grilled chicken with smoked garlic white sauce

Tangy Smoked Garlic Sauce

You’ll love the taste of this tangy, smokey garlic sauce, and you may just find yourself starting to put it on everything!


If you ever find yourself in Decatur, Alabama, you need to eat at meal at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. They’re internationally renowned these days, mainly thanks to Chris Lilly, the current talent being BBG. You may know Chris from his work as celeb judge on BBQ Pitmasters. Or his dozens of Grand Champion wins at the helm of the Big Bob Gibson competition team. Or his badass bbq book. Or maybe you know him from his complete porcine-domination at Memphis In May (he’s a three time GC and seven time winner of the Pork category!) Either way, you’d be lucky to know him, because he’s a damn nice guy.

But Big Bob Gibson, and by extension Chris, are famous for their Alabama white sauce, invented in 1925. It’s a vinegary mayonnaise based sauce with a fairly thin consistency, and is traditionally served with smoked chicken. The idea of the sauce is to cut through the smokiness with bright tangy freshness.

grilled chicken with smoked garlic white sauce

It was this sauce I had in mind when developing this smoked garlic sauce. See, I was planning to grill a whole spatchcocked chicken, and was thinking of what I could pair with it. Problem being, there was no smoke profile in the meat because it was being grilled. Solution? Put the smokiness in the sauce!

When you roast or smoke garlic, all the bitter and sharp notes give way to an incredible mellow flavor, with cloves so soft you can spread them straight on bread like jam. When you combine that with the tangy white base, something magical is created.

This recipe speeds the smoking process way up by first softening the garlic in a microwave (since grilling is faster, I wanted the sauce to be ready before the meat of course!). You don’t lose out on any smoke flavor with this cheat step, the garlic still absorbs enough in 20 minutes. If you want to do it from scratch, whether in a grill or smoker, follow the same procedure without the microwave step, but the cook time will be closer to 45-65 minutes.

grilled chicken on a board

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smoked garlic sauce

Tangy Smoked Garlic Sauce

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  • Author: Jess Pryles



3 whole heads of garlic

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp cider vinegar

salt to taste


  1. Cut the tops off the garlic heads to expose the cloves inside. Place in microwave safe container, with 2 tablespoons of water at the bottom (to create steam). Cover and microwave on medium power for 5-6 minutes.
  2. Heat a grill to medium or fire up a smoker. Create a shallow “boat” of foil and place garlic heads inside, you can do this individually or altogether. If using a smoker: place into the smoker for 20-25 minutes until cloves are completely soft. If using a grill: throw a handful of woodchips onto the coals, then place garlic on the grill. Close the lid and cook 20-25 minutes until garlic is completely soft.
  3. Once cooked, squeeze garlic cloves out from the papery skin and place into a food processor or blender. Pulse several times until smooth.
  4. Add in mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon, vinegar, salt to taste and pulse again to combine.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

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