dish-detail-barbecue-chickenSure, barbecue pork and ribs get their fair share of attention here in Alabama, but what about the poultry? Barbecue chicken is also a statewide staple, smoked to juicy tenderness and often slathered with famous Alabama white sauce.

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur
Big Bob’s famous barbecue chicken and white sauce starts with split, seasoned chickens laid open and cooked on the barbecue pit for several hours until fall-apart tender. Once they’ve developed plenty of smoky flavor and a crispy outside, these birds are smothered in a mayonnaise-based sauce, which adds a tangy, creamy element to the dish. This unique combination, first created by Big Bob Gibson, has established smoked chicken and white sauce as a northern Alabama specialty. Others may claim their white sauce recipes are the original, but die-hard fans know that Big Bob started it all.

Saw’s BBQ, Birmingham
With a résumé including Johnson & Wales University, gourmet retailer Dean & DeLuca and Cooking Light magazine, Chef Mike Wilson knows a thing or two about good food. The menu at Saw’s is filled with traditional Southern mains and sides, but the smoked chicken with white sauce here is irresistible when paired with a side of flavorful greens, creamy mac and cheese or a cool seasonal salad of tomato, cucumber and onion. Order a plate (the huge smoked chicken portions are served in either a sandwich or on the bone) and take in the constant hum of locals chatting as they chow down. There is often a line out the door, but the wait is always worth it.

Jim N Nick’s, Birmingham
Smoked and paired with Morgan County white sauce, the barbecue chicken at Jim ’N Nick’s is served by the quarter or half to satisfy even the biggest appetites. Leaving the smoked chicken on the bone ensures the juiciest, most flavorful meat, which is always of the utmost importance at every Jim ’N Nick’s location. With restaurants throughout the South, Jim ’N Nick’s take on Alabama-style barbecue chicken is accessible even outside state lines.

Dreamland, Tuscaloosa
Opened in 1958 by John “Big Daddy” Bishop, Dreamland offers hickory-smoked, chopped barbecue chicken that’s just as delicious on its own as it is spilling from between two toasted sandwich buns. Chopping the smoked chicken means maximum coverage by Dreamland’s sweet, tangy barbecue sauce in every bite – a detail paramount to any good plate of barbecue. You can also order the chicken in 5-pound quantities, perfect for a small party.

Full Moon Bar-B-Que, Birmingham
The barbecue chicken at Full Moon is cooked low and slow over a hickory wood-fired pit, as evidenced by the nonstop smoke piping out of each location around Alabama. Order your chicken piled on a sandwich or on its own, but always slathered with Full Moon’s award-winning barbecue sauce. Try a side of their signature chow-chow, a sweet and spicy Southern relish. It acts as the perfect foil to the savory chicken.

Johnny’s Bar-B-Q, Cullman
Family-owned since 1963, Johnny’s in Cullman is known by the slogan “We’ll serve no swine before its time.” Although there is no mention of fowl here, the same care is taken with chicken, which is smoked until it becomes as tender as possible. Order all white meat, or a quarter or half of a chicken to get your barbecue fix, and don’t forget Johnny’s own special potato salad.

Miss Myra’s, Birmingham
The custom-built brick pit at Miss Myra’s has been smoking meat with real hickory for over 30 years. Their barbecue chicken is smoked until the skin is crispy, almost caramelized, and the meat is tender and juicy. Choose either their signature white or traditional barbecue sauce to complete the dish. For a sweet end to your savory plate of chicken, dig into Miss Myra’s homemade banana pudding: It’s thick, creamy and studded with just the right amount of vanilla wafers.

The Original Greenbrier Bar-B-Que, Huntsville
The Greenbrier has been a family favorite for over 50 years and is one of the top destinations in Huntsville for smoky and succulent barbecue chicken. You won’t find any dry chicken here. Greenbrier uses plenty of hickory for smoking and cooks the chicken just long enough to reach browned, juicy perfection.

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The views expressed here are those of the author.