Enjoy Alabama’s Signature Tangy White Barbecue Sauce at Home

If you haven’t tried white barbecue sauce before, then you are seriously missing out.

Vertical image of a jar of white barbecue sauce, on a bright blue surface next to half of a lemon on a folded piece of burlap, against a brown wood background.

I love exploring the various differences between barbecue styles in America. There are so many different ones, from traditional Texas and Kansas City styles to the mustard and vinegar versions from the Carolinas.

One of my dreams is to take a couple of weeks off and go on a road trip through the various regions to taste the differences in the places where they were created. Sounds like the most epic trip ever, am I right?

A spoon drizzles white barbecue sauce into a glass jar, with metal lid and half of a lemon on a piece of burlap, on a bright blue surface.

Each region may boast its own flavor and cooking style, but in my opinion, one of the most unique is Alabama’s infamous tangy white barbecue sauce.

To begin with, it’s white rather than the red version you commonly see at BBQ joints across the country. Rather than being tomato or fruit based, it’s made from mayonnaise.

A large mason jar of a thick white liquid, on a bright blue surface with a spoon, metal lid, and cut lemon on top of a piece of burlap in the background.

That might sound extremely odd to you, but don’t knock it until you try it. The mayonnaise and plain yogurt base in our recipe makes the final product creamy and tangy.

You’ll commonly find this creamy blend in restaurants all over Alabama, but since I live nowhere close to the South, I needed to find a way to recreate that deliciousness at home.

The traditional recipe is made from mayonnaise, vinegar, and lemon juice, with a good amount of freshly ground black pepper thrown in to boost the flavor. You can find it in a variety of thicknesses, from a thick dressing to a thin drizzle.

Vertical image of a large mason jar and a small off-white ceramic bowl of white barbecue sauce, beside a black-handled OXO silicone brush with a halved and juiced lemon on a piece of burlap, on a bright blue background.

Personally, I like mine a little thicker, which is what you see represented in the recipe below.

The blend of flavors is not widely available in stores all over the country, but it’s so easy to make that there’s no need to buy it in the store anyway.

In fact, you likely already have all of the ingredients on hand, in your spice rack, pantry, and refrigerator. With ingredients like black pepper, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, and a few others, you won’t even need to run out to the store.

A silicone pastry brush dips into a small cream-colored ceramic dish of white barbecue sauce, with another jar full in the background besides a lemon that has been cut in half, on a blue surface topped with a piece of burlap.

It’s a fantastic match for pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwiches, but it also makes for a great sauce to baste smoked chicken with. The flavors sink into the chicken as it smokes, developing whole new levels of juiciness that you will not be able to resist.

Creamy, tangy, and peppery, with just a hint of sweetness, it’s perfect for pairing with grilled foods like pork, chicken, turkey, and even fish.

I just love that it is a simple gathering of ingredients that are not difficult to find in your pantry. This makes it so easy to whip up, and you can keep it in your refrigerator for up to one week – so you can use it on the fly whenever you decide to fire up that grill.

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A masopn jar of white barbecue sauce on a blue surface with a piece of brown burlap, a lemon cut in half, a spoon, and a lid, against a brown wood background.

The Best Tangy White Barbecue Sauce

  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Total Time: 2 hrs, 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


For a twist on traditional barbecue, give our tangy white BBQ sauce a try. An Alabama favorite, this condiment is creamy and tart with a hint of sweet.




  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and yogurt. Whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and seasonings.
  2. Taste and adjust to your liking, adding more vinegar or seasonings as needed.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before using.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Barbecue Sauce
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Barbecue

Keywords: barbecue sauce, Alabama, summer, grilling

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Juice and Measure

Using a juicer or your hands and the end of a knife, sturdy spoon, or fork, juice one lemon. Remove any seeds that might have slipped through into the bowl. Set aside.

Six small square and four round glass dishes of various spices, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and yogurt, on a striped wood background, with a juiced lemon.

Measure out remaining ingredients and place them in the order noted in the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Mix

In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the mayonnaise and yogurt.

Mayonnaise and plain yogurt in a stainless steel mixing bowl, beside a metal whisk on a brown striped wood countertop with varying shades.

Whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and seasonings.

A wire whisk stirs a mixture of lemon juice, mayonnaise, yogurt, and spices in a stainless steel bowl, on a wood countertop.

Now you can customize to your liking!

If you want more tang, add more apple cider vinegar, about ½ teaspoon at a time, until you get your desired taste.

A stainless steel mixing bowl is filled with a white sauce flecked with black pepper.

If you want more spice, add an additional pinch of cayenne pepper.

Step 3 – Refrigerate

Place in an airtight container, such as a mason jar or Tupperware. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

A mason jar of white barbecue sauce on a blue surface with a piece of brown burlap, a lemon cut in half, a spoon, and a lid, against a brown wood background.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

How Can I Use It?

Wondering what to serve this smooth sauce with? As I mentioned before, it lends itself well to pork, poultry, and fish.

The most important thing to note is that this sauce goes well with grilled foods. Something about the smoke and the char makes this tangy barbecue sauce an ideal topping for the meats you are working with.

You can also use this creamy sauce to marinate your proteins before you put them on the grill.

Top-down shot of a small bowl and a glass jar of a thick white liquid, with a silicone brush coated in the sauce resting on the lid, and a juiced halved lemon on a piece of burlap, on a light blue surface.

It’s well known that Alabama is famous for submerging whole birds in the sauce for hours to get all the tangy juiciness you could ask for into every bite once those turkeys and chickens are smoked and ready to eat.

Keep in mind that the sauce can break down when exposed to heat, so wait to baste with any additional sauce until the very end of grilling or smoking.

It also makes for a great table sauce, salad dressing, topping for baking potatoes, or even a substitute for traditional coleslaw or potato salad dressing.

And if you’re a fan of the crazy-delicious barbecue chicken pizza, this would be a fun and creamy sub for the traditional barbecue sauce!

Need more essential sauces to incorporate in your cookery? We’ve got you:

The only question is, which way will you use the sauce first? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe once you try it.

Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of a white barbecue sauce recipe from Alabama.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on June 27th, 2011. Last updated: June 10, 2020 at 14:51 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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