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Grilled Chicken Wings with Alabama White Sauce

Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
30 mins
Prep Time:
15 mins

Chef notes

This recipe was inspired by the wings at Big Bob Gibson BBQ in my hometown Decatur, Alabama. White barbecue sauce is a North Alabama tradition dating back to 1925 and one of my favorites to serve with smoky grilled wings.

Technique tip: Use drumettes of the same size for more uniform cooking.

Swap option: Smoke at 250°F for 2 hours instead of grilling. Make sure to baste every hour.


  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 pounds chicken drumettes
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 lemon, zested
Alabama White Sauce
  • cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • cups mayo
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 lemon, juiced


For the chicken:

In a large container or zip-top bag, mix the water with salt and sugar until dissolved. Place chicken in brine cover and refrigerate 4 hours. Pour off brine, rinse and dry with paper towels.

For the rub:

In a medium bowl, mix all rub ingredients together and set aside.

For the Alabama white sauce:

Mix vinegar with salt and sugar until dissolved. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until needed.

To cook:


Lay out wings onto 2 sheet pans and cover generously with rub. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.


Meanwhile, preheat grill to 375°F. Clean and oil grill grates.


Place wings in single file on the grill. Turn and rotate wings every 3-5 minutes to keep from burning. Wings are done when internal temp reaches 160°F, about 25-30 minutes.


Place wings in a large bowl and douse heavily with sauce. Place wings back onto the hot grill to caramelize sauce (should become shiny). Place back in the bowl and douse again. Place on platter and serve with remaining sauce.