Southern Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw 

Southern Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw is a delightful mix of cabbage, vegetables, and tangy dressing that pairs well with various meals. It’s an easy side dish that captures Southern charm with its unique and vibrant taste. With each bite, you’ll uncover the zesty vinegar dressing full of bold and unforgettable flavors that pair well with your favorite meats and enhance your dining experience.

Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw- slaw mix, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper. It’s so easy and tastes fabulous! This slaw recipe is most definitely a keeper. This goes great with everything from BBQ to fish to tailgating food. Try it, and I bet it will be a hit!

Crunchy cabbage coated in a slightly sweetened vinegar dressing. Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw is delicious, tangy, slightly sweet, and super crisp. This slaw is packed with fresh flavors that will wake up your taste buds!

Vinegar Coleslaw with text overlay.
Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw

What is Vinegar Coleslaw?

Vinegar coleslaw is a type of coleslaw that is predominantly vinegar-based instead of a mayonnaise-based dressing. This type offers a lighter and tangier flavor, making it more pleasing to those who prefer a zesty, refreshing, and classic side dish. It’s versatile, flavorful, and a delightful contrast to the main course. Vinegar slaw is just coleslaw made with vinegar and oil dressing. It’s sweet and tangy and usually served as a side dish to barbecue. It goes great on top of a pulled pork sandwich.

Tangy vinegar coleslaw is a no-mayo coleslaw. This is perfect for those who love coleslaw’s taste but don’t like mayo. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good coleslaw with mayonnaise, but sometimes I am in the mood for a little something different. This is when I make this Tangy Vinegar coleslaw.

Why This Recipe Is Fabulous

This tangy vinegar classic coleslaw recipe stands out for several reasons; not only is it my favorite coleslaw recipe, but its distinctive and refreshing flavors allow for versatility to make it your own. This homemade coleslaw is known for being:

Light and Refreshing: This is not a mayo-based dressing, making it a lighter alternative. The vinegar gives this coleslaw a ton of flavor and is ideal for warmer weather.

Versatile: The coleslaws’ versatility works whether served alongside grilled meats, your favorite BBQ meals, or added to the top of a sandwich. This recipe will enhance your overall experience no matter where you serve it.

Unique Flavor:  The vinegar, combined with the sweet and tangy, adds a twist to the traditional coleslaw, making it unique in its flavor.

Southern Charm: Southerners like their coleslaw, and although there are some who prefer mayo-based slaw, there seem to be just as many who will only eat vinegar-based coleslaw. This slaw brings a touch of charm to the table.

Ingredients Needed for Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw

This is a super simple recipe using a few ingredients. Feel free to make your coleslaw from scratch by shredding cabbage and carrots. I kept it easy by using a coleslaw mix.

The ingredients come together quickly to form a vibrant and delicious recipe. The coleslaw mix is the crisp base, and the other ingredients are mixed to make the sweet and tangy dressing. Combining simple ingredients forms a light and zesty alternative to traditional mayo-based coleslaw. The perfect side dish for a variety of occasions. For a complete list of ingredient amounts, see the printable recipe card below. 

Coleslaw Mix – This mix typically includes shredded green cabbage; some mixes also have red cabbage as primary ingredients. I prefer the combination of cabbage and carrots. You can use store-bought for convenience or shred your own cabbage and carrots if desired.

Oil – For this recipe, I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You could substitute vegetable oil if needed.

Apple Cider Vinegar – This vinegar brings a tanginess to the coleslaw and is a popular choice. The acid from the vinegar adds flavor and helps tenderize the vegetables.

Salt & Pepper – Salt balances the sweetness, and the acid and pepper add warmth. 

Sugar – Sugar balances the flavor profile of the dressing. The sugar can be adjusted to personal preferences.

How To Make This Easy Coleslaw Recipe

This easy coleslaw recipe is a breeze and only takes minutes to mix. This make-ahead side dish can be refrigerated until ready to serve. If time allows, make up to a day ahead, store it in an airtight container, and refrigerate before serving. For complete instructions, see the printable recipe card below.  The best part about this slaw is it can be made ahead of time. 

  1. In a large bowl, mix the dressing ingredients.
  2. Add the coleslaw (cabbage and carrots) and toss until well combined.
  3. Let stand for at least 10 minutes to a couple of hours before serving. If time allows, refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Southern Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw with text overlay.

How to Make Oil and Vinegar Dressing for Coleslaw

This couldn’t get any easier. Grab a bowl and whisk oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the slaw and toss.
OR grab a Mason Jar–my favorite. Pour in the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Shake until everything is mixed and the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the slaw mix and toss well.
No matter how you mix and pour, just make sure the slaw has been tossed well and covered with that delicious tangy vinegar dressing.

Recipe Tips and Variations

This Tangy Southern Coleslaw allows for versatility and room to tailor to your taste preferences. Adjust the ingredients to your liking.

