Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe


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This tangy and delicious vinegar coleslaw is the perfect side dish for any family gathering or barbecue. No mayo coleslaw is easy to make and uses simple, easy-to-find ingredients. The combination of shredded cabbage and a zesty vinegar dressing will have everyone asking for seconds!

Vinegar Coleslaw

This vinegar coleslaw is made from a base of sliced cabbage, carrots, and onion. Then it’s tossed in a delicious apple cider vinegar, sugar, Dijon, celery seed, and oil dressing. It’s seriously become one of my favorite summer side dishes.

This vinegar coleslaw is not your basic, old fashioned coleslaw. It’s tangy, slightly sweet, and full of crunchy fresh vegetables which gives it the best texture. It’s a Southern delight that’s perfect for pulled pork, slow cooker carnitas, BBQ chicken, or even shrimp tacos! It’s a no mayo coleslaw that’s as light and tangy as it is flavorful. 

The combination of crisp, fresh vegetables tossed in a sweet vinegar dressing makes this coleslaw a perfect side dish, whether you’re serving it with grilled meats or using it to top off your favorite tacos for a delicious crunch.

This coleslaw is perfect for potlucks and family gatherings because it’s so easy to prepare and it can be made ahead of time. Plus, the longer it sits, the more flavor it absorbs. Everyone who has tried it LOVES it. It’s a fantastic recipe that I’m sure you’ll enjoy, too!


Green Cabbage: Green cabbage is a classic coleslaw component, adding a satisfying crunch and mild flavor. Since green cabbage has a milder and sweeter flavor than red cabbage, I like to use a 2:1 ratio of green cabbage to red cabbage.

Red Cabbage: This adds a vibrant color to the mix and has a slightly more robust flavor than green cabbage.

Carrots: Carrots contribute a splash of color and a hint of sweetness, balancing the tanginess of the dressing.

Red Onion: Red onion adds a punch of flavor and a beautiful pop of color.

Fresh Parsley: This fresh herb brightens the dish and adds a refreshing flavor.

Apple Cider Vinegar: The star ingredient of the dressing, apple cider vinegar gives our coleslaw its signature tangy taste.

Granulated Sugar: Sugar balances the tartness of the vinegar and adds a gentle sweetness to the dressing.

Vegetable Oil: This helps ensure a smooth and even coating on the vegetables.

Dijon Mustard: Dijon mustard gives the dressing a slight kick and adds depth to the overall flavor.

Celery Seed: These tiny seeds pack a punch of flavor, contributing a unique, slightly bitter taste that complements the sweetness of the dressing.

Salt & Black Pepper: Essential for seasoning, salt and black pepper bring out the flavors of the other ingredients and give the coleslaw a well-rounded taste.

The labeled ingredients for vinegar coleslaw.

Alternative Ingredients

  • If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can substitute it with white wine vinegar or even simple white vinegar with a splash of apple juice.
  • If Dijon mustard is not available, yellow mustard works just fine too.
  • Add grated apples for a sweet crunch. 
  • If you’re a fan of herbs, try adding fresh dill or cilantro.
  • For a creamier version, you can add a spoonful of mayonnaise or Greek yogurt to the dressing. 

How To Make Vinegar Coleslaw

Prepare the vegetables: Begin by shredding the green and red cabbage, grating the carrots, slicing the red onion, and chopping the parsley. Soak the onions in a bowl of ice water. Mix these ingredients together in a large bowl. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)

Prepare the dressing: In a separate bowl, whisk the apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, Dijon mustard, celery seed, salt, and pepper together until the sugar dissolves.

Combine: Pour the dressing over the prepared vegetables. Toss everything together until the vegetables are well coated with the dressing.

Adding the sliced vegetables to a large mixing bowl then tossing together and adding the dressing once mixed.

Chill: Cover the bowl and chill it in the refrigerator. This allows the flavors to blend together. 

Mixing the dressing throughout the salad then covering with a plastic wrap before resting in the fridge.

Serve: Give the coleslaw a good stir before serving to redistribute the dressing. You can adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy your homemade vinegar coleslaw! See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, and helpful tips, etc.

Tossing the salad after resting then transferring to a serving bowl.

