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Alabama White Sauce on Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

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Most of us have heard of Alabama white sauce.. which is a really tasty sauce created with mayonnaise, black pepper and any number of other ingredients. The variations are endless and it's most often used on chicken but I've also seen it used on pork and seafood.

In this recipe, I use a very basic Alabama white sauce recipe on smoked chicken drumsticks. This particular variation was sent to me by a reader a few years ago. It is simple and delicious.. just the way I like it.

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 250-275°F (121-135°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 180°F (82°C)
  • Recommended Wood: Maple, Hickory, Cherry Blend (pellets)
What You’ll Need
  • 12-18 chicken drumsticks (thighs and even quarters also work well)
  • Alabama white sauce (recipe below)
  • ~1 cup Jeff's original rub
Prep the Chicken

Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.

Place the chicken in a pan and into the fridge uncovered to dry for several hours to help the skin to end up with a better, more edible texture.

Make the Alabama White Sauce

Alabama White Sauce

  • 2 cups of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fine ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until smooth.

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This recipe makes enough for about 12-18 chicken legs with a little left over for dipping.

This Alabama white sauce recipe can also be found HERE.

Sauce and Rub the Chicken

It is best if the chicken legs are in a pan to help contain the mess.

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Brush some of the Alabama white sauce onto the chicken.

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Coat it generously with about ½ cup of my original rub .

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Turn the chicken pieces over and do the same thing on the other side with the sauce and about ½ cup of the original rub .

It is ok to add the sauce and rub the night before so it's ready to go onto the smoker the next morning.

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Setup the Smoker

About the Smoker

I used the Camp Chef Woodwind for this recipe and it was a wonderful choice! I have used a few other brands of pellet smokers and, in general, they all work similarly but the Woodwind by Camp Chef has added a few features that many of the others are missing.

  • An ash cup on the bottom of the unit to catch the ashes and make cleanup easy.
  • A chute that opens so you can dump the hopper when you want to replace the pellets with a different flavor.
  • A 2nd cooking shelf comes standard.
  • The ability to pull a lever from the outside of the unit which moves the heat deflector to the side and allows the flames to come up through the grates to the meat you are cooking!
  • Available propane powered SearBox (grill) or SideKick (griddle) attaches to the right side of the unit. This allows you to sear steaks, chicken, etc. once they are done cooking. You could also just use it to cook steaks or other meats at very high heat. This is a one of a kind feature that is going to be very handy!
  • 3 year warranty and free shipping ain't a bad feature either!

In case you can't tell, I really like this machine and I think if you are in the market for a smoker that is easy to use, introduces a ton of smoke flavor to your food and has the ability to cook from 160°F all the way up to about 500°F, with smoke, then this might be something you need to look at very closely.

Read my official review for this product

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If you are using a pellet smoker, set it up for cooking at about 225°F (107°C) for at least the first 30 minutes. After this, you can crank up the heat to about 275-300°F to try and get a good bite thru on the chicken skin.

Here's more pellet grilling tips

All other smokers can be set to 250-275°F (121-135°C) to cook the chicken and get a good bite-thru on the skin.

It is best to keep the heat on the dry side so, if your smoker has a water pan or you normally add a water pan, leave it dry this time.

The heat should be indirect.

Smoke the Chicken

Once the smoker is ready to go, place the chicken directly on the smoker grate. Be sure to leave a little space between the pieces to give the heat and smoke plenty of access.

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Let the chicken cook with smoke until done.

After 30 minutes of cooking, brush the chicken generously with the Alabama white sauce and continue to cook.

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Brush the chicken with the Alabama white sauce every 15 minutes until the chicken is finished cooking. Because you are opening the door or lid more often, the cooking time will probably be longer than usual.

Chicken drumsticks and thighs are safe to eat at 165°F (74°C) but have a better texture and are more tender if you let them cook until they reach an internal temperature of 180°F (82°C).

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Continue to add smoke throughout the cooking process if possible.

Finish and Serve

When the smoked chicken drumsticks have reached 180°F (82°C) as determined by an accurate digital meat thermometer such as the Thermapen, they can be removed from the smoker grate and placed into a pan.

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Serve and eat right away.


I recommend removing about half of the Alabama white sauce into a separate container for dipping later. This leaves you plenty for brushing on the chicken while it cooks and you don't have to worry about cross contamination.

You'll notice that as you brush the chicken, some of the original rub  is transferred into the white sauce. This is ok and just adds to the amazing flavor.