Recipe Tips:

  • Use store-bought coleslaw mix for convenience.
  • Use a mixture of red and green cabbage and shredded carrots.
  • If making your own mix, shred a head of cabbage for the mix.
  • Mix and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe Variations:

Storage Tips for the Best Coleslaw

This slaw will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Store in an air-tight container. The flavors are better the next day. Go ahead and double this recipe and enjoy this coleslaw every day. 

My dad was in charge of making this delicious slaw. He has been making slaw for years but does not make it with mayonnaise. He likes the simple and tangy vinegar and oil dressing. He made this the day before and just chilled it in the refrigerator until we met for lunch the next day. This slaw is always best if you can make it the day before.

Add-ins for Your Vinegar Slaw

Adding extra flavors, also known as “add-ins,” would take this tasty coleslaw recipe to the next level. There are no exact measurements; just add them to the cabbage mixture or the delicious dressing. Add-ins can add more flavors, textures, and colors. Feel free to mix and match these suggestions based on your taste preferences. Coleslaw is very versatile, and one or several add-ins will make it perfect for any occasion. Here are a few to get you started:

  • green onions
  • jalapenos
  • green peppers
  • Nuts and Seeds (walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds)
  • celery seed
  • sweet onion
  • red pepper flakes

Serving Suggestions

Tangy vinegar coleslaw is a versatile recipe that pairs well with various foods. It’s an easy vinegar slaw and seems to go well with:

Summer Barbecues – Serve coleslaw with grilled hamburgers, chicken legs, or on top of hot dogs. Serve it as a side dish with your next cookout.

Sandwich Filling – Serve this coleslaw on top of a pulled pork sandwich. Delish!

Southern Dishes – Serve as a side dish with fried pork chops, collard greens, and cornbread.

Tacos – This tangy flavor goes well over fish tacos. 

This slaw is perfect for BBQs, get-togethers, or grill-out nights. It goes great with just about anything cooked on the grill. I like to pair it with slow-cooked pulled pork, buffalo chicken tenders, Sloppy Joes, and slow-cooked ribs.

This would unquestionably be great for your next family gathering, holiday, or tailgating event.

Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw (no mayo) with text overlay.
Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw

Like cabbage? Be sure to try:
Fried Cabbage and onion
Oriental Coleslaw


Try this Grape Salad or Carrot Apple Salad for your next cookout or tailgate gathering.

For More Salads

Classic Chicken Salad, Bacon and Broccoli Salad, and Southern Cornbread Salad

Can I Make this Slaw Ahead of Time?

Mix this vinegar coleslaw recipe several hours before serving it or making it the day before. The longer it’s mixed, the better. I like to mix this slaw at least a day before serving it. But a few hours will also taste great! The flavors are fantastic.

Cabbage Casserole is another delicious dish featuring cabbage. It makes a lot and will feed a hungry crowd.

Can I Use Different Types Of Vinegar In This Classic Coleslaw Recipe?

Apple cider vinegar is most common for this recipe, but you can experiment with other kinds of vinegar. White vinegar, rice vinegar, or red wine vinegar will offer different flavor profiles.

Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw

Gina Abernathy
Crunchy cabbage coated in a slightly sweetened vinegar dressing. This slaw is packed with fresh flavors that will wake up your taste buds!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Can make this slaw a day ahead for added flavor 2 hours
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 2 pounds pre-shredded coleslaw mix
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  • In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add slaw mix and toss until well combined.
  • Let stand for at least 10 minutes or refrigerate overnight. It is better if you can make a day ahead and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Keyword coleslaw, vinegar slaw


  1. I made this recipe and everyone liked it but I added 4 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon on celery seed. It was a very easy recipe!

  2. Love this. I used Monk Fruit instead of sugar and added celery seed. I just leave a batch in my fridge and buy the cole slaw mix and have it instead of a salad. This is great.

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve been looking for a good vinegar based coleslaw since my guy won’t go near mayo. I’m so glad I found this recipe, easy and delicious!!

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is perfect for us this summer. My MIL and I are both doing weight watchers, so this point friendly dressing is fantastic! We usually make creamy coleslaw, so have been shying away from it, due to the high points haha.

  5. 5 stars
    This tangy vinegar coleslaw was amazing and super easy to make! I made a big batch and put it in mason jars in the fridge so I can snack on it throughout the week. The only time I will eat coleslaw is if there is no mayo in it so I am happy to have found this recipe.

  6. 5 stars
    I have been craving cole slaw and this one is perfect. Since I follow a vegan lifestyle and vegan mayo costs an arm and a leg this recipe is perfect.

  7. 5 stars
    It’s nice to find a coleslaw recipe that doesn’t have mayo. Makes it just a little bit lighter and I can actually taste the other ingredients then too.

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