A lower calorie spin on the infamous creamy, tangy Alabama white sauce meets BBQ smoked boneless chicken thighs in this simple recipe. With no time in a marinade, you can have these smoked chicken thighs on the table in about an hour. They’re perfect for serving with your favorite healthy sides or shredding for sandwiches and sliders, loaded bbq chicken nachos, and more!
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Alabama White Sauce Smoked Chicken Thighs Recipe Walkthrough
You’ll find a printable recipe at the bottom of this post, but I always like to add a visual walkthrough with more tips that I can’t fit in the recipe card. If you’re in a hurry, you can always skip down and jump back to the walkthrough if you need some extra help.
Homemade BBQ Rub
I used a double batch of the seasoning blend from my slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs. It’s brown sugar centric, so you could use something like the zero-calorie substitute, Swerve Brown, to reduce the carbs in your smoked chicken thighs. This recipe was inspired by the bbq half chicken recipe from Traeger Grills. That recipe calls for a Traeger BBQ rub, which you could use to save some time making your own rub.
Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs?
While this recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken thighs, you could swap them for chicken breast to reduce the fat and calorie content. To minimize cook time modifications and maximize seasoning penetration, you can place the chicken breasts between plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness before adding the BBQ rub.
Do I need anything under the rub?
It’s up to you, but I don’t think you need it here. You can get in there and work the BBQ rub into the chicken thighs without any need for a binder. And unlike my Instant Pot BBQ chicken thighs, you’re not really worried about sticking to the pot without something like olive oil. The hot grill grates will take care of that.
To learn more about rubs, check out this breakdown on the science of rubs.
Smoking the BBQ Chicken Thighs
You want your BBQ chicken thighs to reach an internal temperature of 155ºF to 165ºF or somewhere in the neighborhood in this step. You want your smoked chicken thighs to be just about fully cooked before dipping in the Alabama white sauce since that will cool them down. You’ll continue smoking them after dipping, but you don’t want to worry about getting them back up to temperature once the sauce is on.
Alabama White Sauce
If you’ve never had Alabama white BBQ sauce, it’s essentially a creamy, tangy, black pepper forward sauce. There’s mayo, lemon juice, vinegar, lots of black pepper, and a little horseradish. It’s a really unique BBQ sauce that goes perfectly with a brown sugar heavy BBQ rub like the one I used for these smoked chicken thighs.
If you’re not a fan of mayo or creamy sauces, I get it. You could definitely dip your smoked chicken thighs in your favorite traditional BBQ sauce instead of the white sauce. I’d recommend the Trader Joe’s sriracha and roasted garlic BBQ sauce I used for our Traeger Smoked BBQ Chicken Meatballs.
In this step on the smoker, you’re looking for the white sauce to thicken and turn into a glaze on top of the smoked chicken thighs. The sauce should fully adhere to the chicken. So if you have any runoff, leave the chicken on the smoker a few extra minutes.
Serving Your Smoked Chicken Thighs
Here’s a handful of side dish ideas to go with your BBQ chicken thighs:
- air fryer brussels sprouts 5 ways
- garlic butter air fryer green beans
- Traeger smoked smashed potatoes (smoked at 375ºF for convenience)
- healthy potato salad
- cast iron bacon and brussels sprouts
- creamy macaroni salad
- smoked sweet potatoes
We have a twice smoked potatoes recipe that would be great with these Alabama white sauce smoked chicken thighs. You could throw the bacon on at 325ºF before cranking to 375ºF to smoke the chicken and start the potatoes and smoked garlic. It might take a little finesse with the timing but if you’re a seasoned smoker, I’m confident you could make it work. And if you have a helper indoors with an air fryer, you could use our air fryer twice baked potatoes instead.
If you have lots of leftovers, you could always chop the chicken up for chicken salad or shred the smoked chicken thighs for sandwiches, loaded BBQ chicken nachos, sliders, BBQ chicken mac and cheese, or any of your favorite pulled chicken recipes.
However you end up serving your Alabama white sauce smoked chicken thighs, I’d love to hear about it. Drop any thoughts or recipe questions in the comments below or come back and leave a recipe review if you love it!
For the Chicken
- 3 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, excess fat trimmed
- 1/2 C (72g) Brown Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 2 tsp Cumin
- 2 tsp Dry Mustard
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
For the Sauce
- 1 C (240g) Light Mayo
- 1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 2 Tbsp Prepared Horseradish
- 1 Tbsp Black Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Ground Mustard
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- Mix the dry rub ingredients together before rubbing over the chicken thighs. Set aside while the smoker heats up to allow the rub to melt in.
- Preheat a smoker to 375ºF lid closed.
- Once hot, add the chicken thighs to the grill and cook for 30 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 160ºF.
- While the chicken cooks, mix the sauce together, reserving about 1/2 cup prepared sauce for serving.
- After 30 minutes, use tongs to dip the chicken in the sauce and place back on the grill. Cook for 15 minutes until the chicken reaches at least 165ºF internally. Remove from the grill and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
If you'd rather use chicken breast, place between plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness before adding the BBQ rub. You can also use a pre-mixed BBQ rub.
Alabama White Sauce Notes
You can use any BBQ sauce in place of the Alabama white sauce if you're not a fan of creamy sauces.
For Oven Baked or Air Fried Chicken Thighs
You can bake the chicken thighs directly on a baking sheet in your oven's bottom rack for 18-20 minutes at 400ºF. Brush some of the white sauce on at the end and cook for a few extra minutes until the sauce thickens. Source: spicy baked chicken thighs
You can air fry a smaller batch (about 2 thighs at a time) for 12-14 minutes at 400ºF. Brush the white sauce on top of the chicken towards the end and cook for a few extra minutes. Source: mustard balsamic air fried chicken thighs
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: about 3 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 13gCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 22g