan no need to wipe clean.

Finish the Chicken

Place baking sheet in oven. Bake until chicken reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees and chicken is golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest at least 5 minutes. While chicken bakes, cook carrots.

Cook the Carrots

Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in pan used to sear chicken over medium heat. Add carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5-7 minutes. Add remaining honey and 1 Tbsp. water to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until honey begins to bubble and glazes carrots, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove pan from burner and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Plate the Dish

Place a serving of slaw and carrots on a plate. Add a pool of white BBQ sauce to plate and place chicken in sauce.

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Alabama White Sauce

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Alabama White BBQ Sauce is a tangy, spicy mayo-based sauce. A creamy white sauce with vinegar and horseradish is perfect for grilling, ready in 5 minutes!

If you are looking for a change from sweet, tomato-based Homemade BBQ Sauce, this tangy and peppery Sauce Recipe is just what you need!


This amazing and delicious barbecue sauce is our take on the Alabama-style sauce invented by Bob Gibson of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que. No need to travel all the way to Decatur, Alabama or wait for a bottle to arrive to try out (and fall in love with) this different style of BBQ sauce.

Just a glance at Alabama White Sauce and you know it’s like nothing you’ve had before. If you’ve never tried Alabama White BBQ Sauce, the big question is what does white barbecue sauce taste like? This White BBQ Sauce recipe is tangy, peppery, with bite from the horseradish. It is not a sweet sauce, like other barbecue sauces, but the mayo makes it so creamy and delicious.

What sets Alabama White BBQ Sauce apart is there are no tomatoes and you don’t have to cook it down. This no cook barbecue sauce is simple ingredients like mayonnaise, horseradish, and cider vinegar all whisked together. It’s made in minutes and then you allow it to chill for a few hours, similar to Coleslaw, for an amazing tangy, creamy sauce.

Alabama White BBQ Sauce should be creamy and thin, perfect for drizzling or basting meat. Whisk the ingredients together until there are no clumps and it is smooth. If your sauce is too thick, add more lemon juice or cider vinegar in small amounts until the consistency is right.

You can serve Alabama White BBQ Sauce as a condiment or a marinade, after it has chilled, with all your favorites summer recipes! Brush it on Grilled Chicken, drizzle over Pulled Pork, or serve as a dipping sauce for Beef Brisket. Use this barbecue sauce to toss BBQ Chicken Wings in before you broil them at the end.

Grilling with Alabama BBQ White Sauce

Alabama White Sauce is a thin, creamy barbecue sauce perfect for basting grilled and smoked chicken. Like sweet barbecue sauces, you want to baste the meat once it has been cooking a while so it doesn’t burn or separate on the grill.

Reserve half of the sauce before you begin marinating the chicken (or other meat) to avoid contamination. Wait until your meat has been cooking over half way before brushing on the white sauce. Sear with one final coat of sauce on each side before you take the meat off the grill.

If you like barbecue, you probably know that each region of the US has its own style of sauce. Aside from their distinct cooking methods and meat cuts, sauces tell the regional story about barbecue. In short, these sauces serve as their identity, which is why I think we should explore their differences.

This vinegar sauce is spicy and acidic in flavor. Instead of tomatoes, it relies on vinegar (typically cider). It typically contains salt and other spices, such as crushed red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne.


Contrary to the traditional tomato-based bbq sauce, this version is made with a base of mayonnaise. I realize that mayo preferences are incredibly personal, so go ahead and use whatever brand you enjoy most. I’m a Duke’s girl, in case you’re wondering.

For the true Alabama White Sauce experience, serve this drizzled over smoked chicken. Since I don’t have a smoker at home, I’ll often make a big batch of my Everything But The Bagel Shredded Chicken and we’ll enjoy the sauce over sandwiches all week. My family also likes having it with pizza, chicken wings, and chili. Heck… this would be great in a coleslaw recipe, too. I think I’ll try that next.

Watch the video: SMOKED WHISKEY BURGERS. Recipe. BBQ Pit Boys (June 2022).


  1. Kajicage

    good information

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