Alabama Barbecue Chicken With White Sauce

Alabama white sauce

The Spruce

  • 01 of 08

    Alabama Barbecue Chicken With White Sauce

    Alabama BBQ Chicken
    Regarding BBQ Inc.

    If you have never tried Alabama Barbecue Chicken with White Sauce, I know three good reasons you should. It's easy, it's cheap, and it's delicious. This barbecued chicken is butterflied to help it cook quickly and evenly and while you probably have most of the ingredients for this recipe, it will not break the bank if you need to buy them. The smoked chicken is topped by a delicious, tart sauce that creates a truly unique form of barbecue that I'm certain you will make again and again.

    We're going to butterfly this chicken, give it a light coating of oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook it indirectly on the grill with some hickory chunks for smoke. At around 300 to 325 degrees F., the whole chicken should take about 3 hours to cook. From the grill, it is dipped into the sauce and then goes to the table. The process is easy and the results wonderful.

    What we need:

    • 1 Whole Chicken
    • A grill or smoker
    • Fuel for that grill or smoker
    • About 5 or 6 big hickory chunks
    • 2 cups Alabama White Barbecue sauce
    • Oil or lard
    • Salt and Pepper

    When it comes to the equipment you need the best solution is a charcoal grill large enough to cook a whole, butterflied chicken indirectly. You can use a smoker, but we want to cook our chicken at a higher temperature than traditional low and slow barbecue (225 to 250 degrees F.). We'll be cooking at around 300 to 325 degrees F. so, make sure to hold this temperature for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours depending on the size of your chicken.

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Butterflied Chicken

    Butterflied Whole Chicken
    Butterflied Whole Chicken. Regarding BBQ Inc.

    If you don't know how to butterfly a chicken you should definitely learn how. It's a little tricky the first time, but once you get the hang of it, it should go by quickly. To butterfly a chicken, place the chicken on a large cutting board breast side down. You will need a knife and a pair of kitchen shears. Turn the chicken so that the tail is towards you and with the kitchen shears begin cutting just to the side of the backbone. It takes a bit of a grip to get through the bones, but it shouldn't be too difficult. Cut all along the side of the backbone to the neck of the bird. Now you can open it up. Cut along the other side of the backbone and completely remove it. Open up the chicken and flip it over so that it is laid out on your cutting board. Press down on the breast until the chicken is flattened. You might need to trim up the rough edges a little.

    There are a couple of variations you could try in this process if you really don't want to butterfly your chicken. I'm demonstrating the traditional method but you could keep your chicken whole and either do it as a Rotisserie Chicken or as a Beer Can Chicken.

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Seasoning the Chicken

    Seasoning Chicken for Alabama Barbecue
    Seasoning Chicken for Alabama Barbecue. Regarding BBQ Inc.

    Once the chicken is butterflied, give it a good wash. Make sure that there are no small pieces of bone where the backbone was removed. Once washed, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Next, give the chicken a thin coating of oil. In the old days, this was traditionally a layer of lard but it really doesn't matter what kind of oil you use since we are keeping the temperature below the smoke point of most oils. I am using olive oil here. Once the chicken is oiled, season it with a generous portion of black pepper and a little salt.

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Building the Fire

    Building an Indirect Fire
    Building an Indirect Fire. Regarding BBQ Inc.

    We need an indirect fire to grill our chicken without burning it. Your grill needs to be big enough to do this and the fire needs to be able to hold a temperature around 300 to 325 degrees F. for up to 4 hours, to allow the chicken to cook. Once your charcoal is burnt to a white ash and the fire is good and hot, you are ready to go. I recommend putting the lid on the grill and adjusting the vents to the right temperature before you put the chicken on. Leave room for your wood chunks.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Placing the Chicken on the Grill

    Placing Chicken on Grill
    Placing Chicken on Grill. Regarding BBQ Inc.

    We want the chicken to cook evenly on the grill. If you have a large grill or are using a smoker, you may not need to pay too much attention to the chicken while it cooks. I'm using a basic kettle grill that is large enough to indirectly grill the chicken. To start off, place the chicken on the grill skin side up, making sure that no live coals are directly underneath it or it can burn. It is necessary to rotate and bird to allow it to cook evenly, but we will discuss that later on.

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Making Smoke

    Adding Wood Chunks on the Fire
    Adding Wood Chunks on the Fire. Regarding BBQ Inc.

    If your grill allows you to get to the fire once you have the cooking grate in place, you will want to add the wood chunks now. If it is difficult to get to the fire once the grill is loaded, put the chunks on the hot coals right before you put the cooking grate and chicken on. You want to have a steady supply of smoke, but there is no reason to make smoke before the food is on the grill.

    Traditionally the wood for Alabama Barbecue is hickory. Of course, you can use whatever you like, but hickory gives the chicken a nice smoky accent without overpowering the flavor. For the size of the grill I am using I find that about 5 or 6 large chunks work best. Larger chunks burn longer so it provides a constant smoke. Remember, soak chips, not chunks. Since I am using large chunks, I don't need to soak them in water to slow down their burn.

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Flipping the Chicken

    Flip Chicken
    Flip Chicken. Regarding BBQ Inc.

    At our target temperature, it should take the average chicken about 3 hours to cook. This means that after about 1 1/2 hours you will need to flip the chicken over. If like me, you are working on a smaller grill, rotate the chicken in between these times or about 45 minutes after you put it on and about 45 minutes after you flip the chicken. This will help ensure an even cooking.

    While flipping the chicken over, you might want to baste the chicken with a little more oil and add some additional salt and pepper to replace what has cooked off. If you want more of a smoky flavor to the chicken you can also add some additional wood chunks. Either way this is a good time to check on the fire and make sure you have enough coals to see you through the next 1 1/2 hours. If you need to light more charcoal do it in a charcoal chimney. Never put unlit charcoal on a live fire. It creates a bad tasting smoke and can get dust on your food.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Saucing the Chicken

    Saucing Chicken
    Saucing Chicken. Regarding BBQ Inc.

    Once the chicken is done it's time to take it off the grill. This is barbecue so we are over cooking the chicken to make it tender. The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F. in the thickest part of the thigh. One trick is to grab a hold of a leg and twist it. If it turns the chicken is done.

    Put on our sauce after the chicken has left the grill as this preserves the rich flavor of the sauce. For one chicken you will need about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the Alabama White Barbecue Sauce. In the old barbecue joints in Northern Alabama they take a whole chicken and dunk it in a bucket of sauce. You probably don't want to make that much sauce for one chicken so I suggest brushing it all over the chicken as soon as the chicken comes off the grill. You want the heat of the chicken to warm to sauce. This is a runny barbecue sauce so just pour it on and spread it around with a basting brush.

    Now cut of the chicken (cooked to this level of tenderness it is easy to do) and serve. Alabama Barbecue Chicken should be served hot right off the grill. I promise you will love this barbecue.