Alabama White Sauce


This Alabama staple is a must-try.

Active Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins
2 cups

In the South, we sure do know our barbecue. Each year, we ask our readers to help us rank the South's Best BBQ Joints, and the list is bound to elicit some fiery debate. How is one supposed to rank smoked chicken smothered in vinegary white sauce against Central Texas brisket? Our studies in Southern barbecue have proven that this revered culinary landscape is far from a monolith—each Southern region, state, and even city has its own unique expression of barbecue. And more often than not, the secret is in the sauce. We sought out to devise an AlabamaWhite Sauce that captures the unique flavor and color of Alabama's barbecue scene.

Alabama White Sauce has set itself apart from the legions of dark brown sauces with one particular change—rather than ketchup, this sauce is made from a mayonnaise base, then spiked with lots of vinegar. The result is a tangy and bright white sauce, speckled with a hefty dose of black pepper.

Alabama-Style White Sauce

Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Prissy Lee Montiel

Though it has earned a category all its own, this sauce is actually a derivation of Carolina-style vinegar sauce, from which Robert "Big Bob" Gibson gained his inspiration back in 1925. "He added mayo to the base to keep the chickens from drying out while he hung out in his backyard, waiting for his friends," Chris Lilly, fourth-generation pitmaster at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama, says. "I think of white sauce as basically a vinegar-based sauce with mayonnaise."

Now, you'll find versions of Big Bob Gibson's trailblazing white BBQ sauce across the Yellowhammer State; inspired by the original recipe, we've developed our own version of Alabama White Sauce that is creamy, vinegary, light, and a little bit hot. Stay true to Big Bob Gibson's original vision and serve our Alabama white BBQ sauce with grilled chicken thighs.


  • 1 ¼ cups mayonnaise (Duke's, of course)

  • ¾ cup distilled white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 small lemon)

  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce


  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl until combined. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Related Articles