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Alabama white BBQ sauce started as a southern favorite created in northern Alabama. Now, it has grown to become one of the foundational BBQ sauces of America.
What is Alabama White Sauce?
When Americans think of barbecue, we often think of sweet and smoky red barbecue sauce, but in one region of America, white BBQ sauce is king.
Pitmaster Robert Gibson (AKA Big Bob Gibson), created the tangy, peppery sauce in the 1920s and began serving it on smoked meats in Decatur, Alabama.
It grew in popularity around the region, but as Chris Lilly, the husband of Big Bob’s great grand daughter, started racking up world championship wins, Alabama White Sauce gained national attention.
I’ve had the pleasure of judging the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue with Chris for a number of years.
In 2009, he published Bib Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book, which includes a recipe for Alabama White Sauce, but even the book describes that the recipe has changed slightly over the years as the original recipe has been passed on to different cooks at the restaurant. He said the version in the book is one of his favorites.
You can also buy Big Bob Gibson’s Original White Sauce by the bottle.
What does Alabama white sauce taste like?
Although it’s white with a mayonnaise base, it’s not sweet like the dressing you put on traditional coleslaw or broccoli salad. It’s more savory with a tangy punch from the vinegar and a subtle heat from the horseradish and cayenne.
It also has coarse-ground black pepper that stands out in contrast to the white tangy sauce. That adds pops of peppery notes that complement barbecue really well.
What is Alabama white sauce good on?
At Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, they dunk whole smoked spatchcocked BBQ chickens into huge pots of the white sauce.
As you can see in the video above, they smoke 70 chickens at a time. I imagine you’re probably only smoking 1-2, which is why my recipe is scaled down to make a 2 1/4 cup batch.
The sauce isn’t just good on grilled chicken. It’s also great mixed with smoked pulled turkey, tossed on pulled pork, slathered on pork chops or mixed into slaw. It’s even awesome as a dressing on a fresh grilled vegetable spring salad.
But you don’t have to limit this easy sauce to just BBQ. Try it as a salad dressing on greens or in a potato salad or as a dipping sauce for french fries or chicken wings.
- Mayonnaise: This is the base of the sauce, so you want to start with good quality mayonnaise. I like using Dukes or Hellmans.
- White Vinegar
- Apple Juice: Again, go with quality juice. Skip the watered-down stuff.
- Horseradish: Look for the jar of prepared horseradish in the lunch meat section of your grocery store.
- Worcestershire Sauce: This provides a meaty deep rich flavor.
- Seasonings: Black pepper, granulated garlic (or garlic powder), kosher salt and cayenne pepper.
See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.
How to make Alabama white sauce
This is a really easy recipe because it doesn’t require any cooking.
- STEP ONE: Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.
- STEP TWO: For the best results, refrigerate for at least an hour so all of the flavors marry together.
How long can you keep Alabama white sauce?
When left at room temperature, the sauce needs to be consumed within two hours. This includes if it’s mixed in salads like my kale coleslaw or simply served on the table in a jar for guests to spoon right onto their meat.
If you properly store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it will keep for a couple of weeks.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Start with good quality mayonnaise and apple juice
- Let the flavors meld together for at least 1 hour before using
- Try Alabama White BBQ Sauce on smoked or grilled meats
Frequently Asked Questions
Alabama white barbecue sauce isn’t particularly spicy. It does include tangy vinegar and prepared horseradish, which does give it a little bite, but not in the spicy sense.
My white BBQ sauce recipe also has coarse-ground black pepper and a little bit of cayenne pepper. If you like really mild sauce, add those in moderation. If you like it spicy, you can add a couple dashes of hot sauce.
No Alabama is not the same as ranch; however, both can be used as a table sauce, dipping sauce or dressing.
Alabama white sauce is a mayonnaise and vinegar-based sauce with horseradish and spices. Ranch is generally made with mayonnaise, sour cream and herbs.
Alabama white sauce is dairy free. It gets its white color from the mayonnaise. Mayo is made with eggs, oil and lemon juice or vinegar, not dairy.
More Rubs + Sauces
Try Alabama White Sauce on these Recipes
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Alabama White Sauce
- 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 2 tsp prepared horseradish
- 2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for at least an hour before using. Serve with your favorite barbecue meats or slaws.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.