Vinegar Coleslaw (No Mayo Slaw!)

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  • Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe

    Homemade coleslaw is a staple for many family tables during the summer months. Perfect for BBQs, parties and of course, coleslaw for pulled pork. Although pulled pork at our house happens year round. 

    Close up of coleslaw on a fork

    Vinegar Coleslaw is a healthy coleslaw recipe using a no mayo coleslaw dressing including vinegar, oil and salt and pepper. 

    I don’t really care for super saucy, creamy coleslaw recipes. I want to be able to taste the fresh cabbage slaw, still get a snap and also taste whatever else I am eating, typically BBQ.

    Heavily mayo-ed up coleslaw overpowers those flavors. 

    Make sure you PIN Vinegar Coleslaw!

    Vinegar dressing pouring over cabbage slaw

    My two best coleslaw recipes not only taste better, but are are also better for you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not counting the calories and I haven’t gone all keto on you, but if the recipe you like is also healthier for you, embrace it! 

    These two homemade coleslaws are of course, Vinegar Coleslaw and also my Yogurt Pineapple Coleslaw. Both no mayo coleslaw using basic ingredients. 

    Vinegar slaw uses nothing but a vinegar dressing with coleslaw mix. Some recipes are best kept basic. 

    Cabbage slaw in a mixing bowl

    You can shred your own veggies, but buying a store bought  pre shredded cabbage mix is a shortcut I am willing to take. Use whatever blend you like and either shredded or chopped, this coleslaw dressing works well for either variety.

    Use red cabbage, green cabbage, carrots or even kale and broccoli for your coleslaw ingredients.

    I am a fan of colorful food and since you aren’t using a super creamy mayonnaise coleslaw dressing, you won’t be covering up those vibrant colors! 

    You can even punch up your vinegar based coleslaw with a few other ingredients, if you’d like. Some favorites include: 

    • Teaspoon of Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
    • Minced bell pepper
    • Red pepper flakes (for spicy vinegar based coleslaw recipe)
    BBQ Chicken Sandwich with coleslaw on a Bun

    While a 14 ounce bag of cabbage mix might seem like a lot, it isn’t. After marinating in the vinegar coleslaw dressing, the water will start to leach out of the vegetables and then will deflate, leaving you with a much smaller bowl of coleslaw. 

    You do want to allow for a minimum of an hour of marination time. The sugar needs to dissolve and the flavors marry before this makes a really good slaw.

    You can marinate it for up to 24 hours before it starts to get mushy. You can drain off some of the excess liquid or serve with a slotted spoon.

    Close up of vinegar coleslaw.

    First of all, is it coleslaw or cole slaw? The first rings true- one word, coleslaw. Although you’ll commonly see it referred to as just slaw. 

    Secondly, why is is called coleslaw? There doesn’t seem to be a logical or apparent reason for the name. Instead of paraphrasing, I am going to let give you the quote.

    The term, “cole slaw”, arose in the 18th century as a partial translation from the Dutch term “koolsla”, a shortening of “koolsalade”, which means “cabbage salad”. It was commonly called cold slaw in England until the 1860s when “cole” (meaning cabbage) was revived. … In addition to calling it “coleslaw”.

    In some parts of the world coleslaw is cooked or partially cooked and even includes meat, like thin slices of boiled ham. In the states, some slaw recipes do include bacon crumbles.

    PRO TIP: Before adding bacon to your slaw recipe, taste test it for saltiness and only add it right before serving. 

    If you liked this easy side dish, check these out: 

    Tools for making the best coleslaw recipe:

    Plastic Mixing Bowls– make sure to check out my article on Using the Right Mixing Bowl, you’d be surprised how many people aren’t! Make sure to not use metallic mixing bowls!

    Whisks– I buy whisks in multiple sizes. You never know which one you will need. 

    Vinegar coleslaw for Pinterest

    Questions you might have about how to make coleslaw: 

    Can you freeze coleslaw? Like most leafy greens, coleslaw doesn’t freeze well. There is too much water content so after you thaw, it will just be mushy and lack flavor. 

    Is coleslaw healthy? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it really depends on the recipe and your definition of healthy. I would consider this recipe to be fairly healthy since it is keto, gluten-free and low calorie. 

    Why does my coleslaw get watery? Typical coleslaw ingredients like red cabbage, green cabbage, carrots and radish, these all contain a lot of water. Adding salt draws out the water and lands in a pool at the bottom of your bowl.

    You can either take it for what it is and drain it before serving. After sitting for several hours, the ingredients are pretty pickled and have taken on the correct flavors anyhow.

    Or go a step further and generously salt your shredded cabbage before combining all the ingredients. All it to sit for several hours, if not overnight, in the fridge and then drain. Make the recipe as written after this point.

    Can I use a different vinegar for this coleslaw dressing? The beauty of coleslaw ingredients is that you can easily change them and it is really difficult to totally mess it up.

    Try using  champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar to mix it up. 

    You can even change the type of oil. Vegetable oil works fine, but a light olive oil can also taste fabulous, as can flavor infused olive oils. 

    How do you cut the vinegar taste? If you dislike the taste of vinegar, then maybe you should be looking to make a creamy coleslaw, because you are going to get a strong vinegar flavor out of this one. That is the way it is supposed to be.

    How long does coleslaw last? When refrigerated, coleslaw lasts about 3 days. Longer than that and starts to get all mushy and gross. 

    Can coleslaw sit overnight? Yes! In fact, it tastes better when it sits a little longer!

    What is in coleslaw mix? All brands will vary, but the usual mix is:

    • Red Cabbage
    • Green Cabbage
    • Radish
    • Carrots
    Coleslaw Vinegar
    Vinegar Coleslaw is a healthy coleslaw recipe using a no mayo coleslaw dressing including vinegar, oil and salt and pepper. Click to Tweet


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    Close up of homemade coleslaw in bowl
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    4.5 from 24 votes

    Vinegar Coleslaw

    Vinegar Coleslaw is a healthy coleslaw recipe using a no mayo coleslaw dressing including vinegar, oil and salt and pepper. 
    Prep Time10 mins
    Total Time10 mins
    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: coleslaw dressing, coleslaw recipe, coleslaw vinegar, homemade coleslaw
    Servings: 8
    Calories: 71kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola


    • 14 ounces coleslaw mix
    • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
    • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons sugar


    • In a small mixing bowl or measuring cup, whisk together red wine vinegar, vegetable oil, kosher salt, black pepper and sugar until sugar and salt dissolves. This step is important so that you don’t get grainy bits of undissolved sugar or salt in your coleslaw.
    • Pour over coleslaw mix. Toss well. I find that using forks works best for coleslaw.
    • Cover and refrigerate for 1-24 hours. If you remember to toss it every few hours, great, if not, it will be fine.
    • Drain excess liquid before serving. The cabbage will lose its water, so you will have more liquid than you started with. This is normal.
    • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!



    Calories: 71kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 300mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 18.2mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 0.3mg
    Vinegar Coleslaw on a BBQ Chicken Slider

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