4.7 from 12 votes

Alabama White Sauce on Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

In this recipe, I use a very basic Alabama white sauce recipe on smoked chicken drumsticks. This particular variation was sent to me by a reader a few years ago. It is simple and delicious.. just the way I like it.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6


Alabama White Sauce

  • 2 cups Mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Apple cider vinegar (j)
  • ¼ cup Black pepper (finely ground)
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper


  • Rinse chicken drumsticks with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Place chicken on a wire rack or sheet pan and place in fridge for several hours to help dry the skin. This helps to ensure a better texture in the finished skin.
  • While the chicken is drying, mix up the Alabama white sauce. Mix until smooth and refrigerate until needed.
  • Once you are ready to season the chicken, brush some of the Alabama white sauce onto the chicken then coat the outside of the chicken with Jeff's original rub. This can be done the night before or 8-10 hours in advance if desired.
  • Setup your smoker for cooking at 250-275°F (121-135°C) using indirect heat. If your smoker has a water pan, leave it dry if possible to reduce humidity and help the chicken skin to end up with a better texture.
  • Place the chicken on the smoker grate and let it smoke with a mix of maple, cherry and hickory or whatever smoking wood you have available. Leave the chicken alone for about 30 minutes.
  • Now we will begin brushing the Alabama white sauce on the chicken every 15 minutes until it is finished cooking.
  • When the chicken reaches 180°F (82°C) as measured by an accurate meat thermometer, it is finished and should be removed from the smoker.
  • Serve immediately with more white sauce for dipping.


If you are using a pellet smoker, set it up initially for cooking at 225°F (107°C) for some good smoke action. Then, after 30 minutes, crank it up to 250-275°F (121-135°C) to finish.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe! The white sauce is flavorful without overpowering the chicken. Cooked it on my WSM. Finished it over charcoal to tighten up the skin and add some char. Rave reviews from friends and family. Appreciate you, Jeff.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve been making the drunken thighs for years now. I sometimes sauce them, but usually not. I came across the Alabama white sauce recipe and figured why not? It was a hit! I was skeptical, but the flavor it imparts on the chicken is outstanding! Mopped some on during the cook and used the extra for dipping. Very good! Will definitely be making this again!
    Thanks Jeff for your amazing recipes and making me look good!

  3. Hello Jeff i bought the Camp Chef pellet grill you mentioned a few months ago and it is fantastic. Love the new pid controller. More accurate temp. I also added the sear box. Overall around $1000. but worth every penny. Great for smoking your steaks then turn up the sear box for a nice finish. Love the recipes and thank you

  4. One of the more famous grilled chicken recipes is Cornell Chicken from New York.
    The baste is egg oil and vinegar. So Bob Gibson’s white Alabama BBQ sauce isn’t such an outlier after all since it is egg oil (Mayo) and vinegar

    Basting Sauce:
    2 cups cider vinegar
    1 cup of vegetable oil
    1 egg
    3 tablespoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

  5. Hey jeff, wayne sanders, ala white sauce. Glad to see u try it before and during the cook. Still enjoy your newsletters, keep up the good work.Happy grilling, wayne

  6. Hi Jeff, this recipe rocks. I did it indirect on a Weber kettle although I have do have other smokers. I’m going to use this recipe for years. I added Worcestershire sauce to taste. It was a hit with my family.

  7. I have yet to try this recipe but was wondering if it would work just as well with chicken breasts.? My wife and I prefer the breast meat on chicken over the drumsticks and thighs.

  8. 5 stars
    Jeff, wayne sanders here, glad u tried the white sauce recipe. Like i said i have been using this recipe all my life and it is different from big bob’s but i think this method is the better one. Got to make me another batch of your bbq sauce, the best there is any where.Thank for all your input out here in the bbq world.
    Keep up the good work, wayne sanders,alabama.

  9. 3 stars
    Great stuff but somehow the white sauce info is missing in the printable version ?

    says “Alabama white sauce (recipe below)” but is not part of the print.

  10. I will be doing this to some boneless chicken thighs in about 3hours. Can’t wait to taste it

  11. Jeff,

    I live in Decatur, AL, home of Big Bob Gibson’s, who is the originator of Alabama White Sauce. i have had the sauce numerous times so i am excited to try this version and compare it to BBG’s version (the original). Chris Lilly, the pit master of Big Bob Gibson’s and 5 time grand champion of Memphis in May, is a good friend of mine. i will let you know how this compares.

    1. Kevin, I will look forward to your review. This version is a very basic one but it seems to work and the black pepper and cayenne add a nice bite to the chicken.