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Tangy Vinegar Based Coleslaw

Thanks for sharing!

Fresh vegetables combine with a super simple sweet and tangy vinegar based dressing for a fresh and fabulous coleslaw. This old fashioned recipe is the perfect side dish for so many occasions.

close up of a white serving bowl loaded with tangy vinegar based coleslaw.

Coleslaw is a must have summer side dish. It’s at almost every BBQ and potluck and pairs perfectly with anything from the grill.

This version has great vinegar tang, plenty of crunch and is best made hours ahead of being eaten so you can enjoy your friends and family instead of cooking during the party.

This classic coleslaw recipe is adapted from my aunt’s sister-in-law, Linda.  She makes giant batches of it for a local organization and it is a must have at their fundraising events.

I have been meaning to make it for a while, but despite our penchant for hosting we still never need a half gallon of coleslaw dressing to go with 4 heads of cabbage and fixin’s.

So I finally decided to pair it down to a more reasonable size and make it anyway.  We have been getting beautiful heads of cabbage and lovely sweet onions from our CSA that were begging to be made into slaw.

Combine that with the fact we have  carrots and peppers from our garden and it just seemed meant to be. It was finally time to make her coleslaw!

How to Old Fashioned Coleslaw With Vinegar

The hardest part of making coleslaw is prepping the veggies, but that really isn’t all that hard. If you have a food processor, just let it shred them for you.

That would normally be my go to way, but I store my food processor in the basement.  On this particular day shredding the vegetables with a knife seemed like less work than retrieving the machine to do it.

head of cabbage on cutting board being cut into small pieces for coleslaw.

Sometimes I find tasks like kneading bread relaxing and shredding the cabbage had a similar effect. I was able to get it in nice sized pieces and kind of enjoyed the process.

You can certainly do whatever method speaks to you.  You could even buy bags of preshredded cabbage if you prefer.

You can make the dressing ahead and store it in a jar if you’d like. You can also just make it in the bowl.

Linda likes to reserve a bit of the dressing to add right before serving.  It helps give the slaw a little extra zing.

big bowl of shredded cabbage, onions, peppers, carrots and celery seed for coleslaw.

Once the veggies and dressing are ready,  just toss it all together. Chill it for a few hours if you can, it will help soften the cabbage a bit and give the flavors a chance to meld.

Store leftovers in the fridge. They will be good for at least a few days to a week before it starts getting too soft.

Linda’s Big Batch Coleslaw Recipe

(Perfect for family reunions, church suppers, catering and big parties!)

Dressing (Makes 1/2 gallon)

  • 4  cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons salt


  • 4 heads cabbage
  • 2 onions
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 pound carrots
  • celery seeds (whole or ground) to taste

Mix dressing ingredients well then let sit until sugar is dissolved. Linda likes to make it one day and use it the next.

Shred the vegetables. Mix with a small amount of dressing and chill overnight. Add more dressing when ready to serve.

bowl of tangy vinegar based coleslaw with bell pepper, carrots, onion and cabbage.

Can you make coleslaw in advance?

Yes, in fact it is better that way. You want to dress the cabbage at least a couple of hours before you intend to eat it. That gives the cabbage a chance to soften a bit and the flavors can meld.

Can I used bagged coleslaw mix?

Yes, if you don’t have time to shred the cabbage feel free to grab a couple of bags of coleslaw mix. Though if you use a food processor, it won’t take that long to shred a head of cabbage.

More Great Coleslaw Recipes

Light and fresh apple slaw adds the crunch and sweetness of apples to the mix!

Honey lime slaw with cilantro and sriracha is a fun topping for tacos and burrito bowls, but you could also eat it as a salad. 

Creamy coleslaw is a classic.  It is really easy to make and has that creamy dressing we love.

Bonus fact: The word coleslaw comes from the Dutch word koolsla which means cabbage salad.

Yield: 12 Servings

Tangy Classic Coleslaw {With Vinegar Dressing}

bowl of tangy vinegar based coleslaw with bell pepper, carrots, onion and cabbage.

Fresh vegetables combine with a super simple sweet and tangy vinegar based dressing for a fresh and fabulous coleslaw.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes



  • 1 small head cabbage
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds

Coleslaw Dressing

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Mix together dressing ingredients and set aside (dressing can be made ahead if desired.)
  2. Shred and/or dice the vegetables into small pieces.  Toss with celery seeds.
  3. Drizzle most of the dressing over the salad and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight. 
  4. Add remaining dressing and stir before serving.


Coleslaw is best served a few hours after you dress it, but the leftovers will keep for several days in the refrigerator. After a day or two, the leftover coleslaw may get a little bit watery. If that happens, just drain off the excess liquid and add a little bit more dressing before serving.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 45Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 186mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g

All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.

Did you make this recipe?

I'd love to see it! Share a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and tag me @carleecooks to let me know how it went!

Fresh vegetables combine with a super simple sweet and tangy vinegar based dressing for a fresh and fabulous coleslaw.

Thanks for sharing!


Tuesday 20th of August 2019

Thank you!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies

Saturday 17th of August 2019

This is my kind of coleslaw! It sounds so delicious, and definitely a great side for a barbecue!


Tuesday 20th of August 2019

For sure! Thank you


Tuesday 6th of August 2019

I love coleslaw and am always looking for a different recipe for it. I'm going to have to try this one. Thanks.


Tuesday 20th of August 2019

It is fun to try different versions of coleslaw. I think this is at least the 4th different recipe I've posted!

Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen

Monday 5th of August 2019

I love coleslaw but so often it's dressed in something mayo-based and I'm just not into it. I'll have to try this recipe because I love the sound of that dressing!


Tuesday 20th of August 2019

This is definitely brighter than the mayo dressed versions!

Andrea Nine

Monday 5th of August 2019

Coleslaw is hard to get right according to my kids. I bet your recipe is perfect. Happy Monday sweet friend!


Tuesday 20th of August 2019

There is definitely good coleslaw and just ok coleslaw. I hope this one lives up to their standards!

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