Vinegar Coleslaw

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This Vinegar Coleslaw is delicious, tangy, and wonderfully crisp. It’s made with an apple cider vinegar base, so it packs a punch of flavor and pairs perfectly with all your rich grilled and smoked BBQ.

Vinegar coleslaw in a glass dish with text overlay - Vinegar Coleslaw.

Vinegar Coleslaw

If you’re a regular reader, then you’ve likely seen my post for the Best Homemade Coleslaw. It is a wonderfully fresh and creamy coleslaw that makes the perfect side at your next BBQ.

Today, I’m sharing another amazing coleslaw recipe with you, this one made with tangy apple cider vinegar instead of mayonnaise. And since it’s made without mayonnaise, it’s a bit healthier than the traditional mayonnaise-based coleslaw. Similar to my homemade coleslaw recipe, this coleslaw is easy to make and is ready in less than 15 minutes.

Another perk of vinegar coleslaw? It’s practically made for smoked meat. The sharp vinegar dressing in this coleslaw perfectly compliments the richness of beef and pork. All good BBQ needs something with a vinegar or pickled flavor to cut through the richness and fat of the meat, and this coleslaw does just that.

Ingredients for vinegar coleslaw on a wooden cutting board.

Vinegar Based Coleslaw

Coleslaw with a vinegar base is popular in the Carolinas, and for good reason: this coleslaw tastes amazing with smoked pulled pork. When you combine rich, smoked pork shoulder with this crunchy, tangy, chopped slaw, you’re practically in BBQ heaven.

The dressing in this coleslaw also does double duty. It not only dresses the cabbage and makes for a tangy coleslaw, with a few tweaks it also makes for the most delicious Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce. I wouldn’t dream of eating my Carolina Pulled Pork without a side of this coleslaw. If you’re making a pulled pork sandwich, this slaw is a must-have piled high on top of your pork.

When making a Carolina vinegar coleslaw, it’s best to chop your vegetables instead of shredding them (like you would for a mayonnaise-based coleslaw). Chopping the cabbage allows the cabbage to stay crisp and provides a good crunch when mixed with a more liquidy vinegar dressing.

Chopped cabbage and carrots in a glass bowl next to a container of vinegar coleslaw dressing.

How to Make Vinegar Coleslaw

This homemade vinegar coleslaw is a breeze to make! All you need are some fresh vegetables, tangy vinegar sauce, and a couple of bowls. You’re only three steps away from making your own homemade vinegar coleslaw that looks and tastes amazing:

  1. Chop those veggies! Grab some green and red cabbage and chop them using a sharp knife or mandoline. You can also add carrots and green onion for some extra color and crunch. A sharp knife (like this Kamikoto Kanpeki knife) will make quick work of chopping your veggies for this slaw.
  2. Mix the dressing. In a smaller bowl or glass container, combine the ingredients to make the dressing. I like to make mine in a Mason jar, seal it tightly, then shake it to combine the ingredients.
  3. Toss and Serve. Make sure to keep your cabbage and your dressing separate until right before serving. This ensures your coleslaw stays crisp and won’t go wilty before dinnertime. Right before you’re ready to eat, lightly toss the dressing into the vegetables and serve.

Vinegar coleslaw dressing being added to chopped cabbage and vegetables.

More BBQ Side Dishes

Coleslaw is just one side dish that is perfect with BBQ. Check out more delicious sides from Hey Grill Hey to bring to your next neighborhood cookout:

Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe

Watch the video below, and let’s make something delicious! I’m all about helping you create the best BBQ possible for the people you love. If you want to see more of my recipes, tips, and behind-the-scenes action, follow along on my social channels. You can find me on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube!

This post was originally published in June 2019. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

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Vinegar Coleslaw

By: Susie Bulloch (
5 from 1 votes
This Vinegar Coleslaw is delicious, tangy, and wonderfully crisp. It's made with an apple cider vinegar base, so it packs a punch of flavor and pairs perfectly with all your rich grilled and smoked BBQ.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Servings16 people



  • 1 head green cabbage chopped
  • ½ head purple cabbage chopped
  • 2 cups carrots chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup green onions chopped (optional)

Vinegar Dressing

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes


  • Chop the cabbage. Using a sharp knife, chop the green and red cabbage and combine with the carrots and green onions in a large serving bowl.
  • Make the dressing. In a smaller bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Pour the dressing over the coleslaw vegetables just before serving and toss gently to combine.
  • Enjoy. This vinegar coleslaw is best eaten day-of (the cabbage will begin to go soggy after a while), but it will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator.


Calories: 30kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 320IU | Vitamin C: 17.8mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

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Reader Reviews

6 Reviews

  1. Bruno says:

    This recipe needs oil. With addition of one part oil it was excellent.

  2. Tami says:


    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      Thank you!