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

By Margaret Eby
August 21, 2019
Alison Miksch; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Alabama barbecue doesn't have the same nationwide recognition as its counterparts in the Carolinas, Texas, or Kansas City. That's probably because Alabama is in the middle of a bunch of different styles. It's 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's 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's barbecue has to be Alabama white sauce.

If you've never heard of a white barbecue sauce, you're in for a treat. The sauce, according to most estimations, is the invention of Decatur, Alabama's Bob Gibson, who started selling it in 1925 out of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. It's a sauce that combines cider vinegar with mayonnaise, salt, sugar, and spices, and it was originally served with the restaurant's 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.

Watch: How to Make White Barbecue Sauce

It's grown out of Big Bob's 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's a sauce that's 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're nowhere near Alabama, it's definitely worth making a batch of Alabama white sauce for your next picnic or cookout to try it out.

Get the recipe for Alabama White Sauce.

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