Vinegar-Based Carolina Slaw

Carolina slaw recipe

The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe

  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Carolina-style slaw is made with a tangy vinegar dressing, a tasty alternative to coleslaw with mayonnaise dressing. The sweet and tangy dressing is cooked with seasonings and then poured over the shredded and chopped vegetables. The celery seeds add excellent flavor to this coleslaw, and the vegetables work well together. 

This slaw is the perfect topping pulled pork, barbecued beef sandwiches, pulled chicken or any other barbecue dishes, Carolina-style barbecue is typically served with slaw on top of barbecue sandwiches as a garnish. The absence of mayonnaise in the dressing makes the salad a good choice for picnics, potluck dinners, and tailgating. It's also a tasty side with hamburgers and charcoal-grilled (as opposed to barbecued) chicken breast sandwiches, and its vinegary flavor makes it a winner with fish and chips and fish tacos.


Click Play to See This Tangy Carolina Slaw Recipe Come Together


  • 1 large head of cabbage (finely shredded)
  • 1 medium bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1 medium sweet onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 carrots (grated or julienned)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (or as desired)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil (such as corn oil, grapeseed, safflower, peanut, or canola)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this stuffed shrimp dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

How to Shred or Chop Cabbage

  1. Cut a slice off the stem end of the cabbage and set it, the flat stem end down, on a cutting board.

    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe
  2. With a sharp chef's knife, slice the cabbage into quarters, slicing from top to bottom.

    Chop cabbage
    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe
  3. Cut the core out of each quarter with a sharp knife.

    Cut cabbage
    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe
  4. Slice each cabbage wedge crosswise or lengthwise into thin strips, depending on how long you want the shreds. If desired, chop the shreds for a finer coleslaw or to add to soup. Shreds should be quite thin (around 1/8-inch) for coleslaw, thicker (1/4 to 1/2-inch) for soups and other recipes.

    Chop cabbage
    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe

Prepare the Vegetables

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for vegetables
    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe 
  2. Combine the shredded cabbage, chopped bell pepper, and onions and the grated or julienne carrots in a large serving bowl.

    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe

Make the Dressing

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, salt, oil, dry mustard, celery seed, pepper, and vinegar and bring to a boil.

    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe
  2. Simmer, frequently stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe
  3. Cool slightly, then pour over the vegetables and toss well.

    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe
  4. Cover and refrigerate the coleslaw until thoroughly chilled.

    Refridgerate coleslaw
    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe
  5. Serve and enjoy!

    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe


  • If you like a dressing that tends to the sour side, add the sugar to the vinegar mixture last, tasting as you go until you have the sweet-sour balance desired.