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Alabama's Secret Sauce

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In northern Alabama, traditional barbecue sauce is white. No exceptions. “People don’t learn until they get out a little bit that it’s supposed to be red,” says Chris Lilly, the pitmaster at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Ala. The region’s special sauce dates back to 1925, when Big Bob Gibson, a railroad laborer, began grilling chicken in his backyard pit. He paired the poultry with a simple mayonnaise-based sauce and, legend has it, the locals ate him into business. Since then the sauce has won numerous barbecue awards and is served over not just chicken but pork, salads and even potato chips. “The popularity of the white sauce is spreading,” says Lilly, whose wife, Amy, is Gibson’s great-granddaughter. “It’s spreading because it’s addicting!”

Barbecue Sauce of the Month


Makes: 4 cups

2 cups mayonnaise

1 cup distilled white vinegar

2 tsp. prepared horseradish

2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

½ cup apple juice

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and blend well. Use as a marinade, baste or dipping sauce. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.