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Grilled Chicken with Alabama White Sauce

15 minutes prep
1 hour active cooking
1 hour + 15 minutes total

Makes 6 - 8 servings
Print recipe

Alabama pitmaster Big Bob Gibson gets credit for creating this mayonnaise-based sauce at his barbeque restaurant in Decatur in 1925. The origin story’s a little murky, but those close to Gibson say he used the sauce to keep the whole chickens from getting too dry during the 3 hours they spent on Bob’s pit. Mop sauces for basting barbecue are usually just vinegar or water with salt and other flavors. The sugars in tomato-based sauces tend to burn, and any fat in the mop drips onto the coals and flares up, dusting the meat with soot. But the fatty mayo clings, and as it cooks it creates a tangy, caramelized crust that holds the juices in.

The basic sauce is just mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, and black pepper. But it’s evolved over the years with more added flavors. Our version, inspired by Nashville chef and author Edward Lee, includes garlic, mustard, worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, and horseradish. The recipe makes enough to cook at least a half dozen pieces of chicken, but it’s just as good on grilled vegetables, and you’ll want extra for the table. It makes a great salad dressing, too, so double it and keep some in the refrigerator.

What you'll need


For the shopping list


bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (legs and breasts work, too)

3 cloves of

garlic, chopped*

2 tablespoons of

fresh horseradish, grated*

*Substitute 1 teaspoon Burlap & Barrel purple stripe garlic powder for the fresh garlic, 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish instead of fresh horseradish

2 teaspoons of

Worcestershire Sauce

1 tablespoon of

black pepper, freshly ground

From our shop

$7 - Greenville - South Carolina

$16 - Napa - California

Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar

$8 - Saint-Maurice - France

Whole Grain Mustard

$10 - Kahramanmaras - Turkey

Silk Chili

$9 - Gossen Island - Norway

Kosher Sea Salt


From the kitchen




Basting Brush


Small Mixing Bowl


Cheese grater


Measuring Spoons

"Does mayo solve everything? Maybe not, but it definitely makes grilled chicken better."

~ Jim Dixon, founder Wellspent and Real Good Food

What you'll have to do

Step 1

Set up your grill with direct and indirect heat zones.

Step 2

Combine all ingredients (except the chicken) in a bowl and mix well.

Step 3

When your grill is ready, place the chicken thighs skin side up on the grate directly over the heat. Brush the tops with the sauce, and after about 5 minutes turn them over and brush the undersides. Turn the chicken pieces every 5 minutes or so, brushing with more sauce each time.

Step 4

When both sides are nicely browned, move the chicken to the indirect heat zone. Cover the grill (or tent the chicken with a piece of foil), and cook for another 10-15 minutes. If desired, add wood chunks to the fire for a little smoky flavor.

Shop this recipe

Sauces & Condiments


Duke’sGreenville - South Carolina
Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar

Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar

Katz FarmNapa - California
Silk Chili
Salt, Herbs, & Spices

Silk Chili

Burlap & BarrelKahramanmaras - Turkey
Kosher Sea Salt
Salt, Herbs, & Spices

Kosher Sea Salt

North Sea Salt WorksGossen Island - Norway
Whole Grain Mustard
Sauces & Condiments

Whole Grain Mustard

BornibusSaint-Maurice - France

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