Big Bob's Smoked Chicken with White BBQ Sauce


White barbecue sauce is served throughout northern Alabama. One taste of the chicken at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur — smoked to the color of mahogany, then tossed with a creamy, peppery white sauce — will make you a believer. Don McLemore, the third-generation owner of Big Bob's, says his grandfather came up with the recipe in 1925, using vinegar, mayonnaise and black pepper. My own contribution is a spoonful of prepared horseradish. This chicken makes great sandwiches on toasted white bread with fried green tomatoes.More Amazing Chicken Recipes

Big Bob's Smoked Chicken with White BBQ Sauce
Photo: © Amy Neunsinger


  • 2 cups hickory wood chips

  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • Two 4-pound chickens, rinsed and patted dry

  • White BBQ Sauce


  1. Soak the hickory chips in cold water for 1 hour. In a small bowl, combine salt and pepper with the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder.

  2. Light a grill; if using gas, light the front and rear or outside burners. If using charcoal, rake the lit coals into two piles on opposite sides of the grill. Lightly brush the grate with oil. Place a foil drip pan in the center of the grill.

  3. Drain the hickory chips and scatter them on the hot coals. If using gas, place the chips in a 12-inch square of aluminum foil; fold the foil into a 6-inch square package and poke 12 holes in the top. Place the package near the gas flame. Let the chips heat until smoking.

  4. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture into the cavity of each chicken. Sprinkle the rest on the skin, and rub it in thoroughly. Set the chickens on the grill, breast up, away from the heat. Cover and grill over moderate heat for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the skin is golden and crisp and the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced. (If using charcoal, replenish the coals after about 1 hour.) Transfer the chickens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve hot or at room temperature, with White BBQ Sauce on the side.

Suggested Pairing

The smoky, spicy and slightly sweet flavors in this simple dish are a perfect foil for a fresh, fruity, inexpensive rosé.

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