Pro Tips

  • The key to a great coleslaw is freshness. So, always choose crisp vegetables.
  • If you prefer a sweeter coleslaw, you can add more sugar.
  • For a spicy kick, try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or hot sauce.
  • This vinegar coleslaw is a perfect make-ahead dish for potlucks and picnics as it can be prepared a day in advance.
  • If you want your coleslaw to be less watery, salt your cabbage beforehand to draw out excess moisture, then rinse and dry it before using.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving. You might need to add a bit more salt, pepper, or sugar, depending on your preference.
  • If you have a food processor, you can use it to shred the cabbage and carrots quickly and uniformly.

What Is Traditional Coleslaw Made Of?

Traditional coleslaw is made of shredded cabbage, carrots, and a dressing. The dressing can be creamy, typically made with mayonnaise, or vinegar-based for a tangier flavor.

How Long Does Vinegar Based Coleslaw Last In The Refrigerator?

Vinegar-based coleslaw can last up to 3 days in the refrigerator if stored properly in an airtight container. The flavors actually meld together over time, making the coleslaw even more delicious!

How Do You Tone Down The Vinegar Taste In Coleslaw?

If you find the vinegar taste too strong, you can balance it by adding more sugar or a sweet ingredient like honey or maple syrup.

A side shot of two glass bowls filled with coleslaw.

Why Does My Homemade Coleslaw Go Watery?

Coleslaw can become watery if the cabbage releases its natural juices. To reduce this, you can salt the cabbage beforehand to draw out excess moisture, then rinse and dry it before using.

Is Coleslaw Better Made A Day Ahead?

Yes, making coleslaw a day ahead allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a more flavorful dish. However, if you prefer a crunchier texture, you might want to add the dressing closer to serving time.

How Far Ahead Should You Put The Dressing On Coleslaw?

I’d recommend mixing the dressing with the coleslaw at least an hour before serving. This gives the vegetables time to soak up the flavors without becoming too soggy.

A close up image showing the texture of the mixed coleslaw on a serving spoon.

Why Is My Coleslaw Sour?

Your coleslaw might taste sour if there’s too much vinegar in the dressing. To fix this, you can add more sugar or a sweet ingredient to balance out the acidity.

What Makes Coleslaw Go Bad?

Coleslaw can go bad if it’s left out of the refrigerator for too long or if it’s stored for more than a few days. Always remember to store your coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

What Can I Serve With Vinegar Coleslaw? 

Vinegar coleslaw pairs beautifully with a wide range of dishes. It’s a classic side for BBQs, so it’s perfect alongside burgers, hot dogs, or grilled chicken. It’s also great as a topping for pulled pork or fish tacos for a tangy crunch.

A large class bowl filled with freshly made coleslaw with a parsley leaf to the side.

Can I Use Pre-Packaged Coleslaw Mix?

Absolutely! Pre-packaged coleslaw mix can be a great time-saver. Just make sure it’s fresh and crisp for the best taste and texture. 

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

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A Pinterest pin image with a picture of vinegar coleslaw, with title text at the top.

Side Dish Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our other side dishes. Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 10 servings

BEST Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe (No Mayo Coleslaw)

The best vinegar coleslaw recipe.

Vinegar coleslaw is the best side dish for family gatherings or BBQs. No mayo coleslaw is easy to make with simple, easy-to-find ingredients.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes


  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 5 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about 1 medium head)
  • 3 cups finely shredded red cabbage (about 1 small head)
  • 2 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Fill a medium mixing bowl with ice water. Soak the onion for 2-5 minutes to remove the sharp bite from the flavor.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded green and red cabbage, grated carrots, sliced red onion, and chopped parsley. Toss well to combine.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, Dijon mustard, celery seed, salt, and black pepper until well combined and the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Pour the vinegar dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss well to ensure all the vegetables are evenly coated.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  6. Before serving, give the coleslaw a good stir to redistribute the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if needed.


Store any leftover coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The flavors will continue to develop as it sits, so it may taste even better the next day!

To save time, you can use pre-shredded cabbage and carrots from the grocery store. Just be sure to choose fresh, crisp vegetables for the best results.

If you prefer a sweeter coleslaw, feel free to add an additional Tablespoon or two of sugar to the dressing.

For a spicier kick, try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or a few dashes of hot sauce to the dressing.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 5.7gCarbohydrates: 13.1gFiber: 2.4gSugar: 8.9gProtein: 1.4g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


Tag @KeyToMyLime on Instagram so we can see your delicious meal!

Vinegar coleslaw is a wonderful side dish that goes well with a variety of main dishes like pulled pork, BBQ chicken, or even shrimp tacos. It’s a dish that’s easy to make and even easier to love.

The best vinegar coleslaw recipe.

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