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Alabama White Sauce

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Chalkboard design sketch for Alabama White Sauce (header) including a bottle of BBQ sauce and a sentence explaining what the sauce is.

What is Alabama White Sauce?

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Alabama White Sauce is a tangy and creamy barbecue sauce that likely originated in Decatur, AL. It’s made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and various seasonings and is commonly used as a marinade or finishing sauce for chicken. This unique and flavorful sauce offers a tangy and slightly spicy flavor that’s balanced by the creamy texture of the mayonnaise, making it a delicious alternative to traditional red barbecue sauces.


Key Takeaways

  • Alabama White Sauce is a tangy, creamy barbecue sauce that originated in Alabama and is commonly used as a marinade or finishing sauce for chicken.
  • The sauce is made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and various seasonings, and can be adjusted to suit individual tastes.
  • Alabama White Sauce is a refreshing and versatile alternative to traditional red barbecue sauces and is becoming more widely available in stores and online.

Moe's Original BBQ Turkey sandwich with Alabama White Sauce
Photo courtesy of Moe’s Original Bar B Que.

Understanding Alabama White Sauce

According to Chris Lilly, a pitmaster and vice president of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL, “Alabama White Sauce is the perfect complement to smoked chicken. The tangy and slightly sweet flavor of the sauce really brings out the smokiness of the meat.”

If you’re a barbecue lover, you might be familiar with the traditional tomato-based sauces that are common in many parts of the country. However, if you haven’t tried this white barbecue sauce, you’re missing out on a unique and delicious sauce that’s worth adding to your barbecue repertoire.

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This white barbecue sauce is a tangy, creamy sauce that’s made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and various seasonings. It’s a regional specialty and is most commonly used as a marinade or finishing sauce for chicken.

The sauce’s unique tangy and slightly spicy flavor is balanced by the creamy texture of the mayonnaise, making it a refreshing alternative to traditional red barbecue sauces.

History and Origin of Alabama White Sauce

The origins of Alabama white sauce, a unique barbecue sauce invented by Bob Gibson, remain uncertain. Lilly shares his theory: “His [Bob Gibson’s] chickens sometimes stayed on his pit for three hours… I think that’s where the mayonnaise came from. The fat in the mayonnaise basically used as a buffer against the chicken drying out once it came off the pit.”

Lilly further explains that Gibson had an affinity for vinegar-based sauces and began using the white sauce in his backyard gatherings before opening his restaurant in 1925. Don McLemore, Gibson’s grandson, comments on the mystery behind the sauce’s origins, saying, “I would give somebody a thousand dollars if they could tell me the truth about how he started that. But I don’t know of anybody that knows.”

The sauce has since gained widespread popularity, and Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q began bottling their Original White Sauce in the mid-90s. It is now available in grocery stores across Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida, and has made its way onto menus in Chicago and California, as well as being shipped overseas.

Ingredients

In fact, Lilly, husband of Gibson’s great-granddaughter and owner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, suggests folks not even think of this white barbecue sauce as a mayonnaise-based sauce. He told AL.com that Gibson actually loved vinegar sauces and that his pork sauce was, in fact, an Eastern Carolina style sauce.

“People describe it as a mayonnaise sauce, but I would describe it as a vinegar sauce with mayonnaise in it, more than anything,” Lilly said.

Alabama White Sauce can be made with mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, horseradish, garlic, salt, and black pepper, among other seasonings. While the exact recipe can vary from person to person, most versions of the sauce include these basic ingredients. The ratio of ingredients, however, can be adjusted to suit individual tastes, with some people adding more vinegar for a tangier flavor or more horseradish or hot sauce for extra heat.

Hand dunking Home Team smoked wing in Alabama White sauce
Photo courtesy of Home Team BBQ. Jonathan Boncek, photographer

Home Team BBQ makes an excellent white sauce that they serve along with their popular smoked and fried chicken wings.

You’ll also enjoy the authentic white sauce recipe from Alabama-based Moe’s Original BBQ.

How to Use

While this sauce is most commonly used as a marinade or dipping sauce for chicken, it can also be used with other meats, such as pork or beef.

Rodney Scott, pitmaster and owner of Rodney Scott’s BBQ, notes that “Alabama White Sauce is one of the best-kept secrets in barbecue. It’s a unique sauce that’s not too spicy and not too sweet, and it’s perfect for chicken.”

The tangy and creamy flavors of the sauce are a perfect complement to the mild flavor of chicken, and they can help to balance out the richness of pork or beef. The sauce can be used as a marinade before cooking or as a finishing sauce after the meat is cooked, depending on the desired flavor.

Myron Mixon, a pitmaster and author of “Smokin’ with Myron Mixon,” describes it as “a versatile sauce that works well with many different meats. It’s especially great on smoked turkey and pork, and it’s also a delicious dipping sauce for fries and other sides.”

If you’re looking for a unique and flavorful barbecue sauce to try, give Alabama White Sauce a chance. This tangy, creamy sauce is a refreshing alternative to traditional red barbecue sauces and is perfect for chicken, pork, or beef.

Buying and Storing

While Alabama White Sauce is a regional specialty, it’s becoming more widely available in grocery stores and online. In fact, you can purchase Big Bob Gibson’s Original White Sauce on Amazon. If you would prefer to make it yourself, there are many recipes available on this site and online that you can use to make the sauce at home.

Once you have made or opened the sauce, it can safely be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Synonyms:
white BBQ sauce, white barbecue sauce
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