Southern Coleslaw with Vinegar Dressing

Sweet and tangy, this Southern coleslaw with vinegar dressing recipe is a winner every time! It’s a picnic-friendly version of traditional coleslaw with a flavorful and zesty vinegar based dressing.

Ready in 15-minutes, this No Mayo coleslaw is a must-have for your next fish-fry, outdoor barbecue or cookout!

Try whipping up a batch of this side dish to serve with homemade fried catfish!

Chopped vinegar coleslaw in wooden bowl.

You’re gonna love this recipe!

This “no mayo” vinegar coleslaw is the quintessential summer side dish and perfect for outdoor dining! 

  • The flavor is light, crisp, sweet and tangy
  • Quick and easy to make-dressing takes less than 5-minutes
  • Holds up well at picnics and poolside gatherings because it has no mayonnaise or eggs
  • Versatile-you can add other vegetables to enhance the “crunchiness” and nutrition: celery, water chestnuts, etc.

This is slightly different than traditional coleslaw or my creamy Creole coleslaw, but it pairs well with just about anything!

Here’s what you’ll need

You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make this crispy side dish: a bag of pre-cut slaw mix, a green bell pepper, yellow, white or green chopped onion (optional), sugar, apple cider vinegar, oil, celery seed and mustard seeds.

The inclusion of celery seeds and mustard seeds give this vinegar dressing a nice depth of flavor.

I usually get the slaw mix that does NOT have green cabbage in it because, if you add the vinegar dressing to a mix with red cabbage, the coleslaw turns pink… if you want to add red cabbage, add it last – after you’ve put the vinegar dressing on the slaw.

Image of ingredient for no mayo coleslaw

How to make it

The vinegar-based coleslaw dressing takes only about 5- minutes to make! Place the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large mixing bowl; add in chopped green bell pepper and onion (optional); set aside

Chopped green bell pepper in slaw mix

Make the vinegar dressing on the stovetop; 

Vinegar dressing ingredients in saucepan

In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, bring sugar, vinegar, oil, mustard and celery seed to a boil

Dressing poured into coleslaw

Let the vinegar dressing cool a bit, then pour it over the coleslaw mix; combine well using tongs

Toss the slaw in the dressing; cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes; when ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to serve.

Make it ahead of time

The best way to make this Southern coleslaw with vinegar dressing is to make the dressing in advance.

On the day of serving, about an hour before you serve the coleslaw, heat the dressing to medium heat, pour it over the slaw, refrigerate and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes, then serve.

A note about red cabbage

This Southern vinegar slaw can be made in advance; however, if you use packaged coleslaw with red cabbage, DO NOT pour the dressing over it until you’re ready to serve. 

The vinegar and oil turn the red cabbage pink and then you have pink coleslaw…yuck.

If you want to add red cabbage to the vinegar based coleslaw, add it in last.


Unfortunately, cabbage does not hold up well in the freezer. Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Coleslaw in wooden bowl.

This crisp and delicious vinegar-based coleslaw is perfect with ham, fried fish or a slab of bbq ribs, some baked beans and a slice of pecan pie!

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♥ If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating! I love to hear from you!

Coleslaw in wooden bowl.

Southern Coleslaw with Vinegar Dressing

5-minute sweet and tangy cole slaw with vinegar - holds up in the heat and pairs well with burgers, barbecue, ham and fish! Contains no mayonnaise
5 from 16 votes
Print Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Marinate: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 2 cups
Author: Anecia Hero
Cost: under $5


Slaw Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz. bag of pre-made coleslaw (See Recipe Notes)
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • ¾ cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion use less or none if nobody likes onions; or use green onion

Dressing Ingredients

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


Slaw Instructions

  • Dice bell pepper and onion (optional); combine in a large bowl with shredded cole slaw
    1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper, ¾ cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion, 1 14 oz. bag of pre-made coleslaw

Dressing Instructions

  • Combine all dressing ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved; bring to a boil for one minute; remove from heat and allow dressing to cool a bit, then pour mixture over slaw, cover and refrigerate or serve immediately
    ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon celery seed, 1 tablespoon mustard seed, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper
  • When ready to serve; mix slaw well and drain; place in large serving bowl and garnish with green onions (optional); for best results, serve with a slotted spoon or tongs; add salt and pepper to taste


  • If you buy a coleslaw mix with red cabbage, do not marinade the cabbage too long-the red cabbage turns the coleslaw pink...
  • Store in the fridge up to 5 days; do not freeze
  • Use a slotted spoon or tongs to serve

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 330kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 3gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.03gSodium: 593mgPotassium: 245mgFiber: 2gSugar: 53gVitamin A: 117IUVitamin C: 28mgCalcium: 87mgIron: 2mg
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  1. 5 stars
    My favorite coleslaw! I never cared for creamy coleslaw made with bought coleslaw dressing or mayo! This fits my tastebuds!!!